This is How State Senator Eric Adams Celebrates Bike Month?

Sen.AdamsBIOheadshot.jpg Sources say that first-term Brooklyn State Senator Eric Adams has delivered a lengthy letter to Department of Transportation Acting Commissioner Judith Bergtraum expressing opposition to DOT’s 9th Street traffic safety and bike lane plan. Though the Senator, a former cop, has no urban planning or traffic engineering background, he questions DOT’s assertion that its plan is an effective way to calm traffic and make Park Slope’s most dangerous and crash-prone street safer for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists.

Check that: Adams doesn’t seem to be interested in cyclist safety on 9th Street at all, despite the fact that he represents Prospect Heights, Park Slope and Windsor Terrace, districts with some of the highest rates of bike commuting in the entire city, along with Prospect Park — the number one bicycling destination in Brooklyn. Rather, Adams seems to be angling for a DOT plan that, essentially, de-maps 9th Street as a bike route. Now that’s a heck of a way for a public official to celebrate Bike Month and show his support for the Mayor’s new Long-Term Sustainability Plan.

If you live in Adams district, now would be a really good time to call, fax or visit his office and let him know of your support for DOT’s plan. You might also suggest that he get his mind wrapped around the concept of "Complete Streets" — the idea that urban streets function better and more safely when they are designed for all different types of users, not just speeding motor vehicles.

572 Flatbush Avenue
Brooklyn, New York 11225
Phone: (718) 284-4700
Fax: (718) 282-3585

Senator Adams needs to hear from constituents who support this plan because he spent Saturday morning two weekends ago meeting with a group of about fifteen mostly car- and brownstone-owning 9th Street residents who are deeply opposed to DOT’s plan. A source who was at the meeting reports, "everyone kept saying they aren’t anti-bike and that this isn’t about double-parking, though, it always seemed to come back to double-parking."

Adams, along with his State Assembly colleague Jim Brennan, who has also sent a critical letter to DOT, both seem to have been swayed by Ninth Street residents’ factually incorrect claim that the fines for double-parking in a bike lane are higher than the fines for double-parking elsewhere. In fact, it’s a $115 fine either way. But more important: The DOT plan does nothing to prevent motorists from double-parking. DOT’s presentation actually includes a diagram of vehicles double-parked on the three-foot buffer just outside the bike lane. The DOT plan shows drivers how to double-park (see slide 12)!

Of course, the bigger issue here is the fact that a Brooklyn State Senator, a former law enforcement officer, appears to be prioritizing a fundamentally illegal activity — double-parking — ahead of pedestrian safety, bicycling and three years worth of community efforts to get DOT to fix a street where two fifth grade boys and a 77-year-old woman were killed in 2004 while crossing the street, in the crosswalk, with the pedestrian signal giving them right-of-way.

Former Senator Carl Andrews, supporter of Car-Free Prospect Park, we miss you, man.

  • Spatialist

    If the DOT is so cynical that its planning for cycling overtly acknowledges that cars will be all over the bike lane, why do you support installation of a crappy painted lane in the first place?

  • The DOT plan shows how cars can double-park on the three-foot buffer without blocking the bike lane or cars coming up from behind. There’s a lot of double-parking on the commercial part of 9th Street. It’s not cynical. They’d be remiss to just pretend that’s not happening.

    Likewise: Yeah, DOT needs to do a Midtown-style curbside management plan for 9th Street to alleviate some of the problem. What’s cynical are these 9th Street residents and public officials saying: There’s too much double-parking on 9th Street, therefore we can’t accommodate bike lanes.

  • My attitude as always:

    Get the bike lanes in when you can. Fight to make them the best you can. But get them in. At a future date you can always fight to make them even better. A buffer in any situation – even with cars parked on it – are better then most bike lanes. And besides, people in Park Slope are obviously trained better than most in cyclist-beavior. Look at this photo from 7 blocks north:

    http://www.streetfilms.org/archives/photo-physically-separated-bike-lanesorta/

  • rachael

    That’s surprising because he sent a representative to the Emergency Rally for Pedestrian Safety who told me that Adams fully supports us.

