Transportation honchos hosted a pair of ceremonial ribbon cutting Thursday to celebrate the completion of two more protected bike lanes in the borough — one connecting Central Brooklyn with Downtown and key East River crossings and another encompassing a crucial stretch of Fourth Avenue.
Department of Transportation officials first lauded a new Flatbush Avenue protected bike lane at Grand Army Plaza, which spans from the local monument to Ocean Avenue, before inviting Brooklynites to ride along Prospect Park West to Second Street and up Fourth Avenue to Bergen Street, where they then marked the completion of a new protected lane from 65th Street to the Barclays Center.
From the ribbon cutting at Grand Army Plaza, Borough President Eric Adams said the new Flatbush Avenue bike lane will help give a safe thoroughfare to underserved communities east of Prospect Park.
Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, who chairs the council’s transportation committee, agreed, adding that the new lanes provide a clear benefit to low-income residents outside the central business district.
“This is about equity,” he said Thursday.
Bike advocate Courtney Williams added that the lanes’ deployment couldn’t come fast enough as more and more cyclists fight to protect themselves on city streets.
“We know who lives on this side of the park – white, affluent, having all the fun, living all that Prospect Park life – and then there are people down in Flatbush and Flatlands who need to get from point A to point B. Very much so for transportation, for affordability, for function,” Williams said. “We need to have infrastructure quickly going down to compliment what a cyclist wants for themselves and can only reasonably do for themselves.”
According to the mayor’s office, DOT has added 106 miles of bike lanes in Brooklyn since 2016, including 15 miles so far this year.
But with 29 bike-riders killed in 2019 and at least 20 cyclist deaths so far this year, Adams said the slow and steady rate of the city’s safe street initiative Vision Zero still does not meet the demands of the Five Boroughs.
“It is still unacceptable how dangerous it is to ride in the city,” he said, adding that his mayoral campaign will soon release a plan to speed up installment of bike lanes throughout the city.
DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said Thursday that progress had already been made on this front by removing local community boards from the process. Additionally, the two new lanes add more than three miles to the nation’s largest protected bike lane network, she said.
However, some cyclists have expressed grievances about the seemingly incomplete nature of some stretches between Prospect Park and Jay Street.
What time? I take my son to school via 4th ave all the way to Flatbush. Please note that they’re not fucking done and don’t let them act like they are. This was the last block this morning. pic.twitter.com/iyygyF3wW7
— ¡Wear A Mask! JarekFA 🇳🇱🇸🇷🇭🇰🇱🇹🇺🇦 (@JarekFA) November 4, 2020
At Thursday’s ribbon cutting, Trottenberg disagreed that any sections lacked full protection for cyclists.
In a statement, Mayor Bill de Blasio said his administration remains committed to keeping cyclists safe — especially as more New Yorkers take to the streets amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“Our city’s recovery depends on giving New Yorkers safe, reliable, and green transportation alternatives, and I’m proud to support the growing cycling movement in Brooklyn and beyond,” Hizzoner said. “I know these lanes will be used well and often, and I’m looking forward to cutting the ribbon on even more lanes across the city this year.”
Additional reporting by Ben Verde
A version of this story first appeared on AMNY.com.