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.