Talk about bad timing.
City Hall is 10 years too late with a plan to install bike lanes on Gerritsen Avenue, a scheme that could endanger cyclists, motorists and pedestrians alike, critics charged this week.
“The bike lanes are on the wrong street,” said City Councilmember Lew Fidler, who requested the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) devise a scheme to make Gerristen a safer roadway. The agency has been working on strategies to improve conditions on Gerritsen — winning high praise from Fidler,but its inclusion of bike lanes has only earned the city scorn.
“People in our neighborhood are not biking to work. This is not a commuter bike area, our cyclists like to bike near our beautiful parks and water,” the lawmaker said. With that in mind, Fidler asked that the lanes be moved to Burnett and Stuart Streets, less hazardous roadways that also run parallel to Marine Park. “The commissioner said the bike lanes are going in because they are part of a 10-year master plan,” Fidler said. “No one had any input on this plan. The world has changed drastically in 10 years,” he added.
DOT officials, including Brooklyn Commissioner Joseph Palmieri, met with Fidler and local civic groups earlier this month to discuss their traffic-calming plans on Gerritsen from Nostrand Avenue to Avenue W.
“Nobody thinks it will work because this is a 10-year old plan,” said Greg Borruso, the president of the Marine Park Civic Association, who attended the meeting.
Community Board 15 chair Theresa Scavo blasted the city’s proposal. “You cannot have a shared lane for cars, bikes, and buses. It’s impossible,” she said, noting that the configuration of Gerritsen, with cars “entering and exiting, and coming out of driveways,” presents a “disaster waiting to happen.”
Particularly galling to those who met with DOT officials was the city’s seeming intractability on the issue of the bike lanes, those in attendance said. Scavo said the DOT arrived with the “attitude that they are doing this, no matter what.”Still, she said, Palmieri called her afterwards and“apologized for acting so poorly.” She said she was promised that the city agency would “reevaluate and take everything into consideration.”
The Monday after the Oct. 16 meeting, Fidler said Palmieri called him too and assured him that the lanes might not be a fait accompli. “We do have a promise that they will not touch anything until they get back to us and discuss it with us,” Fidler said.
Fidler vowed that if the city moves forward with the bike lanes, he would introduce legislation that would mandate community review of all bike lanes.
As this paper went to press, it appeared that City Hall has heard the hew and cry. After an inquiry by this newspaper, DOT spokesperson Scott Gastel said the Gerritsen Avenue safety project will proceed — without the bike lane.