Did city ignore bike lane in Gowanus exit fix?

The city’s latest “exit strategy” for a controversial Dyker Heights intersection has some members of a local panel scratching their heads because the plan doesn’t take into account new bike lanes — which the same agency is proposing.

Some residents at Monday’s Community Board 10 meeting say the newest plan for the heavily congested intersection of 78th Street, Fort Hamilton Parkway, and the Seventh Avenue exit of the Gowanus Expressway, will cause even more traffic — thanks to the Department of Transportation’s failure to consider the new bike lanes on nearby Bay Ridge Parkway.

“There is no reason on earth why they shouldn’t have known that they were going to put five-foot bike lanes on each side of Bay Ridge Parkway,” said CB10 member Allen Bortnick, who blamed the agency’s compartmentalization for the flaw. “They don’t know what each other is doing.”

Transportation officials who worked on the re-configuration of the exit admitted they were not aware of the bicycle lane proposal, according to Doris Cruz, the chairwoman of the board’s Traffic and Transportation Committee, which met with the city last month.

As a result, board members complained that the plan, which would add a lane of moving traffic on Seventh Avenue north of 78th Street, did not fully address the problems at the intersection.

“Many questions were addressed to the Department of Transportation, and we got almost no answers,” said Cruz.

But Transportation spokesman Monty Dean disputed Cruz’s statement about the bike lanes, saying that the planners for the exit re-configuration did know about the bike lane proposal, and that it wouldn’t cause a problem.

“The two projects are compatible,” said Dean. “The bike lanes will not affect the number of travel lanes on Bay Ridge Parkway and will actually improve traffic flow with the new left turn lanes that are included.”

Still, the board doesn’t want to endorse the proposal in its entirety, instead voting overwhelmingly to support only portions of it.

For instance, it wants the city to quickly implement three aspects of the plan — a diagonal crosswalk in front of PS 127, new signs, and the addition of countdown signals for pedestrians.

But it wants the city to hold off on the installation of a pedestrian island, a reduction in the number of traffic light cycles from four to three, and the installation of barriers to prevent cars from changing lanes in certain parts of the intersection.

Board members also felt that the plan gave short shrift to residents, who object that it is too limiting on local traffic — cars or trucks traveling on Seventh Avenue must continue on Fort Hamilton Parkway — while allowing considerable leeway to motorists getting off the highway, who can go straight or turn at Bay Ridge Parkway.

Residents have been complaining about the intersection since the city re-configured it in 2009 by adding a merge between vehicles exiting the expressway and northbound Seventh Avenue traffic.

Dean said that transportation officials will review CB10’s latest input.

“We look forward to communicating with them further as we work to improve safety and traffic conditions at this location,” she said.

But residents like Bortnick, who thinks the city isn’t interested in moving traffic along, aren’t holding out much hope.

“They use the word calming to substitute for delay,” said Bortnick.

The board’s Transportation Committee will meet again next month to continue the plan for the intersection in its entirety, with the board poised to vote on the full plan at its December meeting. Community Board 10 Traffic and Transportation Committee [8119 Fifth Ave. in Bay Ridge, (718) 745-6827], Dec. 7 at 7 pm.