Debate Rages Over East Flatbush Bike Safety Proposals

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After lengthy research and discussions with members of the community, a New York State legislator and a transportation policymaker for NYC are working together to have more bike lanes added on city streets, despite some being against this proposal.

A New York state legislator is working with a New York City transportation policymaker to stymie a move by the NYC Department of Transportation to make East Flatbush safer for cyclists, according to a recent report by StreetsBlog. The Assembly Member, Brooklyn’s Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn, and the Community Board 17 Transportation Committee Chairman, Roderick Daley, recently declared their “full-throated opposition” to a plan that would install painted bike lanes in the neighborhood, which currently has three. 

The DOT’s plan would add northbound or southbound painted bike lanes on three avenues—New York, Brooklyn, and Albany—and on three streets: East 40th, East 51st, and East 52nd, according to Streetsblog. It would also add eastbound or westbound lanes on Snyder Avenue, Foster Avenue, Farragut Road, Beverly Road, Rutland Road, Avenue A, and Avenue B. The report stresses that they would not replace travel lanes or interrupt any existing parking spaces. The DOT’s plan has reportedly been in the works since 2017 and is the product of extensive research and interviews with community residents. 

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In the last four years there have been over 400 cyclists injured on NYC streets and these numbers are what has pushed policymakers to want safer streets for community cyclists.

Daley, the Transportation Committee Chairman appointed by incoming mayor (and current Brooklyn borough president) Eric Adams reportedly opposes the plan out of a belief that the DOT’s research yielded inaccurate results. “I have not gotten any positive feedback from anyone about the increase of bike lanes, I must honestly tell you that,” he said, per Streetsblog. “I didn’t poll 700 people, but I did poll people on Clarendon Road and Avenue D.” Bichotte Hermelyn agreed, arguing that bike lanes don’t “work” in Community Board 17. “[…] They just don’t want it, you know for many reasons,” she said, per Streetsblog. “If you asked me if Community Board 17 wanted the bike lanes I would say no, they would not want the bike lanes. If you ask me, how about Community Board 2? I would say for sure.”

As Streetsblog notes, Community Board 17’s residents are 85% black, meaning that “a higher percentage of victims of road violence in Bichotte Hermelyn’s district are people of color,” with 416 cyclists injured since 2017 and three cyclists killed. Streetsblog argues that traffic violence statistics demonstrate the need for bike lanes in East Flatbush, pointing out that the city’s Vision Zero campaign to eliminate car crash fatalities has yielded “safety improvements [that] have been limited to mostly White, mostly wealthy neighborhoods.” From the campaign’s launch in 2014 until the year before the pandemic, traffic violence affecting cyclists increased in Community Board 17, from 3,135 crashes and 57 cyclists injured to 3,643 crashes and 90 injuries. One East Flatbush resident rejected the idea that the community doesn’t want bike lanes, arguing further that even cyclists passing through the neighborhood deserve them as well. 

More information on the debate over whether to install bike lanes in East Flatbush, New York is available via Streetsblog.

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