Welcome to BRBRbrooklyn! Whether you are pedaling to the shore, the store, your neighbor’s stoop, or back to your own coop, this blog is for you. Bay Ridge Bicycle Routes is an effort raise to awareness within our neighborhood and among civic groups about the activities of bicyclists in Bay Ridge and other nearby communities in southern Brooklyn.

Our neighborhood’s immediate access to the harbor, less congested street traffic, friendly atmosphere, expansive parks and flat terrain (except, of course, for the steep ridge in Bay Ridge!) makes our corner of New York City one of the most fantastic places to ride a bicycle. Whether for transportation, recreation, fun or fitness, cycling is great in Bay Ridge.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Friday's Random Posting

A few observations and notices for the week:

13: That's the number of cyclists BRBR counted on the Manhattan Bridge on Thursday morning as we rode the Q train into Manhattan around 9am. 12 of the riders were going into Manhattan, 1 was going to Brooklyn. Considering it takes the Q train only about 2 minutes to cross the bridge, that's quite a count of riders in that timespan.

Bike Marking Refresh: BRBR carried our Howard Beach ride all the way over the Cross Bay Boulevard and to the Rockaways (this has been a regular ride in recent weeks). Heading back west along Rockaway Beach Boulevard, BRBR noticed that many of the bicycle lane markings had been freshly painted and refreshed in the vicinity of Beach 117th Street to around Beach 125th Street. The markings are so new, Google doesn't even show them yet but we promise they are marked. Thanks DOT!

Bike New York is happening this Sunday (May 1). Bay Ridge will be saturated with bicyclist this Sunday. The route travels along the highway to Cannonball Park and then over the Verrazano Bridge.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Is Bay Ridge Participating in PlaNYC?

On April 22, 2011, to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, the City of New York released an update to PlaNYC 2030.

Under the transportation section, Initiative 6 speaks about “making bicycling safer and more convenient” and Initiative 7 is to “enhance pedestrian access and safety.” Too bad this initiative update to PlaNYC wasn’t released a few days before April 12th , when the plans for the bicycle lane on Bay Ridge Parkway were tossed to the shredder. Perhaps our elected officials and community representatives need a reminder about the larger community and city planning goals of PlaNYC. After reading Council Member Domenic Recchia's press release on his blog, BRBR has to ask: what is the alternative to Bay Ridge Parkway? To our knowledge, there are no other bicycling routes planned for this neighborhood.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Thoughts on Bay Ridge Parkway

Bay Ridge Parkway was probably an easy political sacrifice for DOT: (comparatively) low cycling volume in a car-focused area, well documented objections by local community groups (either the cyclists or the community and political representatives are out-of-touch with one another… not sure which way this swings).  The shovel-ready lane on Bay Ridge Parkway was easily converted to shredder-ready with a quick press release that makes DOT appear responsive to community needs in the current bikelash environment.

It is obvious that Bay Ridge Parkway is almost a freeway at times and it is tragic that pedestrian accidents and fatalities occur along this road.

The bicycle lane had pros and cons on paper or a map:

1) 3 mile connector from Seth Low Playground to Shore Road and the harbor

2) Wide enough at most all blocks to accommodate a bike lane, or even a buffered lane

3) Uses one of the few bridges over the highway for continuity of connection. Also one of the few bridges with 90 degree intersections and traffic that feels reasonably managed. (B.R.Pkwy is so not closely linked to a highway on/off ramp or major intersection as compared to 86th, or 92nd or others).

4) Not a high commercial street, mostly residential or community functions

1) Perception of a busy street

2) Riding it is convenient but not always pleasant due to the vehicles (real speed)

3) Others issues?

Other side streets might be usable as bicycling routes and maybe even more friendly (ie less trafficked). However, BRBR sees two potential losses or problems:

a) Loss of continuity across the highway. This is a real challenge.

b) Crossing some of the avenues is difficult (whether for bicycle or car) because many are not signaled.

