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Bicycle Safety

Who Opposes A Plan for Safer, More Livable Streets and Why?

12:17 PM EDT on April 11, 2007

The scene in front of Dizzy's Diner on 9th Street and Eighth Avenue.

Park Slope's 9th Street corridor, with Prospect Park on one end and the Battery Tunnel on the other, has long been known as one of the most dangerous streets in the neighborhood when it comes to car crashes.

In March 2004 two fifth grade boys were killed by a gravel-filled landscaping truck that took a careless right turn into the crosswalk at Third Avenue. After that, Councilmembers Bill de Blasio and Sara Gonzales held an unprecedented joint public hearing of City Council's transportation, public safety and education committees putting intense pressure on DOT to come up with a plan to improve pedestrian safety.

dizzys.jpgIn July 2005 a vehicle taking a left turn off of 9th Street collided with a sedan speeding recklessly down Eighth Avenue sending the sedan into the front door of Dizzy's Diner. Miraculously, no one was hurt. After that incident, a 9th Street resident named Konrad Kaletsch teamed up with the owners of Dizzy's, to launch a petition drive for pedestrian safety improvements around the intersection of 8th Avenue and 9th Street. They collected 1,187 signatures and even got Borough President Markowitz pushing DOT to make some immediate fixes. DOT told the community that they would be back with a more detailed plan at a later date.

Less than two years after the community outcry, DOT has come forward with a thoughtful, detailed plan. It promises to improve pedestrian safety, smooth out and calm traffic flow and provide cyclists with bike lanes along a key route on New York City's bike map. And while the transportation committee of Community Board 6 was impressed enough with DOT's plan to vote to recommend it to the full board, a number of 9th Street residents are absolutely infuriated by it. Why?

Here is one what community member told the Park Slope Courier newspaper:

The bike lanes will effectively "stop us from using our street," Robert Levine, co-president of the 9th Street Block Association, told Community Board 6's Transportation Committee last week. Levine, a member of the board, said the lanes would make it harder for residents to double-park in order to drop off packages at home, or pick up family members.

Ninth Street residents handed out a flyer at the last meeting of the Park Slope Civic Council bullet pointing a number of objections to DOT's 9th Street plan. These include:

    • These changes should have been done as a proposal, not a plan.
    • There will be a hardship for people living on Ninth Street because of the inability to stop and drop off passengers or unload their vehicles because of the bike lane.
    • Bike riders should not be placed in danger by routing them on the busiest street in the neighborhood.
    • Pedestrian safety will also be negatively affected. Bike traffic is harder to see from the curb than vehicular traffic.
    • There are nearby existing bike lanes such as on Third Street.

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