CB6 Asks DOT to Find a Final Solution to the “Bicycle Problem”

Community Board 6 was grumpy about the idea of bike lanes on 9th Street.

At last night’s Community Board 6 meeting in Brooklyn DOT Deputy Commissioner Michael Primeggia’s "One Way? No Way!" proposal was shot down decisively, the Grand Army Plaza bike and ped improvements passed unanimously, and the 9th Street pedestrian safety, traffic-calming and bike lane project was, after a lengthy discussion, sign-waving and a split vote, "tabled" for further discussion with DOT. Members of CB6, apparently, prefer to maintain 9th Street’s status as the neighborhood street with the most appalling number of car crashes, injuries and fatalities.

The quote of the evening came from Bob Levine, head of the Ninth Street Block Association when he said — and to fully appreciate it read it using your best 1940s movie German accent — "We need to find the best Solution to the Bicycle Problem." (E-mail Transportation Alternatives for your free copy of the Protocols of the Elders of Cycling).

The animosity on display last night against bicyclists was intense. One could have left the meeting thinking that New York City’s crushing traffic congestion, parking angst, endless horn honking, pedestrian injuries and fatalities, asthma- and cancer-causing particulate matter, greenhouse gas emissions, high automobile insurance rates, the $3 gallon, and addict-like dependence on oil from countries that hate America must be the fault of Park Slope residents who would like a safe way to ride a bike to the 9th Street YMCA. Fortunately, we got most of the discussion on video tape so you’ll be able to see the profound dysfunction of New York City governance on the local level for yourself.

In honor of last night’s meeting we’ve created a new category here at Streetsblog called "Community Board Reform." This is the first post. Here is Gowanus Lounge’s coverage of the meeting:  

During a nearly 3 1/2 hour meeting last night in Park Slope, Community Board Six
disposed of the one-way proposal for Sixth and Seventh Avenues that had
sparked an outpouring of neighborhood opposition. It also decided not to act on a surprisingly controversial plan to install bike lanes and other "traffic calming" measures on Ninth Street. (Contrary to an incorrect NY Sun headline proclaiming a victory for the plan.)

Council Member Bill DeBlasio
arrived while the meeting was underway and spoke in support of the
proposals, noting that he’d gotten a commitment from the Police
Department not to ticket cars that are double-parked in the bike lanes
and from DOT to continue the bike lane down Prospect Park West so that
bicyclists would enter the park at 15th Street rather than 9th Street.
(The double parking issue emerged as the crux of neighborhood
opposition to the plan, with residents fearing that a bike lane would
interfere with their ability to double park while picking up people or
running into a store.) The board, meanwhile, said it had gotten about
140 emails and faxes in favor of the proposal and 80 opposed. The
Board’s Transportation Committee had voted in favor of the plan.

Board Member Bob Levine, who also heads the Ninth Street Block Association,
led opposition to the plan, saying that steps needed to be taken to
address the "bicycle problem" and that the plan was "idiotic and asking
for trouble." Several members, however, spoke strongly in favor of the
proposal. One noted that "bike lanes will make cycling much safer" and
that "If I were parking my car on Ninth Street, I’d rather step out
into a bike lane than speeding traffic." Another said that bicyclists
are a public safety threat and that "bicyclists should be licensed."

"I thought if there is going to be a good place for a bike route, this is it," said member Louise Finney, who is also a Trustee of the Park Slope Civic Council. "This would be a great traffic calming device."

Board Member Anthony Pugliese,
who is an organizer with the District Council of Carpenters, got a
laugh from crowd, speaking in favor of the proposal and saying, "What
is this, Bensonhurst? These are bicycles.

In the end, the Community Board voted to send the proposal back to its Transportation Committee for further discussion with DOT and to ask DOT not to act until the discussions are completed.

The Board also voted unanimously to support significant traffic and pedestrian improvements to Grand Army Plaza.

Photo: Robert Guskind

  • Pro Bike

    Were there fifty people waving signs supporting 9th street traffic calming? The picture of the meeting room shows lots of empty seats.

    500 people showed for the No Way, One Way. Couldn’t one in ten have showed up for 9th Street? TA must have 1000 members in CB 6. Couldnt a tiny fraction turn out?

    The selfish motorists will always come out to preserve their free parking, double parking and whatever else they are getting away with. Park Slope is the heart of livable streets country. This was a chance for livable streets supporters to show they support change. The revolution will not be won through a fax and email campaign. People need to show up and speak out.

