Bay Ridge Community Board Shows How It’s Done

CB10 offers support for DOT plan for a protected bike lane, but also offers some advice on how to make it better.

A protected bike lane on Seventh Avenue in Bay Ridge could eliminate speedway conditions on the wide roadway. Photo: Google
A protected bike lane on Seventh Avenue in Bay Ridge could eliminate speedway conditions on the wide roadway. Photo: Google

It’s a new day for street safety in Bay Ridge.

Community Board 10 voted unanimously on Monday to approve the neighborhood’s first protected bike lane, signaling a new era for a panel long associated with fighting street-safety improvements. The board’s approval will come with some recommendations on how to make the Seventh Avenue lane work even better.

“It’s a good plan,” said the board’s longtime District Manager Josephine Beckmann. “It’s a good proposal, and one that will promote safety, and it is actually this board that requested DOT come out to do a safety study in this area.”

The lane will run between 65th and 84th streets, a wide stretch of Seventh Avenue that encourages drivers to speed because it is essentially a service road for the Gowanus Expressway. The protected bike lane will not eliminate any parking spaces, a source of controversy in community boards that give too much power to the car-owning minority.

The board’s approval letter to DOT will ask the agency to address its concerns about illegal trucks and one spot on the roadway where cyclists will be asked to move from a protected bike lane to an unprotected one on the other side of the road. Other community boards, most recently CB9 in Manhattan, have taken a different approach: rejecting street safety improvements outright and demanding improvements rather than signing off on the plan and providing the city with local knowledge to improve it.

The bike lane is part of a larger safety redesign of the avenue that will include dropping the speed limit to 25 miles per hour, adding more crosswalks and painting more explicit road markings. The DOT is also at work on a proposal for extending unprotected bike lanes through the neighborhood.

The current design of the road encourages speeding. DOT’s analysis found that 61 percent of drivers on Seventh Avenue near Bay Ridge Parkway, and 82 percent of drivers near Fort Hamilton Parkway, exceeded 30 miles per hour.

The agency says two pedestrians died between 2012 and 2016 on the strip. In those five years, there were 409 reported crashes injuring five cyclists, 11 pedestrians and 57 drivers.

The bike lane will provide a reliable north-south route between Bay Ridge and Park Slope, which is currently an unsafe journey by bike. A protected bike lane is currently in the works on Fourth Avenue but is very delayed due to MTA construction.

The approval of the lane is a sign of change for Southern Brooklyn. Last November, Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights residents voted out street safety pariah State Senator Marty Golden, and residents now regularly complain about rampant speeding in the neighborhood. Speeding by cars, that is.

But danger still lurks until more street redesigns are undertaken. On a single day in January, Bay Ridge’s 68th Precinct reported 17 crashes.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG