The Department of Transportation will move forward with a batch of proposed bike lanes for Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights, despite the recommendations made by Community Board 10 earlier this week to nix or further study part of the plan.
At its last general meeting before breaking for the summer, the board voted not to approve at least half of a bike network expansion that aims to bring 10 new bike lanes to Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights. In all, five stretches were approved by the panel and five were rejected or sent back to the agency for “further study.”
However, a DOT spokesperson confirmed to the Brooklyn Eagle on Thursday that it will be implementing all but one lane of the original suggested expansion by the end of this year. The expansion plan emerged after previous proposals were challenged by the board, and resulted from a broader engagement effort by the agency that included a town hall.
“These new bike lanes are critical in creating a safer and larger cycling network in Southern Brooklyn,” said the DOT representative, who added that the agency hopes to return in the future to discuss safety improvements for Third and Fourth Avenues.
DOT expects all of the lanes to be fully functional by the end of summer or the fall.
Nine new routes will be added:
- 64th Street from Seventh to 14th Avenue
- 66th Street from Seventh to 14th Avenue
- Bay Ridge Parkway from Shore Road to 14th Avenue
- Ovington Avenue across the Seventh Avenue overpass to connect with Seventh Avenue
- 84th Street from Colonial Road to 14th Avenue westbound
- 85th Street from Narrows Avenue to 14th Avenue eastbound
- 11th Avenue southbound from 64th to 85th Street
- 10th Avenue northbound from 64th to 86th Street
- Ridge Boulevard from 66th Street to Marine Avenue
DOT has since said that, board opinion aside, it will move forward with all but the Third Avenue lane. That lane would have stretched from 68th Street to 79th Street northbound, and from 79th Street to Shore Road north and southbound.
The agency will also install a new lane on Dyker Place from 84th to 85th Street, a stretch that CB10 District Manager Josephine Beckmann said was never brought before the board. The board also previously voted to support a protected bike lane for a chunk of Seventh Avenue, but that was not on DOT’s list of confirmed routes coming.
Outgoing CB10 Chairperson Doris Cruz told the Eagle the local panel was taken back by the decision, which came before the board could even put their formal recommendation into writing.
While she said the board is “grateful” for DOT’s collaboration on the project, for the participation of the public and for the agency’s go-ahead on the approved routes, “We are surprised, however, that the DOT commissioner has opted to proceed with bicycle lanes on Ridge Boulevard before the conclusion of active DOT studies taking place at its north and south end.”
Also staggering, Cruz said, is “that DOT has chosen not to review or consider the safety concerns raised regarding 84th and 85th Streets and Bay Ridge Parkway. Thus, CB10 will forward its recommendation outlining those safety concerns to the attention of [DOT Commissioner] Polly Trottenberg.”
Both Cruz and Traffic and Transportation Committee Chairperson Jayne Capetanakis urged board members Monday to keep an open mind, but also to remember that it is the group’s duty to keep the needs of “all of those who live in the district” in mind.
“No plan is ever going to be perfect, but we have to start somewhere,” Capetanakis said. “Safety for everyone is our ultimate goal.”
Some local residents — board members and non-members, alike — have said the plan as proposed would increase congestion and put cyclists and pedestrians in danger. Merchants on Third Avenue have also expressed that a lane on the strip would likely interfere with deliveries to stores on the busy commercial corridor and could lead to mass confusion for merchants, delivery workers, bike riders and pedestrians.
Following the board’s vote earlier this week, State Sen. Andrew Gounardes, Councilmember Justin Brannan and Assemblymember Mathylde Frontus wrote to DOT Brooklyn Borough Commissioner Keith Bray on Tuesday to express their disapproval of the board’s decision.
Gounardes told the Eagle on Thursday he’s glad to see the agency “prioritizing safe streets for everyone.”
“Not just cars, not just bikes, not just pedestrians, but everyone,” he said in an e-mail. “Given that we all already share the road, it’s our responsibility to ensure that we we build the safest possible infrastructure. This plan was the result of a yearlong visioning process and we look forward to having the DOT carry out this plan.”
Beckmann, the board’s district manager, said she hopes DOT will revise the lane proposal to integrate the community’s latest input.
“This began as a collaborative effort after the board’s rejection of [a route] on 92nd Street — which was based on cyclist and resident opposition for safety reasons. What we did was come together and work collaboratively — with residents, with cyclists and with the DOT — on expanding the bike network,” she told the Eagle.
“We hope we can continue that collaboration. We hope DOT will reconsider.”