  • Charlie D.

    I would guess that many of those who are opposed to the bike lanes or who are skeptical about bicycling in general simply are not aware of the actual risks of bicycling compared to the perception. There is a definite lack of information, especially among many older residents who do not bicycle themselves, about the safety of bicycling and effects on traffic that bicyclists have. The important thing is not to alienate them, but to make them aware of the realities and bring them on board.

  • Eric

    There were several of us with “Say Yes to DOT’s plan for a safer 9th Street” signs, but we may have been slightly outnumbered by the “defenders of 9th Street status quo.” A more significant turnout from the cycling and transportation-advocacy community would’ve helped — maybe. The way the Community Board meetings are structured, though, with no public comment until after all the CB business has been conducted, faxes and emails in advance might actually have been just as, if not more, effective.

  • da

    There is no sense in sending the proposal back to the CB6 Transpo Committee for further discussions with DOT. It’s a good plan, and the CB6 Transpo Committee approved it.

    But CB6 Board will never approve this plan as long as it contains bike lanes, so there’s really nothing more to discuss. DOT should override CB6 and proceed with the plan.

  • Anne

    unfortunately, a big part of The Bicycle Problem is Problem Bikers. they create a really good excuse to marginalize us all.

    if cyclists want more support from the community at large, the few who give us all a bad rep (and i’m not just talking about messengers and food delivery guys) really need to be called out. we’ve all seen bikers cut off pedestrians in crosswalks, fly through intersections filled with people, and commit lots of other selfish acts that do nothing to endear us to other non-automotive streets users. (sorry… wearing headphones while cycling in the city is incredibly stupid and deserves a ticket.)

  • Can someone explain the Bensonhurst joke to me?

  • My grandmother lives in Bensonhurst – the last time I was there I saw a lot of bikes…I don’t get the joke either.

  • ddartley

    Warning–many exclamation marks and capital letters follow:

    First, I have not followed this 9th St. story closely; there’s a chance I’m overlooking something that might make my comment irrelevant.


    I so often feel this way–Why fight over a bike lane?!

    If the bike lane in this case is ONLY for traffic calming and,–as DeBlasio and even Streetsblog(!) have hinted strongly–not going to be protected for cyclists, (and that’s even used as a selling point!) then WHY have a fight over it?

    SCRAP the bike lane, and just reduce the speed limit! And yes, redesign the street so the speed limit is self-enforcing, but not with a bike lane, which become the subject of long, bloody and costly fights, and of course is a VERY imperfect solution for cyclists to begin with! With cars being slowed down enough (by law and layout), cyclists will finally have the confidence and the publicly-known right to TAKE A REAL LANE! Not the GUTTER, which is the dangerous trap that bike lanes AND convention offer to cyclists. Ay, dios mio!

    I’m a total amateur and mere hobbyist in this stuff, and don’t know all that much–maybe there’s good reason that I don’t hear about any big movement to reduce the 30 mph speed limit, but over and over and over again, it seems that that is the one and only thing that could solve DOZENS of safety and fair-use problems.

    Reduce the legal speed limit, physically change the street to self-enforce that limit (learned about that here!), but with less politically divisive things than bike lanes (e.g. widen sidewalk, etc., etc.)! And end up HELPING CYCLISTS MORE THAN A BIKE LANE WOULD!

    (all this despite having recently finished my drawings for the Center-of-Avenue bike lane that I’ve long touted as a panacea. But really, if car speeds could be substantially reduced, then even my brilliant, Leonardo-like bike lane design would be useless, and that would be GREAT!)

  • Two points regarding bike lanes:

    1) Well-designed buffered bike lanes (e.g., the Eighth Evenue bike lane) give cyclists a full lane and do not place cyclists in the gutter.

    2) Motorists who double park in bike lanes are simply inconsiderate and too lazy to cross the street. Instead of ticketing drivers parked in bike lanes, the NYPD should politely tell drivers to double park on the other side of the street. (This is, in fact, what I tell drivers I encounter in bike lanes.)

  • These are bike lanes with a 3-foot buffer on an overly wide, low traffic street that basically dead-ends at Prospect Park. They’re really good lanes. They’d be a big help. Much more useful than street signs telling drivers a speed limit.

  • mork

    Unfortunately, a big part of The Car Problem is Problem Drivers. They create a really good excuse to marginalize all drivers.

