Not everyone in Bay Ridge hates bike lanes

for The Brooklyn Paper
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A key member of a community board panel is demanding that the city strap on a helmet and revive its own abandoned proposal for a bike lane on Bay Ridge Parkway — but he’s facing an uphill battle.

Community Board 10’s Traffic and Transportation Committee meeting Tuesday night broke down along the usual battle lines in the latest bike lane flare-up as pro-cycling committee member Bob Cassara put forward a motion to call on the Department of Transportation to paint a “shared route” along the wide stretch of the parkway between Shore Road and Bay Parkway in Bensonhurst — a lesser category of bike lane than a full-fledged path.

Cassara’s call came two weeks after the city, which once supported a true bike lane on the three-mile stretch, abandoned that support amid community complaints.

“Bay Ridge Parkway is a perfect place for a bike lane,” said Cassara. “I don’t see any other place where it would work so well.”

But there was plenty of bikelash against Cassara’s proposal. Some committee members argued that the “shared route,” also known as a Class 3 bike lane, is more dangerous than a full-fledged bike lane because it gives cyclists a false sense of security, yet burdens drivers with the same need to look out for the two-wheelers.

“Bike lanes are dangerous because cyclists can get doored or hit by cars,” said CB10 board member Larry Stelter. “And if that happens, the cyclists have no obligations; it’s the drivers who are always at fault.”

But Cassara insisted the bike lane would be safer for cyclists and pedestrians because it would take two-wheelers off the sidewalks. The lane would also include painted warnings on the street alerting drivers that they must share the road.

Cyclists who live on Bay Ridge Parkway backed up Cassara.

“The only place I fear for my life is in Bay Ridge,” said Harry Denny, who lives between Colonial Road and Narrows Avenue. “It’s absolutely the scariest place to ride.”

But local elected officials haven’t shared Denny’s concerns. Assemblyman Peter Abbate (D–Dyker Heights) has been leading the fight on behalf of drivers, he said.

“The Bay Ridge Parkway bike lane was a disaster waiting to happen,” Abbate cheered after the city withdrew its support last month. “It would have actually made it more dangerous for drivers, pedestrians and bikers — all of whom would be competing for too little space on what is already too narrow a road.”

But the street is actually wider than normal city roadways, measuring 50 feet in width from Bay Parkway to Fourth Avenue and 44 feet from Fourth Avenue to Shore Road.

The Department of Transportation has said there is no one-size-fits-all policy for installing bike lanes, but the agency evaluates locations based on the width of the roadway, parking needs, traffic volumes and community input.

The agency proposed the plan in 2010, arguing that a bike lane was needed not only to provide a safe haven for cyclists, but to reduce the speed of car traffic by narrowing lane widths. Abbate and Councilman Vince Gentile (D–Bay Ridge) didn’t buy it, and hailed the city reversal.

“He believes that agencies should let their policies be guided by local expertise and knowledge — and in this instance, our community believed that the lanes would pose a safety hazard,” said Gentile spokeswoman Dena Libner.

This isn’t the first controversial bike lane. Prospect Park West’s famously devisive bike lane is currently the subject of a lawsuit and a campaign by a state lawmaker to get the lane converted into a standard, one-way lane. And last year, the city removed the Bedford Avenue bike lane in Williamsburg after receiving complaints from drivers.

For now, Cassara’s resolution will head to a showdown at Community Board 10’s full meeting on May 16. Cassara predicted that bicyclists will show up in force to defend the measure.

“We always hear from anti-bikers at these meetings,” said Cassara. “Now cyclists need to be heard — and we will be.”

Community Board 10 full board meeting at the Knights of Columbus [1305 86th St. at 13th Avenue in Dyker Heights, (718) 259-8840], May 16, 7 pm.

Updated 5:24 pm, July 9, 2018: Corrects a wrong suggestion that the committee actually voted on Cassara's resolution. That vote will come next week.
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Reasonable discourse

Eazy D from sheepshead bay says:
I think people are on crack. can't work.
May 9, 2011, 11:53 pm
mike from GP says:
Nice! I really wish folks like Gentile, Recchia, Abbaate and Stelter would learn a few things about modern urban planning and transportation engineering -- it sounds like they're still stuck in 1970! Why are our leaders so behind the people on the science?
May 10, 2011, 5:57 am
Chris from Bushwick says:
My favorite claim is that "a Class 3 bike lane [...] burdens drivers with the same need to look out for the two-wheelers."

I guess the opponents of the route were unaware that it's not a "burden" to look out for bikes, it's a "responsibility," and it's a responsibility that drivers have on ALL streets.

