The Case for the “Amity Street Wiggle”

Cyclists doing the "Amity Wiggle" during a demonstration set up by community members on Tuesday. Photo: David Meyer
Cyclists doing the “Amity Wiggle” during a demonstration set up by volunteers on Tuesday. Photo: David Meyer

Ian Dutton has an idea to improve the eastbound bike route through Cobble Hill.

The street network has no good, officially-sanctioned bike connection from points west of Court Street onto the Dean Street bike lane. But hundreds of cyclists each day make their own route, taking Amity Street, then doing a short jog against traffic on Court Street to hit Dean. That maneuver — which Dutton calls the “Amity Wiggle” — is technically illegal, and there’s no infrastructure to formalize it.

Dutton wants to change that. His proposal, which Community Board 6’s transportation committee will consider recommending to DOT at its meeting next week, would put a buffered bike lane on Amity between Henry Street and Court Street [PDF]. A concrete island would route cyclists through the wiggle onto Dean Street — while giving pedestrians a shorter crossing and discouraging drivers from following the same path:

This design for the "Amity Wiggle" would codify and make safer a common maneuver for cyclists traveling east from Brooklyn's waterfront neighborhoods. Image: Ian Dutton
This design for the “Amity Wiggle” would codify and improve the safety of a common maneuver for cyclists traveling east from the waterfront through Cobble Hill. Image: Bahij Chancey

To prevent cyclists from conflicting with southbound drivers on Court Street, a sign would direct them to proceed when pedestrians have the signal to cross and cars are stopped at Dean Street.

“If you’re coming from Brooklyn Heights and you want to get over to points east, it makes total sense,” said Dutton. “And people already do it. You come down Henry Street til it ends, the bike lane ends, turn on Amity and then you make the wiggle across Court Street.”

Community members chalked out the frame of the proposed design. Photo: David Meyer
The proposed design, in chalk and cones. Photo: David Meyer

Dutton tested out the design with chalk and orange cones for an hour and a half on Tuesday evening. In that time, dozens of cyclists — who presumably did not know the demonstration was happening — came down Amity, and did the “wiggle” over to Dean.

The turn off Amity is the “safest route” for cyclists, he said, and that should be common knowledge.

“We’re trying to, first of all, codify it so that it’s considered acceptable and permissible,” Dutton said. “But the bigger thing is if you don’t live here, you might not know that it’s the safest way.”

The CB 6 transportation committee meets next Thursday at the Prospect Park YMCA, 357 9th Street.

Update: Dutton said that the Community Board 6 transportation committee will wait until the fall before discussing his proposal in order to collect more input from the community.