Tomorrow: Speak Up for Safer Biking on Kent Ave

A tipster sends word that opponents of the Kent Avenue bike lane are making appeals to Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, a long-time supporter of the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway. A large group representing the Williamsburg Hasidic community showed up at Velazquez’s office last week, our source tells us, to register their opposition to the bike lane, which is a precursor to the full build-out of the greenway.

Velazquez has played a big role in advancing the greenway, securing $14.6 million in federal funding for its construction. Staff members at her Brooklyn and DC offices were not available to confirm or comment on the bike lane opposition.

If it wasn’t painfully obvious already, this can no longer be dismissed as your typical bike lane flap. To counter the opposition and show support for critical safety improvements, be sure to show up tomorrow at the full Community Board 1 meeting about the bike lane (211 Ainslie Street; sign up before 6:15 p.m. to speak). And if you haven’t signed on yet to Transportation Alternatives’ e-fax campaign, now is the time. More direct, in-person appeals will certainly be necessary, and we’ll keep you posted about organized actions going forward.

Want to work the phones a little this afternoon? Check here for contacts at Velazquez’s Brooklyn office, and here for City Council members Yassky and Reyna. They need to hear from constituents who don’t want to see Kent Avenue take a step backward toward the dangerous bad old days:

  • Felix

    Who’s making the phone calls to supporters to make sure they show up?

  • Dan

    The problem here is that it’s not a simple question of “bike lane or no bike lane.” The bike lanes on Kent as they are now are not good. They are right along the sidewalks and take all the parking away for the cars. If there’s anything that we cyclists have to start with is that we need to share the road with the cars because that’s always what we are asking of the cars–to share the road with us. There has to be a better design to these bike lanes.

  • Usually that share the road line is about moving, occupied cars, to be considerate of lighter weight, smaller bicycles; not stored-on-public-streets-cars. Share the road on Kent means, look the other way when cars and trucks BLOW red lights, pass each other illegally, and play chicken with other road users like bicycles. Since there is no NYPD enforcement on Kent Ave, the road needs to be designed to slow traffic. -Slowed at least to the speed limit, and what would be a safer, true sharing of the road, would be to slow it down to around 20 mph.

    But Dan, have you ever ridden a bicycle on Kent? If so, were you thinking to yourself, this bike lane is not good, we need to share, share with cars that aren’t being used, while other vehicles use Kent Ave as a test track? I’ll take a bet you haven’t.

  • al oof

    i haven’t really been able to understand the bike land opposition. people can’t park on lots of streets. businesses can’t receive deliveries in front on almost all commercial streets without double parking. why are these issues on kent so contentious? most of kent doesn’t even have a lot of commercial businesses, just industrial ones, and it is not a particularly safe place to park our car.

  • > i haven’t really been able to understand the bike land opposition.

    Okay, imagine you own a minivan and use it lots. You’re accustomed to parking it on the street. So do all your neighbors.

    And then the government comes and removes 150* of your parking spots. It happened with (you think) no warning, while you were at Church on Sunday*. You now have to jostle with 150 of your neighbors who also lost their free parking spots to park your minivan. Parking your car takes twenty extra minutes now.

    Your hood also lost loading zones. If you’re an industrial business or a school (and there’s at least one major hasid school near kent and grand), you’re dead without loading zones.

    The response to the Hasids shouldn’t be “I don’t understand the opposition,” it’s:

    – quit acting all surprised and “civilly-disobedient” you had ample notice, this isn’t news, protest at the RFCs next time

    – the city’s land-use patterns are changing, so the city’s changing how they’re used, if you don’t like it see #1

    – you don’t own the streets. buy property privately, and park on it whenever you damn well please

    – make specific, reasonable change requests of the DOT, like “let schoolbusses stand afront the school” or “my business needs a loading zone on the nearest side street”. you’ll be surprised how fast you’re accomodated

    I don’t know how many spaces were really removed, I’m not a resident and don’t recall the prior signage. But this all went down on a Saturday, and tickets were handed out immediately. And of course a bunch of socially-separatist religious fundies don’t keep track of civic events. I’d bet good money that the Satmar are, statistically speaking, the least likely to be informed & involved.

    From their point of view, this all seems draconian, but they’re going about it entirely the wrong way and they set themselves up to fail.

  • And for what it is worth, I see no difference in the practices of loading and unloading commercial vehicles within the stiped bike lane zone. There are still pleny of trucks waiting to unload, sitting in the bike lane. I don’t know where the Hasid school is, but if the locals are so concerned about the safety of those students, bike lanes and traffic calming are what they should be screeching for, not the loss of convinient parking.

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