Level-headedness prevails again. Well done, CB10!
May 10, 2011, 8:40 am
Joe from Crown Heights says:
"agencies should let their policies be guided by local expertise and knowledge — and in this instance, our community believed that the lanes would pose a safety hazard"

It's one thing when "local expertise and knowledge" guides choices like what street corners need cops and which businesses will donate to a fundraiser. It's another thing when people with no expertise act in denial of a safety feature that is conclusively and repeatedly proven to make streets safer on roads of the same profile throughout the five boroughs. News flash to CB10 - you can't choose where bikes will go, you can only make their presence safe or unsafe, and if you REALLY think Bay Ridge Parkway is so different from Grand Street in Williamsburg, Vernon Blvd in Long Island City, Avenue A in the East Village, or Bedford Ave in prospect Lefferts Gardens that it will fail where those identical lanes have unequivocally succeeding in making streets safer for all users, than I believe that you are DEEPLY unqualified to be making transportation decisions for any community.
May 10, 2011, 8:59 am
trans alt from where cars are not ok says:
Cars now average around 45mph on Bay Ridge Parkway, this lane is needed to slow these cretins down. I'm going to enjoy laughing at drivers that are stuck in gridlock, as I go by them on my bike.
May 10, 2011, 9:17 am
wkgreen from Park Slope says:
“ 'Bike lanes are dangerous because cyclists can get doored or hit by cars,' said CB10 board member Larry Stelter. 'And if that happens, the cyclists have no obligations; it’s the drivers who are always at fault.' ”

Actually Larry, bike lane or not, I'm pretty sure that it is the driver who is always at fault if he/she doors a cyclist. At least with the bike lane they should be more aware, and a Class 3 lane gives the cyclist more room to maneuver to avoid such a collision rather than be fixed into the door zone as happens in too many Class 2 situations.
May 10, 2011, 10:07 am
Billy Gray from Greenpoint says:
> “He believes that agencies should let their policies be guided by local expertise and knowledge — and in this instance, our community believed that the lanes would pose a safety hazard,”

That's not the same as just like your opinion, man. Anecdotal observations colored with your own personal prejudices make you the last person to make what are basically engineering and safety decisions. I mean, read the article—the one guy thinks the street is just "too narrow" and has no idea what he's talking about, it's wider than most.
May 10, 2011, 11:42 am
Billy Gray from Greenpoint says:
> Some committee members argued that the “shared route,” also known as a Class 3 bike lane, is more dangerous than a full-fledged bike lane because it gives cyclists a false sense of security, yet burdens drivers with the same need to look out for the two-wheelers.

Oh, I get it: so drivers aren't currently saddled with some weird and totally unprecedented burden of not killing people on bicycles, I gotcha.
May 10, 2011, 11:44 am
JB from BR says:
Sadik-Khan likes to rule with a blind eye and a giant scythe. Unfortunately, the people suffer. There is no "one size fits all" solution here. If the City wants to carve a route down a major thoroughfare, the residents and the Community Boards in the area have a right to have a say. That is 100% fair. Sadik-Khan has probably never even stepped foot in Bay Ridge let alone on Bay Ridge Parkway! Bike lanes need to be studied on a case-by-case basis. The Electeds in question are simply echoing the voices and concerns of their constituents. Maybe Bay Ridge does need to take a few steps forward into the 21st Century but they would be foolish not to consider the cost. Agencies SHOULD listen to local expertise and knowledge; it's the right thing to do. That's democracy!
May 10, 2011, 2:59 pm
Joe from Crown Heights says:
JB illustrates the problem beautifully. Some would have this decision be based on politics, rhetoric, populism, local bias, and antipathy. It is not democracy when the dull apparatus of appointed misanthropes that is the community board renders a decision seeking to exclude a perfectly legal street use where it is easily accommodated. And I'm sorry but whether or not bike lanes are safe and whether or not Bay Ridge Parkway is wide enough for them is NOT a local issue - these are not matters of opinion. Bike lanes make streets safer and Bay Ridge Parkway is definitively wide enough for them - end of story. Besides, a fair and balanced street would be one that safely accommodates pedestrians, cars AND bicycles, not a street that only has facilities for two of them. That's democracy!
May 10, 2011, 4:21 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Honestly, I don't think that it's a good idea to place bike lanes on major thoroughfares or even commercial blocks in that matter. Also, if there are concerns by residents, then their opinion should matter rather than just allowing for an elite group such as JSK and Bloomberg to decide everything. Then again, why spend so much on bike lanes when there are more important things such as helping the schools with the threat of layoffs on teachers? Why does this need outweigh that? Then again, why do cyclists need special lanes when all they should do is just follow the rules and they will be fine? I highly doubt that this bike lane would be used constantly by a lot of them on a daily basis, because they will be looked as a waste of space durring the winter.
May 10, 2011, 8:14 pm
Other Michael from Park Slope says:

They don't cost that much money and they let driver's know that a bike is likely to be there. They SAVE LIVES.
May 10, 2011, 8:29 pm
Tal Barzilai from Plesantville says:
I could not have written that comment at 9:14 p.m. because I was posting a comment on NetsDaily at that exact time.

