The mayor needs to stay in his lane!
Southern Brooklyn community boards slammed Mayor Bill de Blasio for asserting his right to overrule their recommendations in the name of street safety when it comes to his recently-announced, sweeping bike lane expansion
De Blasio said that, while he would take community boards’s input into consideration, he would “just give the order” to install new bike lanes if he feels that the civic panels were obstructing city efforts to save lives — but one Manhattan Beach community board honcho said the city has ignored the boards plenty of times in the past, leaving locals with an already severe shortage of parking spaces as a result.
“In the past, they have unilaterally decided to remove parking in southern Brooklyn,” said Theresa Scavo, chairwoman of Community Board 15, which includes Sheepshead Bay, Gravesend, and Brighton Beach.
And a longtime member of nearby Community Board 18 — which stretches along Jamaica Bay from Marine Park to Canarsie — urged the mayor to not act rashly and bring his sprawling bike lane proposal before the community to get their advice.
“I think de Blasio should take a deep breath and look at the bigger picture,” said Marine Parker Bob Tracy. “It seems to me that it is an irrational decision. I think this is something that should be brought to community boards so we can make a plan together to make safer streets for bicyclists — that is our concern” he said.
The mayor’s plan will add 80 miles of protected bike lanes to the city streets by the time hizzoner leaves office in 2021, and will result in the loss of parking spots “in the thousands,” according to Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, referring to the cost to drivers following the completion of a city-wide network of protected bike lanes in 2030.
Rather than protect bikers from cars, Tracy argued that the mayor’s proposed network of protected bike lanes would put pedestrians in the crosshairs of cyclists, despite the astronomically low number of bike-caused fatalities — four deaths since 2014, according to a Gothamist report — as compared to the 113 New Yorkers killed by drivers on city streets this year, police statistics show.
“Protected lanes are going to make it harder for cars. Pedestrians are now going to get hit by bikers in the bike lanes!” he said.
Meanwhile the plan garnered support from a member of brownstone Brooklyn’s Community Board 6 — which represents Park Slope, Carroll Gardens, Red Hook, Boerum Hill and Gowanus — who said that the mayor should press his mandate to save lives, even if it means axing parking spots and overruling community boards.
“Considering that five cyclists have been killed in the last three weeks, I think this is a worthy trade-off,” said Eric McClure, the co-chair of the board’s transportation committee and the director of the safe streets advocacy group StreetsPAC.
— Additional reporting by Chandler Kidd, Aidan Graham, and Rose Adams