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Safety Last! City Confirms That Ashland Place Will Remain Dangerous, Bowing to Local Corporate Interest

A two-faced mayor has yielded to Two Trees.

6:06 PM EDT on October 6, 2023

File photo: Jesse Coburn|

Advocates and pols are slamming the city for failing to finish its redesign of Ashland Place.

A two-faced mayor has yielded to Two Trees.

The city late on Friday dropped a bombshell that it’s caving to the Brooklyn real estate giant and will abandon its plans for a protected bike lane on the southernmost block of Ashland Place — confirming Streetsblog’s reporting from August that the Adams administration was holding up the long-planned street redesign at the behest of a major local business.

“Based on community feedback and the unique conditions of the southernmost block of Ashland Place, DOT will preserve a two-way street with bike sharrows connecting to the new, two-way protected bike lanes north of Lafayette Avenue,” DOT spokesperson Vin Barone said via email at 4 p.m. on a Friday before a three-day weekend — two days after Streetsblog sought an update.

The DOT had recently wrapped work on Ashland Place — a crucial route that connects cyclists coming between the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges and the neighborhoods surrounding Atlantic Terminal — but conspicuously left bare the block between Hanson Place and Lafayette Avenue, which features a luxury apartment tower developed by Two Trees Management and a parking garage run by one of its subsidiaries. 

In August, Streetsblog reported that mayoral adviser Ingrid Lewis-Martin — who has repeatedly intervened in street safety projects, including on McGuinness Boulevard — had instructed the DOT to halt work on Ashland Place in deference to Two Trees.

At the time, City Hall denied the accusation, calling it “fabricated nonsense.”

But on Friday, the DOT confirmed that it will make no changes to the southernmost block. The agency said that the unprotected, unaltered block “will provide a transition for cyclists and drivers between streets.”

Andrew Matsuoka, a Fort Greene resident and a volunteer leader for Transportation Alternatives, didn’t mince words.

“Fuck, that sucks,” he said, before adding that he's "angry but unsurprised that Mayor Adams would put Two Tree’s interests ahead of safety by implementing a dangerous and confusing design."

A rep for Two Trees told Streetsblog in a text message late on Friday that the firm will “work with public and private sector partners to advance new lanes wherever” it can — as long as they’re not on Ashland Place. 

“While we and many other stakeholders worked with DOT for nearly a year to attempt to make a bike lane work, it is a very complex block with no easy solutions,” said company rep David Lombino. "Two Trees remains committed to supporting biking and bike infrastructure and will work with public and private sector partners to advance new lanes wherever we can."

The news comes just days after 56-year-old Emanuel Patterson was killed at a notoriously dangerous intersection in Brooklyn — becoming the 26th cyclist to die on city streets so far this year, the most ever in the Vision Zero era. 

“Twenty-twenty-three is on track to be the second deadliest year in recorded history for bike riders, and now the last block of Ashland — critical to protecting the entire corridor — is the latest casualty in an ongoing war against street safety led by the mayor and Ingrid Lewis-Martin," said Kathy Park Price, a Brooklyn organizer at Transportation Alternatives. "This news ... again demonstrates that the mayor’s attention is on special interests and not safety."

It's certainly not the first time the agency has dealt a blow to street safety advocates late on a Friday.

Late last month, the DOT revealed in a long-overdue report that it wants the Dangerous Vehicle Abatement Program to expire, in part because it did little to get the worst-of-the-worst drivers off the road; and weeks before that, the agency announced it would still conduct more "analysis," before finalizing its now-watered down redesign of deadly McGuinness Boulevard. 

“Public safety should include street safety, but it sure doesn’t seem like Mayor Adams gets it at all," said Bike New York's Jon Orcutt.

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