Amidst a sea of opposition from local residents, the Department of Transportation (DOT) has decided to withdraw its plan to change Clinton Avenue from a two-way street to a one way street in order to create a two-way protected bike lane.
The item was removed from the agenda of Community Board 2’s Transportation and Public Safety Committee meeting on May 19, reports DNAinfo. The meeting was a continuation of Tuesday’s emotionally charged meeting on the issue, during which 90 people signed up to speak but only 22 were able to address the audience.
Despite the fact that the item had been removed, residents took the opportunity to air their grievances about the plan. DNAinfo reports:
“I don’t know why you ask me to answer and then you yell at me, it’s crazy,” Director of Bicycle and Pedestrian Programs Sean Quinn said as he was called up to answer questions from the community.
Several residents faulted the DOT for not consulting community members before drafting the proposal.
“It’s not really about the bikes, it’s about people coming into the neighborhood and saying, ‘We need to change it, we need to transform it because it doesn’t work,’” said Claire Wood, a Clinton Avenue resident since 1979.
“I’m against the bike lane, but I’m not against bikers. I’m against all the people who come into this neighborhood and feel like they have to fix it, because it’s not broken.”
Other concerns included that mobility for the elderly and the disabled would be negatively impacted by the change, as would access for emergency vehicles, additional traffic congestion, the loss of 35 parking spots, cars idling, street crossings, and aesthetics.
The DOT has said it will go back to the drawing board on this issue based on feedback from concerned community members, but for some Clinton Hill community activists, this is hardly reassuring.
“We are concerned with what they’re going to come back with and if they’re really going to regard the community’s sentiments. We hope they’ll speak to their commitment to meet with various local groups throughout the area, which should include schools, churches and the people who live in the large co-ops,” said community activist Lucy Koteen.
Opposition to the bike lane appears to have grown with time. The DOT have said that they selected Clinton Avenue for the improvements not in small part because it terminates at Atlantic Avenue and it would have less of an impact on area traffic than changing Vanderbilt Avenue, said officials at Tuesday’s meeting.
Earlier in the process, the DOT had attempted to improve its outreach efforts after concerns about the Lafayette Avenue outreach effort.
On Tuesday, both Public Advocate Leticia James and Council Member Laurie Cumbo voiced their opposition to the plan.
After yesterday’s event, Assembly District (AD) 57 Leader Olanike Alabi commended the community turnout to make their interests heard at both meetings.
“I believe that government responds to numbers and that the large turnout at the three community/town hall meetings on the issue combined with the public comments in opposition, sent a strong message to the powers that be,” she said.
The Board’s next Transportation and Public Safety Committee Meeting will be held at Long Island University’s Jonas Board Room, on June 21 at 6pm .