  • Sounds like another pol who “wants to do something” until it’s time to do something. I’m glad that you’re holding his feet to the fire and exposing this one, SB. I hope the Park Slope Neighbors also gets ahold of this…

    I was just over there on Monday. What a sad misuse of a street. It doesn’t even work well for motorists who have to constantly swerve around double-parked and turning cars and trucks…

  • da

    I attended DOT’s presentation of the 9th St. plan at the CB6 meeting, and I don’t recall seeing Sen. Adams there.

    Yet, he attends a meeting of the 9th St. Block Association and decides he’s against the plan based solely on the input of a few disgruntled residents? Does he even know what the plan is? Has he met with DOT, or listened to their side of the story, or has he simply prejudged this situation based on input from a few loudmouths? What kind of “balance” is that?

    Sen. Adams, there is another side to this story. Please take a moment to try to understand why this plan works for Park Slope, and reconsider your opposition. This is a good plan and should be supported.

  • John Huntington

    Thanks for the info, I am in his district and will be writing him tonight!

    John

  • Damn, I really like Eric, but this is depressing. I hope our letters will dissuade him.

  • You can adapt the T.A. e-fax to Marty Markowitz for your letter.
    http://www.transalt.org/streetbeat/2007/Apr/0419_efax.html

  • Alex D.

    I’d noticed slide 12 before. But just as a technical point, I believe that while double-parking is illegal, many people also use the this term for “double-standing” (where the driver remains in or with the car) which might not be illegal. The effect on passing traffic is the same, so it would make sense for DOT to incorporate it into their plan, even if nobody ever broke the law.

    While “double-standing” may not be illegal (I see it a lot with alternate-side-of-the-streeters in Manhattan waiting for the sweeper truck to pass) the term is not common (I just made it up to clarify the distinction; I’ve never heard of an official term) and DOT would call it double-parking so that people knew what they were talking about.

    @alex

  • Xue

    Da, don’t tell US that, tell HIM that!

  • Maybe Park Slope Neighbors was listening to my suggestion – today’s email update included the suggestion to call Sen. Adams about this issue!

    Good work, PSN!

  • annie

    I live in Senator Adams’s district and called yesterday to express my displeasure with him on this issue. Although his two staffers didn’t know what I was referring to and said that I “really should be submitting my statement in writing” (fair enough) I asked them to leave a message anyway. It probably wouldn’t hurt to write him as well.

  • Jane

    Actually, if his office had a clue about what it is doing then it would have a way to record constituent phone calls. It’s not rocket science. It can be done with a pad of paper and a pen.

  • Greg Raisman

    I put this in a comment some time ago, but it was a bit late and I wanted to make sure people saw this resource. It’s really excellent and may be useful for these types of conversations…

    This information about road diets from Parsons Brinkerhoff was really informative. The full report compares the experience of many cities and types of roads before and after a road diet. We have several here in Portland and they work fine.

    this is a video stream presentation (that actually doesn’t have any presentation until 7 minutes 15 seconds in – just fast forward — it’s worth it)

    http://www.media.pdx.edu/Transportation/Transportation_100705.asx

    I’ve read the handbook that is presented in the video stream. It’s a great reference and quick read on the subject of road diets.

    here’s the slides from her presentation:
    http://www.ite.org/meetcon/2005AM/Rosales_Tues.pdf

  • ly

    I called Senator Adams’ Brooklyn office. The staff person I spoke to claimed that Adams did not oppose the DOT plan but wanted “to look into it” or something like that. I complained vociferously and wrote a letter.

    By the way, District 20 includes a sizable chunk of Sunset Park — I think the southern boundary is 45th Street.

    Call and write! Call and write!

  • Senator Eric Adams

    MESSAGE FROM SENATOR ADAMS

    During my years as a New York City Police Officer, I learned the importance of interpersonal communication. As a result, it is my firm policy to make myself available to any member of the public who is interested in my position on a particular community concern. As I read some of your responses on the issue of the 9th Street bike lanes, I became aware that some of you might be doing our community an injustice by misrepresenting my position.

    For the record, I am an avid bike rider and I am not opposed to bike lanes. In fact if I had my way there would not be any vehicles on the street. Many people have seen me riding my own bike throughout the city and within the 20th Senate District during my campaign. In fact, I have personally organized many group bike rides and I believe it is an excellent form of exercise and transportation.

