Southern Brooklyn

Fidler Wants Public Hearings Before New Bike Lanes

Source: Jaszek Photography via Flickr

City Councilman Lew Fidler is questioning the decision-making behind bike lane implementation in his district and across the boroughs, leading the city to re-evaluate proposed lanes in Canarsie and opening the door for challenges elsewhere.

In a letter to Department of Transportation Brooklyn Commissioner Joseph Palmieri, Fidler said it was “imperative that community feedback be factored into any proposed changes.”

The request came following months of outcry from Canarsie residents to the city’s plan to install bike lanes from Avenue D on East 95th Street to the Canarsie Pier, and from the pier to Ditmas Avenue on East 94th Street. The lanes would connect bicyclists to the Shore Parkway Greenway, which extends from Sheepshead Bay to Queens. Neighbors in Canarsie say the city is bike crazy and it doesn’t suit residents’ needs.

Fidler agrees that the plans, devised more than 10 years ago, are flawed and outdated.

“The ‘Master Plan’ for bike lanes was drawn up way too long ago for implementation without current review and input,” Fidler told Sheepshead Bites. “Neighborhoods change. Attitudes change. Demographics change. And I don’t particularly recall the public input from way back when.” He echoed similar concerns to Courier-Life.

In response to the letter, Palmieri promised that the city’s Division of Bicycle and Pedestrian Programs will “investigate this location and recommend appropriate actions.”

But Fidler isn’t yet dropping the issue. He said that a better review process – including community input – needs to be implemented before the installation of any new bike lanes. And he’s considering legislation to ensure that’s part of the process.

The councilman told Sheepshead Bites that he has suggested a bill to require public hearings before any new bike lanes are implemented anywhere in the five boroughs. The process aims to give residents some control over if and where new bike lanes in the neighborhood should go.

Fidler said he tried to arrange this sort of collaboration in the face of a proposed bike lane on Gerritsen Avenue last year.

“I would apply the same rule to any planned implementation of bike lanes,” he said. Back then, the DOT was moving to reconstruct traffic patterns on the avenue, and would include a bike lane. He gathered community leaders for a presentation for the DOT. “Unanimously, the bike lane on Gerritsen was thought to be inappropriate and there was unanimous support for having a bike lane running along Marine Park itself where most bikers want to bike.”

The process was only half-effective, though. Residents got the DOT to eliminate the installation of a Gerritsen Avenue bike lane, but the city never installed the one the community wanted.

Comment policy


  1. On West 6th Street Between 65th street ( ave O ) and 86th street ( Ave W ) …
    Used to be two lanes each way.

    Became ONE lane each direction.

    Now, the intersections of Kings Highway and West 6th street, Quentin Road & W6th, Ave O and West 6th street TURNING LANES ARE LIMITED.

    Cars cant turn on a few intersections because the city blocked the tuning lane with concrete and dirt that has weeds or bushes growing on it.

    Traffic became worse for cars.
    Didn’t see many people use the bike lanes…

    I think BIKE lanes on AVE U or Kings Highway will have a major effect on traffic…

  2. But, if you want to have a GREEN city ( like Switzerland ) , you need bike lanes to encourage MORE people to use LESS OILLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL

  3. The world restarted is NOT strong enough…
    Watch, they spend millions of $$$ to make it one lane
    in a few years they will spend millions of $$$ to make it BACK To two lanes

    The turn on king highway and bay parkway keeps the fire trucks from turning properly. ( especially, when a car tried to double park for delivery or the post office of West 6th sreet has the truck come to deliver )

  4. I like the idea of green but…..I think it is going to be a fierce winter.
    Where will snow be pushed to? In locations of dividers (and such) will there be enough passage space?
    Will bike lanes be cleared in the areas where they put (in this order) parked cars, bike lanes and then moving vehicles? Maybe the city will lay down a lot of salt to eradicate this problem, great for the wires decaying in the sewers.
    Yes, growth is good if everything involved is premeditated. I for one have my fingers crossed.