    Like those maniacs who insist on breaking the law by double-parking whenever it’s convenient!

  • In Berkeley, we have a “slow street,” a short stretch of street where speeds are reduced to 15 mph using speed humps. It makes the street significantly safer for bicycling (on the stretches where there are enough speed humps to actually keep the traffic to that speed), and it was supported by residents as well as by bicyclists.

    For more info, see Clarence’s video about Berkeley’s Bike Boulevards.

  • Charlie D.

    If you narrow the street so that bicyclists must be forced to take the lane, bicyclists will simply find another street. The perceived inconvenience felt by bicyclists in preventing motorists from passing is typically enough to deter bicyclists from using the street at all.

    A wide lane can accommodate bicyclists and motorists sharing the roadway, however as others have mentioned, it doesn’t have a traffic calming effect like bike lanes do, nor does it have as much appeal to as many different abilities of bicyclists as bike lanes do.

  • ddartley

    Per my disclaimer above, it may be a truly great plan. If I had to choose between doing it or doing nothing, I would definitely be for it. I just think we can do even better than it, and save a lot of conflict.

    I’m much more inclined to have faith in something like what Charles Siegel describes in 12 (and has been featured here). I just wish that in cities, streets of that kind were not known as “slow streets,” but just “streets!”

    Aaron, I agree that street signs alone are probably useless, but I think that changing the law by reducing the 30mph speed limit would make a broad statement to our culture that would be an equally important and necessary factor in making entire cities safer. And yes, Class II lanes with big buffers are IMO the best they can be, but still not good enough. Maybe my wishes are just not realistic?

    John, yes, drivers who park in bike lanes are a problem, and I used to try, like you, to advise them politely, but they are EVERYWHERE. I’ve discussed this with people here before, and I still think that if EVERY cyclist in NYC did what you do, it still wouldn’t be enough to make much of a difference. I think addressing people directly is always the best first approach, rather than trying to legislate them into compliance, but in this case, I just don’t think it will make a dent. So again, I say the city must legally and physically slow down cars, and obviate the need for bike lanes!! Or, if there are cetain Avenues that the City just won’t slow, then put a “car-crossable” (but not “travelable”), WIDE bike lane in the avenue’s CENTER, and give that bike lane a lead green light, so that bikes trying to get into the avenue from a side street, or out of the ave TO a side street, or just forward on the ave, can do so safely before the cars around them are allowed to move.

  • ddartley

    Charlie D., to your first paragraph, you are absolutely right. I say THAT’S why cities should lower the speed limits AND “calm,” not one or the other. Most cyclists can do 15 mph. On city streets, why should cars be allowed to go faster than that? For what purpose? We’ve got some highways; cars can do 30 and up THERE.

    (Again, 30 mph is the speed where people start DYING–and that’s IN cars.)

  • JK

    There are already cyclists on 9th St. I doubt they’ve aroused controvery or generated complaints. Resident motorists are afraid of increased parking enforcement and an end to the decades of wink and nod the cops give to double parking.

    This plan is not very controversial from a traffic engineering perspective — far less than say closing a large arterial street like the Prospect Park Drive.

    Some of the issue here is generational and the reality that public attitudes about the role of streets and that of the car in the city are changing. A lot of the folks who have trouble with this proposal grew up in a city where twice as many pedestrians were struck and killed and where there were far fewer cars and far less affluence. It was the norm then to aspire to have a car in Brooklyn and seek to use it. Things are changing and this is an example of the friction aroused by change. The community boards were established to help preserve neighborhoods from development — they are status quo protectors, not centers of dynamism or change. What’s happening here in CB 6 is the first sign of success: the DOT is proposing good changes. The next step will be when the CBs are proposing good changes to the DOT, and DOT listens. Which doesnt happen as much.

  • Charlie D.

    ddartley, I totally agree that speed limits should be lowered AND calming should be put in place. However, if you thought bike lanes were controversial, I suspect that proposing to these same motorists complaining about bike lanes that they be limited to the speed of the bicyclist in front of them, they will really be in an uproar.

  • Ken

    Be careful of what you ask for. I live in a Florida community where the mayor went crazy with “traffic calming.” On streets where there would be blocks of empty parking, essentially creating a bike lane, they threw in planters about every 100 yards, meaning that you now have to take the lane all the time to keep from popping in and out dodging the planters.

