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Sunset Parkers worry 7th Ave. bike lane will bring Park Slope yuppies

Slow your roll: Sunset Parkers backpedalled on the city’s plan to install a Seventh Avenue bike lane from 15th to 23rd streets.
Department of Transportation

It is a slippery slope from the Slope!

A Sunset Park panel slammed the brakes on the city’s plan to paint a bike lane on Seventh Avenue on Wednesday, with some arguing that it will roll out the red carpet for Park Slope yuppies to invade the neighborhood while failing in its actual goal of filling gaps in the bike-lane grid.

“The people in Park Slope have come to the conclusion that they need a bike lane on Seventh Avenue,” said Community Board 7 member Tom Murphy, who voted against the lane. “It serves no purpose. It was sold as a connection to the bike network but it dead-ends at Green-Wood Cemetery — so one-stop-shopping if you’re worried about safety risks.”

The board ultimately didn’t reject the addition, but also didn’t approve it — 14 members voted against it and seven in favor, but nine people abstained, saying they want more details before casting a ballot.

The unprotected lane will run from Carroll Street in Park Slope down to 20th Street in Sunset Park, after which the road narrows and there will be a “shared” lane to 23rd Street — which puts motorists and cyclists in the mix without physically separating the two.

Community Board 6 approved its part of the lane — to 15th Street — with a 23–8 vote in January, but Community Board 7 members had more concerns about their five-block stretch.

But some see the lane less as a missing link and more as a gateway to gentrification.

“It’s like a gateway for things to come into the neighborhood — things a lot of locals can’t afford, like Citi Bike,” said Sunset Parker Julio Pena,

Others fear the lane, a painted line with no actual barriers between cyclists and motorists, won’t do enough to protect riders winding in and out of the obstacle course that is Seventh Avenue — fears that were also shared by Community Board 6.

“If they’re going to bring a bike lane it has to be a protected bike lane,” said Sunset Parker Marcela Mitaynes, who also voted to abstain. “These avenues are so scary just to drive, you have to weave in and out.”

But a protected bike lane isn’t a viable option because the thoroughfare isn’t wide enough to fit buffers between bicyclists and the open road, according to a Department of Transportation spokeswoman.

The city is reviewing locals’ feedback and may revisit the community board with more details, at which point it will hold another vote.

And the lane still has a fighting chance to get the board’s okay, according to Community Board 7’s district manager. There were a similar number of undecided voters on the Fifth Avenue bike lane back in 2013, but after the transit department returned with more details, many flip-flopped and the lane ultimately passed, he said.

“We had no position after a vote and then voted in favor,” said Jeremy Laufer. “I’m not saying that this will take the exact same path, though. We’ll have to wait and see.”

Reach reporter Caroline Spivack at cspivack@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2523. Follow her on Twitter @carolinespivack.

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