Brooklyn residents are pressing New York City authorities to protect a bike lane on Williamsburg’s Grand Street with concrete barriers. According to a recent report by Brooklyn Paper, transit safety advocates have sent an open letter to the mayor and the commissioner of the Department of Transportation, arguing that the bike lane’s current protections—plastic bollards—are not enough, leaving space for vehicles to “enter and block the lane,” in turn putting cyclists in danger.
The open letter, available via Transportation Alternatives, begins by stressing the importance of the bike lane on Grand Street, calling it “one of the first of its kind” in the neighborhood. Despite this milestone, the letter states, the protected lane has seen 67 cyclist injuries since it was fully installed in 2019, as well as “196 crashes across all modes of transportation.” “From day one, the Grand Street bike lane has failed to keep people safe,” the letter states. “The implemented plastic delineators have not prevented vehicles or dumpsters from blocking the bike lanes. Illegal double parking in the bike lane creates a dangerous situation for both cyclists and motorists.”
The letter goes on to argue that if the city fully protects the bike lane with concrete barriers, it will not only encourage cycling, but stimulate the local economy. Citing a Department of Transportation report on cycling in New York City, the letter notes that bike lanes on the Pulaski Bridge, on Kent Avenue, and on the Williamsburg Bridge “grew about 33% year over year from 2019 to 2020,” or roughly 1.8 million bicycle trips. Fully protected bike lanes on Eighth Avenue and Ninth Avenue in Manhattan—as well as the installation of “safer crosswalks”—spurred “a 49 percent increase in sales for local businesses.” By bringing similar protections to the Grand Street bike lane, the activists argue, the city will bring similar benefits to Williamsburg.
According to the Brooklyn Paper report, transportation officials have attributed delays in protected bike lane expansions to “delays in sourcing the concrete barriers,” with a spokesperson adding that the city is “working around the clock” to add protections. “We are considering locations across the city for future lane hardenings and will have more to share soon,” the spokesperson said.