    Streets that used to be wide enough for a car and a bike to comfortably share a lane were narrowed to where you have to take the lane and cork the roadway.

    Fancy brick speed humps were installed. Yep, they force cars to slow down, but they’re slick and jar your teeth out on a high-pressure bike tire.

    They built funky bike lanes – glorified sidewalks – out of the same brick. As if that wasn’t enough, they only put them on one side of the road, so folks essentially have to ride against traffic and be put at risk of being hit by drivers not expecting traffic from that direction.

    The mayor spent ungodly amounts of money to build speed humps on streets that were so potholed that nobody could get up any speed anyway.

    It wasn’t until the fire chief started showing up a planning meetings to explain how traffic calming slowed emergency response and meant that some of their equipment couldn’t go down certain streets because of narrow roundabouts that some of the madness stopped. Fortunately, we have a new mayor. Unfortunately, I suspect that my tax money will probably be spent a few years down the road to undo some of the calming that I paid for under the previous regime.

  • Miguel

    Those of you who paint the residents of 9th St as behind the times fail to grasp the basic objections to the plan. The major failure was in DOT not soliciting an appropriate level of feedback from residents to begin with. The concerns are quite legitimate and include:

    1) The fact that 9th St. is a very busy and dangerous steet for a bike lane- There are better alternatives for bikes and DOT should work with the community to find a safer street to create a bike lane.

    2) DOT’s route could create more of a hazard for Prospect park pedestrian users since the bike lanes would terminate onto walking paths. This makes no sense. The 9th St park entrance is a PEDESTRIAN entrance – this is a problem.

    3) DOT should not completely limit the ability to drop off or pick up passengers on both sides of the street. Think about it – people do need a certain level of access by car, double-parking to unload groceries should not be a crime. Elderly and disabled residents need access to drop-off/pick-up by car. And also, 9th St is a very commercial St., espec btwn 4th and 5th Ave’s. Deliveries occur thru-out the day.

    4) If DOT implements the traffic calming measures (Left turn Lanes) residents are asking that they review the results of the changes to make sure they haven’t created a traffic back-up on our streets. Is that such a terrible request. 9th St is a high traffic volume street. The volume is not going to simply go away because they eliminate a lane. Residents do not want increased congestion and the noise pollution that comes with it.

    Bottom-line, the DOT allienated residents from the very beginning and that was a big mistake.

  • nimby pimby

    Did you pay ANY attention to the presentation? It seems not.

    1) It is not busy. In fact, it carries too few cars for its width. It is dangerous because it is too wide. It is dangerous–all the more reason to make it safer for cyclists. It is dangerous–all the more reason to make it safer for pedestrians.

    2) Guess what? Roads do not continue forever. Sometimes they end. Hence the bike lane ends. Rather than presenting this as a problem, why not come up with some solution that would discourage cyclists from entering the pedestrian path? I have a feeling, though, that they won’t design it in a way that encourages cyclists to do that.

    3) The solution to the problem you present is fewer cars, not more lanes of traffic. Another solution is to change the parking regs adn or meter it as was mentioned before. Besides that, what’s more important, having double parking to pick-up/drop-off elerly people and disabled people or a street that keeps them from being hit by cars?

    4) See the presentation. The volume isn’t there in the first place.

    Your comments are a perfect example of why working with the so-called “community” is problematic. You only have a perception of problems that do not exist on a broad or long-term basis. Going to a small group of people who get involved and asking them to help design something like this comes up with solutions that benefit the small group, not necessarily the whole community. However, Aaron previously pointed to the CRISP process in London which sounds promising and interesting as a productive way to engage the community. I’d be very curious, as others have said, to see how it’s worked out there.

  • Calmer

    Finally, a 9th Street opponent who is, at least, rational. Miguel, a few responses to your points:

    * The major failure was in DOT not soliciting an appropriate level of feedback from residents to begin with.

    Yes and no. DOT is lousy at including neighborhoods in their planning processes. They just don’t do it. However, as noted on this blog, DOT’s plan is a direct response to years of community requests to make 9th Street safer following tragic deaths on Third and 9th, Seventh and 9th, and 1200 signatures following a car through the front door of Dizzy’s at Eighth and 9th. It is up to 9th Street residents to come to committee meetings regarding plans like these. DOT isn’t going to come knock on your door.

    * The fact that 9th St. is a very busy and dangerous steet for a bike lane — There are better alternatives for bikes.

