Bensonhurst civic leaders push DOT to reconsider bike lane plan

Bensonhurst civic leaders push DOT to reconsider bike lane plan
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They want the city to pump the brakes on its bike plan.

City officials must reconsider their plan to build a bike lane along the Southern Brooklyn coast, according to Bensonhurst civic gurus, who called the city’s current proposal unsafe because it lacks proper protection for cyclists on car-heavy roads.

The Department of Transportation unveiled its proposal, calling for a one-and-a-half mile bikeable route along Shore Parkway, at an April 24 Community Board 11 meeting.

The planned route would run from Bay Parkway to Bay 53rd Street, connecting existing lanes on either side to create a continuous bikeable path from Bay Ridge to the Coney Island peninsula. The largest section of the department’s plan calls for a two-way protected bike lane on Shore Parkway, on the side of the road closest to the water.

Ahead of the unanimous rebuff of the proposal on May 9, the board’s Transportation Committee chair blasted department reps for valuing expediency rather than safety.

“We feel that this is an unsafe plan, there are too many driveways on that side. It’s more dangerous for the bicyclists, not for the drivers. We would like them to explore the other options in this proposal,” said Laurie Windsor. “[They] said it’s the easiest, cheapest, and quickest way to do it. They’re not taking into account when Target goes in next year — what’s going to happen then? It’s like playing with fire.”

The board’s district manager sent a letter to the department’s Brooklyn head, detailing the unsafe conditions that she believed would arise from vehicle operators attempting to turn onto a one-way road, by crossing a bike lane with cyclists traveling in the opposite direction.

“This plan as presented provides no protection to cyclists along this heavily traveled commercial and manufacturing segment, relies on motorists checking both right and left for bicyclists while waiting for a lull in oncoming traffic, and reduces visibility,” said Marnee Elias-Pavia.

Elias-Pavia requested the department consider other options, but said her concerns were ignored by department reps, who were steadfast in their decisions.

“We wanted them to look at other options. We wanted them to look at the other side of the road,” she said. “But, they thought the south side would be easier.”

The department plans to begin work sometime this summer, according to Elias-Pavia, who felt that any further attempts to change the department’s plan were hopeless.

“I don’t think there is a next step,” she said. “They weren’t all that interested in us having a say. They told us what they were going to do, and they’re going to do it.”

Reach reporter Aidan Graham at agraham@schnepsmedia.com or by calling (718) 260–4577. Follow him at twitter.com/aidangraham95.