David Yassky’s office called to explain the Councilman’s stand on south Williamsburg bike lanes, one of which Yassky and others recently asked the DOT to remove.
Communications Director Jake Maguire reiterated Yassky’s commitment to a bike-friendly Billburg, but says the way the DOT installed lanes on both sides of Kent Avenue left local parents and businesspeople feeling burned.
“Almost overnight, retailers couldn’t unload, 300 parking lanes were eviscerated,” says Maguire. “And there are schools on that stretch — parents are getting tickets for pulling over to drop and pick up kids.”
Yassky and others want the DOT to remove the “No Stopping” signs that came with the lanes, and to “paint over” the northbound lane until “the DOT and the community have developed a collaborative plan” for bike traffic
Maguire also stresses that it’s not just the Hasidic residents of Williamsburg (as some reports have suggested) that are upset about the bike lanes. “For example,” he says, “we had one woman at our meeting, just an ordinary New Yorker, certainly not Hasidic, who told us people have stopped coming into her store because there’s no parking.”
But Wiley Norvell of Transportation Alternatives, while acknowledging that Yassky and his comrades have been “good friends of the biking community,” says they “should know better. The general outcry is coming from residents at Schaefer Landing who miss their free parking. But when safety butts up against convenience, safety has to win.”
Norvell says that the DOT has been working with Community Board 1 to identify alternate, side-street locations that could accommodate the neighborhood’s loading and drop-off needs, and where that won’t work — as with the industrial loading docks on Kent — he expects changes will be made in the bike lanes.
“This calls for a scalpel, not a sledgehammer,” says Norvell.