    A number of home owners and residents who live on 9th Street contacted my office to voice their concerns about the lack of transparency involved in the DOT proposal to place bike lanes on their street. In response, I had my staff reach out to the home owners and residents to invite them to schedule a meeting at which I could hear their concerns directly from them. In attendance at this meeting were people both in favor of and against the bike lanes. Two unifying issues did emerge, however: traffic calming and pedestrian safety. Everyone agreed that 9th Street must become safer, but the most effective means of attaining this goal remained a subject of debate. During the course of our discussion, it became apparent that the DOT presentation to Community Board 6 left a number of legitimate, basic questions unanswered. As the Ranking Democrat on the Homeland Security Committee, I felt that these concerns should be responded to, and I sent a letter to the DOT to request a meeting to address the issue.

    Some individuals have called my office to register their support for bike lanes. To those who live in Park Slope, I wish to extend the same courtesy that the residents of 9th Street have already received–to set up a meeting at which I can listen to their views. I am more than willing to meet with any group that desires to invite me. I am not an elected official who spends his time ducking issues, and I truly enjoy and look forward to communicating with the people who live in my District.

    Each day I receive over 50 emails and letters. I personally sit down and answer each one of them. I was elected to represent my district and address its concerns. If you have any questions regarding any issues that impact the 20th Senatorial District, please inform me by using whatever means of communication you desire, including blogging. We won’t agree on ever topic but we must agree on communicating with each other in a civilize manner. Anyone that is aware of my track record will tell you that you do not have to “keep my feet to the fire.” I am already on fire. I am “on fire” to address the issues that are important to my community.

    Best

    Eric
    NYS Senator

  • Eric,

    Thanks for writing in. I am glad that you are keeping an open mind and open door on this issue. 

    This week I wrote and called your office on behalf of the organization that I co-founded, Park Slope Neighbors. I requested a meeting to make sure you were aware of the the years of community activism that led DOT finally to put forward this proposal to improve safety on 9th Street. I offered to walk you or your staff through the DOT proposal if you had not seen the plan for yourself.

    Your Chief of Staff was completely dismissive of my offer and my request to meet. She referred to me and my organization as an "outside special interest." Though she confused the July 2005 Dizzy’s car crash at 8th Ave. with the August 2004 crash at 3rd Ave. that killed two 5th grade boys, she insisted that your office was well aware of the background and history that led to the DOT proposal and didn’t need me or my group to come in and talk about that.

    I’ve put in more than my fair share of calls to elected officials offices and I’ve actually never been written off quite like that before. It was disappointing to say the least. Is your staff aware of your policy of being willing to meet with anyone who invites you?

    –Aaron Naparstek

  • da

    Sen. Adams! THANK YOU for taking the time to read the blog, keeping an open mind, and responding to our comments.

    Perhaps Park Slope Neighbors could convene a meeting and discuss the 9th Street plan with Sen. Adams? He’s heard only one side of the story so far… the few nay-saying 9th St. residents. But many more of us who live in Park Slope support this plan so perhaps he could meet with us as well.

  • gecko

    To repeat that wonderful music from Senator Eric Adams:

    “For the record, I am an avid bike rider and I am not opposed to bike lanes. In fact if I had my way there would not be any vehicles on the street. Many people have seen me riding my own bike throughout the city and within the 20th Senate District during my campaign. In fact, I have personally organized many group bike rides and I believe it is an excellent form of exercise and transportation.”

  • gecko

    Senator Adams,

    What’s your plan for getting vehicles off the streets with Brooklyn taking the lead in creating eco-powered world class cities?

  • daywoody

    I read the message from Senator Adams, and it seems apparent that there has been a bit of hysteria regarding his position on the issue of bike lanes on Ninth Street. I can’t quite fathom the basis of the negativity in the comments. I cant term them an “overreaction,” because I am unable to discern the precise stimulus to which people are responding (although successive postings do seem to be escalations of erroneous assumptions in prior postings). The initial sentence that follows the needlessly and inappropriately sarcastic title (“This is How State Senator Eric Adams Celebrates Bike Month?”) is, according to the Senator’s message, factually incorrect. Aaron’s “sources say that….” apparently cites misinformation. The Senator asserts that he seeks an actual meeting with DOT to clarify the plan, not to oppose it. And one further note: Aaron’s attack on Senator Adams for lacking an “urban planning or traffic engineering background” probably also “disqualifies” most local politicians and most of the people who have posted comments above.

