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Brooklyn Pol Who Fought Street Safety Measure Now Blasts DOT For Delaying It!

12:01 AM EST on February 5, 2020

Council Member Chaim Deutsch talking to transportation activists Photo: Gersh Kuntzman

Chutzpah, thy name is Chaim Deutsch.

The Southern Brooklyn Council Member, who famously said last year that he would oppose "any [bike lanes] in my district," made a grand show last week of hounding Department of Transportation officials who want to build a protected cycle path in Sheepshead Bay — even though Deutsch is the one who has blocked the lane.

"I really want to have a concept of this and try to have it done. Why was it pushed back?” Deutsch, apparently with a straight face, complained to DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg at a council hearing on Jan. 29.

Earlier in the day, Trottenberg had released a list of 10 miles of protected bike lanes that her agency will construct this year — but Emmons Avenue was not on it because, sources said, Deutsch had not yet signed off on the plan.

“Why was Emmons Avenue left out?" he asked Trottenberg.

It's as if the Council Member doesn't even know his own voting record — he was one of only nine lawmakers who voted against City Council Speaker Corey Johnson’s bill creating a master plan for street safety — and his own lack of support for this particular project.

In August, amid a bloody year for cyclists, especially in Southern Brooklyn, Deutsch complained about the bike lane proposal on the grounds that it would make it difficult for parents to drop-off or pick up kids at Bay Academy — a middle school on Emmons Avenue between E. 14th and E. 15th streets. He warned DOT not to act unilaterally.

“If there’s no collaboration and no partnership, I’m going to voice my opposition to the implementation of anything in my district," he told The City.

For her part, Trottenberg declined to publicly call out Deutsch for his two-faced routine — telling Deutsch only that the agency hopes to get the Emmons Avenue lane done soon and offering Streetsblog a no-comment after the hearing.

Southern Brooklyn bike advocates seemed just as perplexed as Trottenberg was by Deutsch's sudden concern.

Deutsch told Streetsblog that he wasn't grandstanding at the hearing. He claims that he'll support the bike lane if DOT finds alternative space for Bay Academy parents to idle in their cars as they await their children, who apparently need door-to-door service.

“I told [DOT] what they needed to do: speak to Bay Academy [parents], and if and when they put in the protected bike lane, they need to make sure that when parents drop off kids, they don’t block the bike lane,” said Deutsch. (As an aside, the situation could also simply be solved if Mayor de Blasio would commit to banning cars from roadways in front of schools — a basic safety measure that he’s refused to implement.)

Since 2017, there have been 301 total crashes along Emmons Avenue between E. 14th Street and Nostrand Avenue, causing 78 injuries, including 11 to cyclists and 19 to pedestrians, according to Crash Mapper. Two pedestrians have been killed by drivers.

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