Starting the School Day Off at the Bike Corral

Photo: Ben Fried
Photo: Ben Fried

It was ribbon-cutting day at P.S. 118 on Seventh Street in Park Slope this morning, as parents and students at this pre-K/elementary school broke in their brand new bike corral. By 8:15 a.m., the racks were mostly full.

When DOT installed the bike corral a week ago, it solved some longstanding storage issues at P.S. 118. Because kids were tripping on bikes and scooters that piled up in the school yard, the school banned them in 2015. DOT installed sidewalk racks in time for the 2016/2017 school year, but they were on a narrow sidewalk next to busy Fourth Avenue, not by the main drop-off location on calmer Seventh Street.

Doug Gordon (a.k.a. Brooklyn Spoke, the grown-up in the top photo), whose two children attend P.S. 118, started working with the PTA and the school administration to get an on-street corral for Seventh Street.

“My daughter, who was in second grade at the time, was excited about the idea so she and her friends took on the task of gathering petition signatures from kids, parents, school staff, and neighborhood residents,” he said in an email. “DOT finally came to present the plan to the transportation and public safety committee of [Community Board 6] in March and it was approved unanimously.”

Parents and students at any school can apply to the city for a bike corral. DOT requires a maintenance partner to clear debris and snow around the bike corral, and to report anything that needs fixing. At P.S. 118, the PTA is the maintenance partner.

The bike corral has made it easier for Delia Awusi to walk her two sons to school with their scooters. During the bike ban, she ended up lugging the scooters back to their home on 13th Street after dropping the kids off.

Kids at the school are young enough to ride legally on the sidewalk. With a protected bike lane coming to Fourth Avenue in the next few years (and the school expanding to fifth grade), the route could get safe enough for older students to ride on the street.

For now, the bike corral has given the students a place to keep their rides in the same place grown-ups put their cars, leaving the sidewalk for the walk to school.

Photo: Ben Fried
Photo: Ben Fried