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Beach bodies battle over bike lane

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Bike lanes along Oriental Boulevard are in the crosshairs of two famously combative Manhattan Beach civic groups and — guess what? — they can’t agree on how to get rid of the routes.

In the latest battle between the Manhattan Beach Community Group and its rival and off-shoot, the Manhattan Beach Neighborhood Association, the president of one group says it’s time to sue the city, while his adversaries say doing so would hurt the cause.

“We plan on suing the city,” said Community Group president Ira Zalcman, who added that an an anti-bike lane suit filed Monday against the city by a Downtown group is his motivation. “I read about that lawsuit and I hope to use the same grounds as they did.”

But Neighborhood Association leader Edmund Dweck says that suing is not the way to go, even though he agrees that the bike lane needs to be moved.

“We’ve already made too much progress on traffic safety issues with the city to go after them with a lawsuit,” Neighborhood Association leader Edmund Dweck said.

That’s easy for him to say: Dweck’s group has been in discussion with the city about traffic concerns in the area, while Zalcman’s has been shut out.

At a meeting with the city last month, the Neighborhood Association made nice with the Department of Transportation, persuading officials to place a speed bump on Oxford Street between Shore and Oriental boulevards this spring. In addition, the city promised to prohibit cars from parking in areas closest to intersections along Oriental Boulevard so that drivers can see better.

Dweck also said the city did right by the community when it recently removed the dreaded Oriental Boulevard planters and installed three stop signs at both the Shore and Oriental boulevard entrances to Kingsborough Community College.

But those Neighborhood Association victories did little to appease Zalcman, who’s called them “crumbs.”

Jim Walden, the lawyer representing the Downtown group in its suit over the Prospect Park West bike lane, said that he wasn’t aware of the Oriental Boulevard lane, but that the grounds for his suit could apply to other cycle routes.

“They’re welcome to take a look at a copy of our suit,” Walden said.

Manhattan Beach residents have long said that they never wanted the Oriental Boulevard bike lane, which the city painted in 2009. It is one of several Southern Brooklyn cycle routes under fire by locals, who say that they are dangerous in communities where the majority of people drive.

Bike lane backlash also extends to Southern Brooklyn lawmakers, as Councilman Lew Fidler (D–Canarsie) is pushing for legislation that would require the city to hold community board hearings in every neighborhood they plan to paint the lanes.

Despite the opposition, the city maintains that bike lanes are beneficial, as they reducing speeding.

Despite the opposition, the city maintains that Oriental Boulevard bike lane is beneficial, as it reduces speeding and traffic accidents.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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