These Clinton Hill residents finally caught a brake.
The city curbed a community vote on a contentious Clinton Avenue bike lane on May 19, after longtime locals claimed they were ignored during the planning process in favor of pedal-pushing neighborhood newcomers. Department of Transportation honchos told the Community Board 2 transportation committee to hold off on the referendum, saying they would instead spend a month conferring with the rebuffed residents and then return with a revised plan, according to a spokeswoman.
“After hearing more from the community at this week’s meetings on the Clinton Avenue proposal, DOT will conduct additional outreach with community leaders and residents,” said a spokeswoman. “We look forward to returning to CB2 next month.”
Hundreds of locals packed an earlier meeting on May 17, where the majority of attendees slammed both the department’s plan to eliminate a lane of traffic and 35 parking spaces on Clinton Avenue between Gates and Flushing avenues and add a two-way bike lane, and its community consultation process for the project.
Critics included Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo (D–Fort Greene) and her predecessor, Public Advocate Letitia James.
Department reps claimed the changes would help ease heavy bike traffic on nearby Vanderbilt Avenue, and that they’d received plenty of support for the idea from residents when they set up street-side booths around the community board’s district and gabbed about it with passersby.
But residents said the city’s outreach effort was biased towards pedestrians and cyclists, and skipped important community institutions for older residents such as churches.
Naysayers also claimed the narrower street and new bike lane would be plagued by traffic jams, impede emergency vehicles, and attract more cyclists, who they claim speed down the street with no consideration for other commuters.
But even critics think locals may come around to the changes if the department shows it is serious about listening to them and taking their concerns on board.
“Never say never, I think the community has to be reasonable,” said Clinton Hill local Schellie Hagan. “Do I want to personally see bike lanes on Clinton Avenue? I don’t personally like them, but they’re here.”