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CB 1 Stalls Bike Lane Because of “Left Turn of Death” Where No One Has Died

5:15 PM EDT on October 13, 2016

Since at least 2009, no one has died at the intersection of Varick and Metropolitan, according to city data. Image: Brooklyn CB 1
Brooklyn CB1 leadership sent a packet to all its members opposing a bike lane, and this was the cover page.
Since at least 2009, no one has died at the intersection of Varick and Metropolitan, according to city data. Image: Brooklyn CB 1

The leadership at Brooklyn Community Board 1 is pulling out all the stops to delay or block DOT's plan for safer bike infrastructure on the Metropolitan Avenue Bridge.

After a meeting last month, CB 1 leadership sent a packet to all board members arguing that the project should not move forward until DOT makes changes at the intersection of Metropolitan Avenue and Varick Avenue [PDF].

DOT first presented the Metropolitan Avenue bike lane project to the CB 1 transportation committee more than two years ago -- in June 2014 -- and since then the plan has undergone multiple revisions [PDF].

Last month, the board voted to table the project. In an unsigned email statement to Streetsblog after the meeting, CB 1 said DOT’s project “failed to address” the “extremely dangerous” left turn from westbound Metropolitan Avenue onto Varick Avenue, just east of the bridge. The cover page of the packet that CB 1 sent around calls it the "left turn of death."

But no one has been killed at that intersection going back at least to 2009, when the data available on the city's Vision Zero View tool begins. While CB 1's packet, citing the 90th Precinct, claims nine cyclists were injured at the intersection since 2014, official city data show only two cyclist injuries near that location in the same time frame, and it's not clear they were caused by left turns. Most intersections within the project area have higher injury rates.

The board's leadership appears to simply be stonewalling, using this not-especially-dangerous intersection as a feeble pretext to block a safety project.

Meanwhile, hundreds of people on bikes continue to ride across the Metropolitan Avenue Bridge each day, and DOT could reduce the risk of injury to them by going ahead with the bike lane plan regardless of CB 1's objections.

CB 1 meets tonight at 6 p.m. at the Swinging Sixties Senior Center in Williamsburg. Arrive early to sign up to speak.

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