CB6 Asks DOT to Find a Final Solution to the “Bicycle Problem”


Community Board 6 was grumpy about the idea of bike lanes on 9th Street.

At last night's Community Board 6 meeting in Brooklyn DOT Deputy Commissioner Michael Primeggia's "One Way? No Way!" proposal was shot down decisively, the Grand Army Plaza bike and ped improvements passed unanimously, and the 9th Street pedestrian safety, traffic-calming and bike lane project was, after a lengthy discussion, sign-waving and a split vote, "tabled" for further discussion with DOT. Members of CB6, apparently, prefer to maintain 9th Street's status as the neighborhood street with the most appalling number of car crashes, injuries and fatalities.

The quote of the evening came from Bob Levine, head of the Ninth Street Block Association when he said -- and to fully appreciate it read it using your best 1940s movie German accent -- "We need to find the best Solution to the Bicycle Problem." (E-mail Transportation Alternatives for your free copy of the Protocols of the Elders of Cycling).

The animosity on display last night against bicyclists was intense. One could have left the meeting thinking that New York City's crushing traffic congestion, parking angst, endless horn honking, pedestrian injuries and fatalities, asthma- and cancer-causing particulate matter, greenhouse gas emissions, high automobile insurance rates, the $3 gallon, and addict-like dependence on oil from countries that hate America must be the fault of Park Slope residents who would like a safe way to ride a bike to the 9th Street YMCA. Fortunately, we got most of the discussion on video tape so you'll be able to see the profound dysfunction of New York City governance on the local level for yourself.

In honor of last night's meeting we've created a new category here at Streetsblog called "Community Board Reform." This is the first post. Here is Gowanus Lounge's coverage of the meeting:  

During a nearly 3 1/2 hour meeting last night in Park Slope, Community Board Six disposed of the one-way proposal for Sixth and Seventh Avenues that had sparked an outpouring of neighborhood opposition. It also decided not to act on a surprisingly controversial plan to install bike lanes and other "traffic calming" measures on Ninth Street. (Contrary to an incorrect NY Sun headline proclaiming a victory for the plan.)

Council Member Bill DeBlasio arrived while the meeting was underway and spoke in support of the proposals, noting that he'd gotten a commitment from the Police Department not to ticket cars that are double-parked in the bike lanes and from DOT to continue the bike lane down Prospect Park West so that bicyclists would enter the park at 15th Street rather than 9th Street. (The double parking issue emerged as the crux of neighborhood opposition to the plan, with residents fearing that a bike lane would interfere with their ability to double park while picking up people or running into a store.) The board, meanwhile, said it had gotten about 140 emails and faxes in favor of the proposal and 80 opposed. The Board's Transportation Committee had voted in favor of the plan.

Board Member Bob Levine, who also heads the Ninth Street Block Association, led opposition to the plan, saying that steps needed to be taken to address the "bicycle problem" and that the plan was "idiotic and asking for trouble." Several members, however, spoke strongly in favor of the proposal. One noted that "bike lanes will make cycling much safer" and that "If I were parking my car on Ninth Street, I'd rather step out into a bike lane than speeding traffic." Another said that bicyclists are a public safety threat and that "bicyclists should be licensed."

"I thought if there is going to be a good place for a bike route, this is it," said member Louise Finney, who is also a Trustee of the Park Slope Civic Council. "This would be a great traffic calming device."

Board Member Anthony Pugliese, who is an organizer with the District Council of Carpenters, got a laugh from crowd, speaking in favor of the proposal and saying, "What is this, Bensonhurst? These are bicycles.

In the end, the Community Board voted to send the proposal back to its Transportation Committee for further discussion with DOT and to ask DOT not to act until the discussions are completed.

The Board also voted unanimously to support significant traffic and pedestrian improvements to Grand Army Plaza.

Photo: Robert Guskind