The following is an open letter from Steve Barrison to Borough President Marty Markowitz. Barrison is the president of Bay Improvement Group and executive vice president of the Small Business Congress of New York City. In the letter he criticizes the city for taking us in the wrong direction on congestion, and says we need to plan for more vehicles on the city’s roadways.

Marty,

YOU ARE RIGHT!

We now have bike lanes to handle estimated 1.5 – 2 million bikers! YET, we only have about 3,000 in the winter and we grow to 8,000 – 12,000 in nice weather and peak at 25,000 once or twice a year for special events….we won’t have 1.5 or 2 million bikers for many lifetimes, if ever!

We have over 850,000 vehicles a day that are part of NYC’s economic engine too, whether for small business, business owners, deliveries of good and services, health care, elderly, handicapped, children and those that aren’t well served by mass transit or that a vehicle is simple needed.

The reduction of travel lanes is causing more congestion, more back ups, making traffic movement impossible and yes, causing more pollution! Vehicles flowing give off much less pollutants than when stopped in traffic. Oh yea, and by the way Times Square is supposed to be chaotic, crowded, crazy and have a mix of everything, that is what is expected there at the ‘Crossroads of the World!” not some sprawling mass of tourists spilling out all over and hanging out on chairs and benches squeezing vehicles into bottle necks ands causing New Yorkers to just avoid it all together.

Hell, I used to love to drive through Times Square with all the excitement with friends, family, kids, visitors from out of town so they can feel the excitement of it all. Now, we just don’t go near it, as many others I speak with don’t either. And you know what? Out of sight out of mind! It’s back to that new level of measurement developed as a result of the anti-car people, The Hassle Factor.

Even driving around Prospect Park on the south west traffic circle with all it’s new corralling concrete islands which again bottle neck traffic patterns into neat three and often one lane patterns is plain crazy lacking any practicable common sense to everyday driving there! This isn’t some small town but Brooklyn, NY! Before these cute traffic ideas, traffic flow was much greater, faster and less back ups than it is now at many key circles and intersections across the city and in BROOKLYN! The huge spending on intersection “make-overs” is frankly a scandal in these tough economic times when we are closing firehouses, laying off cops and letting repairs to our infrastructure be on hold. These traffic, so called upgrades, are in aesthetics only, and they do not in any way help move traffic; but are making it worse! But that continues to look like the idea of DOT Khan! She wants all cars to begone no matter what the consequence.

The “hassle factor” is weighing heavy over the last eight years and many outside the mass transit core service area who do drive and come into the big city to spend money are doing so much less and in some cases almost never. The hassle is just no longer worth the trip.

Steven Barrison,Esq.
THE BARRISONS

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  • Sha

    If it were safer to bike on crazy Brooklyn roads, there might be more bikers!

  • frankiev

    We have very few bike lanes in this immediate area… Bedford Ave and Ocean Pkwy are the major ones. If it weren't for those, cyclist would have to deal with Coney Island, Ocean and Nostrand Ave. Do you think it's safe cycling on those avenues. Hell, it's dangerous driving on those avenues. I take bike lanes from here in Sheepshead Bay all the way to the GW Bridge. So bike lanes do have a place in our community.
    As far as the Prospect Park circle..this guy is right on the money. Since they put up all the corraling barriers, traffic is atrocious. IT JUST DOESN'T WORK. It must look pretty on paper though :-). Just to let you know, I put about 2000 miles on my bike annually and about 15000 miles in my car. So I believe I give a balanced opinion.

    • Ray Johnson

      I agree with you and Steve Barrison about the PP circle. Traffic around that area is now so dangerous.

  • Waterfall1

    I think I said this before but how does a white line make biking safer on a street? Is there an invisible force field to prevent cars, trucks, pedestrians from crossing them?

  • http://www.nedberke.com Ned Berke

    It's a psychological barrier. Drivers give more distance between them and the parked cars. But no, it definitely doesn't equal safety. IMO bike lanes are silly the way they're done now. In truth, they should be between the curb and the parked cars – that's much safer. All you have to do is worry about passengers opening the door without looking first – which could also be improved by having bike traffic go in the opposite direction as auto traffic.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

    You have the best take on this. But I would add that bike lanes on some streets cause possible problems. Bedford Avenue has very narrow space for cars now, it reminds me of Neck Road between Ocean Parkway and Coney Island Avenue. One solution might be to turn Bedford into a one way street. It's not usually heavily trafficked so it wouldn't add that much congestion to Ocean and Nostrand.

  • Local Broker

    Turning Bedford ave into a one way street is a horrible idea and will never happen. Its not narrow at all it might be a little tighter because of the stupid bike lanes. how have people been biking for so long without bike lanes. it seems like this city keeps focusing and spending time and money on a lot of stuff we just dont need some might want it but dont really need it.

    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

      To clarify, I’m using Bedford as an example of why bike lanes are not the answer. Rather, it is good driving and biking practices. One of the negatives that I think is occurring is that I see bikers using the sidewalks where there is no bike lane. Bikes belong in the street! These bicyclists have to realize that they are NOT 10 year olds.