    Do you actually use a bike? 9th St. has been a bike route for years and is ideal for bike lanes. It is overly broad and has very low traffic counts especially above 5th Ave. It has plenty of space for bike lanes. It basically dead-ends into Prospect Park, a major cyclist destination. There is no better street in the neighborhood for bike lanes, actually. Via Prospect Park 9th Street will create a direct bike link from Central Brooklyn to Red Hook.

    * DOT’s route could create more of a hazard for Prospect park pedestrian users.

    Really? Could you provide us with some data or even just some anecdotal information from the Prospect Park Alliance about bikes causing all of this trouble on the park’s pedestrian paths?

    * DOT should not completely limit the ability to drop off or pick up passengers on both sides of the street.

    This plan does not limit anyone’s ability to double-park their car for pick-ups and drop-offs. Miguel: Walk over to Fifth Avenue and check out the bike lanes on that busy commercial corridor. Check out how 3rd Street residents double-park off the bike lane on street cleaning days.

    * residents are asking that they review the results of the changes to make sure they haven’t created a traffic back-up on our streets.

    Explain how the left-turn bays on 9th Street would create back-ups anywhere? It’ll be the exact same number of cars taking left turns. They’ll just be doing so in a far safer way.

    Miguel: You live on a beautiful block that also happens to have the most dangerous intersections in Park Slope. You are fighting a really good plan that will make your intersections safer and, to be totally crass, your property values higher. This is a huge win for you and your neighbors. Wake up.

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    Of all the objections to these plans, the silliest has to be “DOT didn’t consult us first.” The one-way avenue plan died a deserved death because it was crass, deceptive and dangerous, not because DOT didn’t consult the community.

    In this case, and unfortunately it seems fairly common, DOT came up with the plan in response to a request from one segment of the community (the Dizzy’s owners and customers), but the PSCC and the Ninth Street Block Association got upset because they weren’t consulted. Yes, maybe the pro-safety people could have built a broader coalition, and the DOT could have done more outreach, but I don’t think that counts as “the major failure” or a sufficient reason to reject the plan.

  • Calmer


    The “one segment of the community” includes 1,187 people who signed a petition for improved pedestrian safety that was sitting out on the corner of 8th Ave. and 9th St. in front of Dizzy’s for about two weeks. I would bet that at least 50% of the people currently complaining about DOT’s plan signed the petition. That being said, if DOT had sold their plan more as a response to this community request and less as a bike plan, they’d have done 10x better and saved us from a whole lot of strife.

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    Sorry, I didn’t mean to imply that the segment of the community that signed the petition was small or insignificant. I do think that they probably represent the majority opinion in the area.

    As with the Houston Street plan, I think there’s a clear consensus in favor of traffic calming, and I hate to see it derailed by the perception of this being a “bicycle problem.” If the plan instead were to widen the sidewalks, wouldn’t there be a clear majority, leaving the double-parkers on the out?

  • 9th Street resident for bike lanes

    It’s nice to know that there’s a place like this where so many really intelligent people can prove their points so eloquently while laughingly and arrogantly dismissing the very real and genuine feelings of a disenfranchised citizenry. Boy, those 9th Street people are really dumb and ignorant, aren’t they? We have facts and figures to back that up, don’t we?

    If DOT proposes bike lanes we must support them at all costs, right? It’s okay if DOT steamrolls communities. Especially the ignorant ones like mine.

    Isn’t it a bit hypocritical to give carte blanche on this issue, but when the misguided engineers at DOT try to ram something else down our throats that we don’t like we’re the first ones to stand up and fight for our right to be heard?

    You can’t have it both ways. The process of planning public spaces should be a public one. Period.

    Now tell me how ignorant me and my neighbors are for simply demanding the right to participate in an inclusive process.

    Educate, don’t browbeat. Support, don’t segregate. There’s more at stake here than you realize.

  • Atlantic-Flatbush

    9th Street Resident,

    Talk about arrogance. A small group of your neighbors are trying to undermine a public process that has been underway since February 2004 when two little little boys were killed on your street at 3rd Avenue and three City Council members demanded that DOT make 9th Street safer.

    That process gained urgency when an elderly woman was mowed down at 7th Avenue in August 2004. And the community process finally kicked DOT into action in August 2005 when a car slammed into Dizzy’s and 1200 people, perhaps yourself included, signed a petition, initiated by 9th St. businesses and residents, demanding DOT to plan a safer intersection.