Maybe if we hired laid-off teachers to install the bike lanes, we would solve two problems, and if we priced on-street parking at market rates, we would solve the problem of the Con Ed workers (aka first-responder 9/11 heroes) who have been denied their free parking lot, too.

And then we could hire that gynecologist boyfriend of Carl Kruger to perform lobotomies on Larry Stelter, Peter Abatte, Vince Gentile and Dom Recchia, and we'd all live happily ever after. That's six problems solved right there.
May 10, 2011, 9:35 pm
joebkny says:
It's nice to see tal and other mike here. lets go for 100 comments this time
May 11, 2011, 1:41 am
Other Michael from Park Slope says:
I did not write that fake Tal statement at 10:35pm.
May 11, 2011, 5:58 am
JB from BR says:
@ Joe from Crown Heights: Bike lanes shouldn't be used as "traffic calming" devices. That's like using a human shield! Also, "appointed misanthropes"?! Sounds like someone has an axe to grind.
May 11, 2011, 5:59 am
Bob from Bay Ridge says:
Show your support for a bike lane on Bay Ridge Parkway. Come to the CB10 General Meeting on Monday, May 16, 7:15PM being held at the Knights of Columbus on 86th Street and 13 Avenue. Bring posters, friends and be prepared to speak out.
May 11, 2011, 9:43 am
Tom Collins from Vegas Diner says:
Did Bob Cassara rent a bike for the photo? I have never seen him riding a bike. All Mr. Cassara cares about is 18-wheelers double parking on his beloved 7th Avenue. I'm sure his bike lane priapism has something to do with that. I agree with "JB from BR". There is no simple solution for this. If more than half the neighborhood doesn't want a bike lane then there shouldn't be a bike lane. We need the people to rule not the urban planners in their ivory towers.
May 11, 2011, 11:02 am
Oh snap. from Bay Ridge says:
@Tom--Actually, he OWNS that bike, knows how to fix bikes, and is extremely active and involved in the community besides dealing with trucks on 7th ave.

Half the neighborhood likes driving their SUVs and don't use those appendages called "legs". It's called laziness. I think it's time that the community set an example for the younger generation that you don't need a car to get around the city. Bay Ridge needs to understand the bigger picture. This is NYC. Not some rural town where the closest supermarket is 5 miles away.

Whether you're pulling out of a parking spot or out of your driveway, you have to be aware of your surroundings. What's the difference in having to spot a biker instead of a car? Oh, you have to try a little harder. Sorry that's such a chore.