  • Local Broker

    That could work if most people knew how to park cars without hitting curbs and other cars. i dont remember where i saw the pictures but there are cities that have bike lanes like that.

  • brooklynq

    This is what The Bay Improvement Group worries about? Times Square and Prospect Park? WTF????

    The BAY Improvement Group should be concentrating on cleaning up Sheepshead Bay, getting garbage emptied, removing graffiti, attracting more and varied businesses. I would think that BIG would be concentrating on IMPROVING the BAY – after all, it's in their name!

    What is BIG doing about the tires being stolen from cars in the area?
    What is BIG doing to improve our parks and waterfront?
    What is BIG doing to improve our schools?
    What is BIG doing to create jobs and activities for our teens?
    What is BIG doing to create an area where people want to come and raise families?

    C'mon BIG focus on the big issues that effect Sheepshead Bay – not bike lanes in other parts of the city!

    What has BIG done for Sheepshead Bay in the last 10 years?

    • Ray Johnson

      President John F. Kennedy said in his inaugural address: “Ask not what your country can do for you–ask what you can do for your country.”
      I would like to paraphrase: “Ask now what B.I.G. can do for our Sheepshead Bay–ask what we can do for Sheepshead Bay (or even the B.I.G., for that matter).

  • Local Broker

    I agree with you. I think they tried to shut down one of the best businesses in sheepshead bay in the last year or so called cherry hill.

  • brightonresident

    Just a quick question about biking— What ever happened to the plan to add a bike lane to the Boardwalk that was discussed about 3 years ago????????

  • http://www.nedberke.com Ned Berke

    Over the past six years the city has earmarked about $5.5 million for the project, but Parks is waiting for state approval. NYS DEC says the concrete bike path may damage the beach. State and city haven't really talked about it since 2008. The end.

  • brightonresident

    Hopefully the money is in an interest bearing account, LOL!
    Thank you for responding!

  • Waterfall1

    I guess they are only as effective as their volunteers and stated purpose. Too bad Sheepshead Bay doesn’t address these problems through their community board, Civic Associations or Chamber of Commerce.

  • Theresa Scavo

    Bike lanes are great in a community where they are really used, here in Southern Brooklyn, the bike lanes on Oriental Blvd. and Bedford Avenue are not teeming with bikers. DOT has a master plan and they are planning to install bike lanes on Avenue Y, Avenue T, Avenue P and Avenue J. We all know how difficult it is to travel around this community with double parking and people just crossing in the middle of moving traffic, add to that more bike lanes. Put bike lanes where they are needed, not here. This is not Amsterdam.

  • alrha

    Bike Lanes should be placed on appropriate less-trafficked streets for the safety of the cyclists. Bedford is indeed a good choice, but it is not enough. People are not biking out of concern for the safety of the commute and secure parking. If the city makes an effort to be more bike-friendly many more residents will opt to use their bikes more often. We can all use the exercise. Personally I bike to work from Manhattan Beach to Wall St Spring, Summer, and Fall and enjoy the ride. If it were more convenient, more people would do the same (especially those with shorter commutes).

  • Local Broker

    If they put bike lanes on Y, T and P that will create more chaos than there already is. How do you put a stop to that plan?

  • BrooklynBus

    I don't have a problem with the Bedford Avenue bike lane because other than Ocean Parkway, it's the only north-south one around. I do have a problem with the Oriental Blvd one because it was put there just to remove a traffic lane, not to help bikers. It also isn't connected to any other lane but just sits there unused most of the time. I've suggested a logical alternative that is much safer. Restore the two moving lanes on Oriental Blvd and move the bicycle lane to Shore Blvd where two sidewalks already exist. One of them could be converted to a bicycle lane with just a few signs and markings and it would be off-street amd much safer. It also could be connected to the Neptune Avenue lane.

    But that would be too logical for an illogical agency that has the ear of Transportation Alternatives whose goal it is to rid the City of cars entirely so everyone can walk or bike to work and for long trips use the subway or bus. Of course that makes perfect sense. Who needs a car when the MTA is cutting service all over?

    Adding more bicycle lanes on the avenues you mentioned is just insane. We can't afford to lose more traffic lanes to bicycle lanes. Have you tried to go east-west during rush hours now on any of these avenues? It takes 15 minutes to get from Ocean Avenue to Ocean Parkway on any one of them.

    DOT makes the MTA look competent by comparison. They totally screwed up the detours for the Guider Avenue Bridge reconstruction, and as you are well aware came up with conclusions to their 7-year Gravesend study that would only exaccerbate traffic problems. There used to be a time when they were focused on moving traffic, now its stopping it, so they can ticket more people for blocking intersections like they are now doing at Brighton Beach Avenue and Brighton 11th Street. They also ignore safety issues that you bring to their attention, like missing signs, lane markings, and disappearing traffic lanes without any merge signs.

