Seniors take over Crown Heights bike safety forum
A Crown Heights town hall aimed at expanding bike access for communities of color was quickly overtaken by seniors looking to shift the focus from bike safety to senior safety.
State Sen. Zellnor Myrie, whose district covers Crown Heights and parts of Brownsville and Sunset Park, hosted a “Bike Equity” town hall on Wednesday night, which included a panel of women of color promoting bike access. But within half an hour, the conversation had shifted to senior mobility issues.
The City Council passed a $1.7 billion bike safety initiative dubbed the Streets Master Plan on Wednesday. The plan, praised by cyclist advocates, is set to add 250 miles of protected bike lanes to city streets, alongside other major street design changes. Elderly residents of Central Brooklyn voiced their concerns on Wednesday over modifications that, they feared, would prioritize those on two wheels instead of those on two feet.
“You guys are kind of young now, but I think if you wind up breaking your leg, or as you get older, you’re not going to feel so attached to that bike,” said local resident and car owner Janet, who refused to give her last name “So please, I am asking you to open up your mind and not think selfishly, but think about everybody in your community.”
Protected bike lanes, which separate cyclists from vehicular traffic with physical barriers such as stanchions or parked cars, offer an extra layer of safety for cyclists. But some car drivers, like Community Board 17 Transportation Chairperson, Lee Burnett, say these lanes are now putting drivers in danger. The new design forces drivers to disembark their cars into oncoming bike traffic, she claimed.
“I almost got struck a couple of times by, because bikers just zip by. You don’t even see them coming,” Burnett said.
Wednesday’s City Council vote came less than three months after Mayor Bill de Blasio announced his “Green Wave” plan — a $58.4 million project to increase the pace of bike lane construction.
There have been 25 cyclist deaths citywide so far this year — 16 of them in Brooklyn alone. In 2018, 10 cyclists were killed citywide through the entire year.
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