State Senate candidate Andrew Gounardes wants to see more bicycles in Bay Ridge — setting the wheels in motion for a showdown with Republican state Sen. Marty Golden, who opposes bike travel on major thoroughfares.
Gounardes, an attorney and member of Community Board 10’s Traffic and Transportation Committee, says he regularly cruises Southern Brooklyn on his two-wheeler and wishes that Bay Ridge’s sparse bicycle routes were linked to trendier, bike-friendly Park Slope, Cobble Hill, or Prospect Heights.
“I’d like to see the bike lanes that are better connected to the larger network,” the aspiring legislator said, pointing out that the area’s two main bike lanes on Shore and Colonial roads are barely linked to the Seventh Avenue route that feeds into Sunset Park. But the Seventh Avenue route only leads bikers to Windsor Terrace and Prospect Park South, Gounardes claims.
Improving Bay Ridge’s bicycle access would bring more business to the neighborhood, the candidate added.
“People could come here to go to a restaurant or a bar,” said Gounardes.
Yet the Eagle Scout slammed on the brakes when asked to speculate on where bike lanes should be placed, claiming that he would need to gauge Department of Transportation data and levels of community support before he would make a single suggestion for Golden’s district, which includes Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, Manhattan Beach, and Marine Park.
Golden fought the creation of a bike lane on Bay Ridge Parkway last year and has criticized the city’s attempts to put bike lanes on major avenues.
Golden campaign spokesman Ray Riley blasted Gounardes’s lane plan, claiming that Bay Ridge couldn’t safely accommodate an increase in cycling traffic.
“Where would he like to install bike lanes to make this work — Third, Fourth, or Fifth avenue?” Riley said, referring to the neighborhood’s busiest boulevards.
Business leaders also flatlined Gounardes’s bike dreams.
“People getting dressed up and riding a bike to go to dinner?” said Fifth Avenue Business Improvement District president Jim Clark. “I just can’t see it.”
Robert Howe, the president of the Third Avenue Merchants and an avid bicyclist, was also skeptical.
“I don’t know if people would want to go to a bar and have a drink, then ride a bike back home,” he said.
Yet Councilman Vincent Gentile (D–Bay Ridge), who led the charge against a city plan to put a bike lane on Bay Ridge Parkway, defended Gounardes’s plan.
“Anything that will bring people to Bay Ridge to shop and go to restaurants is a good thing,” Gentile said. “We need all the help we can get from anywhere.”