Endless Summer on Brooklyn’s Fifth Avenue

For most New Yorkers the official end of summer is Labor Day which, this year, fell on Monday, September 4, 2006. For astronomers, pagans and Daniel Libeskind’s "Wedge of Light," the end of summer is the Autumnal Equinox, the moment when the sun crosses the celestial equator from north to south. By that measure, Fall begins on Saturday, September 23 at 12:03 am this year. But for those who commute by bike along the northern end of Fifth Avenue in Park Slope, Brooklyn, the end of summer will be the day that New York City’s Department of Transportation creates bike safety improvements along this stretch of avenue recently identified as one of the city’s top three bicyclist fatality areas. At the moment, there is no end in sight.

On June 9, 2005, a 28-year-old pro-bono lawyer named Elizabeth Padilla was killed on Fifth Avenue near Park Place when a truck driver carelessly opened his door into the path of her bicycle (Aside: There’s going to be a memorial 5K run for Liz on October 1 in Prospect Park). Fifth Avenue is a designated bike route and in the aftermath of Padilla’s death, community members, elected officials and bike advocates made repeated calls to DOT asking for safety improvements along the narrower stretch of the avenue between Flatbush Avenue and Carroll Street. On May 19 Councilmember Bill DeBlasio received a letter from Brooklyn Borough Commissioner Joseph Palmieri stating, "We anticipate installation" of Class III Bike Route improvements "to be completed by this Summer."

It hasn’t happened.

We know that the Brooklyn Borough Commissioner’s office lost its Downtown Brooklyn traffic coordinator to a job promotion at the end of July and only just recently filled that post. And we know that DOT has been focused on a larger, citywide, bike safety initiative for the last few months as well. Still, it has been 15 months since the death of Liz Padilla and a commitment is a commitment.

So, why the delay? When can we expect to see safety improvements along this important and heavily-used bike route? We have a call in to DOT’s public affairs office and hope to have a response shortly.


  • Lane Wyden

    wait, a broken promise from the DOT? are you kidding?

    Maybe it’s time to call the DOH. they are now interested in promoting biking, and have a much better reputation as educated, caring civil servants who stay true to their word.

  • anon

    maybe they should change their name to NOT

  • Pat

    That stretch of 5 Av is bad. And truthfully, even the parts of 5 Av with the bike lane are bad because people double park like crazy. So one ends up riding with the traffic anyway. Bike lanes require more than just existence; they require enforcement of the double parking rules. This is why I usually ride down 3 Av now. It’s wider and less congested than 5 Av.

  • Woman killed in bike accident on Park Slope’s Fifth Avenue to be honored October 1.

    Organized by the Brooklyn Bar Association Volunteer Lawyers Project (the VLP), the The 1st Annual Liz Padilla Memorial 5k, Sunday, October 1, 2006, at 10 am, Prospect Park, Brooklyn, is a tribute to a gifted and giving colleague, Liz Padilla, whose life was tragically cut short on June 9, 2005 in an accident while riding her bicycle to work on Fifth Avenue in Park Slope.

    At the time of her death, Liz was the Pro Bono Coordinator and Staff Attorney for the VLP. The VLP provides free legal services to the impoverished citizens of Brooklyn. Since 1990 the organization has assisted more than 12,000 individuals and families who had no other means of legal representation as they struggled to maintain control over their lives, particularly the elderly, persons with HIV/AIDS, victims of domestic violence and indigent women with children.

    Liz was one of the most charitable minded individuals you would ever know and she devoted herself with extraordinary skill and energy to numerous organizations, changing many lives for the better. Her absence continues to weigh heavily on those who knew her, yet she continues to inspire us through her legacy of generosity and kindness. This Memorial 5k in her honor will benefit the many programs of the VLP and most importantly it will fund the 2007 Liz Padilla Cornell Law School Fellowship, a way to make certain that Liz’s legacy continues.

    To register online visit: http://www.active.com/event_detail.cfm?event_id=1345398
    To find out more, send an e-mail to: karen@empireeventsgroup.com or call: 212-625-1025


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