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Bike lane safety blitz

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If you can’t remove it, might as well learn how to use it.

That’s the idea behind central Bronx Community Board 6’s plan to partner with the Department of Transportation (DOT) and educate Tremont’s bikers on properly riding through the nabe’s new Crotona Ave. bike lane. CB6 is distributing DOT brochures that detail how one should use the “shared lane” —really just painted arrows and bike symbols on the pavement, as well as sidewalk signs alerting drivers to share the space — installed over the summer on the buzzing commercial strip from Crotona Park North to E. Fordham Road.

The brochure lays out a simple mandate for cyclists: always ride with traffic, and “take the lane” from motorists when necessary.

Those rules may sound easy, but locals have witnessed a slew of bikers running red lights and riding against traffic, said CB6 District Manager Ivine Galarza.

“We need a campaign for the bikers to know their rights and responsibilities,” she said.

The board was taken aback when DOT painted what they call “sharrows” – “shared arrows” – on the street over the summer.

The city agency also hung signs alerting motorists to share the two-way street with cyclists.

Cyclists are meant to follow the sharrows and ride as an equal part of traffic, with the legal right to use either 21.5-foot lane. The sharrows are spaced far enough from parked cars for cyclists to avoid being struck by a car door, DOT claims.

The car door issue has proved deadly on the strip in the past. A cyclist was killed after being hit by a car door at E. Tremont and Crotona avenues in 2011. Today one of DOT’s “curbside haiku” hangs at the spot of the accident. It reads: “A sudden car door/cyclist’s story rewritten/fractured narrative.”

Many Tremont locals would prefer that cyclists simply find another lane in which to ride. The busy stretch of Crotona Ave. is not a bike-friendly street, the board charged at a walkthrough of the site with DOT brass in October.

Locals decry the lane as encouraging bikers to ride through a dangerous street filled with double-parked delivery trucks and bus lines.

“There’s no bikers there, maybe one or two a day,” Galarza said. “It’s not a route that cyclists can safely use.”

The DOT says it chose the lane because it builds toward its goal of creating a borough-wide bike network.

The stretch of Crotona connects riders north from Crotona Park to Belmont and eventually Moshulu Parkway.

Galarza said the board is still milling over whether it wants to continue to protest the lane, but in the meantime will distribute the DOT brochures.

The DOT is also working on creating flyers, Galarza said, to hang along the street to remind cyclists and motorists of the new rules of this road.

Ben Kochman can be reach via e-mail at BKochman@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3394
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