Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Transportation Meeting Tonight at CNR on Classon (Updated - Reporting Back)

Meant to get the word out on this earlier but forgot - for those who've been following the bike corral controversy, the Community Board 8 Transportation Committee meets tonight at 7pm at the CNR Light Healthcare Center (727 Classon Ave). The corral is on the agenda.

Updated: ILFA tagged along, and will post some thoughts soon. Prospect Heights Patch has an accurate blow-by-blow of the meeting posted here. The board voted unanimously to approve their previous decision to recommend the placement of the bike corral, with three additional stipulations for the Department of Transportation: they asked them to consider turning the now-defunct meters along Franklin between St. Johns and Eastern Parkway into bike racks, to install metered parking north of St. Johns so as to free up parking for those with cars visiting local merchants and churches, and to report back on the usage and progress of the bike corral in the spring, either at their May or June meeting. While this last point was somewhat lost in the shuffle, one can't help but wonder whether such a "let's give it a shot and see if it works" formulation, more fully communicated and discussed, might have averted much of the polarization around this issue. 

The full Community Board will hear comment and vote on the transit committee's recommendation at their February meeting, which takes place on Thursday, February 14th at the Calvary Community Church on St. John's and Buffalo (it's worth noting that these votes are purely advisory - the DOT makes the final decision regarding their streets). In addition the Crow Hill Community Association will devote a portion of their February meeting (Thursday, February 19, at 7:30pm at 725 Franklin Avenue) to discussion of this issue, in the interest of giving the diversity of opinions about this issue another local hearing (after the fact, but not for nothing, either). 

2 comments:

  1. A few more thoughts, repeating some of the above and addressing comments made by "chloeroyale" on Brooklynian with respect to the bike corral and the meeting:

    I also tagged along to the meeting (would love to hear some more perspectives on the proceedings from those who were there), and a few other things were said/resolved that I think bear repeating.

    In reaffirming their original position (support for the bike corral), the board also asked the DOT to look into three additional issues: 1) turning the old parking meters on Franklin between St. Johns and Eastern Parkway bike racks (thereby adding more bike parking), 2) asking the DOT to report back to them in the spring on their assessment of the usage and success of the corral, and 3) adding parking meters/muni meters to Franklin north of St. Johns (to Park or Prospect - the northern boundary was not confirmed). This last recommendation, if implemented, would be particularly advantageous for both the disabled (who are permitted to park, with placards, in metered spots without paying or observing time limits: http://www.nyc.gov/html/mopd/html/resources/trans_parking.shtml) and the merchants and churches who rely on car traffic (as turnover at parking spaces would increase, making it easier for folks driving in to find parking along the retail strip). The transportation committee can only make recommendations, but the DOT agreed to look into these matters.

    While I hear the arguments choleroyale and those at the meeting make with respect to the disabled, much of the meeting centered on the question of PROCESS. Those petitioning for the removal of the corral were (correct me if I'm wrong) most upset with the fact that they felt they had not been consulted, and thus felt that their voices had been deemed unimportant by those in power (or those with the wealth, time, and privilege to know how to speak to power - in this case, a successful new business). I understand why this frustrated people at the meeting, too, as the chair (for reasons understandable from his position) was insistent that the process did not keep the committee from considering all relevant issues (including the disabled and churchgoers) in their original deliberations.

    The process (for better or worse) is what it is - everything that happened was perfectly legal and perfectly by-the-books, though that doesn't make people happy - but I can't help wondering whether the package offered at the second meeting - a bike corral, new meters (which would improve car access for churches and the disabled), new sidewalk bike parking, and a report from the DOT on the success of the corral - could have been much less polarizing if it had been more fully explained and understood the first time around. I'm not blaming anyone, just noting that it seems like there may have been room for compromise.

    Is there still room? Chloeroyale, would you be interested in joining with others to push for meters along Franklin and for holding the DOT to task to report on the success of the corral in a few months' time? The Crow Hill Community Association also announced at the meeting that they want to offer their own meeting as a place for dialogue on this issue - would such dialogue, especially if it worked toward these goals, help improve the problem of process (which seems so central)?

    I understand why this corral has become such a flashpoint - it's a malleable symbol for everything from environmentalism to gentrification. What I'm wondering is whether there's a way to fit it into a more comprehensive effort to improve the streetscape for everyone on Franklin (bikers, the disabled, drivers, and everyone else) going forward.

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  2. DOT installed a speed bump on my street. No one from the agency knocked on my door to ask me if it would be OK.

    Residents frequently show up at community board meetings complaining that they were never consulted about street changes.

    If you want to be aware of changes in the neighborhood you have to attend these boring Community Board meetings. It is there that DOT and others make presentations about upcoming and proposed projects and it is there where they solicit feedback from the community. The community board represents the community and if you want it to represent you then you have to attend.

    This is no different than the PPW bike lane opponents who claimed they were not consulted when there had been community board presentations and discussions going back two years.

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