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New DOT Plan Would Let BAM Take Over Proposed Bike Lane During Events

9:56 AM EDT on April 21, 2023

The Brooklyn Academy of Music at Ashland Place and Lafayette Avenue. Photo: Wally Gobetz via Flickr

The Department of Transportation on Thursday revealed a new design for Ashland Place in downtown Brooklyn that attempts to address the concerns of officials from the Brooklyn Academy of Music — by letting the famed cultural institution park its trucks in the bike lane during "special loading events."

The temporary lane shift would require BAM personnel — and wasn't enough to win the support of the organization, DOT official Nick Carey told members of Brooklyn Community Board 2's transportation committee on Thursday.

“BAM has to clear parking for the whole block…and the truck pulls in, parks in the bike lane, and BAM would install barricades in the floating parking lane so that cyclists could still use the space," Carey said.

BAM's April 12 letter against redesign, first reported by Streetsblog, came after it had seen DOT's new plan, according to Carey. A DOT spokesman declined further comment and directed questions to BAM, which did not return a request for comment.

DOT's Ashland Place proposal originated last summer. The redesign would convert parts of the street, including outside BAM, from from two-way to one-way northbound to make room for a two-way bike lane along the east curb protected by concrete barriers and vertical delineators [PDF].

Little about the proposal has changed outside of the new plan to accommodate BAM's loading needs, Carey said. BAM would be required to provide its own barricades to establish a temporary bike lane while its trucks occupy the curb.

DOT's plans to accommodate loading for BAM. Photo: NYC DOT
DOT's plans to accommodate loading for BAM. Photo: NYC DOT

"We think it's important we have a protected bike lane. We also know that certain stakeholders, like BAM in particular, have unusual loading needs and they need to be accommodated," Carey said.

“Cyclists might be a little put off when they see a vehicle parked in the bike lane and have to go around it, you have to be careful when you do it, but I think it's necessary given the context and trying to balance all these uses of space.”

BAM will have to secure a permit anytime it wants to commandeer the bike lane. The design mirrors one that already exists outside the Beacon Theater on the Upper West Side, which Carey admitted is far from ideal.

“It’s not perfect, let's be clear about that,” Carey said. “It takes an effort on their end, there’s no question.”

Reps for BAM did not appear at Thursday's committee meeting to share the organization's perspective — or confirm that they had seen the new proposal.

The Brooklyn Academy of Music opposes a bike lane planned for Ashland Place despite the David Byrne-designed bike racks outside its entrance. Photo: Google maps
BAM opposes the proposed bike lane despite the David Byrne-designed bike racks outside its entrance. Photo: Google maps

Area developer Two Trees, meanwhile, spoke out against the bike lane design despite telling Streetsblog on March 31 that it "supports the bike lane."

“While I myself am a biker and Two Trees is definitely adamant about the expansion of the bikes in New York City, we think this proposal may be a little shortsighted and the effect it'll have on Ashland and the activities that take place there," testified Two Trees official Fabio Cardona, who suggested instead moving the bike lane to Flatbush Avenue.

DOT hopes to win BAM's support and start installation this summer, but there’s “no guarantees yet," Carey warned.

“We’re committed to continuing to work with them. There was no angry ultimatum," he said.

"They’re a stakeholder and we’re not going anywhere, we’re gonna keep working with them until we find a way to make it work."

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