Southern Brooklyn

Video: Fidler Pushes Bill Requiring Public Hearings Before Bike Lane Installation


It’s no secret that City Councilman Lew Fidler is not one to coddle bike lane advocates. The pol has been painted by bicycling enthusiasts as a car-crazed obstructionist hell-bent on keeping his district’s yokels addicted to gasoline. But to locals, he’s a bit of a savior, winning over Community Boards and civic groups in his district by blasting the Department of Transportation’s misguided installation of bike lanes in awkward, unsafe and unwanted areas.

But if you ask the councilman, he’s not on a crusade against peddlers and their thoroughfares; he just wants more community input – and input from local cyclists – before a bike lane “drops out of the sky,” as he put it in September 2010, when he announced he would draft legislation securing that right. (Sheepshead Bites was the first to report on the legislation, back in August 2010.)

The bill is now headed to a full City Council vote after the Transportation Committee held hearings on it this Monday. The bill would require the DOT to hold a public hearing in conjunction with affected Community Boards no more than 90 days before the start of construction. It currently has the support of the DOT, as well as 28 sponsors, and is expected to pass.

“Whether you’re a biker, or not a biker, whatever your preference, communities know best what their desires and their needs are,” Fidler told Community Board 15 last night, explaining the purpose of the bill. “Every now and then the bureaucrats have to shimmy down from their ivory tower and come out to the community and listen to what we have to say.”

It’s important to note, however, that the bill does not give Community Boards the ability to block a planned bike lane, only to express support or opposition and to contribute ideas.

But though the DOT and the mayor’s office are behind the plan, bicycling advocates are blasting the proposal, saying it will add delays to planned projects and complicate implementation by giving residents too much say.

“This bill prescribes mandatory hearings and months of delay for the city’s most minor, routine and boring bike lanes,’’ said Juan Martinez, lawyer for Transportation Alternatives, as quoted by the New York Post. “This delay will not accomplish the legislation’s stated aims but will instead keep New Yorkers less safe.”

But Fidler told the Community Board last night that such complaints are hogwash, and are really an attempt to keep residents from giving input on projects to ensure the best possible planning for locals.

“[The bill’s opponents] actually had the temerity to suggest that Community Board members would be bored by having hearings on mundane subjects,” Fidler said. “I wish they would come to a council meeting and sit through a land use hearing on the issue of sidewalk cafes. Quite frankly, [the criticism] was kind of silly.”

Comment policy


  1. I agree that it’s a good idea to have these hearings in theory, and I hope the bill goes through if only to provide a smidgen of chance that nay-sayers can get their voices heard (if not listened to). But realistically, I can’t see what the hearings would accomplish past humoring the public. We’ve all seen how expressing opposition, grievances, and ideas to the DOT rarely achieves anything productive.

  2.  What is all this drama really about? painted bike lanes have not stopped cars from driving in them, or double parking in them anyway. It is not worth the cops’ time to enforce against almost anything a vehicle driver does inappropriately to a pedestrian, stroller pusher, shopping cart puller or bicycle rider. If the traffic is “too much to bear”, most of the time it’s because of other cars driven by jerks. Bicyclists are not the enemy, even if you have no affection for jerks anywhere, in any mode of transportation.

  3. Most bike lanes are already requested by the community and the DOT already does extensive community outreach.   Prospect Park West grew out of community board meetings dating back to 2007.  Fidler is simply throwing a roadblock down in front of bike lanes, but is not interested in having the same hearings for roads or parking.

  4. Fronko,
    New roads are already subject to the much more cumbersome and lengthy usurp process which requires multiple public hearings.
    Lew from Brooklyn

  5. I didn’t say that such hearings don’t exist, only that Fidler seems to not care all that much about road safety and the hundreds of people who die in car accidents each year as compared to the zero people killed by bikes. 

  6. Fidler’s bill is redundant, and would only slow the installation of necessary street safety improvements. This man’s reckless agenda is to make our streets more dangerous in order to pander to a vocal minority who fear change and continue to embrace street designs from the 1950s.

  7. Not true. People are killed by bikes. Several years ago a bike knocked down a pedestrian and killed him. What about bicycles that cause accidents any causing cars to swerve or all the people riding bikes who are killed or severely injured. The more people you have riding bikes, the more bicycle death there are going to be. And what about all the cyclists who not obey the traffic laws? Bike enthusiasts only tell half the story, the half that favors more bikes, like bikes don’t pollute, but never mention that they can’t be used in all types of weather or by all age groups to make them a viable form of transportation.

