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

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
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.”

  • maxmaxed

    Let’s keep our fingers crossed. It took years to reach the point of minimal bike network plan there, it should be finally implemented!

  • r

    Truly hard to believe that DOT’s ongoing strategy of watering down its bike lane proposals to appease tiny groups of people who will never support bike lanes in any form whatsoever didn’t work this time. Oh well! Maybe next time!

  • It’s almost as if pandering to the lunatics and half-wits of the community boards is not a good strategy. Heh. Who knew?

  • MtotheI

    Why hasn’t DOT installed a network of protected bicycle lanes across all of Brooklyn yet? Prospect Park West was how long ago? Why are we getting scraps and why is DOT not thinking big?

  • Zach Katz

    1. No leadership (wait until Corey Johnson becomes Mayor)
    2. No public demand (well, lots of public demand, but it’s all latent)

  • Went to the workshops, went to the transportation committee meetings, utter waste of time. The only way to change this is to lobby the politicians that make the community board appointments. The focus of any activism and participation should be to change the composition of the community board.

  • Joe R.

    Or just restrict community boards to things of a strictly local nature, like deciding if a corner store should get a liquor license. Street design is like designing buildings or bridges or railroads. It’s something best left to people who spent years studying the field, not to laypeople.

  • Daphna

    It is the same way at Manhattan Community Board 9. The focus needs to be on pressuring the politicians to appoint different people.

    Just an idea… if Transportation Alternatives had their sole advocacy focused on getting different people appointed to community boards, that would make a huge difference and might be more effective than all the other advocacy they do combined.

  • Daphna

    So the politicians who appoint the anti-street-safety community board members are petitioning an agency (DOT) to not listen to the people they appointed. The State Senator and State Assembly members can not make changes, but the Brooklyn Borough President and the City Councilmember appoint the community board members and could appoint different people. Every year, 50% of the 50 community board seats are up and could change since each CB member’s term is only 2 years.

  • You make a good point.

    At the same time, Queens bicyclists look at Brooklyn and think “If only we had as many bike lanes as they have!”

  • Exactly right. Street design is the purview of the elected government, which relies upon the professional expertise of practioners in the appropriate fields.

    Community boards should merely be playpens where local loudmouths and busybodies can run around until they tire themselves out. Those assemblages of lunatics and half-wits should under no circumstances be considered to have a legitimate role to play in decisionmaking on important matters.

    Let community boards be in charge of deciding the colour of the streamers at the block party (and even that is pushing them to the very limits of their competence).

  • dave “paco” abraham

    For years T.A. has done some great work in getting advocates to learn about CBs, attend meetings, and apply for membership. Unfortunately it is a big game of politics whereby even the most reasonable and dedicated applications are often overlooked & cronyism runs rampant.

  • AMH

    “Members of CB10 have said that the neighborhood doesn’t need more bike infrastructure because, they claim, there are few cyclists.”

    It’s almost as though people are afraid to ride without safe infrastructure.

  • 8FH

    There’s tons of bikes in Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights. These fossils just don’t look or don’t see.

  • dickens

    Please, have you met the members of the CB10? None of them have gotten on a bike in decades. They think real, responsible grown ups don’t ride bicycles.