On Clinton Ave
Opponents of a potential two-way bicycle lane on Clinton Avenue here in Brooklyn are circulating a petition in which the list a number of concerns with the Department of Transportation’s plan. While I certainly respect that the scope of the change may feel big – DOT will convert Clinton from two-ways for cars to one-way while adding a two-way bicycle lane – a lot of their concerns have easy answers, if the opponents are willing to compromise and think differently about how streets work, the future of our city, and the nature of history.
Here are their concerns:
– The street can be completely blocked by one vehicle causing traffic delays and lack of access for emergency vehicles
– Poor access for residents to load and unload; also dangerous, as passing cars will have no room
– Poor access for delivery services- UPS, Fedex, USPS which deliver several times a day
The elephant in the room here — and with nearly every potential street transformation — is the free storage of private automobiles. Throw in a handful of loading zones on Clinton Avenue and the first three concerns on the opponents’ list simply evaporate. This involves losing a handful of parking spaces, and opponents should be asked if they believe such a trade-off is worth it.
– Loss of parking spaces in an area that continues to see tremendous population growth. Loss of parking spaces leads to greater traffic congestion as vehicles continue to circle the neighborhood in search of parking spaces.
This is a losing battle. Those residents are coming whether or not Clinton Ave gets its bike lane. Better to offer them streets that make getting around without a car possible. As journalist Ezra Klein explained at the Washington Post during the height of the 2011 bikelash here in New York, for driving to remain as pleasant as some bike lane opponents want it to be — or to at least remain as awful as it already is without getting worse — “it will only be because most New Yorkers decide against purchasing cars. And they’re only going to do that if the other options seem attractive.”
– Studies show one-way streets lead to speeding, increasing danger to pedestrians, bikes and cars alike.
I have some sympathy for this concern, as it’s not entirely wrong. However, this can be addressed, at least a little, with speed bumps. Chicanes and other design features — some of which would mean losing one or two parking spaces — would help pedestrians and drivers even more. As for people on bikes, the risk of getting hit by a car will more or less be eliminated since a parking-protected bike lane means they won’t be riding next to moving vehicles.
– The destruction of the beautifully designated and historic nature of Clinton Avenue by placing traffic islands in the middle of our beautiful street – and thus taking even more space from the road.
Longtime readers of this blog will know that questions about a neighborhood’s “historic nature” are, in my opinion, highly subjective. They can’t be answered without answering a different question first: Which historic nature?
Or how about this one?
This looks pretty historic to me:
Then there’s this history:
This history began sometime in the middle of the last century. If this is what bike lane opponents are trying to preserve, that’s certainly their right. But they should know that this “beautifully designated” area is currently filled with late-model automobiles which some might argue are even more anachronistic than bicycles.