There is a real lack of marked east-west routes in this area of Brooklyn. A network of east-west routes would be fantastic. For reference, look at what the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway is proposing in the Sunset Park area (see page 30 and others for the conceptual plan).

As a final mini-sidebar, BRBR would love to see a bike lane pass through Ft Hamilton. This could be one of the connectors as part of the east-west network. BRBR used to do this often pre-9/11, but no longer. Though BRBR has read that the new base commander is trying to open up to the community more.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Multimodal Transit Ticketing

BRBR shot this photo while driving across Brooklyn last week (full disclosure: yes, we drive cars, too). Pay NYC $115+ of respect if you violate those terra-cotta colored bus lanes.

Of course, bicycle lanes are not so lucrative for NYC as a revenue generating venture. If there are laws on the books that allow ticketing of bicycle lane violations, they don't seem to be enforced too often or regularly. Seeing parked cars, double parked cars or driving in the lane is frequent in NYC. By contrast, the bus system is automated and can easily generate tickets and pay for itself quickly to create revenue. Bicycle lane enforcement requires an officer to stop on the street and issue the tickets.

Here's an idea: if the city is following through with the bike share proposals for Manhattan and Brooklyn, why not mount cameras to the rental bikes that can be triggered automatically when a bicycle lane violation is sensed, or manually by the operator when an infraction is seen? Revenue galore for NYC! And an opportunity for cyclist to give back to the city that provides so much.

It's better than the recent NYPD bikelash on ticketing the cyclists themselves:

'Scandal'bars Bike Bust: Cop Cites Gal for Tote-bag 'Hazard' - NYPost

Undercover Cops on Bike Duty - NYVeloCity
(This one is true - one of BRBR's co-workers was stopped by an undercover officer in an unmarked car in downtown Manhattan.)

Cop Nearly Doors Cyclist, Then Chases and Arrests Her - Gothamist

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Bay Ridge Parkway - What It Might Have Been

Last Fall, this proposal received approval and was moving forward. As of Tuesday, this shovel-ready project was made shredder-ready with a single press release, published on Council Member Domenic Recchia's website.

See the full DOT presentation at the link below and some snap shots provided here.

For the record, a federal highway lane (the ones you can drive 55 to 65+mph upon) is 12' wide. The current travel lanes are 16' wide (25' minus 9' parking). The new bicycle lanes would have reduced the travel lanes to 11'. Perhaps drivers were concerned that this reduction in lane width would have decreased opportunities to complete the classic Brooklyn mid-block U-Turn? This is the only explanation we can immediately think up.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

EBI #4: Manhattan Bridge

Another location has been identified, this time on the N train as it passed over the East River, midspan on the Manhattan Bridge. Two women returning home to Brooklyn in the evening were eagerly discussing their plans to pull their bicycles out of winter hibernation and have them prepped for the upcoming riding season.

Gauging their excitement, BRBR couldn't bear to tell them about the bicycle lane they will never ride upon at Bay Ridge Parkway, scuttled just hours before.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Bicycle Lane on Bay Ridge Parkway? Fuggedaboutit

The photograph above is the view with BRBR riding a bicycle westbound and into the sunset along Bay Ridge Parkway. Apparently, our Community Board, local Council Members and others have changed their minds since last fall about bicycle riding along this road. They don't think the 10'+ available between the cars on the left and parked cars on the right provides enough space for a bicycle lane. I can understand completely, because that space can be perfectly occupied by the double parked car and delivery truck as seen in the photo below.

Read more in the New York Times.

BRBR has ridden this road frequently and blogged about Bay Ridge Parkway in the past. We even think it is comparable to 9th Street in terms of traffic capacity and management.

Take a look now at Google Maps because the dashed green line that marks yesterday's hope for a new bicycle lane traversing the length of Bay Ridge Parkway will soon be erased when the Googolians catch wind of the blog post heard 'round the neighborhood.

How do you ride east-west in Bay Ridge? Yer on your own, pal!