  8. People in Southern Brooklyn generally don’t want more bike lanes. He is only representing his constituency which he has every right to do. If adding a bike lane is a street safety improvement, it is only a matter of opinion, an opinion not shared by all.

  9. Really, how do you know this?  And Fidler could be a leader, not a panderer.  But that’s apparently beyond his means.

    And yes, actually, adding bike lanes does increase safety.  That’s not an opinion, but has been shown over and over again.

  10. Fronko, I [Lew Fidler] am Lew from Brooklyn. I care deeply about road safety. I am told by DOT that I have asked for more traffic controls for streets in my district than most any other elected official. Additionally, traffic calming was put in on both Gerritsen Avenue and Bergen Avenue at my request–at least in part—when both were dangerous neighborhood speedways. In fact, I demanded the safety measures for Gerritsen Avenue after I was present when a teenage boy was nearly killed while riding his bicycle on the avenue.
    And, for that matter, a poorly placed bike lane endangers the lives of bike riders as well.
    Lew from Brooklyn

  11. Dear Watcher,
    Don’t believe the bull. Commissioner Sadik-Kahn supports my bill and has suggested that the 90 day period is too short. NO bike lane goes in over a period of less than 90 days from its planning stage to implementation. My bill will not delay any appropriately placed bike lane.
    And if the bill is redundant, why would you oppose it. The fact is that it is not redundant. The argument that it is is based on a misinterpretation of a local law that is less than two years old. But the point is simple: if it is indeed redundant, then the bill doesn’t matter right? So your point here is moot.
    And Sir, pandering is in th eye of the beholder. You ought to actually hear and read what I say rather than the press put out by lobby groups.
    Why in heaven’s name would you be afraid of asking people—bike riders included—what is needed most in their neighborhoods?
    Lew from Brooklyn

  12. Good response.

    But what I do not understand is why Canarsie is opposed to new bike lanes on East 94th Street and East 95th Streets. It seems to me to make a lot more sense and safer to put them there than on wide streets like Remsen Avenue or Rockaway Parkway where you would have to remove a traffic lane and hinder traffic and cause congestion. Is it just that residents of Canarsie believe they do not use bicycles and do not want bike riders from other neighborhoods coming through Canarsie to access the Belt Parkway bike path? If so, hat is NYMBYism at its best.

  13. BB,
    The more popular bike alternative in Canarsie was along Paerdegat Avenue, across Seaview Avenue and up East 108th Street, all wide streets adjacent to parks and/or water. Canarsie bikers appear to be recreational.
    No one suggested a bike lane on either Remsen or Rockaway, tho there was some thought about a bike route along SOME unspecified street that would get to the train station.
    Lew from Brooklyn

  14. Mr. Fiddler, I respectfully request you establish an inquiry into changing the bike route east of SHB Rd. along Emmons ave into a proper bike path. Emmons ave is a a route from both Ocean Pkwy and SHB Rd. to the bike path along the Belt Pkwy and it is dangerous because traffic illegally doubles up in the single lane. The majority of those that do drive along the curb drive at dangerous speeds. Those of us who bike here are forced by this behavior to ride on the sidewalk which can be packed by pedestrians. In addition, riding on the sidewalk is illegal. Designating a bike path there would not take away from parking, since there is none there anyway, nor would it impede usable roadway since there is technically one very very wide lane (enough to fit 2 cars obviously). A bike path would create safe passage for bicyclists such as myself, curb dangerous driving, and promote easier foot traffic on the sidewalks. Since the roadway is already designated as a DOT bike route, a promotion to a bike path seems wise, but I understand any suggestion of this sort must undergo public scrutiny. Show, as a gesture of goodwill towards bicyclists and bike paths that you are rational and willing to promote the coexistence of bicycles and cars on the road.

  15. Please contact my district office at 718 241 9330. Please discuss this idea with any of my staffers and give us oyur  contact info. We will then take this issue up as appropriate with other community stakeholders.
    FYI, I have personally noticed the sidewalk biking situation on Emmons and at least on weekends, it is unsafe for bikers or pedestrians.
    Lew from Brooklyn


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