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Brooklyn CB 10 Wants to Work With Cyclists on Safe East/West Bike Routes for Southern Brooklyn

The bulk of DOT’s plan for east-west bike connections in southern Brooklyn consists of sharrows on Bath Avenue. Image: DOT

Brooklyn Community Board 10 wants to work on a "safe east/west connection for cyclists" across southern Brooklyn, CB 10 leaders told DOT Borough Commissioner Keith Bray in a letter this week [PDF].

Earlier this month, CB 10 rejected a DOT plan for painted bike lanes and sharrows linking the Shore Parkway Greenway with points east via 91st Street, 92nd Street, and Bath Avenue [PDF], on the grounds that it didn't do enough to make cycling safe.

The board passed a resolution on June 18 calling for DOT to work with people who bike in the neighborhood on a more robust east/west route.

"The Board's goal is to establish a safe east/west connection for cyclists and create an ad-hoc committee of location advocates and representatives from the New York City Department of Transportation so that those who travel by bike can help inform us of the safest route," board chair Doris Cruz and district manager Josephine Beckman wrote to Bray.

CB 10 has a history of contesting DOT safety projects without giving much thought to safe bicycling conditions. In 2011, the board rebuffed plans to calm traffic on 50-foot-wide Bay Ridge Parkway with unprotected bike lanes. The next year, the board came up with its own proposed bike lanes, which were partially implemented in 2015, mostly with sharrows. The travel lanes on Bay Ridge Parkway have since been narrowed, but with a median buffer instead of bike lanes.

At the time, council members Vincent Gentile and Domenic Recchia, as well as then-Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, came out against DOT's bike lane plan.

But local politics have changed since then. Recently-elected Bay Ridge Council Member Justin Brannan has expressed support for protected bike lanes in the district, although multiple inquiries to Brannan's office this week were not returned.

Bay Ridge resident Brian Hedden thinks this time is different. He went to this month's transportation committee meetings and came away with the impression that the board genuinely wants to improve the plan for cyclists.

The letter stops short of mentioning protected bike lanes and mentions "emergency vehicles" as one reason to oppose a bike lane on 91st Street. But it mainly addresses shortcomings identified by cyclists at recent CB 10 transportation committee meetings: the steep incline on 5th Avenue approaching the Verrazzano Narrows Bridge, the potential for conflicts with turning buses at 92nd Street and Fort Hamilton Parkway, the desire for a "straight" connection, and the rampant double-parking along the proposed streets.

"You had some of the usual feedback that you will get, pushing back against how you can’t have bike lanes in front of hospital or schools or stuff like that," said Hedden. But overall, "they’re reaching out to cycling advocates in the community, and expressly describing them as part of the community."

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