Velazquez weighs in on bike lane controversy

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Rep. Nydia Velazquez, who secured funding for the proposed Brooklyn Greenway Initiative, has weighed in on how to solve the problems along associated with the proposed Greenway and temporary bike lanes installed as placeholders.

Her solution? Remove the southbound lane of traffic on Kent Avneue and replace it with a lane dedicated to parking and loading zones for the light manufacturing businesses along the strip.

Velazquez expressed her stance to this paper at a Friday press conference announcing the continuation of the Moore Street Market. On Monday, her Washington, D.C. spokesperson confirmed her position.

Criticizing what many have described as the bureaucratic and heavy-handed manner in which the Department of Transportation (DOT) installed the lanes, Velazquez said: “It bothers me that the Transportation Department put these lanes down without coming out to the neighborho­od.”

She said that she soon plans on meeting with DOT officials to declare her position.

A DOT spokesperson said the agency had not received a formal request from Velazquez and therefore could not comment. The spokesperson said the agency continues to consider ways to accommodate local residents and businesses and make adjustments, but did not specify what these adjustments might entail.

Under Velazquez’ proposal, the two-way Greenway would occupy the western portion of the street, with a landscaped buffer separating it from a northbound traffic lane to the east. A parking/loading lane would lie east of the traffic lane.

While this proposal might constitute a palatable solution in the long-term, when the Greenway occupies the western portion of the street, a short-term solution for as long as the bike lanes flank the street remains more elusive: The DOT has expressed deep reservations about moving the lanes to one side of the street, citing safety concerns.

Last week, Velazquez met with Karen Nieves of EWVIDCO, an advocacy group of small businesses, and a handful of Kent Avenue business owners. Velazquez — who is chair of the House Small Business Committee — stated that between the businesses on Kent and the bike lanes, “There should be no contradiction between the two.”

Nieves also supports the proposal to make Kent Avenue one-way.

She said the side-street loading zone the DOT installed for a pair of business — off Kent Avenue on Grand Street — was impractical because of the danger of transporting heavy and cumbersome cargo around the corner.

“The only solution that would work for a lot of these businesses is having the loading zone in front,” she said.

Eliminating the southbound lane would make Kent Avenue, a truck route, a one-way street. Earlier this decade, when Kent Avenue underwent a massive long-term reconstruction, trucks traveling southbound used Wythe Avenue. Making Kent Avenue one-way might entail making Wythe Avenue a truck route.

“We didn’t get any complaints about it during that time, but then again, maybe that’s because it was only temporary,” Nieves said.

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