The bitter Williamsburg Bike Lane War is about to enter its second year, and is already the longest bike lane war in New York history. It doesn't show any sign of winding down either, certainly not along the bitterly contested battle line of Kent Avenue, where the DOT's attempts to work out a compromise between cyclists, drivers, local business owners, residents, and Orthodox Jews have been repeatedly stymied. The latest salvo comes from residents along Wythe Avenue, one block of east of Kent, where noisy southbound trucks have been rerouted since Kent was made one-way.
“My wife and I have a 5-month-old, and we’re thinking about moving because of the traffic," says Michael Reich, who also has a business on Wythe Avenue and North First Street. And Susan Eisenberg, who owns a factory on North 14th Street, says trucks are getting trapped in by narrow streets while trying to make tight turns on and off of Wythe. But trucks are supposed to take Wythe only between 14th Street and 11th Street, at which point drivers are supposed to turn east toward an existing truck route on Union Avenue. The DOT is promising to put up new signage on Wythe Avenue to prevent trucks from taking the route, but Eisenberg tells the Brooklyn Paper, "This is bulls—t. We’ve listened to your presentation year after year."
Residents say traffic on Wythe has been pretty bad since Kent was made one-way to accommodate locals' parking complaints after the bike lane was installed. On the bright side, the DOT says average bike ridership on Kent Avenue has shot up by 64 percent since 2008, from 514 to 844, and by 324 percent on weekends, from 269 in 2008 to 1,141 in 2010. Wiley Norvell at Transportation Alternatives tells us, "We've never seen a ridership spike like this in an on-street bike lane before. The traffic diversion onto Wythe was a concern when this plan was first put on the table. What's needed is a mix of truck route enforcement, new signage and traffic calming to mitigate it's impact on residents and businesses."
But the war rages on. For an amusing point/counterpoint, here are four of the best, most unhinged comment rants from Brooklyn Paper readers:
I am shame of myself!
I think this is awesome, since I am a non-car owner buying a luxury apartment just off of Kent and would so much rather deal with douchey hipsters on ironic bicycles than exhaust spewing truck and car driving jerkoffs. Skinny jeans and bike lanes forever, traffic on Kent never!
You bikers are not paying anything to the city like registration, insurance, no business for body shops etc. bikers are not givers only takers!! You should be shame
Of your self for being selfish!!! Bikers like you should move to upstate and not use the streets for free .. Use it pay for it!!!!
The problem is all those fat slob truckers that are spoiling our environment, and these dumb store owners that insist on getting deliveries from those carbon spewing fossils. These store owners need to realize that it is 2010 and get their goods delivered by cargo bike, or move upstate.
The change on Kent from two way to a one way street was the worst decision made. Traffic on Wythe Ave is ridiculous especially right before Driggs when trucks are making deliveries and holding up traffic from passing. Something has to be done. Traffic used to flow smoothly on Kent and they should have just added a bike lane instead of making it one way.Idiots.They must be the same idiots that made a part of Flushing Ave one way also, creating more havoc.
Okay Gothamist commenters, you're not going to let the amateurs upstage you, right?