  • The information about Sen. Adams position comes from three sources.

    First, I spoke with two separate city government sources who said that the Adams had written a letter to the DOT’s acting commissioner asking that the 9th Street project not go forward without the Senator’s review. Asking that a project not go forward is, in my book, "opposition." I asked Sen. Adams office to provide me with a copy of the letter. They have not.

    Second, I had a conversation with Sen. Adams chief of staff. Without directly saying she opposed anything she expressed hostility to bike lanes on 9th Street along with advocates of the plan (who she referred to as "outside special interests"). She also expressed confidence that there are much better ways for DOT to make 9th Street safer and less crash-prone. I believe my interpretation of her position as "opposition" is accurate though "hostility" might be moreso.

    I will continue trying to get a copy of Sen. Adams original letter so that people can interpret it for themselves.

  • harvey

    All very good points, daywoody. Unfortunately, it’s easy to go from a critique to a harangue, especially with the anonymity of online discourse.

  • Here is Eric Adams’ letter to DOT:

    http://www.streetsblog.org/state-sen-eric-adams-letter-to-dot-re-9th-street/

    It reads like opposition to me but, hey, if the Senator doesn’t oppose the plan, that’s great.

  • LRH

    Interesting letter, deserves it’s own blog entry.

    Sen Adams asserts that “Prior to placing these (bike) lanes on a street used as a main traffic hub, one must consider alternatives.”

    Why? Where is the logic in this? Since when are bike lanes considered a last resort, and by what reasoning?

    This phrase seems to be the crux of his argument.

    The good news is that under Sadik-Khan, in the wake of the 2030 speech, this is definitely going to happen regardless of Bob Levine’s contorted logic, hypocrisy and divine right to double park.

    Aaron it wouldnt hurt to bring some livable streets advocates to the Pct Community Council meeting and let the cops know that traffic laws should be enforced and double parking is a public safety issue. If you have a public statement by DiBlasio calling for no double parking enforcement on 9th St, point out to the press what BS it is.

  • DS

    There’s no question that Adam’s letter to DOT is an opposition. That’s why he cc’d the 9th st. block members and refused to provide a copy to Aaron when requested.

    That letter is not a request for transparency. It is a thinly veiled threat that says, in effect, we don’t like your plan and you’d better have a big army of facts and research if you want to get it past us.

    In fact, having read the letter myself and then re-read Adams’ claim on this blog that he’s keeping an open mind, I now think the latter should be read as highly evasive, if not downright deceptive. If he really wanted to hear both sides of the issue, he should have made sure he had heard them _before_ he sent off the letter to DOT.

  • Helena

    DS,

    I agree. After reading Adams’ comment and then his letter, I find his response to be completely disingenuous. Let’s remember that this mostly guy represents Park Slope’s gold coast — the two blocks of 9th Street closest to Prospect Park, the blocks with the $1.8M brownstones purchased 30 years ago for 1/20th of that price by these NIMBY cranks who seem to care more about their ability to double-park then Mexican immigrant kids getting run over down on Third Avenue. This is who Adams feels he represents, I suppose. Perhaps it’s just a rookie mistake on his part. Let’s hope so.

  • lilo

    I like Eric, but like most NYC pols he seems more focused on quick fixes than thoughtful urban planning. Its a shame because when he was first elected I thought we’d be better represented than who he replaced.

  • Victoria Mary Stong

    Keep up the good work Senator Adams!

  • Victoria Mary Stong

    With all due respect to everyone, though it’s been a long time; Senator Eric L. Adams and all Politicians have so many issues to address and/or handle. They really are spread very thin as far as being able to spend a significant amount of time on any one issue. There is so many constituents and so little time, really. All they can do is do the best they can under the circumstances. No one is perfect, you know. Anyway, I hope all is well with this issue now.~*~*~Respectfully, Victoria Mary Stong / Humanitarian, Civil Rights & Community Activist

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