You can pretty much kiss bike lanes goodbye in Brooklyn, where a powerful coalition of elderly and religious residents have made it their mission to abolish them. Because while you're busy at your barista job/cuddle party/tattoo parlor/whatever cliched cyclist shorthand you prefer, these elderly bike lane opponents are filling their many empty hours complaining to politicians and getting results. They vote, too! In Park Slope, seniors will rally by the dozens Thursday morning to topple the Prospect Park West bike lane. And over in Brooklyn Heights, worshipers at the First Presbyterian Church have already won their crusade against the infernal Henry Street bike lane, one of the oldest in NYC.
We thought the Henry Street bike lane saga was settled in August, when local blogger Peter Kaufman successfully cajoled the local police precinct into stopping their habit of letting parishioners park in the bike lane with bogus parking placards. But now the cars are back, and Kaufman recently spotted a sign, apparently put up by the church, informing motorists that the police are "under considerable pressure from some community members to enforce the law open the bike lane at all times. We need to support them as they introduce this compromise to the Heights." The Brooklyn Paper reports that Assemblywoman Joan Millman brokered the "compromise" with police officials to permit parking in the bike lane between 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sundays.
"This doesn’t sound like a compromise at all — it sounds like you’re letting families illegally park in the bike lane on Sundays," board member and bicyclist Mike Epstein told Millman at a Community Board meeting last week. "Why can’t they park legally or use mass transit or alternative transportation like the rest of us do?" Well, for one thing Mister Bleeding Heart Bike Lane Sympathizer, some of the choir members aren't cool enough to live in Brooklyn, and Millman says it's inconvenient for them to get here any other way. Millman also told the board—in what we're sure was so totally not a condescending tone—"Hopefully this won’t be much of an inconvenience to bikers." No, not at all, just sort of life-threatening, due to the fact that Henry Street is too narrow to ride safely if cars are parked on both sides of the street, as the Brooklyn Paper points out. But hey, traffic rules were made to be broken by pious people with political connections!
Meanwhile, up the slope, retirees are up in arms over the bike lane along Prospect Park West, and the Daily News gets some good grousing from the old man on the street. Wheelchair-bound Gordon DiPaolo, 76, tells the tabloid, "It's a problem for some one like me [because] I'm slow getting across, I have to watch much more carefully." And Lois Carswell, 78, says, "Now you cross two lanes of traffic, then you go across this weird space in the street and then you hit a two-way bicycle lane on a one-way street... It's very hard to learn new behavior like that." It seems we're just going to have to wait for all the elderly people to die off before making any changes, because it just isn't fair to challenge people like this in their Autumn years.