Borough President Adams turns ‘Bike to Work Day’ commute into political statement
Borough President Eric Adams turned his morning commute into a political statement.
Adams’s fourth annual “Bike to Work Day” ride intentionally highlighted dangerous cycling spots between Crown Heights and Downtown Brooklyn – including a hazardous stretch of Hamilton Avenue, an unprotected part of Flatbush Avenue and the Ninth Street site where two children were fatally run down on March 5 by a driver who ran a red light.
“We saw some dangerous roadways that need to be improved,” Adams told the Brooklyn Eagle, which joined the ride. “On Hamilton Avenue, for example, people need safe passage. Nothing is more chilling than that. Thousands of Red Hook residents don’t even feel connected to Brooklyn.”
He also called for safety improvements on the stretch of Flatbush Avenue – which drivers treat as an expressway – between Empire Boulevard and Grand Army Plaza.
“This side of the park has been ignored for safety for too long,” he said.
Adams’s ride drew dozens of cycling activists, including Councilman Brad Lander (D-Park Slope) and Carlos Menchaca (D-Sunset Park), but its safety was assured with the help of several officers from the 78th Precinct, who rode ahead and blocked car traffic in favor of the cyclists.
“They didn’t want us to bike on Hamilton Avenue,” a source in the Borough President’s office told the Eagle. “It’s too unsafe. But we said, ‘That’s the point. We need to make that clear.’”
Nonetheless, the ride was filled with the usual interactions between cyclists and drivers, including unticketed double-parked cars, speeding drivers and motorists who express their lack of desire to share the road with cyclists by honking their horns at their two-wheeled competitors.
“They always honk, but I tell first-time bike riders to pretend you’re a car — take the road if you feel unsafe,” said Ed Ravin, a bicycling trainer and advocate. “They may honk at you, but they aren’t likely to hit you because, frankly, it’ll scratch their paint.”
Menchaca maintained that anti-bike attitudes are changing, at least on local community boards, which have an outsized influence on transportation issues despite often having memberships that do not accurately reflect the changing demographics of Brooklyn.
“It’s turning over,” said Menchaca, who supports safety improvements on Fourth Avenue.
One wonders why the @HomeDepot @DollarTree and other retailers on the far side of Hamilton aren't up-in-arms about this: they're so difficult to reach safely that many of us go to stores further away rather than play that Frogger game.
— Janet Gottlieb (@BoogieDownGal) April 23, 2018
But there is much work to be done. The ride came on the same morning that another Brooklyn newspaper reported that the city continues to award contracts to a private carting company that has been hit with nearly 2,000 violations, 342 of which were criminal, since 2012. A driver for the company, Action Carting, killed a cyclist on Franklin Street in Greenpoint in July 2017. Overall, the company has killed five people in the last decade – yet won more than $100 million in city contracts, The Brooklyn Paper reported.
“There are no plans to sever contracts with the company at this time,” said Eric Phillips, a spokesman for Mayor Bill de Blasio.
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