City hall’s protected bike lane ‘green wave’ pedals past local foes

September 20, 2019 Clifford Michel, THE CITY
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This story was originally published on Sept. 20 by THE CITY.

On Shore Parkway, it’s City Hall’s way — or the highway.

The Department of Transportation recently began installing a protected bike lane along Shore Parkway, near Coney Island — the latest sign the agency intends to plow past community board opposition while racing to add 80 miles of safer paths for cyclists by 2021.

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“We need to provide safer, more reliable transportation routes for our families,” said Councilmember Mark Treyger (D-Brooklyn), who came out to see the new bike lane-in-progress on Thursday. “Shore Parkway and this strategic location is so key because there’s only a few ways in and a few ways out, so this was needed.”

‘They didn’t hear us’

In May, Community Board 11 unanimously rejected the Shore Parkway bike lane, set to stretch from Bensonhurst to Gravesend. The board’s Transportation Committee chairperson, Laurie Windsor, voiced concerns about the bike lane’s proximity to entrances and exits of a BJ’s Wholesale Club, a Mercedes-Benz dealership and an amusement park.

“As presented by DOT, there were concerns about the bicyclists being next to those vehicles entering and existing those driveways,” Marnee Elias Pavia, CB11’s district manager, told THE CITY Thursday. “So of course they didn’t hear us and we still have the same concerns. But we’re going to be hopeful that DOT designs it in a way to make it more visible.”

Treyger disagreed, saying, “If you are a responsible driver that drives at a safe, reasonable speed you’ll clearly see someone walking or biking and what you do is simple, it’s called: ‘apply the brake.’ ”

When the de Blasio administration ramped up its “green wave” safety plan this summer to install more protected bike lanes amid a rash of cyclist deaths, City Hall was already facing potential roadblocks from some skeptical community boards.

The DOT didn’t immediately return a request for comment about the Shore Parkway bike lane. But a spokesperson told THE CITY in August that while local input would be taken into account, it wouldn’t necessarily stop the plan.

“The city has moved ahead with street safety projects in the face of community board opposition before, because safety is our top priority,” the spokesperson, Brian Zumhagen, said at the time.

Racing ahead

This marks at least the second time that the city has moved forward with a bike lane project without a community board’s support.

Earlier this year, Brooklyn Community Board 10 opposed two bike lanes. But Bay Ridge Councilmember Justin Brannan and State Sen. Andrew Gounardes urged DOT officials to move forward — and they did.

De Blasio announced an ambitious effort to build 80 miles of protected bike lanes in response to a dramatic uptick in cyclist deaths, which now sits at 20 since January. He sees the $58.4 million bike safety plan as in sync with his Vision Zero campaign to curb all traffic-related fatalities.

Brian Hedden, founder of the cyclist advocacy group Bike South Brooklyn, told THE CITY he was pleasantly surprised to see the Shore Parkway bike lane and predicted that it would become a critical neighborhood connector.

“Without this, you’re asking cyclists to bridge some very hostile service roads that lead to a highway for the first segment,” said Hedden. “There are no realistic comfortable east-to-west routes for cyclists in southern Brooklyn and it’s been a failing on the part of the city.”

This story was originally published by THE CITY, an independent, nonprofit news organization dedicated to hard-hitting reporting that serves the people of New York.

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  1. Brooklyn11209

    Why doesn’t the article mention the reckless bike riders? I see bikers and e-bikers riding on sidewalks, going the wrong way on streets, running stop signs and red lights and hitting pedestrians every day. Bikers are totally out of control and the city does nothing to stop it.