When I worked for the Census Bureau last summer, I biked to where I had to work. It was a bit dangerous on Bay Ridge Parkway with the way it is, obviously. However, I watched my surroundings and did not bike recklessly. It was better than having to find parking or having to pay for gas. Or taking the bus that never showed up on time. Duh.
May 11, 2011, 3:45 pm
Jessica from Bay Ridge says:
I bike all over Brooklyn, and a cyclist was just killed in a hit-and-run accident on Thursday, May 5th on Fort Hamilton Pkwy and 59th st. The thing about bike lanes is that people use them to get from one place to another, to safely and without polluting (either with noise or exhaust fumes) pass from one neighborhood to another. So yes, local residents' opinions should be taken into account, but should not be the end all and be all of the conversation. Bay Ridge Pkwy is a huge street, with more than enough room for a bike lane. I will definitely be at the meeting, with as many of my bike loving friends as I can muster.
And @Tar from Pleasantvile, in NYC bikers ride all year round, including the winter. Bike lanes save lives, it's a simple fact, and if it means drivers have to slow down, or check for oncoming traffic before flinging their doors open, well that's a good thing.
May 11, 2011, 4:27 pm
Jessica from Bay Ridge says:
Cassara should really be wearing a helmet, as all safe cyclists know!!!
May 11, 2011, 4:48 pm
Joebkny says:
This is Bedford avenue and Av you v in Brooklyn. This bike lane has been for the past 10 years maybe more with no problems. There are a lot of streets like this so why should bay ridge avenue be any different ? Especially if its wide enough it's either that or they ride on the sidewalks right, Tal? and we all know in the city you cant do that. well, in some areas of Brooklyn you can do that, but that's a ticket now. So either these bikers pay attn to the rd. stay within the white lines of the bikes lanes. or they get knocked off the road.,or.r_gc.r_pw.&um=1&biw=1152&bih=674&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=il
May 11, 2011, 5:44 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
First off, whoever made that post using my name at 10:35 PM really did sink to a new low, and I have my suspects. Getting back to topic, let the community decide rather than Bloomberg and JSK doing for them. If they don't think there is anything good with a bike lane, then don't have one. Perhaps, it should be put up to a vote on a special ballot just like school budgets are, and decide by what the majority wants. As for bike lanes in general, there have been a lot of them placed, but a good number of them are hardly ever used, and that was even when the weather was good outside. Just ask some of the people who comment on the NY Times and Daily News who are looking at them much of the time, and they claim that they are almost never used. BTW, a flash mob appearence by TA doesn't count as it being used a lot.
May 11, 2011, 6:16 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Who is impersonating me as an imposter? If it's you Mike quit it. I am reporting you to the president of the Brooklyn Paper and his security will find out who you are since your name probably isn't even Mike. BTW, comments on website are valid for counting who uses bike lanes so I do agree with at least one of the things the imposter faker is saying attributed to me. I also agree that everything the city does needs to be on a ballot so that is a good idea because it works as an idea. I have no use for bike lanes and never see anyone in Brooklyn using them.
May 11, 2011, 9:29 pm
Jessica from Bay Ridge says:
if you never see anyone using a bike lane it is because
A. there are people double parked in them, or
B. you're not paying attention

and if comments on blogs count for numbers of people using bike lanes, then clearly this blog is evidence that LOTS of people use them and want them. Where are you getting this statistic that "a good number of them are hardly ever used"? I see empty playgrounds a lot, does that mean kids are hardly ever using them, and therefore the city shouldn't spend money building or maintaining them? it's a freaking painted line on a street, it doesn't cost that much to install.
May 11, 2011, 9:48 pm
mike from GP says:
Folks, again, Tal is a troll. Ignore him. He posts basically the same nonsensical paragraph in every article about street safety improvements.
May 11, 2011, 10:10 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Jessica, a lot of bike lanes have been placed, and there has been evidence of them never being used. What some may call in the NY Post fact checking such as the bike zealouts over at Streetsblog, I call it reporting the truth. There are even those on the Daily News that found where bike lanes are just seen as decorations. In reality, those that use them are a minority. As for mike from GP, I wouldn't be surprised if you were the one impersonating me, because I think you did that comment to insult me. I still find you a coward for calling me a troll rather than having a real debate.
May 12, 2011, 7:19 pm
Other Michael from Park Slope says:

Speaking of Fact Checking, where did you get this fact;

"a lot of bike lanes have been placed, and there has been evidence of them never being used"
May 12, 2011, 8:12 pm
Other Michael from Park Slopw says:
Anything Tal, or are you just making this stuff up?
May 13, 2011, 1:43 pm
trans alt from bike city says:
Actually, Tal is making himself up.
May 13, 2011, 2:35 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
When you say something like that trans alt, you tend to sound like the imposter.
May 13, 2011, 6:24 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Other Michael, you need to face reality sometimes. This isn't the movie Field of Dreams where if you build it they will come. Nobody really hates bicycles, some just hate the attitude expressed by bike zealouts. Perhaps you should ask Louise Hainline to show you what she recorded on her camera, and then you will probably see who is using the PPW bike lane. Even a website like Queens Crap has given evidence on how little the bicycle infrastructure as a whole has been used by cyclists. Outside of biased websites such as Streetsblog, you guys are the minority when it comes such utilization of bicycles.
May 13, 2011, 6:31 pm
Other Michael from Park Slope says:

What part of reality did you get the information that " there has been evidence of them never being used".


How many bikes have to use a lane for you not to say it is never being used?

Bike lanes save lives. What is your problem?
May 13, 2011, 7:23 pm
Other Michael from Park Slope says:
and Tal

YES If you build it they will come. Bicycles usage has gone up since there has been a series of bike lanes that are connected.

and YES, bicycle commuters are in a minority in NYC, but they need a place to get from point a to point b too.
May 14, 2011, 5:17 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Other Michael, I would rather have these done based on demand rather than on assumption that they will always be used. That is the reality here. The reason why roads became paved was mainly due to the fact that cars couldn't move well with cobblestones, and that made it more efficient for them. Some streets are as thin as they are without bike lanes, so placing them there would make them worse. BTW, if you read the comments on all three of NYC's major newspapers (NY Post, NY Times, and Daily News), you will see a lot of them agreeing with me, and this is not something as part of a political spectrum as you Streetsbloggers tend to be believe especially when some of the opponents to bike lanes are very liberal.
May 15, 2011, 5:07 pm
Other Michael from Park Slope says:

So bike lanes have to "always be used" or they are "never used"?

