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Bay Ridge Pols to City: Don’t Listen to Our Community Board! Give Us Bike Lanes Now!

5:13 PM EDT on June 18, 2019

This is Bay Ridge Parkway. If you think that it’s too narrow for proper safety infrastructure, perhaps you should not be sitting on a community board. Photo: DOT

Hours after a Bay Ridge community board rejected several proposed bike lanes across the neighborhood, the area's elected officials fired back, calling on the Department of Transportation to install the lanes anyway.

Community Board 10 on Monday night turned down several street safety improvements for Bay Ridge that had been negotiated over the past year. In the end, the board approved several new painted lanes for Dyker Heights, but it only amounted to less than one-third of the lane miles that DOT had hoped to create across both neighborhoods.

So on Tuesday, local pols fired back at CB10 in a letter to DOT.

"We do not agree with their rejection of the proposals for Bay Ridge Parkway as well as 84th Street, and 85th Street," Council Member Justin Brannan, Assembly Member Mathylde Frontus and State Senator Andrew Gounardes wrote to Brooklyn Borough Commissioner Keith Bray. The group also wants DOT to install a bike lane on Ridge Boulevard, which was also rejected by CB10.

The crosstown routes (see map below) were seen as critical by participants in a series of workshops last year and earlier this year. Bay Ridge Parkway is an especially wide street that street safety advocates have long wanted to fix — and CB10 has long wanted to leave the way it is. In the end, DOT came forward with a proposal that it called a "starter pack" of painted lanes that would not remove any on-street parking — but even that watered-down plan was too much for CB10.

The letter from the three politicians called for DOT to move ahead with all of the lanes, whether CB10 approved them or not.

"We thank DOT for their efforts and look forward to seeing the following lanes implemented as soon as possible, preferably no later than this summer," the letter concluded.

Members of CB10 have said that the neighborhood doesn't need more bike infrastructure because, they claim, there are few cyclists. But six of the 11 cyclists who have been killed so far this year were killed in southern Brooklyn, including four just outside the border of CB10.

"It is abhorrent, then, that Brooklyn’s Community Board 10 spent last night voting against the minimal bike network safety plan put before them by the Department of Transportation," said Thomas DeVito of Transportation Alternatives. "It is even more troubling that Mayor de Blasio and the Department of Transportation preemptively watered down the safety plan to begin with, and, if they listen to CB10, now may weaken it further. They should not."

DeVito said the outpouring of support from residents for more bike infrastructure even as the community board turned them down "shows that the city needs to radically rethink the way it does community process."

"It is not democratic to have months of painstaking work by scores of well-informed community members swept aside and dismissed by a small number of unelected, unaccountable community board members," he added. "Bike lanes are proven to save lives for cyclists, pedestrians and drivers alike, and it’s long past time residents of Southern Brooklyn were afforded their protection."

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