    You live on one of the most dangerous streets in Park Slope. People have been trying to get the city to do something about it for years.

    DOT doesn’t do very many public planning processes. However, if you are or have been so interested in participating more fully in a public planning process then that is something that your block association could have started at any time. This blog covers numerous such efforts all around the city. We have known since at least the summer 2005 that DOT was working on this plan.

    The people at DOT who developed this plan, you should know, are not the people who developed the 6/7 one-way plan. It is night and day the way these two proposals came together. We still don’t know what problem the 6/7 proposal was trying to solve (well, we do. Atlantic Yards). We know exactly what problems this plan is solving (too many crashes).

    There is a reason why CB6’s rather conservative transpo committee voted in favor of this plan. It is really good. It makes our neighborhood streets — your street — safer and more functional. It accomodates all users, even cyclists. It has virtually no downside. It answers the community’s concerns expressed over and over again the last few years.

    There are many places within a 15 block radius of your house where we need to fight very hard right now for better community planning processes and public participation. This is one of the few places where we don’t.

  • sell your car

    More than half the people in Brooklyn don’t have a car. How do they possibly live? How do they live without double parking or driving to the grocery store, or double parking, or driving to wherever and double parking?

    Enough already. You 9th Street car owners are selfish. You want free parking, free double parking, parking in front of your house. People are getting killed and run over and you can’t think beyond your right to park for free on public land. Talk about entitlement. Pathetic that DiBlasio kisses your butts instead of calling you out as selfish and unneighborly.

  • Steve

    The concern that the bicycle lane should not terminate at a pedestrian entrance to Prospect Park seems like a red herring.

    Last year, DOT installed class II bicycle lanes on West 77th and 78th Streets. The eastbound lane terminates at an entrance to Central Park designed for but closed to motor vehicles, which is commonly used by pedestrians. The westbound lane terminates at a pedestrian entrance to Riverside Park. I use these lanes all the time I have not experienced or seen any unusual pedestrian-bicyclist conflicts or safety issues.

    dartley, I agree with you on the speed limits. While a proposed *citywide* reduction to 25 MPH is politically DOA at present, imposing lower limits on particular blocks is not. DOT frequently does it near schools. In fact, a DOT school safety reports issued last fall recommended installation of a bike lane to lower speeds on Parsons Blvd., without even discussing whether cyclists needed or wanted the lane (see pages 25-26 here: http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/pdf/qnbvm.pdf).

    This demonstrates that DOT bike lane projects may be driven more by the need to install 200 miles of lanes by some deadline, or by local traffic calming issues, than the needs of bicyclists. The 9th Street lane discussed here has great merit from a bicycle infrastructure perspective because it connects Red Hook and Park Slope. However its value is undercut when it is delivered with assurances from the local city councilmember and precinct chief that the rules against double-parking in the bike lane will not be enforced, and even bicycling advocates attempting to soft-peddle the impact of the lanes on double parking. A Class II lane without enforcement can be more dangerous for bicyclists than no lane at all, because it concentrates bicyclists on a roadway where they will have to zip in and out of traffic to avoid parked cars.

    I don’t live in the Slope anymore so I don’t have a vote to cast on this project, but as a general matter I think it would be better to push DOT to dig a little deeper in the traffic-calming toolbox for alternative approaches like lower speed limits, speed humps, and sidewalk widening, than propose bike lanes as a panacea for traffic calming.

  • 9th Street resident for bike lanes

    To “Atlantic-Flatbush”

    I really don’t think what my neighbors and I were doing was undermining a public process because I guess that I differ with your view of what constitutes a public process.

    I don’t consider my making a complaint to DOT by signing a petition, then having the black box of planning at DOT spit out a prepackaged solution to cram down my throat a public process. The black box is the problem. It isn’t public.

    If there were a public process you wouldn’t have a disenfranchised citizenry such as we do. Our feelings are legitimate. You’ve felt this way too at some time dealing with DOT, haven’t you?

    To “sell your car”

    I don’t own a car. I have 3 bicycles, a scooter and a skateboard. You’re nasty and abusive and assume too much.

    At least Council Member de Blasio recognizes that a community is made up of more than just bicyclists with Internet connections. I guess opinions from people who don’t have Internet connections, maybe because they’re older, or even non-cyclists, don’t count?

    I think that’s what folks in the audience thought Aaron was suggesting the other night when he attacked the Community Board at the end of their meeting. Wonder if he’ll be releasing that footage on this site.

  • da

    9th St. res,

    Arguments about “the process” are bogus. The process is what the process is; everyone agrees it could be improved. Sometimes we get a bad plan like one-way streets and we gag. Sometimes we get a good plan like 9th St. or GAP and we cheer. We should all try to improve “the process” but in the meantime we have to evaluate each plan on its merits.

    According to you, we would have to reject the GAP plan too (and every DOT plan for that matter) because it was “prepackaged”. Do you reject the GAP changes on the basis of process?

    Re: 9th St., “process” arguments aside, what is it specifically about the plan that you dislike?

  • MD

    9th Street Resident:

    The DOT made a presentation to your neighbors two weeks ago and this is what I heard from them at the CB6 transpo meeting:

    -a threat to run over cyclists with cars, (which was met by laughter by another ninth street resident)

    -the assertion that “no one” on 9th Street owns a bicycle – from a 76-year resident

    -the assertion, by several people, that I should not ride on ninth street, but should take third street instead (Aside from the fact that third street is too narrow, I happen to ride my kids from PS 107 to the Ninth St. playground, baseball fields, etc, but why I choose ninth street is none of your neighbors’ business)

    And you tell me they’re “demanding the right to participate”. Please.

  • JK

    The criticism about DOT not giving neighborhoods enough time to evaluate proposals is a good one.

    Maybe it would make sense for DOT to send draft proposals via the internet for posting on community board websites much earlier. People could also sign-up for to receive proposals from DOT directly. Aaron essentially did this on Streetsblog, but not very far in advance of the meeting. DOT could solicit comments to their draft and attempt to address some with their presentation. This process would give DOT the chance to tailor their presentations to community concerns and react to new ideas in a much more efficient way then the standard community meeting.

    Granted, there is a digital divide issue, but this would allow people to have more time to mull over and respond.

    I’d be interested to hear what the ideal process would like from people like poster 23 who supports lanes on 9th. My guess is that DOT currently has about 1/100th of the people it would need to do the level of outreach most people on this blog seek. That’s why coming up with ways that use what they do have better is important.

  • John

    Here’s the text of a letter I just mailed to Mayor Bloomberg regarding cars double-parked in the bike lane on Grand Street. I sent a similar letter to the Mayor regarding Lafayette Street a few months ago, and a police officer actually called and ackowledged my letter. Anyway, here’s the letter I sent today:

    April 13, 2007

    Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg
    City Hall
    New York NY 10007

    RE: Cars Parked Illegally in the Bike Lane on Grand Street

    Dear Mayor Bloomberg:

    I am writing to complain about Captain Frank Dwyer and the police officers under his command in the Seventh Precinct, who are failing and/or refusing to enforce Traffic Regulation 4-08(e), which prohibits parking, standing or stopping motor vehicles in bike lanes.

    Last year, the Department of Transportation created a new bike lane on Grand Street in the Lower East Side and Chinatown. I would like to use this bike lane to commute safely from my apartment in the East Village to my job at Civil Court at 111 Centre Street. Unfortunately, large numbers of inconsiderate motorists double park their cars in the bike lane every day, forcing me to swerve into automobile traffic and risk an accident. This situation is particularly bad during the evening rush hour between 5:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. between Centre Street and Pitt Street.

    This afternoon while I was cycling home from work, I was nearly run down by an inattentive motorist as he pulled his car — which was double-parked in the bike lane — out into traffic. Even though he was at fault, he swore at me, and we got into a heated argument.

    After the incident, I stopped at the Seventh Precinct police station at 19 ½ Pitt Street. There, I spoke with Officer Ortiz (Badge Number 19683). I complained that there were numerous cars in the bike lane on Grand Street, and I described my argument with the motorist. However, Officer Ortiz told me that the police department is powerless to do anything about the motorists who brazenly violate Traffic Regulation 4-08(e) with impunity on Grand Street every day.

    Please contact Captain Dwyer and urge him and the officers under his command to vigorously enforce the regulation that prohibits parking, standing or stopping in bike lanes. From my point of view as a cyclist, this is an important issue of public safety. I don’t understand why the NYPD doesn’t see it that way, too.

    Yours truly,

    John K. Hunka

    Cc: Noah Budnick, Transportation Alternatives

  • da

    Re: Bensonhurst

    Here in Park Slope our Community Board votes down traffic calming and vehemently resists bike lanes in order to defend a “right” to double-park cars.

