Today’s news:

Pols back Hasids in bike lane fight

The Brooklyn Paper

Several Williamsburg elected officials — some of whom fancy themselves as bicycle advocates — have joined a coalition of Hasidic residents and local businessowners in now demanding that one of the lanes be removed to restore parking on the east side of busy Kent Avenue.

A who’s who of electeds and neighborhood leaders — including Borough President Markowitz and Councilmembers David Yassky (D–Williamsburg) and Diana Reyna (D–Bushwick) — made their demand known in a letter to the Department of Transportation on Dec. 5.

Yassky — a backer of bike-friendly initiatives, including a long-planned Greenway that will eventually create two bike lanes on Kent Avenue that are buffered from car traffic by a line of trees — signed on after taking heat from the Williamsburg’s Satmar community at a neighborhood forum last month. At that meeting, one of the community’s spokesmen, the City Council candidate Isaac Abraham, threatened that Hasidic Jews would block traffic to protest the bike lane.

But Yassky’s spokesman said his boss hasn’t changed gears when it comes to cycling.

“[Sending such a letter] seems like an anti-bike thing, but that’s not where we’re coming from at all,” said Yassky’s spokesman Jake Maguire.

“We want to see a bike lane there and we expect to see a bike lane there, but we want a bike lane that the community supports and one that is implemented in a way that is collaborative,” he added.

Community Board 1 member Evan Thies, also a Council hopeful, said he signed the letter to encourage the city to get started on the long-promised Greenway — a pair of walking and biking paths stretching from Greenpoint to Sunset Park.

Thies told The Brooklyn Paper that the best way to jumpstart the Greenway — which was backed by CB1 by an overwhelming vote of 39–2 in April — is to put “both [existing] bike lanes on the west side of the street now.”

“That way we can plant our flag there and build out [the Greenway] accordingly in the next few years,” said Thies.

But cycling advocates fear that removing even a single lane could put bicyclists in grave danger.

“If you take away bike lanes, you are feeding into that driver’s sense of entitlement to the entire street,” said Teresa Toro, chair of Community Board 1’s Transportation Committee. “If drivers feel more entitled to the road, it could be open season for bicyclists.”

That opinion has some support at the Department of Transportation, whose bike program coordinator Josh Benson told The Brooklyn Paper three weeks ago that the agency had no plan to remove the bike lane on the west side of the street.

But the agency is keeping an open mind in light of the pols’ letter, DOT spokesman Seth Solomonow said.

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Reader Feedback

John from Little Italy says:
DOT is way out of control. This Commissioner feels that she can do whayever se feels like doing regardless of what the community wants. I am not against bike lanes in the City but the way DOT is reconfiguring streets is crazy. They are killing businesses by removing parking. It is time for the commissioner to resign or be fired.
Dec. 11, 2008, 11:05 am
Dan from Brooklyn says:
Striping in new bike lanes isn't killing business. Making the city more bike and pedestrian-friendly is GOOD for business.

We just saw trillions of dollars simply evaporate from Wall Street, New York City's biggest economic engine. If something is killing business, it's that. Get a grip, John.
Dec. 11, 2008, 1:01 pm
Gary from Park Slope says:
In NYC parking does not equal business. 80% or more of shopper do not travel by private car. Calming and reducing traffic and making an area more pleasant for pedestrians and cyclists can only making shopping strips more appealing.
http://www.thevillager.com/villager_292/talkingpoint.html
And the Grand Street bike lane maintained most on street parking anyway. The bike lane and the parking lane merely switched places. Few legal spaces were lost. All that happened was that an unusable bike lane, because of all the double parked cars and trucks in it, became a usable bike lane a the flow of traffic became more orderly.
Don't blame a bike lane for the economic downturn.

I hope DOT puts in the Kent Ave greeenway/ separated bike lane ASAP. That is what the POLs should be pushing. Maybe a barrier protected two lane on the West side of the street as an interim step.
Dec. 11, 2008, 1:16 pm
RESIDENT from KENT AVE says:
AS A RESIDENT OF KENT AVE, AND A SUPPORTER OF BIKE LANES, I GOT INVOLVED IN THIS ISSUE.

HERE ARE SOME REAL FACTS:
ABOUT 2 MONTHS AGO, WHEN THIS BIKE LANE WAS PAINTED, ANYONE THAT SAW IT WAS SHOCKED..

THEY REMOVED 1000 PARKING SPACES, THERE IS NOWAY TO PICK UP DROP OFF A PASSENGER, MAKE A DELIVERY, EVEN A CAR SERVICE THAT STOPS TO PICK UP A PASSENGER GETS TICKETED.

THE BIGGEST SUPPORTERS OF THE BIKE LANE, INCLUDING COUNCILMAN DAVID YASSKY, BOROUGH PRESIDENT MARTY MARKOWITS CONGRESSWOMEN NYDIA VELAZQUAZ, ALL SAY THAT THIS BIKE LANE IS POORLY PLANNED, AND THEY ALL TRY TO HELP US TO ARRANGE A MEETING WITH THE DOT TO FIGURE OUT A WAY THAT SHOULD WORK FOR THE RESIDENCE AND BIKERS,

BUT HERE IS THE PROBLEM, THE DOT IGNORES OUR CALLS AND EVEN ALL OF THE ABOVE ELECTED OFFICIALS CANT GET THEM TO SIT DOWN TO TALK ABOUT THIS ISSUE, INSTEAD THEY FIND ALL KIND OF NONSENSE REASONS WHY THEY DON'T WANT TO MEET.

