I love driving down Ninth Street, especially between Sixth Avenue and the park. It has big, wide lanes, very few cars, and the opportunity to easily reach the speed limit. Sometimes I even push my velocity a little above 30 miles per hour. Because I can.
So given how much I enjoy zooming along the street and having three blocks of headache-free driving, why would I be in favor of squeezing Ninth Street to one lane in each direction?
I support the plan because we need to slow down the cars in our neighborhood — even my car. And the plan — which includes adding a left-turn lane at each intersection and a bike lane on both sides of the street — will not only slow down the cars, but also make drivers more aware of pedestrians and bicyclists.
It took me a while to warm to the idea of a bike lane, especially on Ninth Street from Sixth Avenue to Third Avenue. At Sixth Avenue, the street changes from a wide residential street into a more congested commercial strip.
I was unsure of how a bike lane would work on those busy blocks, so I called up Aaron Naparstek, a neighborhood transportation and environmental activist who been involved with the traffic issues on Ninth Street since two boys were killed at the corner of Ninth Street and Third Avenue in 2004.
“The Ninth Street plan is an example of change coming from the community,” Naparstek told me, mentioning 1,200 signatures collected after a car crashed through the front door of Dizzy’s, at Eighth Avenue, in July, 2005.
“Unlike the one-way plan for Sixth and Seventh Avenues [a radical plan that has since been abandoned amid community protest], this was an example of the Department of Transportation being responsive to the community,” he added.
Some residents complained about the bike lane at last week’s community board meeting, but Naparstek defended it.
“Ninth Street is a city bike route, as laid out in the New York City Bicycle Master Plan in 1997, he said.
Many people seem to believe that bike lanes encourage bike use. But bikers are already using the road now. The bike lane will simply make motorists more aware of them.
It is sometimes hard to determine which proposed changes would help our neighborhood and which changes would set us back. The Ninth Street plan was hurt by the fact that it came on the heels of the much-reviled one-way proposal. After that boneheaded idea, it is hard to trust the DOT — but this plan would work, and when it comes up again at the community board, I will vote for it.
Nica Lalli is a member of Community Board 6. Her memoir, “Nothing: Something To Believe In” (Prometheus), is in bookstores now.
The Kitchen Sink
Lambda Independent Democrats, Brooklyn’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender political club, held its 29th anniversary lunch on Sunday at Aunt Suzie’s on Fifth Avenue. The room was filled with red sauce and politics, including Council Speaker Chris Quinn, Borough President Markowitz and his Manhattan counterpart Scott Stringer, Councilmembers Bill DeBlasio, David Yassky, Letitia James and Lew Fidler, and Assemblyman James Brennan. …
Our pal Jo Anne Simon was in Harrisburg, Penn., delivering the keynote speech at a “diversity summit” on Thursday. Simon is a local district leader, which is a fancy way of saying she strives to increase voter involvement and fill polling places with workers on Election Day. …
Grab, the specialty food store on Seventh Avenue and 15th Street, is now open on Mondays — perfect for picking up picnic victuals (if it ever gets warm, that is).