Cyclist Turnout Impressive at CB1 Meeting on Kent Ave Bike Lane

kent_ave.jpgThe Kent Ave. bike lane at work. Photo: New York Times

Supporters of the besieged Kent Avenue bike lane made a strong showing at last night’s meeting of Brooklyn Community Board 1. About 150 people showed up, says Transportation Alternatives’ Elena Santogade, and of the 60 or so speakers, only three opposed the current configuration.

"It was a really great showing of community support," Santogade told Streetsblog. "The board didn’t indicate that there were any changes being discussed about the bike lane." No vote was held on the matter, which has already passed through the CB1 wringer. After the public feedback, some board members also reiterated their support for the bike lane.

Stirring testimony came from regular bike lane users who described "what it was like before, with cars racing by at 50-60 mph on one side, and being afraid of car doors opening on the other side," Santogade said. "They commute there because the trains are packed and they don’t have cars, and this is a vital connector on their way to work."

Notably, a member of Nydia Velazquez’s staff also spoke briefly to confirm the congresswoman’s support for the bike lane, which is a precursor to the long-anticipated Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway. Velazquez has secured $14.6 million in federal funds for greenway construction.

Members of the Hasidic community, widely viewed as the epicenter of bike lane opposition, did not make their presence felt at the forum. Only one representative from the community spoke against the lanes.

About half the speakers testified in support of deposed transportation committee chair Teresa Toro, who was instrumental to progress on the Kent Avenue bike lane and the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway. Some board members asked the executive committee to reinstate Toro, said Santogade, but board chair Vincent Abate, who has stated that Toro was dismissed for speaking to the press, played it close to the vest.

"He said, ‘Don’t worry about it. I’ll take care of it,’" Santogade recounted. "He said he had four months left on the Community Board, and he’d never left an organization fractured and with unfinished business, and that he considered this to be unfinished business." No formal action was taken.

  • Well, I guess Abate isn’t planning on serving on the community board next year. Maybe these 150 or so people can let Marty Markowitz and David Yassky know that they want the next community board chair to value democracy and openness, not to mention bike lanes?

  • hasid
  • mfs

    I was heartened by the turnout for the lane and especially for Teresa. That said, we need physically separated lanes there ASAP and a lot more lights and crosswalks on the road. Once we get that, I think that a lot of the concerns will be allayed. I hope that the businesses that can’t have loading in front of their businesses can be accommodated in some way.

  • sarah

    Good Morning to all;

    last night at the public hearing I was not allowed to speak for someone who signed in to speak after he lost his voice, I respect the chairman on following protocol and rules of the community board, but it now gives me the great opportunity to say what I intended and with out applause or interruptions.

    many speakers who support the green way and the bike lane spoke and basically stated and presented fiction and not a single fact to back-up their statistics and figures.

    so lets start here with speakers statements and response, “I have over 400 e-mails that I received and I have more here that support the bike lane” Lady, let me inform you that while I’m sure that most if not all your mail came from people who don’t live or have business in the affected area, there are over 5,000 residents in the area who want their parking spaces back and one side of the bike lane removed, there are over “400” children going to school every day from Broadway to Clymer from Kent to Bedford Ave. the numbers are closer to 4,000.

    I hope that I can voice my opinion on issues that come up in your neighborhood if you inform me or the board where you bike from.

    “DOT is working closely with the community, changed signs from “No Stopping” to “No standing” which in return gave back more then 80 parking spaces” not only is this one of the greatest lies and horse radish, here are the facts, 92 summonses were issued when DOT changed the signs “No Stopping any Time” back in November because of the bike lane, these 92 are still out and not a single one was reinstated, so let speaker who supports the green way come down and show us and back-up his statement, all other facts that he states at public hearings are just as much as bull crap. he continues, “DOT by changing the signs will allow people to drop off the children and packages in front on the building” what a blunt stupid and irresponsible statement coming from some who never read the DOT bike lane laws signed by Mayor Bloomberg, NYC Police department and DOT, and it states the following “stopping, standing, or parking in a designated bicycle lane is prohibited” “obstructing a bicycle lane is illegal” where in the world does he come off to make such statement thinking that we are all dumb fools and he can sell us the Brooklyn Bridge.

