Clinton Hill

Community board and biking advocates at odds over controversial Classon Avenue bike lane issue

‘Disappointed’ Board 2 Head Rebuts Sharp Criticism from Transportation Alternatives Leader

September 1, 2016 By James Harney Brooklyn Daily Eagle
This past April, Brooklyn Borough President Adams laid flowers down at the ghost bike memorial, set up by nonprofit advocacy organization Transportation Alternatives for 34-year-old Lauren Davis, who was killed in a bike crash at the intersection of Classon and Lexington avenues in Clinton Hill. Photo: Patrick Rheaume/Brooklyn BP’s Office

A war of words has erupted between a Brooklyn community board and a major cycling advocacy group over which agency is to blame for the lack of a bike lane on busy — and increasingly dangerous — Classon Avenue.

In a story in the Wednesday, Aug. 31 edition of the Brooklyn Eagle, Paul Steely White, executive director of the Transportation Alternatives cycling advocacy group, was quoted as saying, “It was a mistake for the [city Department of Transportation (DOT)] to paint a wide parking lane [along Classon Avenue] instead of putting a bike lane on a known bike route — out of fear of community board opposition.”

White’s quote was part of a statement he issued in support of a demand by Danielle Davis — whose sister, Lauren Davis, was struck and killed in April while biking along Classon Avenue in Clinton Hill — that the city paint a bike lane along the avenue. A petition authored by Danielle Davis backing up her calls for the bike lane garnered 5,000 signatures in less than a week.

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But in a rebuttal letter sent to White later Wednesday, Shirley McRae, chairperson of Board 2, which is bordered in part by Classon Avenue, wrote that she was “disappointed to read your quote in an article published on the Brooklyn Daily Eagle website.

“The Department of Transportation presented a Classon Avenue traffic calming proposal to the Transportation Committee of Brooklyn Community Board 2 [CB2] on Sept. 20, 2011,” McRae’s letter continued. “The committee voted unanimously (10-0-0) to recommend support for the plan and on Oct. 12, 2011, CB2 voted 38 in favor, one opposed, one abstention (38-1-1) to ratify the committee’s recommendation.”

The CB2 chairperson went on to say that “Ten weeks later, the transportation Committee met with the CLEXY multi-block association, which expressed concerns about Classon Avenue along with potential solutions. Following a robust discussion, the committee voted unanimously (9-0-0) to recommend DOT study the proposals put forth by CLEXY, including … adding a bike lane to the plan presented by DOT in October.”

McRae added that “On Jan. 12, 2012, voted 28 in favor, three opposed, no abstentions (28-3-0) to adopt the committee recommendation. Whatever motivations DOT may have had for not including a bike lane in its reconfiguration of Classon Avenue, fear of opposition from Community Board 2 could not have been among them.”

When reached Thursday by the Eagle for a response, White said, “If that is the case, then we are surprised there is not a bike lane. There should be no issues implementing one quickly. The ball is clearly in DOT’s court.”

In addition to the fatality of Lauren Davis, city statistics show that six other bicyclists have been injured in 2016 along Classon Avenue, which runs from Eastern Parkway to Flushing Avenue.

DOT has no immediate plans to place a bike lane along Classon Avenue, but is open to community suggestions on the issue, an agency spokesman said.


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