City officials ignored a Dyker Heights community board’s rejection of a network of bike lanes proposed for the area, and have decided to implement the paths over the civic group’s objections.
“It was surprising to learn in statements made to the press that DOT opted to proceed with bicycle lanes on Ridge Boulevard,” said Doris Cruz, the chair of Community Board 10, in a statement on June 20. Ridge Boulevard is one of four bike lanes in Dyker Heights that DOT will paint despite the board’s objections.
During a community board meeting on Monday, June 17, members in Community Board 10 asked to investigate traffic safety along 84th and 85th streets between 7th and 14th avenues before the city installed a bike lane. The board also rejected a lane on Bay Ridge Avenue between Shore Road and 14th Avenue, arguing that the two-mile stretch lacks left-turn signals and contains a steep incline.
But on Wednesday, the transit agency announced its plans to paint lanes on all three streets without further study — as well as on five other roadways that the board approved — in the early fall. None of these lanes would erase existing parking space, and only one would be protected, according to the DOT.
“These new bike lanes are critical in creating a safer and larger cycling network in southern Brooklyn,” said DOT spokeswoman Alana Morales. DOT did not address why it chose to proceed with the bike plans despite the board’s suggestions.
The decision comes after months of discussions and workshops in Dyker Heights about the proposed lanes, which the board’s District Manager Josephine Beckmann thought positively influenced the neighborhood’s attitude towards the project.
“I think [the workshops] created a very good community discussion,” said Beckmann. “I think the sentiment is changing in Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights.”
During workshops, residents expressed their concerns about bike lanes, which they worried would take away parking space and create an unsafe environment for seniors and children walking in the neighborhood. In response, local bicyclists argued that bike lanes dramatically increase bikers’ safety without having to take away parking.
Among the bike lane supporters were some local pols, including state Sen. Andrew Gounardes, Councilman Justin Brannan, and Assemblywoman Mathylde Frontus.
“We respect the community board’s advisory vote and value the robust community input that went into these proposals,” wrote the three pols in a letter to DOT on June 18. “We believe that the proposals offered by DOT reflected the best will of the community.”
Still, the DOT’s choice to ignore the community board came as a surprise. “We had not had that before,” said Beckmann.