Local advocates for street and bicycle safety achieved a victory four-and-a-half years in the making when Community Board 10, serving Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights, voted last week to approve a number of new bike lanes that were proposed for the neighborhood by the NYC Department Of Transportation.
The saga began with an initial presentation by the DOT back in September of 2010, and the process of identifying bike lanes that the Community Board would approve was long and often contentious.
At the initial meeting in 2010, the DOT presented a proposed map to the CB10 Transportation Committee, based on an analysis of existing bike routes and travel patterns in South Brooklyn. That proposal was met with outrage by most members of the committee over concerns that the lanes would encourage more cyclists to take to the road and make the streets more dangerous.
Hayes Lord, Director of the Bicycle Program at DOT, explained that traffic studies show exactly the opposite; when bike lanes are clearly marked, both drivers and bicyclists behave more carefully on the road, reducing crashes, injuries and fatalities for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians alike. But facing opposition from the Board 10 and local officials, the proposed bike lane for Bay Ridge Parkway was abandoned by the DOT in 2011.
During three more rounds of meetings with the CB10 Transportation Committee in the following years, the DOT refined their proposal to take into account residents’ familiarity with the local streets to select the most appropriate locations for the lanes. At the last Transportation Committee meeting on Thursday, April 16th, the latest version of the bike lane map was approved unanimously, and it was passed by the full board on April 20th by a vote of 41-3.
The proposal includes newly-marked shared lanes on 6th Avenue, Fort Hamilton Parkway (from 92nd Street to Marine Avenue), and Marine Avenue, and segregated bike lanes on Fort Hamilton Parkway (from 92nd Street to 6th Avenue) and 68th and 72nd Streets, connecting to the existing lane on Shore Road. Additionally, three intersections will be redesigned for greater safety, and connections will be made to existing bike lanes in Sunset Park on 5th and 7th Avenues.
Installation is slated for Fall 2015, but could begin as soon as this summer, according to Mr Lord.
The author is a member of Community Board 10.
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