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Followup: Bike Lane Battles

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Some bicycling advocates were not very happy with comments City Council candidate Margaret Chin made about the Grand Street bike lanes, in her recent interview with the Lo-Down. In responding to a question about Mayor Bloomberg’s transportation policy, she said, in part:

“…That bike lane (between Chrystie and Canal) is the stupidest thing,
that’s what people in the community say. It just created a lot of
congestion. But the city says ‘we think it’s a good idea. We just think
people will get used to it.’  Wait a minute. You can’t just impose that
on a community…”

Bicyclist Liam Quigley posted the following comment:

“The Grand Street Bike lane is a vital part of my commute to my home in the LES as well as to my friends and family. I implore you to try to see the benefit for the community in having
a truly safe network for bicycle commuters, not one that puts them toe
to toe with traffic and huge trucks that are often careless about

Liam, and apparently other cyclists, contacted Chin’s office for an explanation of her position on the bike lanes. You can see the full post on his blog here. The bottom line: Chin says she’s not “anti-bike,” and she doesn’t oppose the concept of the Grand Street bike lanes – just the execution. She told Liam, “It has added confusion and removed space from an already congested area, and doesn’t work as well as it could.” Chin added, “the creation and usage of the Grand Street bike lane has been, in my opinion, a failure.” She also reiterated the main point she made during our interview: the Department of Transportation must do a better job of taking community feedback seriously.

Some critics of the bike lanes argue the configuration of Grand Street makes it nearly impossible for large emergency vehicles to make turns. In a message to us, Liam said the design is not the problem:

The bike lane… has design considerations for larger vehicles (fire trucks, etc).
There are buffer zones near intersections in the parking lane, where
parking is not allowed to provide better visibilty and allow for
vehicles that need to make wider turns. The problem is, people park here illegally. Crack down on that and trucks can turn somewhat more easily.

A representative for “Transportation Alternatives” said, essentially the same thing to us following the heated “transportation town hall” City Councilman Gerson’s office sponsored on the LES a few weeks ago.

One thing’s for certain: this debate is far from over. Next up in our series of interviews with the candidates running for the District 1 Council race: Pete Gleason. Read what he has to say about the bike lanes Monday.

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  1. Interesting photo choice for this article – a delivery person illegally traveling the wrong way in the bike lane. For the record, I don’t condone that kind of riding and I do my best to make those kinds of cyclists uncomfortable as they ride towards me on the wrong side of the street.
    Here’s a photo I snapped yesterday of two regular users of the Grand Street bike lane (also riding illegally) who probably both benefit from the added safety measures the protected lane provides : http://www.flickr.com/photos/lpq/3637030420/

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