  5. If you ask people who bike and no cars, they will want the lanes.
    If you ask drivers, they want more lanes for cars.
    Look at time square, look at the traffic created when streets are closed. Also the same around 34th street and 6th ave…
    But, it also depends where is the money….
    Many “public hearing” are like a stage of puppets…
    The decision is already known , but, they have the public hearing to make people feel better.

    For example, Asser Levy park debate… Mary Markowitz wants the park, NO HEARING will help anyone against it.

    Mayor Bloomberg wanted a third terms and the law got changed to give him what he wants. No public hearing helped. But, at the end the voters decided that he won…
    But, at the election, bloomberg spend $100mil to win by 50,000 votes
    Thompson spend pennies and got 48% or so….

  6. To really encourage more bikes vs autos, give tax rebates to buy bikes, have bike parking lots for free, allow unlimited bike taxi’s…just don’t paint lines and assume that it is “green” planning. (I love the bike lanes on Bedford Ave. that direct bikes into the middle of Flatbush Ave and expect bikes not to get run over!). Why not encourage private commuting by boat? Where are all the public landings?

  7. The City needs to offer free bicicyle parking rails to be installed for businesses that ask for them. The bike lanes need to be separated and protected, like in Manhattan, a lot of the bike lanes are now protected by parked cars with the parking lane out further from the curb. However there’s still plenty of distance for a biker to hit someone stepping out of a parked car or a door. There needs to be more buffer area between a parked car and traffic, vehicular or bicycle. There should also be more officers willing to give bicyclist tickets for violating traffic laws. I’ve seen too many bicyclists who run lights or swerve in-and-out of traffic and such, potentially endangering pedestrians and drivers.

  8. You are correct. Generally I’m against bike lanes if it means removing a traffic lane causing more congestion and pollution called ‘traffic calming” a term without negative connotations, but it’s really just another word for congestion.

    However, in this particular case, since the lanes are not proposed for Rockaway Parkway or Remsen Avenue where there would be major traffic impacts, I see nothing wrong with East 94th Street and East 95th Street. NYMBYIsm is the only reason residents are opposing this, They don’t want “outsiders” coming through their neighborhood. These are public streets and everyone has a right to use them.

    The only thing I question is the wisdom of the lanes traveling with traffic. When I grew up we were told to ride our bikes against traffic. Then one day it was just decided it is safer to travel with traffic. I fail to see how this is the case. If you are riding against traffic there is little chance of a car door opening in your face. When traveling with traffic you are relying on every driver first checking his rear view mirror befor opening his door. Many do not.

  9. “Traffic calming” in theory means less traffic overall, which of course is part of what NYC would like in order to qualify for various transportation subsidies. Congested roads means frustrated drivers, which may eventually lead to less traffic. But they’re not considering the stubbornness of many New Yorkers.

    Indeed, there is a fear of an invasion of pleasure bikers from all over descending upon communities where bike lanes have been set up. But what confuses me is the claim of “changed demographics” I sincerely doubt there was much interest at all when these plans were originally drawn up, they were considered “things to be done at a future time”. As more of these bike lanes are opened the fear that it is going to “ruin our neighborhood” increases. So NOW they object.

    But a real impact study should be undertaken. And other methods of reducing emissions without creating chaos should be looked into.

    I always rode against traffic. They made the most sense, it was easier for a biker to move out of lane if necessary.

  10. “Traffic calming” never meant less traffic overall. It meant cars going slower and less speeding. The theory is if there are fewer lanes for cars, thes cars have to squeeze into those lanes forcing them to go slower. Okay if everyone is doing 40 mph on a local street — they now have to go at the limit 30. But what id they are all ready doing 30? That means they now have to go at 15 and more pollution. This is ridiculous for a borough with virtually no expressways. It already takes two hours to go from Brighton Beach to Greenpoint if you use local streets if the BQE is jammed.

    The theory of less traffic also assumes an expanding mass transit system, not one which is constantly being cutback or with lines out of service for construction.

    Now if you ride your bike against traffic or use a sidewalk that doesn’t have any pedestrians on it, you risk a summons. The laws need to change so they make sense for the specific conditions.