    “no parking and no cars make the bikers more safe because we have our own lane and can avoid cars that drive crazy” fact: it was a Hunter collage report released last month reported by the NY Times that “80% of the bikers violate every traffic law, ignore flashing and traffic lights” if you had 80% of car drivers do that, hell would have broken loose.

    now, if the Kent Ave. bike lane became such a great run for the bikers, then lets remove the bike lane from Bedford Ave. Berry St. and Wyhte Ave. no one mentioned that we in this community have 3 bike lane streets already, but DOT did not remove parking, so its the parking spaces that’s the stumbling block.

    now lets put the shoe on the bikers foot, it was not so long ago that bikers chained their bikes to city assigned poles on North 7 and Bedford, such as no parking poles, street light poles etc;the city and PD came and cut the chains and removed all the bikes, it was an outpouring of anger and demonstrations, until the city came and installed bike racks all over the area for bikers to chain the bikes.

    now lets go forward, in a month or two, the city will remove all bike racks from the area, WOW, WOW, WOW the bikers will be in front of City Hall and DOT to get some bike racks back-we the residents and business people from Kent Ave. have the same right once all parking spaces were removed form the area, think about it, if you want your rights to be heard and responded too, so do we.

    Kent Ave. is the only street in the City of New York were all parking was removed, not on Bedford, not on Berry and not on Wyhte Ave. DOT “statistics” stated at the public hearing last month “over 900 bikers use the bike lane on Kent Ave. every day” ABCTV, NY1, Newscable12 and the NY Post spent 4-5 hours on a warm Sunday in December and observed only about 22 bikers and most violated every traffic law and never stopped for buses with flashing lights.

    conclusion: facts and figures given by DOT and other speakers last night, never backed it up with facts, what I write here is FACT, the entire greenway should be looked at as someone’s fiction rather then facts, you can fool some people sometimes, but you can’t fool all the people all the time.

    thanks Mr. Chairman for the great work you have done in all these years and stay healthy, Piece.

    Isaac Abraham
    City Council Candidate for the 33rd District

  • The irony of this is that Abate is talking about one person subverting the whole board as a reason for TT’s dismissal and yet that’s exactly what he did by writing a letter presenting the minority position as the majority one. Four months sounds like too long to wait.

  • nobody

    Oh man is Isaac so wrong! Where does this guy come up with this stuff?

  • JF

    And who’s running against him, so that we can send them money?

  • Thank you Mr Abraham

    Mr Abraham,

    Thank you so much for defending my right to store my private car for free on public street space. When you are elected to City Council please get rid of parking meters and biker lanes. Please also pass a law which requires the DOT to convert underused sidewalks and park space to free parking.There are many sidewalks with hardly anyone walking on them! Motorists pay high taxes and we deserve free parking for living here. Please raise tolls for drivers from NJ to pay for more parking spaces and parking garages. Also, please eliminate tolls on the Battery, RFK and VZ for real New Yorkers and make Jersey pay their fare share. Please also get rid of buses. They are slow and get in front of me.

    Thank you for working for real New Yorkers.

  • Lee

    Sure, those 5,000 people want parking spaces for motor vehicles in NYC, but are they willing to pay for them? What is the cost of the real estate that would be required, and are the owners of these vehicle willing to pay this cost? Perhaps these 5,000 people could get together and seek financing to build themselves an off-street parking facility.

    The cost of parking a car is part of the cost of owning an operating it. If you can’t afford those costs than you can’t really afford to drive, now can you? Perhaps these 5,000 people could be encouraged to try using the bike lane and see how much they enjoy using it instead of driving a car in NYC. It is difficult to see how the majority who do not own cars benefit from sharing the financial as well as geographic burden of a minority population owning and operating private automobiles, especially considering that these costs are so high that they must be shared with others who do not use or own cars.

    And speaking of dropping kids off at school, in many parts of Europe and Asia it is standard practice to do this by bicycle, especially in dense urban areas. We could do more to encourage this in NYC. Older children can also bike to school themselves. I did this myself growing up in Baltimore. In Japan for example it’s illegal to drop your kids off at school by car – it causes too many problems with traffic! Having bike lanes and bike tracks makes cycling a convenient alternative to driving. We must continue to make streets safer for children here in NYC as well.

    It’s simply not necessary to let people remain dependent on automobiles in NYC, when we gain so much more convenience by designing primarily for bicycles and transit. This reduces the costs to everyone in time, money, and space.

