DOT’s proposal for a bike lane on Bay Ridge Parkway, which would have preserved all travel lanes and parking, was scrapped after local politicians blasted the concept and Brooklyn Community Board 10 voted against it, 32-8, in May 2011. At the time, the future looked bleak for bike lanes in Bay Ridge.
Instead of simply saying “no,” however, the community board is back, proposing its own bike lane routes to DOT that cover more mileage than DOT’s original proposal.
Following a 6-1 vote by its transportation committee in June, the community board voted 40-2 on Monday to send a list of potential streets for bike lanes to DOT. The streets include Sixth Avenue, 68th Street from Sixth Avenue to Shore Road, 72nd Street from Shore Road to Sixth Avenue, Marine Avenue and 11th Avenue.
“There will be more bike lanes in Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights, no matter what,” said transportation committee Chair Brian Kieran.
While CB 10’s vote is only advisory and does not guarantee that DOT will install bike lanes at the recommended locations, the request itself represents a significant shift from the board’s confrontational past with the agency.
When DOT first proposed bike lanes, many board members felt the plan was “written in stone,” said CB 10 member Bob HuDock. “The view of DOT down here is that DOT is kind of the enemy,” he said.
Many neighborhood residents were not happy with DOT’s proposal for bike lanes along Bay Ridge Parkway, Third Avenue, Fort Hamilton Parkway and 92nd Street because, they said, they didn’t want cyclists being directed to high-traffic streets.
After DOT’s original proposal was voted down last year, board member Judith Grimaldi made a motion to ask CB 10’s transportation committee to suggest alternate bike lane routes to DOT. Minutes after DOT’s plan failed, Grimaldi’s motion passed.
In the months that followed, it took a lot of work to change minds and ensure the issue got attention. “There was a big education process,” HuDock said, “proving to people that this was not some frivolous issue. A lot of people in this community rely on bicycles for transportation.” That work paid off with June’s transportation committee vote and this week’s full board vote in support of bike lanes.
“Whenever any specific bike lane was discussed,” HuDock said, opposition would rise, with the “caveat that, ‘We’re not opposed to all bike lanes.'” HuDock doubted the argument. “I always thought this was just rhetoric … but maybe there was more open-mindedness here than I thought.”