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Bike Boulevards

Prospect Heights Group to Mayor Adams: Finish the Underhill Ave. Bike Boulevard!

Residents of Prospect Heights are demanding that the Adams administration finish a routine bike boulevard project first — and then go door-to-door to hear the feedback.

File photo: Dave Colon|

The bike boulevard on Underhill Avenue has already mostly been installed, but is apparently under review by City Hall. Photo: Dave Colon

He's knocking on doors. They're pounding on them.

Residents of Prospect Heights are demanding that the Adams administration finish a routine bike boulevard project whose construction was abruptly halted last month when the mayor ordered a review after a small number of opponents appealed to his office — an increasingly common strategy that has proven successful in blocking street safety projects.

“We ask that you just let DOT finish the job. Any further delay makes no sense and is irresponsible,” the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council wrote to Adams on Wednesday. The letter featured pictures of violent car crashes on Underhill from before the "traffic-calming" safety project was begun.

The letter came one day after Streetsblog reported that the mayor now wants the Department of Transportation to conduct door-to-door outreach on Underhill, despite the agency's previous and extensive public effort over the past two-plus years.

“Having the mayor pretend more outreach is necessary before finishing the Bike Boulevard is simply moving the goalposts,” added Gib Veconi, chair of the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council, which also runs the popular Vanderbilt Avenue open street (which is also reportedly being "reviewed" by the mayor after businesses on a nearby avenue complained that it was too successful).

“We’ve had two and a half years of surveys, workshops, town hall meetings and Community Board presentations. In three weeks, our petition supporting the Bike Boulevard has 2,600 signatures and counting. Enough is enough.”

The group's letter to the mayor pointed out that the organization has been involved in projects with the city DOT for 20 years and its advocacy for the bike boulevard is "in no sense a case of outsiders 'dictating' to long-time residents, as you [recently] suggested."

Those signatures were collected in less than a month, since organizers heard on Sept. 22 that Mayor Adams was reviewing the nearly complete Underhill design on the advice of his chief aide Ingrid Lewis-Martin, a Brooklyn resident with a long history of opposition to street safety projects.

Two-thirds of the signatures came from residents of the Council district in question, and three-quarters from a slightly broader area comprising Park Slope, Boerum Hill, Fort Greene, Clinton Hill and Crown Heights, Streetsblog reported.

The mayor's desire to have DOT staffers knock on doors to get more feedback amounts to "another hoop City Hall is forcing local organizers to jump through,” added Underhill Avenue resident Matt Weinstein.

“The previous years of outreach haven’t shown what City Hall wants, so now they’re insisting DOT go door-to-door," he said. "The mayor needs to stop fighting these projects and recognize that the redesign has made my street more safe for kids using the playground or on their way to the local public school. We need to finish the markings for cyclists to make it safe for them, too.”

In a statement to Streetsblog, City Hall spokesman Charles Lutvak said, "There is no change to the plan for Underhill. As the mayor said yesterday, we are kicking off door-to-door outreach to hear from the community about the project.”

The notion of transportation staffers going door to door for feedback on a short bike boulevard project raises the specter that much longer and crucial bike and bus infrastructure — such as a proposed bus lane on Flatbush Avenue — will be further delayed or, worse, completely scuttled by a veto from a small group of residents in one neighborhood along the miles-long route.

— with Dave Colon

To read the Prospect Heights NDC letter, click here.

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