Your logic is great, you will win every debate. Good think your opinion does not count here in NYC
May 15, 2011, 9:13 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Other Michael, if you and your bike zealout friends stop with the blacklisting of those that oppose the bicycle infrastructure, you guys wouldn't have so much enemies. These watches on them sound more like making personal attacks on them rather than really stating facts. You are aware that the internet isn't private on those very people your group attacks can be viewed by them, and they will see you guys as the attackers. Saying such claims over on Streetsblogs makes you no better than those you are taking the cheap shots at. Meanwhile, others will just see you as wacko attackos.
May 16, 2011, 2:51 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
One other thing, what is wrong with those who tend to lobby against bike lanes? If your kind gets to lobby for them, why can't the other side do the same? Sometimes, you bike zealouts keep forgetting that democracy is a double edged sword, which can work against you just as much as it can work for you. BTW, there are lobbyists for many things that I don't like, but I am not trying to stop them from what they are doing. Also, the first amendment of the US Constitution gives freedom of expression to all, not just a few. It's such an irony that an Israeli such as myself knows more about the Constitution then most American-borns do.
May 16, 2011, 2:58 pm
Other Michael from Park Slope says:

How many bikes have to ride on a bike lane for it not to be "never used"?

Tal, you have the "right" to say what ever you want. Just ask I have to "right" to tell the world you opinion is totally uninformed.

and BTW, the US Constitution blocks the government from infringing on your freedom of expression. It does not prohibit me from telling the 2 or 3 other readers of these comments that you don't know what your are talking about.
May 16, 2011, 3:28 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Other Michael, if you wish to have a fair debate, then do not resort to cheap shots, name calling, and other personal attacks. It doesn't help your cause, it hurts your cause. Also, a flash mob of those on TA showing up to use a bike lane on that day does not count as it being used. Either way, I don't mind hearing from people who want to have bike lanes, it's those who have made the personal attacks that I am against. Again, if your group has the right to lobby for bike lanes, then other groups have equally the right to lobby against them. Not everything has to be about cyclists and only cyclists. There are others who use the roads, and probably more than your group does on a daily basis.
May 17, 2011, 7:58 pm
Other Michael from Park Slope says:

I am not insulting you. I am just pointing out that you are uninformed. The information you have about Brooklyn roads is second hand and you choose to believe who you want to believe.

and I am so not part of any "group".
May 17, 2011, 8:43 pm
Mike says:
Don't argue with Tal. It just makes you look like almost as much of a moron as Tal.
May 18, 2011, 11:28 pm
Craig from Bay Ridge says:
Wow, who is this Tal guy and why does he care so much about biking in Bay Ridge? Pleasantville seems like quite a distance away. I can't imagine that he will ever be impacted by a bike lane on 75th. Maybe he should apply some of that passion to a topic that might actually be relevant to his life.

As a resident, driver and bike rider, I can say putting one of those mixed use lanes would be pretty pointless. People would still drive way too fast down that street. A completely separate bike lane might improve things some though.

What I would really love to see is a North/South bike lane through Bay Ridge and Sunset Park. That way riders can peddle to Downtown Brooklyn or Manhattan a little bit more safely than fighting the crazy traffic on 3rd, 4th or 5th.
May 19, 2011, 12:52 pm
Mustachio Pete from Windsor Terrace says:
Tal is a Brooklyn wannabe. I'm guessing that he lives in his parent's basement in Pleasantville and inflates his academic credentials. From the safety of his keyboard, Tal takes potshots at Ratner and the Nets, those liberal bike lane "Streetbloggers" and other perceived enemies who quickly realize he's nuts. The real tragedy is that he'll engage in a fight, lose, accuse others of impersonating him and still fails to realize that no one cares.
June 1, 2011, 10:38 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville says:
For the record, even though I live in my parent's basement in Pleasantville, and usually eat two tubs of Kentucky Fried Chicken per day, that does not mean that I can't be a bonnafied Brookliner as well. On a side note, one of my parents once lived in Brooklyn, so that makes me every bit as much of a Brookliner than does every other debunkable on this website. I am getting tired of everybody trying to impersonate me, and for challenging my comments when all I do is post the facts.

-Tal Barzilai
Aug. 10, 2011, 11:31 am

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