  11. Bike lanes on bedford ave are a trainwreck. Plenty of bikers not following the laws. Cant wait till they just ticket the hell out of the violators. So many accidents with cars that werent happening without the lanes. There is plenty wrong with the lanes all over brooklyn.

  12. More to the point it’s that when these ideas were presented 10 or so years ago there was no assurance that they would be implemented in the near future. So no one took it seriously until it was realized that it actually was going to happen.

    1n 1894 Brooklyn voted for consolidation in a “non-binding” referendum. In 189he state decided to act as if the referendum was binding. Brooklyn objected,. claiming in part that they had collectively thought it over and had developed concerns. They wanted another referendum. Instead they got hearings. The findings of that panel were pre-ordained. And here we are today.

    You got to set your mousetraps before the mice become rats.

  13. Interesting, I thought that discouraging speeding and providing less traffic less was presumed to effect less traffic. Just like the inverse of building more expressways increased it.

    Interesting how the Bronx and Queens were built up with expressways. But did they solve traffic problems?

    Remember the classic lesson learned by the building of the Garden State Parkway? The only thing I’m not sure of is whether traffic ever diminished to tolerable levels on either that road or the Jersey Turnpike.

    But when they make automobile use exasperating, and they don’t provide alternatives, they are shooting local businesses in the foot. And hurting the arts and even the sports world. In short, seriously affecting the sustainability of the local economy.

    I haven’t been on a bike in about 15 years. Don’t think I’d want to now, given the current environment. I’d be very nervous about what’s behind me.

  14. Yes we ae better off with those highways in spite of Moses’s tactics in getting them built. The reason is that there are no traffic lights. As long as traffic is moving faster than 20 mph (the average speed for local streets), which is most of the time, you will get there faster with the highway.

    I live in Manhattan Beach. It takes me about 45 minutes to get to Edison. NJ, White Plains, NY, Woodside in Queens, Garden City in Long Island, or Oceanside in Long Island because I can get to all of these places by highway. By contrast without a highway, it also takes me 45 minutes to visit my friend in Clinton Hill Brooklyn (no quicker by train or bus and probably one hour) because I have to use local streets. It also takes me that long to travel to Park Slope if I include finding a parking space.

  15. I feel that Councilman Fidler is being too cautious in respect to Bike lanes. I ride my bike both for health, fun as well as to be green. The law specifies that bikes must ride in the street along with cars. Since drivers can be morons, this creates an unsafe environment for bike riders. The city has noted an increase in bike usage and a bike lane makes me feel just a little safer and it reduces my use of gasoline.

  16. you have to be crazy to use the bike lane on bedford…. i rather bike on the sidewalk,.. its a matter of time before you will be hit by a door or a car. ideally bike lanes would be separated by something from the traffic. if we had proper bike lanes, ample safe parking for bikes and bike rentals all over, people would find themselves utilizing bike lanes much more,.. but some of these bike lanes are no different then riding on the street.

  17. All this crap about bike lanes and reduced lanes of traffic for motor vehicle, is all part of Bloomy’s plans to get congestion pricing implemented. If you take away lanes of traffic, what happens? They become congested!!! It’s a self fulfilling prophecy as far as he is concerned. If the problem really isn’t there, let’s create it. The same can be said for the unnecessary traffic lights along Shore Pkwy that back traffic up the exit ramps and onto the Belt Pkwy. As a retired truck driver that spent 30 years making local deliveries throughout the 5 boroughs, I can easily say that a commercial nightmare is in the making. Look in Manhattan or North Brooklyn where cars no longer park at the curb but are instead floating one lane out in the street away from the curb so bikes can have a path. What happens when a truck needs to make a delivery? Now they are 3 lanes from the curb, and guaranteed to get a traffic ticket for $115. Kent Ave in North Brooklyn was a 2 way street. Now it is 1 way, going North, a multidirection bike lane against the West side curb, parking in what used to be the South bound lane, one lane of traffic heading North, and more parking on the East side curb. As a truck driver, I can tell you that it is now virtually impossible for trucks, especially tractor trailers to make a turn onto Kent Ave. When it was a 2 way street, a tractor trailer would wait for South bound traffic to clear, in order to make the turn. With cars now parked in what was the Southbound lane, there is no longer any space to complete such turns to go North on Kent Ave. You would think that City planners would leave a no parking zone where these trucks need to make the turn, but that is not the case. And I know that area has changed into a more residential area along the avenue, but commerce still goes on on the side streets. The commercial nightmare I speak of, is more commerce leaving the city, because they can’t get their goods delivered. There are roughly 800,000 vehicles on the streets of the city on any given day, and roughly 12,000 bikes. The old adage of, the needs of the many, exceeds the needs of a few, comes to mind here.

