Residents: We will never accept Clinton Ave. bike lane

Longtime Clinton Hill residents rail against planned bike lane for ‘settlers’

The city should just give up trying to win longtime Clinton Hill locals over on its plan to install a bike lane on Clinton Avenue, residents told Department of Transportation officials on Tuesday night.

Agency honchos came to a Community Board 2 transportation committee meeting to say they were putting the controversial plan on ice until they’d had more meetings with residents to find a mutually agreeable solution, but several locals told them not to bother.

“Why are we going over this again? The community does not want it,” said 45-year resident Karima Jordan to the packed pews at a Lafayette Avenue church. “It’s not a good plan, just forget about it.”

Department reps already told locals in late May that they would spend another month doing more community consultation on the scheme — which would turn one of the thoroughfares’ traffic lanes into a two-way bike lane between Gates to Flushing avenues — after a large number of residents slammed the idea as a traffic-jam-creating, reckless-rider-enabling nightmare designed to appease gentrifiers.

But instead of returning with the revised plan on Tuesday, they said they now want to run even more workshops in local hotspots such as churches and community centers before going ahead with anything.

“We listened to the community loudly and clearly and at this point the plan is tabled,” said transit director of greenways Ted Wright. “What we really want to do as we move forward is host a series of community workshops we’re still trying to plan.”

Wright said the pow wows won’t necessarily focus just on a Clinton Avenue, but will instead provide a forum for community members to propose other places they’d like to see a dedicated cycling passage in their nabe.

The city initially came up with the Clinton Avenue plan to give pedal pushers a safer alternative to busy Vanderbilt Avenue, and Jordan suggested the city install the bike lane there, drawing applause and cheers from the crowd.

Wright has said in previous meetings that Vanderbilt isn’t ideal because it crosses hairy Atlantic Avenue, however.

All but two speakers at the meeting railed against the Clinton Avenue plan, with many dismissing supporters as a minority of “hipsters,” booing and shouting at any proponents.

But one fan fired back, saying he was sick of being yelled at for backing the proposal and urging the crowd to think about how much safer the lanes will make cyclists’ commutes.

“This isn’t an issue of traffic, it’s an issues of lives,” said Adam Nelson, a Washington Avenue resident who said he had been denigrated by his community. “If you guys feel better about your cars than people’s lives, I just feel sad for you all.”

The city doesn’t need the community — or the community board’s — support and could just go ahead with a bike lane. Borough Commissioner Keith Bray, however, said it won’t until it has Community Board 2’s okay.

Bray also assured residents that it won’t try to sneak the plan through in the summer — then community boards don’t have regular meetings — although there may be a workshop or two during the warmer months, he said.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill