FREEWilliamsburg says it’s bullshit, and they’re right. The removal of the bike lane on a section of Bedford Avenue – the section that runs through the heart of the Hasidic community, was a bad decision, made for bad reasons. Gothamist says that the Bedford Avenue bike lane was “relatively noncontroversial”, but that is not the case at all. The bike lane was hugely unpopular with the local community, in part because it made double parking illegal, and in part because (for one rabbi in particular) of the “problem” of scantily-clad women riding through the neighborhood.
Now Bedford Avenue is a heavily-trafficked and crowded street – south of Division Avenue and North of it. Which is why south of Division the bike lane – which connects north Brooklyn to central Brooklyn neighborhoods like Clinton Hill, Bed-Stuy, Prospect Heights and Crown Heights as well as connecting all of those neighborhoods to Prospect Park and the Williamsburg Bridge – runs a block west along Berry. But there is no viable detour north of Division, which is why the City – correctly – put a bike lane on Bedford Avenue. Now that Kent Avenue has a bike lane running all the way north from Flushing, it does make sense to encourage bikes to take that route – it is safer and more protected, albeit much more indirect.
What doesn’t make sense is removing the Bedford Avenue bike lane in its entirety (and I think DOT’s “quiet” removal of the lane reinforces that). As Transportation Alternatives correctly points out, bikers have a right to ride on any public street. Removing a bike lane entirely – particularly bowing to NIMBY pressure to do so – sends exactly the opposite message. If DOT really wanted to make responsible “bike network adjustments in the area”, it would have converted the Bedford Avenue bike lane to a shared arrow (sharrows) lane – at least would have reinforced the message that drivers (and neighborhoods) need to share the road with bikers.