Mid-Life Cycling

Mid-Life Cycling

21 April 2011

The Navy Yard Bike Lane

If you've been reading this blog, you know how ambivalent I feel about bike lanes, especially ones that are next to parking lanes.  Now I've seen something that makes me feel more ambivalence on top of what I already felt about bike lanes:








This lane, which runs alongside the westbound lanes of Flushing Avenue in Brooklyn, has a  three-foot high concrete wall separating it from the rest of the street. It parallels the southern boundary of the old Brooklyn Navy Yard.  


Most of the Yard is fenced off, but it's possible to catch a few glimpses of some of the old buildings.  Yes, they do have a sense of history to them, as do many buildings that were used for the purpose of war.  On one hand, I feel about them the way I do whenever I'm on the any site where death reigned:  A combination of anger and grief over the sheer futility and waste of lives.  On another hand, I find it interesting in the way old industrial areas are:  Such places represent ways of life that have come, or are coming to an end and skills and knowledge that are, or are becoming obsolete but that were once indispensable to large numbers of people.  In other words, they're a bit like the nearby docks of Red Hook and Bush Terminal, where male relatives of mine worked in jobs and trades that, for all intents and purposes, no longer exist.  For that matter, neither do the jobs my mother and grandmother worked in the factories that once operated very near the Navy Yard. 


I sometimes think that the only real advance the human race could make is to realize that war is obsolete, or at least ultimately useless.  But, of course, that would also mean the end of large parts of the economy as Americans and many other people in this world know it.  


All right...I'll get off my soapbox.  Standing on them is risky when you're wearing high heels, or bike shoes with Speedplay cleats.  (Look cleats are somewhat less risky.) Besides, what I've just said about the military-industrial-financial complex is not the only reason why I'm ambivalent about the bike lane I just found.


I decided to ride the lane on my way home from DUMBO.  It's narrow, but as long as you're looking ahead of you, the oncoming cyclists won't be a problem.  The problem I found is the lack of a connection between the point where the lane meets the exit ramp of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and the bike lane that parallels Kent Avenue along the Williamsburg waterfront, just north of the Navy Yard.  The gap between those two sections of bike lane isn't more than a hundred meters, I'd guess.  But cars are exiting the highway, and I'd bet that most drivers don't know about the lane.  And any cyclist who is riding the lane for the first time probably won't know that there's a point where the lane meets, but doesn't cross, the highway exit ramp.


Perhaps, in another post, I'll tell you about something that happened to me along that stretch of Flushing Avenue before the lane was built.  Don't worry:  It wasn't terrible, just ironic.

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