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Vinegar Hill Locals Fear Bike Lanes Will Destroy Historic Belgian Blocks

By Janet Upadhye | March 12, 2013 9:59am

VINEGAR HILL — Residents in Vinegar Hill want the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway, a proposed 14-mile bike lane along the Brooklyn waterfront from Greenpoint to Bay Ridge, to bypass their quaint neighborhood.

"There are already excellent, physically separated bike lanes that bypass Vinegar Hill," wrote cyclist Damian Chadwick. "Vinegar Hill is a historic neighborhood, and should stay that way, not be plowed over and homogenized."

The Department of Transportation and the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative chose six blocks of the Belgian blocked Water Street in Vinegar Hill as part of the new bike lane.

In response The Vinegar Hill Neighbor Association released a petition, currently signed by Chadwick and over 80 others, stating "the use of Vinegar Hill by the Greenway would pose a danger to pedestrians, to motorists, to our Belgian block cobblestones, and to the historic character of our neighborhood."

The petition asks DOT to consider an alternative route.

But while spokesman Nicholas Mosquera said that "DOT continues to hold regular discussions with the community as that process progresses," he also stated that "the replacement of the cobblestones on this roadway is just one component of a complete street reconstruction that will include significant sewer work and other subsurface treatments as well as the upgrading of sidewalks, among other improvements."

DOT plans to construct the bike lane using smooth machine-made cobblestones making it easier for bikers to use the streets.

The Vinegar Hill Association claims the new stones "would permanently destroy the unique historic character of this street, which owes its charm to its historic street surface."