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Protected Bike Lanes

Council Member Chi Ossé Blasts DOT For Delaying — And Maybe Killing — Bedford Ave Bike Lane

A Brooklyn Council member resoundingly criticized the Department of Transportation after the agency revealed that a protected bike lane on Bedford Avenue may not happen.

12:00 AM EDT on November 2, 2023

Photo: David Meyer|

Bedford Avenue between Atlantic Avenue and Flushing Avenue is basically a three-lane highway with a painted bike lane.

A Brooklyn Council member resoundingly criticized the Department of Transportation on Wednesday after the agency revealed to him that a protected bike lane on Bedford Avenue, which the agency said would be installed this year, was being delayed until "at least" next spring.

"This week, NYC DOT informed me that, once again, the long-overdue project of protecting the dangerous Bedford Avenue bike lane was delayed until the spring," Council Member Chi Ossé tweeted on Wednesday. "This is unacceptable."

"The Bedford Avenue bike lane has been unacceptably dangerous since it was first laid, and for years, the people of my district have been promised that it would be protected," he added, also from his personal account.

Ossé also shared a letter he wrote to DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez demanding that the DOT prioritize the bike lane project next spring and give a hard date for when it will upgrade the bike lane from paint to parking-protected. His letter said he had been told that the lane was delayed "at least" til spring. The "at least" left Ossé ossified.

"The nebulous promise that it would be built 'this summer' proved unreliable. My constituents do not have the patience for another broken promise," Ossé wrote.

Council Member Chi Ossé at a recent rally for the Bedford Avenue bike lane.

In the spring, the DOT presented a plan to upgrade the painted bike lane on Bedford between Dean Street and Flushing Avenue to a lane protected by parking or concrete barriers. There was no firm date for the installation of the bike lane, but residents showed strong support at a public meeting in April.

And the city's own data shows that there were 2,074 reported crashes on Bedford on just mile stretch between Dean Street and Flushing Avenue from 2016 to 2022. Those crashes injured 859 people, including 141 cyclists and 101 pedestrians, killing five pedestrians.

Both community boards through which the painted bike lane run are priority bicycle districts, which the DOT identifies as neighborhoods that have a combination of a high number of cyclists who are killed or severely injured and a lack of bike infrastructure.

Bedford Avenue has had a painted bike lane on most of its 10-mile length, but the street is particularly treacherous between Atlantic and Flushing avenues, where cyclists have to contend with the painted lane between three moving lanes to their right and a parking lane to their left. Drivers also frequently park in the painted lane, forcing cyclists into traffic.

For that reason, Ossé made upgrading the bike lane one of his campaign promises, and multiple cycling advocacy organizations began a push this year to upgrade the entire length of Bedford, which was supposed to begin with its most dangerous stretch.

One of those activists backed Ossé up in blasting the DOT.

"I'm very excited that Council Member Ossé publicly expressed his and the District 36 community's strong support of the protected bike lane on Bedford Avenue that DOT promised would be installed this summer," said Transportation Alternatives Brooklyn Organizer Kathy Park Price, who petitioned for a full length makeover on Bedford.

"At a time of record cyclist deaths in New York City and street safety projects in Brooklyn erased or watered down, advocates appreciate that the council member is prioritizing safety and demanding a date and a plan. We would like for DOT to let CM Ossé and the public know now that Bedford Avenue will be the first bike lane project out of the gate in 2024."

The delay is yet another setback from the DOT this year, joining the lopped off pieces of bike lane projects on McGuinness Boulevard and Ashland Place, the almost-finished Underhill Avenue bike boulevard, the canceled Fordham Road bus lane and the mysterious vanishing of any forward progress on bus priority efforts on Flatbush Avenue.

"This is unacceptable," Ossé tweeted. "The bike lane has strong community support, and its benefits are obvious. This failure is yet another glaring example of the administration falling far behind on its commitments to develop bicycle infrastructure in our city."

Another activist joined in calling the DOT's delay disappointing.

"It's definitely disappointing," said Drew Bennett, the founder and executive director of Good Co, a Black-led bike club that advocated for the protected bike lane. "Actions speak louder than words and their lack of action speaks to where their priorities are."

Earlier in the day, at a meeting with DOT staffers, Mayor Adams admitted that bike lane mileage benchmarks mandated by law are not how he will define his legacy, according to an audio tape obtained by Streetsblog (and, apparently, the Times, which tweeted it before posting a story):

The DOT did not respond to a request for comment.

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