  18. The simplemindedness here is annoying. Trucks have to deliver goods. Slowing down that process increases the cost of getting goods to where they have been purchased. Smaller companies may indeed decide not to sell in NYC if it becomes too much of a nuisance.

    I think its time to reconsider the overall effect of changes that date back 20 years or more.

  19. Boat commuting may help with traffic problems but boats use a lot of fuel and the larger boats use heavier dirtier fuels that would exascerbate air pollution problems. Also the Bedford Ave. bike lane is just fine. The crossing at Flatbush Ave. could use improvement and more policing of reckless drivers would also be a big help.

  20. Canarsie, while it has changed dramatically in terms of demographics in the past 15 years still does have a generally large senior citizen population. The problem here is that many of the outsiders are seen as those that thumb their noses at all of us living in southern Brooklyn. Canarsie is in the semi-sweet spot of being 35 minutes* (when the L actually runs correctly) from the city. I can’t completely blame people for becoming a little concerned about outsiders in this case.

    Once they get close to Canarsie pier they are going to have to eventually route bikers on to Rockaway Parkway and if they do decide to do this especially closer to the Belt entrance, they are asking for trouble.

    One other note about E94/95th like any side street, people have a habit of double parking. A bike lane eliminates someone’s ability to be able to get around the double parked car AND/OR causes bikers to swerve out of their lane to get around a double parker.

  21. While drivers may be morons, there are MANY bikers who are worse. They do not obey the laws, don’t stop for traffic lights, weave in and out of lanes, ignore pedestrians, and generally create havoc on the streets.
    The city also has to change the building codes. All multi unit structures should have one third more parking (e.g. if an apt. building has 100 apts. it should have at least 130 parking spaces) not the opposite which is now the law. More required spaces would cut down on traffic.
    Instead of selling off municipal parking lots (as on Kings HIghway), more should be built.
    Big commercial vehicles should be banned from the City (they ruin our roads and bridges which are not built to handle the weight and don’t fit on the roads anyway! All deliveries should be made after midnight as well!!!!

  22. Brightonresidnet
    If you make Huge truck deliveries after midnight was tried by NYC…


    People complained of noise

    many business are NOT open in midnight to accept deliveries.


    the deliveries are quicker, less cars on the road.
    Therefore saved labor cost for the trucking companies..

    Regarding parking, its not an issue for borough president Marty Markowitz Why? well the traffic at the intersection of 4th Ave, Atlantic Ave and Flatbush Ave is one of the busiest in Brooklyn…
    And that is the location of the NEW stadium….

    Seaside park, Amphitheater
    8000 seats on Ocean parkway and Surf Ave.
    Where will the cars park?

    Follow the $MONEY$
    The stadium “Ratner” gave lots of $$$
    The seaside park is a $64 mil construction project that may cost over 80mil
    Guess who got the sweet contract?
    Bike lanes ARE VERY important (look at other cities in the world),
    but where do you put them?

  23. As I mentioned, I made deliveries in the whole city for almost 30 years. We had some accounts that took deliveries at night. Unfortunately the costs associated with the merchants for staying open at those hours was cost prohibitive for the majority of the accounts we had. Therefore, only a handful of accounts would take late night deliveries. Personally, I loved working the graveyard shift. Less idiots on the roads, both bikes and cars, and especially cabs!!

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