  • Lee

    By the way, in the 60’s and 70’s, 80% of children in the United States walked to school every day. The majority of those who did not walk road bikes to school or were taken by their parents (some of which by bike). I assume that in NYC those figures could have been higher.

    Today, only 10% of children walk to school.

    Why not encourage children to walk and bike to school again?

    Perhaps what we have is not an automobile parking problem,
    but an automobile dependence problem. We can break this cycle of
    dependence by providing better bicycle and pedestrian facilities,
    and encourage their use instead of driving.

  • Ryan

    Hey Isaac,

    Are you this Isaac Abraham?
    http://www.villagevoice.com/2001-10-16/news/the-hidden-persuaders/

    If so, I think that ought to tell us everything we need to know about you and your specious illogical arguments

  • Shemp

    Here is the main candidate for the Council district who is not a nut, though I haven’t kept track of whether Yassky is trying to move on or not with the change in term limits law:

    http://www.joanneforcouncil.com/

  • jackr

    isaac…”Piece”? you are a moron.

  • Bike Dude

    Abraham,

    My closest subway station is 3 avenue blocks away! I can’t park on my street becuase like most New Yorkers I can’t afford a car! There is ICE my sidewalk! Please run for city council and fight for my issues. Oh, and thank you for putting the interests of the privileged few ahead of the masses when it comes to public space.

    I can’t wait to volunteer for David Yassky’s campaign.

  • South Slope

    Lee, do you recall how far you had to bike to school when growing up in Baltimore? and what you did with your bike once you got there?

    When the distance from home to school is a mile or less, the percentage of school children who walk or bike there is about 32% — not great, certainly, as 87% walked or biked that distance back in 1969. But, for a host of public policy reasons, most kids no longer live so near the schools they attend. Nationwide, the median distance from home to school for kids 5-15 is now two miles. I couldn’t find figures for NYC, but I imagine between magnet schools and centralized middle and high schools, a good share of the city’s public school children live a few miles from their schools (many in different boroughs). And I’d guess the percentage of private or parochial school students living outside of a comfortable (let’s say a mile) walking range of their school would be higher. Keep in mind, too, that most parents don’t choose to let their younger children travel a mile or more unaccompanied.

    I agree that we have an automobile dependence problem, but resolving it is going to require bigger changes than suggesting that the kids should just hop on their bikes.

  • Sure, those 5,000 people want parking spaces for motor vehicles in NYC

    I wouldn’t give him that, Lee. Who knows where he pulled that 5,000 figure from? I doubt it’s the number of households along Kent Avenue, much less the number of car owners in the area.

    In terms of walking to school, I’d guess that 90% of the kids in my elementary school district do. It’s probably a safe bet for the vast majority of public elementary schools in the city. If the school on Kent Avenue is a public elementary, most of those kids walk.

    This guy is arguing with made-up figures. Don’t encourage him.

  • Gargamel Tralfaz

    Issac,

    How is this FACT possible?

    “NY Post spent 4-5 hours on a warm Sunday in December and observed only about 22 bikers and most violated every traffic law and never stopped for buses with flashing lights”

    On a Sunday? Never have seen a bus with flashing lights on a Sunday while riding on Kent.

    Hmmmm….methinks someone is not being truthful. And though 900 might be a stretch on some days, I have seen 22 cyclists on that road just riding a dozen blocks or so…what did the Post do, hang out from 4 AM to 8 AM?

  • Sam

    All you bikers, I wonder how you would react if you would have to look for parking your bike – after coming home from a full day of work – for 1/2 hour. And on top of it, your bike would be 4 blocks away. Or if you make a short stop, because you don’t have the time to look 30 minutes for parking + 5 minute walk, and come out facing a ticket of $115. There are two bike lanes, one on Bedford Ave and one on Whythe Ave, but there is not enough parking spaces for the RESIDENTS.

  • JF

    All you bikers, I wonder how you would react if you would have to look for parking your bike – after coming home from a full day of work – for 1/2 hour.

    Why do you think we don’t drive? If it’s that much of a pain in the ass, why do you drive? Why do you want us to pay for your free parking?

  • Sam, it is not a comparable situation, the bike lanes are about safety, not taking away your (free,waste of public space) parking. Kent Ave is needlessly dangerous, you Kent Ave complainers are asking cyclists to give up some nod to safety for your outmoded ideals of convenience. How would all you drivers feel about working a full day, riding to AND from work while having to be on full alert for drivers who literally feel it is a GOD given right to drive you off the road and park in front of their building?

