BY CITY COUNCILMEMBER JUSTIN BRANNAN, STATE SEN. ANDREW GOUNARDES & ASSEMBLYMEMBER MATHYLDE FRONTUS
Recently, the New York City Department of Transportation brought a proposal forward to expand bike lanes in our community. These proposals were the result of nearly a year-long effort of community collaboration, engagement and imagination from people on both sides of the issue.
In January, Community Board 10 hosted a public bike lane workshop and visioning session. Approximately 70 local residents attended. Some were bike lane fans, and some most certainly were not, but they all came together to suggest ideas for expanding bike infrastructure in our neighborhood.
These locations were then submitted to the Department of Transportation for a feasibility study. DOT then came back to CB10 for further meetings and, finally, a full board vote last week.
Our offices received overwhelmingly positive comments in response to DOT’s proposal, and we wrote a letter to the agency expressing support for much of it.
We feel that the position we landed on respects the input of all residents and the results of a robust, collaborative, community process.
It also respects the reality that people can ride their bikes on any street they want. Bike lanes simply provide a designated place to do it, which improves the safety of drivers and cyclists alike and prevents the nightmare scenario of a fatal collision — keeping in mind that southern Brooklyn streets account for half the cyclists killed over the past six months.
Since we sent the letter, we’ve seen some hyperbolic press saying we “defied” the community board, and, given our immense respect for the work of CB 10 — not to mention the fact that both Justin and Andrew once served as members of CB 10 — we felt the need to clear this up.
In reality, we agreed with CB 10 on nearly all of their recommendations, including that a bike lane on Third Avenue wouldn’t work. The main area of disagreement was the bike lane on Bay Ridge Parkway.
A proposal to add a bike lane to Bay Ridge Parkway has been in the works in one form or another for nearly a decade, and we felt it was finally time to move forward. As for 84th and 85th Streets, there are still traffic safety studies to be done and these studies — recommended by CB 10 — will absolutely be completed before any bike lanes are installed. We have that in writing from DOT.
The letter we sent to DOT was not to suggest it ignore the concerns of the community board. As part of the process, DOT always takes into consideration the observations, recommendations, suggestions and advice it receives from the local community boards.
We work very closely with CB 10 on a daily basis. The board members are incredibly dedicated, and volunteer their time and talents because they care about our neighborhood. We respect their leadership and value their input.
Nobody should take for granted the critically important months upon months and hours upon hours of work community board members dedicated to these proposals, and we won’t allow their perspectives to be ignored.
We expect, as this process continues, that DOT and CB 10 will remain in constant communication with one another and with our offices. We also look forward to working with the community board and DOT to ensure that everyone — drivers, cyclists and pedestrians alike — follow the rules of the road.
While no policy process is perfect, we believe that the plan we support is safest for the neighborhood and better reflects the public sentiment we’ve seen and heard on the issue. As your local elected officials, we are dedicated to improving the safety, mobility and livability of our streets so they can be shared and enjoyed by all. And, as we work towards our shared goal of safer streets, we urge you to remain in close contact with our offices.
Councilmember Justin Brannan represents the 43rd Council District. State Sen. Andrew Gounardes represents the 22nd State Senate District. Assemblymember Mathylde Frontus represents the 46th Assembly District.