    Meanwhile, today’s Brooklyn Paper brings news that Assemblyman William Colton (D-Bensonhurst) has proposed a bill that would ban plastic bags from grocery stores.

    “These plastic bags are absolutely a grave threat to the community,” said Colton. “It makes no sense to use bags when we have the capability to do better for our environment.”


    Bensonhurst may be the new Park Slope (and vice versa).

  • 9th Street Resident,

    If you’re up for it, I would like to get together with you either in person or on the phone to run through DOT’s 9th Street plan (if you haven’t seen it), explain why I think it is such a beneficial thing for the neighborhood, and describe how it is, in my opinion, somewhat extraordinarily responsive to long-standing community concerns given DOT’s history on these issues.

    Shoot an email to tips@streetsblog.org if you’re interested.

    Also, my intent was not to attack the Community Board the other night. I wanted to make sure that they realized that 9th Street is one of the most dangerous streets in the neighborhood. Cars crash and people are hurt and killed there at an alarming rate. And by voting to "table" a very solid traffic safety plan that people have been pushing DOT to do for years and that their transportation committee approved, the Community Board was, essentially, maintaining this unacceptable status quo.

    If I came across as abrasive it’s probably because I was appalled that double-parking privileges and bicyclists seemed to be a far more urgent concern to Community Board members than two 5th grade boys and a 77-year-old woman who were all killed for nothing more than crossing a poorly designed street.


  • 9th Street Resident Too

    As a resident of 9th Street who is strongly in favor of DOT’s plan, I am disappointed that a small group of my vocal neighbors are able to claim to speak on behalf of my neighbors and me.

    I ride on 9th Street becuase i need to to leave my house, go to the Y, the Post Office, the library, CTown, the shoe repairman etc… when i ride on 9th street now (on a daily basis) it is always a bit chaotic – for me as a cyclist as well as for motorists and pedestrians. I think this plan would calm things down and increase safety for all invovled.

    I am sure that DOT’s process was not ideal. It never is and that’s soemthing which should be addressed. City agenices, whether City Planning or DOT, all too often think they know what’s best for a community and draw up the plans with little knowledge of what’s best for a community. To me, though, this does not mean that a good, solid plan which will increase safety of motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists alike, should be shot down.

  • Clarence

    9th Street Councilperson De Blasio supports the DOT’s plan with the caveat: “as long as residents are not ticketed for double parking”….

    So essentially it comes down to – we are ignoring a law breaking activity (double parking). I would love to see what he feels about bicycles riding on the sidewalk. Is that then okay too?

    I don’t advocate it, nor do I do it, but would seem if we should give drivers a break for double parking then cyclists should get a similar outspoken break from the Councilman.

  • The speed limit should be lowered on 9th Street, and the speed limit should be enforced. If the current 30 MPH speed limit was enforced, that would be good. Many people fail to realize that the speed limit on all NYC streets is 30 MPH, because it is not posted. Many cars are travelling well over the 30 MPH speed limit as it stands now. Some states have passed laws against not only drunk driving, but Aggressive driving as well. Aggressive driving should be outlawed in New York. Aggressive driving includes any motorist who expects pedestrians and bicyclists to be frightened out of the way. You know what these aggressive drivers do, they “floor it”, meaning they push the accelerator pedal all the way to the floor, and the car will reach 50 or 60 MPH.
    It’s about time the speed limit was enforced strictly. Maybe some of the bicycle messengers should recieve speeding tickets, because they are going 35 MPH, which is over the speed limit.
    Speed bumps mean nothing to the SUV’s, which have off-road suspensions meant for driving over fallen trees and boulders.
    People shouldn’t be afraid to walk, ride a bike, or drive a tiny car or velomobile. Pedicabs (bicycle rickshaws) are a realistic way to get around.
    If you are incapable of walking the distance, you should tell your doctor that you want an electric wheelchair, the scooter kind with four wheels. Electric wheelchairs have a range of 12 miles on a full charge. Medicare will pay up to four hundred dollars ($400.00) so you can get an electric scooter, and you won’t be so dependent on cabs.

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    Aviation, I agree in general about lowering speeds, but speed limits and enforcement are expensive and inefficient. This Charles Addams cartoon captures the problem with speed limit signs:


    Traffic calming through road design is much more effective and doesn’t require such a high police presence.


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