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Clinton Avenue Bike Lane Proposal Mired in Politics and Confusion

Envisioned reconstruction of Clinton Avenue.

By Kings County Politics News Service

Envisioned  reconstruction of Clinton Avenue.
Envisioned reconstruction of Clinton Avenue.

A controversial proposal to narrow Clinton Avenue from Gates to Flushing Avenues from a two-lane motorist roadway to a one-way northbound street and adding two-way bike lanes has many in the Fort Greene/Clinton Hill area up in arms.


The Department of Transportation first floated the proposal earlier this spring, which would also see a parking lane and a pedestrian island with a minimal loss of parking spaces.


Under the proposal, drivers would be encouraged to use neighboring two-way and southbound streets like Adelphi Street, Vanderbilt Avenue, Waverly Avenue, Washington Avenue and Hall Street.


The new bike lane would add 2.2 miles to the bike network and provide a continuous connection between Clinton Hill and the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway, according to the DOT.


While a DOT street team was in the neighborhood for six days last month to survey residents and give away free bike accessories, there has been a lot of pushback from residents, according to Public Advocate Letitia James, who formerly represented the neighborhood in the City Council.


“Residents are up in arms. They have been contacting me left and right. I don’t know whether or not this is appropriate. Right now, I’m moving towards opposing it,” said James.


“I have supported bike lanes all throughout my career. I supported the Lafayette Avenue bike lane. I’ve been very supportive of Citi Bikes in the city and to maintain them in my former district, but as more and more residents contact me expressing their concerns I  just don’t believe it’s in the best interests of the residents of Fort Greene and Clinton Hill,” she added.


Senator Velmanette Montgomery is also not enthusiastic about the plan, according to her spokesperson Jim Vogel.


“It sounds like an example of people who actually live in the neighborhood aren’t in favor of it, while the people in favor of it, Transportation Alternatives, whom we love dearly, don’t even know where it (Clinton Avenue) is,” said Vogel.


Vogel said part of the problem is Clinton Avenue is a highly residential thoroughfare that often gets deliveries from companies like Fresh Direct, which with a narrower street, has a greater potential to snarl up traffic.


The only people from the neighborhood that seem in favor of it are only in favor of the concept, but there’s a lot of unanswered questions, said Vogel.


Adding to the confusion is tonight’s regularly scheduled Community Board 2 Transportation Committee will take up the issue as part of their regular agenda, but it is being billed as a Town Hall meeting expressly to address the Clinton Avenue issue.


According to an e-mailed flier, the Town Hall meeting will include Assembly member Walter Mosley, Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, Montgomery and current City Council member Laurie Cumbo.


Cumbo has not taken a position on the issue as of yet. She plans to attend the Town Hall meeting in order to inform her decision, said Cumbo spokesperson Kristia Beaubrun.

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