THAT'S WHY THEY SENT THIS LETTER TO THE DOT
Dec. 11, 2008, 1:45 pm
mitch from wiliamsburg says:
Gary,
before u talk about the bike lane on my block,
I want to invite you to my house, and give you a consignment, come with your car, find a legal parking spot within 5 blocks of my house, walk down to our building very slowly and count how many bikes pass by. I bet U, it wont be more then 1..
Dec. 11, 2008, 1:49 pm
mitch from wiliamsburg says:
Gary,
before u talk about the bike lane on my block,
I want to invite you to my house, and give you a assignment, come with your car, find a legal parking spot within 5 blocks of my house, walk down to our building very slowly and count how many bikes pass by. I bet U, it wont be more then 1..
Dec. 11, 2008, 1:50 pm
mitch from wiliamsburg says:

Now a resident of Kent ave tells us about his ride to hell, since the DOT posted "NO STOPPING" signs on Kent Ave.
Things have gotten pretty terrible in the saga of the Kent Ave. bike lane, at least for the people who live or work on this block, Today I had to drive home my 5 year old daughter from hospital, after she went through surgery last week, it was 6 PM when we arrived in front our home at Kent avenue and it was freezing cold outside,
after driving around for 15 minutes, I finally found a halfway illegal parking spot 4 blocks away from my home, I had to walk with my cranky just out of hospital daughter in my hands, all while she was complaining why I had to park so far.



This is 1 of 100 such story's that happen every day here on our block,
Dec. 11, 2008, 1:53 pm
MIKEL from BROOKLYN says:
THANK YOU DAVID YASSKY,
THANK YOU MARTY MARKOWITS,
THANK YOU DANIAL SQUADRON,
THANK YOU DIANA REYNA,
THANK YOU NYDIA VELAZQUEZ,
AND THANK YOU JOSEPH LENTOL,
Dec. 11, 2008, 2:03 pm
jen from williamsburg says:
Im sorry Brooklyn paper, but this is not a Satmar community issue,
Im not Satmar and Im not Jewish. and this bike has caused a lot of damage and aggravation to me and my family. i call the DOT every day but they ignore me most of the the time and laugh at me some of the time

and Gary if im correct, in park slope they also had some issues with the bike lanes, they didnt want it on certain streets, and the DOT changed there plans.
Dec. 11, 2008, 2:12 pm
Jim from Greenpoint says:
The problem with Kent Ave is not bikes, it's trucks that drive over the speed limit. Crossing that street, you take your life into your hands. Sorry, but I don't buy all the parking horror stories. The car and truck driving community is just making it harder for themselves. There would be no need for these lanes if people didn't drive without regard for human life.

With all the new apartment buildings down there, it's only a matter of time before someone gets killed.
Dec. 11, 2008, 2:18 pm
chris from greenpoint says:
of course you dont see any bikers now its winter and cold outside. wait untill summer and im sure ull see alot of bikes on your street
Dec. 11, 2008, 2:22 pm
kieth from williamsburg says:

No one is against more bike lanes. but the problem is the way they planned and installed it,

in the letter David Yassky sent to the DOT he asks them to sit down with his office and come up with a creative solution that both the bikers and drivers will be happy.
but 2 months have past and there is no answer from the DOT office
Dec. 11, 2008, 2:30 pm
Isaac from Williamsburg says:
Ben, first i want to state my anger on your headline "Hasids" in any shape, we are residents where the problem was created and at the hearing if you noticed (don't think so) there were many non "Hasids" residents and business people who oppose the bike lane.

your heading is insulting and racist.

as for "thereatened" to block, your headline should have been "DOT bike lane director orders to stop traffic" because this is what Mr. Benson responded when asked by a resident of Schaefer "how to drp off his children when there is a "no stopping any time" and I sated the same when the buses drop off children.

I assume you did not hear this statement while you were there either.

as for the letter, I was told that Mr. Ramo from Yassky's office told Mr. Moskowitz that Assemblyman Lentol did not want to sign it, when he called Lentol's office, he was told they never saw the letter.

so if Yassky goes to the planning board to have someone sign, why not the Vincent Abbate, the chairman? why Even Thies chairman of the "sanitation" on CB1?.

maybe because Yassky needed someone to clean up his garbage.

Thies was Yassky's chief of staff, and is running for his council seat and has to give him some publicity.

all politics, but don't play the race card.

so I just followed in his foot steps
Dec. 12, 2008, 9:12 am
vincent silva from williamsburg says:
This Teresa Toro is really hamming it up with a phrase like "open season for bicyclists". Give me a break!
Bicyclist, not resembling a moose , will be as safe as the pedestrians they encounter on there daily law breaking meanderings through these city streets. Issue tickets to peddling law breakers as well as require that all adult bicyclist have registrations, licenses and insurance for there bicycles. Share the city streets and share the cost of maintaining these streets. Drivers add more than six hundred and fifty million dollars, in tickets alone, to this city's coffers. Every commercial vehicle pays a two hundred dollar tax, annually, for the privilege of operating in this city. Every car pays an eighteen percent tax on their parking fees to be able to park in this city. Parking meters generate more than sixty million dollars in revenue for the city. Can someone tell me how much the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, Verrazano Bridge, Queens Midtown Tunnel and the Triboro Bridge tolls add to the city's coffers? Can someone out there tell me how much money, out of town motorist, spend in this city? What on this God green earth, do bicyclist contribute to this city? Zip, zero, none, nothing and nada! When a bicyclist with no health insurance, injures themselves (no car involved) where do they end up? Oh yes, silly me, in a city hospital! Who pays for that? Why are people trying to turn this city into something it's not? Cities have cars, pollution, muggers, junkies, noise, bars and rats. If you don't want those things, MOVE! Move to Maine. Move to Colorado. Move to Kansas! Take your bikes and find a nice place to live. Please, just go!
Dec. 15, 2008, 11:48 pm

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