  • Marty Barfowitz

    All you bikers, I wonder how you would react if you would have to look for parking your bike – after coming home from a full day of work – for 1/2 hour. And on top of it, your bike would be 4 blocks away.

    Gee, Sam, you want to know how I’d react if it were that much of a pain to park my bike? I’d probably stop biking and find a more sensible mode of transportation. Maybe you need to react in a similar fashion.

    And here’s a little newsflash for you, bub: The vast majority of the “RESIDENTS” in your neighborhood don’t own a car and get around perfectly fine. Many of your fellow “RESIDENTS” are sick of the horn-honking, the space-hogging and the constant belching of exhaust, greenhouse gas and lame, selfish, rhetoric from this car-owning minority. Maybe it’s time for you to become a “RESIDENT” of Detroit or Cleveland or Stockton, California if convenient parking is such a priority for you. I hear the real estate prices in all of those cities are really favorable right now.

  • J. Mork

    Sam — it’s nice to see a driver who gets it! Cars take up too much space to be optimal in densely populated urban areas.

  • Sam, “All you bikers, I wonder how you would react if you would have to look for parking your bike – after coming home from a full day of work – for 1/2 hour. And on top of it, your bike would be 4 blocks away.”

    I’m with you. I fly my helicopter to work and when I get home it’s hard to find a spot for my helicopter. Can’t the city just put in some more helicopter pads a little nearer to where people live? My neighbors say the helicopter is too noisy. But hey, move to the country if you want quiet.

  • Boris

    What is all the hubbub about? Isn’t the bike lane a temporary solution until the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway is built? Whoever is against the bike lane should be lobbying the Parks Dept. and DOT to hurry up and build the Greenway.

  • In a serious response to Sam’s comment:

    Sam, your hypothesizing is sound. If or when the bike parking problem you hypothesize about becomes reality, the effects of that change on public health and safety will still be a huge, huge net positive over our current situation. I’d trade that bike problem for the current car problem any day.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “I wonder how you would react if you would have to look for parking your bike – after coming home from a full day of work – for 1/2 hour. And on top of it, your bike would be 4 blocks away.”

    Perhaps not everyone is Williamsburg is happy with all those new housing units built with no parking! I told you folks re-opening the parking issue would be a can of worms.

    Sir, on alternate side days I do have to spend time parking my car, often two blocks away, often taking 15 minutes or more — after riding my bicycle home nine miles from a full day of work.

    On the other hand, the space occupied by my car theoretically belongs to everyone, and yet I am using it for storage for free.

    In contrast I had to buy and pay property taxes on the space in my house where I store my bicycle. And it cost me $7,000 to have the space under my front porch where our bicycles are now stored excavated for that purpose.

  • Max Rockatansky

    I prefer jet pack, easy takeoff & landings on rooftops and a compact size allows storage inside your apt or at the office.

  • Shemp

    Sam, plenty of people walk more than four blocks from a bus or subway stop to get home. That’s how most New Yorkers travel to work. If they all drove cars like you, you car owners wouldn’t be able to move an inch in this city. And the point of cycling is that the vehicle is small and lightweight and appropriate energy- and space-efficient, non-polluting technology for short trips in a dense urban environment. Thus bicycles do not pose a home parking problem for most anyone except those in the smallest studio apartments, or cause the huge consumption of public space that the car owning minority imposes on the rest of us. How can you live in this city and be so ignorant of these basics?

  • Car Free Nation

    I have an idea… (duh). Let’s charge the market rate for parking, so that Sam and his pals can always find a spot on their block, even when they’re tired after a hard day of work.

    And you know what, we could borrow against the future parking revenue to improve our schools, so more New Yorkers get better jobs and our economy improves.

  • Ian Turner

    Car Free Nation,

    What happens when the borrowed parking money is spent, do we go back to having bad schools, bad jobs, and a lame economy?

    –Ian

  • larry, isn’t your comment comparing apples to oranges? the bike/car comparison in that instance is only valid if you’re comparing curbside street parking (free) to bike rack parking (free). the property taxes you pay for storing a bike inside would be similar to the extra taxes you pay for having a larger home with a private garage, no?

  • Danny

    Sam,

    If your job requires that you commute to a place that is seriously out of the way in terms of mass transit, get a motorcycle. They are far easier to park, and use half the gas of an automobile.

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