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DOT Advances Fort Greene Bike Lane Over BAM Objections

DOT will break ground on the crucial new bike lane in July despite opposition from the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

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

BAM! And it's happening.

The city will move forward with a long-awaited plan to install a protected bike lane on Ashland Place in Brooklyn next month, despite opposition from the famed cultural institution that sits on the same block. 

In a Friday afternoon, pre-July 4 weekend tweet, the Department of Transportation announced it would break ground on the crucial north-south infrastructure in July — over the objections of the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

“An absolutely critical bike connection for Brooklyn — extremely excited to see it,” DOT spokesperson Vin Barone said on his private Twitter account following the agency's own under-the-radar Twitter announcement.

The saga began last summer when the DOT first proposed installing a two-way protected bike lane along Ashland Place and Navy Street — which connects cyclists coming from the waterfront to the area around Atlantic Terminal — prompting pushback from BAM. In response, this past April, the DOT revised its design for the crucial Downtown Brooklyn corridor to let BAM park trucks in the bike lane during "special loading events." But BAM officials still decried the plan, claiming it would cause more harm than good.

“Due to serious safety concerns, BAM would like to strongly urge you to not support the plan for protected bike lanes along Ashland Place," BAM President Gina Duncan wrote in an April 11 letter to Brooklyn Community Board 2’s Transportation Chair Sidney Meyer. 

DOT's Ashland Place proposal originated last summer — a year after the city added protected bike lanes on Navy Street, which connects cyclists coming from the waterfront to the area around Atlantic Terminal. 

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

Little about the proposal changed from its first iteration outside of the new plan to accommodate BAM's loading needs, DOT’s Nick Carey told members of Brooklyn Community Board 2's transportation committee back in April. Under the new plan BAM would be required to provide its own barricades to establish a temporary bike lane while its trucks occupy the curb — a modification that Duncan said would unfairly increase the 162-year-old performance venue’s operating costs “as the responsibility for safe streets is shifted onto us.”

“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.

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

It was not immediately clear whether BAM has agreed to the temporary bike lane arrangement. BAM's April 11 letter against the redesign, first reported by Streetsblog, came after it had seen DOT's new plan, according to Carey. And after initial publication of this story, a spokesperson for BAM declined to answer specific questions about the plan, but said in a statement that "BAM supports biking infrastructure and looks forward to working with all parties to prioritize cyclist safety."

DOT did not immediately responded to a request for comment. 

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