Thursday, April 12, 2007

Community Board Six Rejects Sixth & Seventh Ave. One-Way Proposal, Punts on 9th Street Bike Lanes

CB6 Bike Hearing

During a nearly 3 1/2 hour meeting last night in Park Slope, Community Board Six disposed of the one-way proposal for Sixth and Seventh Avenues that had sparked an outpouring of neighborhood opposition. It also decided not to act on a surprisingly controversial plan to install bike lanes and other "traffic calming" measures on Ninth Street. (Contrary to an incorrect NY Sun headline proclaiming a victory for the plan.)

Small groups of protesters were in the audience, and an unusually large number of police were also in attendance.

The Board handled the one-way issue--which had resulted in a crowd of more than 500 people showing up for a March 15 Transportation Committee meeting--first. It unanimously passed a motion requesting the Department of Transportation "continue working in a meaningful way" with the Community Board on transportation issues such as reducing the speed of cars on Eighth Avenue and on Prospect Park West (which are one-way streets). Then, it unanimously passed a motion requesting that DOT not go forward with the Sixth and Seventh Avenue plans "period." (There had been questions about earlier language being too vague.) The Board passed a third motion asking DOT to table plans to add turning bays to Fourth Avenue until further discussions with the community take place.

Then, the board moved on to the issue of bike lanes and other traffic calming measures on Ninth Street. Council Member Bill DeBlasio arrived while the meeting was underway and spoke in support of the proposals, noting that he'd gotten a commitment from the Police Department not to ticket cars that are double-parked in the bike lanes and from DOT to continue the bike lane down Prospect Park West so that bicyclists would enter the park at 15th Street rather than 9th Street. (The double parking issue emerged as the crux of neighborhood opposition to the plan, with residents fearing that a bike lane would interfere with their ability to double park while picking up people or running into a store.) The board, meanwhile, said it had gotten about 140 emails and faxes in favor of the proposal and 80 opposed. The Board's Transportation Committee had voted in favor of the plan.

Board Member Bob Levine, who also heads the Ninth Street Block Association, led opposition to the plan, saying that steps needed to be taken to address the "bicycle problem" and that the plan was "idiotic and asking for trouble." Several members, however, spoke strongly in favor of the proposal. One noted that "bike lanes will make cycling much safer" and that "If I were parking my car on Ninth Street, I'd rather step out into a bike lane than speeding traffic." Another said that bicyclists are a public safety threat and that "bicyclists should be licensed."

"I thought if there is going to be a good place for a bike route, this is it," said member Louise Finney, who is also a Trustee of the Park Slope Civic Council. "This would be a great traffic calming device."

Board Member Anthony Pugliese, who is an organizer with the District Council of Carpenters, got a laugh from crowd, speaking in favor of the proposal and saying, "What is this, Bensonhurst? These are bicycles. No gas."

In the end, the Community Board voted to send the proposal back to its Transportation Committee for further discussion with DOT and to ask DOT not to act until the discussions are completed. (Today's New York Sun has a mistaken headline and incorrect story saying that CB6 approved the Ninth Street plan, which would cheer supporters of the plan and give opponents fits, if it were true, which it isn't. ) The Department does not need community approval to go ahead with the plan and there is strong support with the Department for it. In tabling the motion, however, the Community Board could well be allowing department to move forward. It has already announced its intention to go ahead with the plan in July. (For an excellent FAQ on the Ninth Street Plan check out Streets Blog's intelligent and insightful coverage.)

The Board also voted unanimously to support significant traffic and pedestrian improvements to Grand Army Plaza.

Related Posts:
Park Slopers Say No to Bike Lanes
Big Crowd of Park Slopers Turns Out to Jeer One-Way Proposal

8 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who are those old farts with the signs? When was the last time that they bothered to walk up and down 9th Street? Are they aware that we're no longer in the 1950s and that car righteousness is about as acceptable as racial segregation?

10:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ummmmm, double parking is illegal, right?

What other mayhem do these scofflaw drivers wish to wreak?

10:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those old farts, and their counterparts in neighborhood associations, on the Community Boards, and in elected office, are the entrenched power base in Brooklyn.

But times are changing, the world is changing, and these folks are fighting a rear-guard action in their inevitable retreat and rout. Like the U.S. in Iraq, they've lost and somewhere in the back of their minds they even know they've lost but they just won't admit it yet.

11:16 AM  
Anonymous steveo said...

Right, 10:41.

The real problem here is the lack of curbside parking.

What these residents ought to be advocating for is to charge a fair market price for parking that is high enough to ensure that there will always be a spot available nearby when they need it.

Then it would become possible for drivers to use their cars without "having to" break the law every time.

11:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wait, Bill DeBlasio got a "commitment" from the NYPD that they will not ticket cars double-parked in the bike lane? What?? What is the point of having a bike lane if it's essentially legal to park in it? Then bike riders have to continually swerve in and out of the bike lane to avoid parked cars -- that is totally unsafe and defeats the whole purpose of the bike lane, doesn't it? Why do people think they have a right to double-park?

1:27 PM  
Blogger Marc said...

The power these old farts have is amazing. Throughout the city they have won suspended parking meters for church goers, suspended street cleaning if there is even the threat of a snow flurry and exemptions for every cults holidays

4:19 PM  
Anonymous Eric said...

I was at that meeting advocating for the bike lanes. And I was disappointed at the closed-mindedness and misplaced fears of the status quo-defending 9th Streeters.

But calling senior citizens derogatory names is unnecessary. I'm frankly tired of the lowest-common-denominator discourse prevalent in blog comments, especially from people hiding behind a veil of anonymity.

Facts and logic will help educate the uninformed; name-calling just further polarizes an already too-polarized world.

5:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree ,Eric, but we can still call them scofflaws right?

9:52 AM  

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