    We need to be much more vocal about this inept agency. I can't help but wonder where their so-called engineers received their degrees from. It seems that filling potholes is the only thing this agency can do effectively.

  • brooklynq

    I think with the leader of BIG complaining about bike lanes in other parts of the city, it shows that the leadership of BIG isn't effective or focused on serving the needs of its own community. And without good leadership BIG will not accomplish much.

  • Brooklynbus

    The problem is there are not that many “less trafficked” streets to choose from. They could put them on north-south streets such as East 19th Street instead of the Avenues.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

    I was om Bedford yesterday, and noticed what a tight squeeze it was when two cars met going opposite directions. If the city insists on bike lanes then using Bedford as a one way makes sense. What is true is that Bedford is not a heavy use road, so smart drivers use it to gain time. It is one lane in each direction, so bike lanes make this a much tighter drive.

    To put this in perspective Bedford Avenue was East 25th Street in our part at one time. It was widened somewhat in the twenties, but not by much.

  • Local Broker

    I dont know how much you drive but bedford is just fine the way it is. Its a good thing that not many people use it sometimes if i need to go to the burg i take bedford its a lot better than the bqe and take nostrand back.

    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

      You’re right that usually Bedford is an easy ride. But certain times of the day it can get congested. And actually, I said that because I find the mere placement of bike lanes to have a potential of creating problems where street widths are narrower.

  • winson

    bike lanes are completely unnecessary. for every biker, there are like 20-30 cars. if people bike more, then the lanes can be justified. i also believe the pedestrian mall in herald and times squares are a nusaince.

  • http://www.njluxurymotors.com Arthur Borko

    Less Pedestrian Bullshit, Less Bicycle Bullshit, More Car Lanes Please!

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

    Avenue U is a mess. So a lot of drivers are now using Avenue T, which is also now a mess. Avenue Y is a through route, as Avenue X are cut off where the Brighton line runs, and Neck Road is about 800 feet from Avenue Y at East 16th Street, plus, it is only east bound. Bike lanes here would add to the already present chaos on these two streets.

    Avenue P is the only doable street mentioned. It could accommodate bikes, even with heavy traffic.

    • Local Broker

      You obviusly dont drive. none of those streets can handle bike lanes and take away from cars. ave p is jammed all the time from mcdonald ave to ocean ave.

  • PayPaul

    Less cars on the road! More power to pedestrians and cyclists! Down with arrogant nasty drivers who kill people when they get behind the wheel and only get convicted for manslaughter! They should all go to prison for murder under a life sentence. You people who drive around and think you own the road make me sick! More deaths are caused by automobiles than any other form of transportation. At least 37% as of 2005.

    http://www.benbest.com/lifeext/causes.html

  • PayPaul

    You mean a nuisance to all those crazy drivers who cause eminent danger to pedestrians and cyclists. The amount of tourist pedestrian movement in Times Square & Herald Square more than justifies those havens of safety.

  • PayPaul

    If the laws against double parking were serious enforced and the safety of cyclists and pedestrians was given a priority maybe there wouldn't be any need for a delineated bike lane to give drivers an indication where cyclists are.
    I have to wonder why I see so many adult cyclists riding on the sidewalks in this neighborhood. It may be because they don't feel safe on the streets. Of course that also has jeopardized my safety on more than one occasion. If cyclists had more assurance of their rights of way we could reach a solution satisfactory to all. That isn't happening yet.

  • PayPaul

    Cherry Hill is nothing more than a “goomay” establishment for the well heeled. Sorry but on my budget it is totally unaffordable. What BIG does need to do is advocate for another reasonably priced supermarket such as Key Food, Associated or Shop Rite. There are already too many over priced markets in the area as it is.

    • Local Broker

      Its not the markets fault. you have to find the right location with the right rent for it to make sense.

  • frankiev

    These comments are so indicative of how hostile the drivers in the neighborhood are towards cyclists. The drivers are not only hostile towards cyclists but to each other and pedestrians. People lose their patience because there is so much congestion in this area and that there is a stop light or stop sign on every single corner. The further I get from this area on my bike the easier it is to deal with traffic and motorists. Believe me when I tell you that cabs and delivery trucks in downtown Brooklyn and Manhattan are more tolerant of cyclists than in our area.
    That being said, I can't think of an east-west avenue that I'd put a bike lane on. None are wide enough and removing a car lane for a bike lane doesn't make sense.

  • http://kibblesbits.wordpress.com/ Ann

    So much hostilities against bikes. Forget fighting against trans fats and calories. The real problem is cars, I think. When I left car and public transit happy Brooklyn, the pounds dropped off. No one let Bloomy see this comment, or he might get ideas.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=839675042 Holly Renee Reinhardt

    I COMPLETELY agree with you 100%. Finally someone says something like this. The problem isn't a lack of bike lanes, it's a mix of cyclists who don't do what they are supposed to and drivers acting like assholes.
    I was riding in my boyfriend's car early one day when he was making a u-turn on Ave Y in front of his house. A cyclists biking the wrong way down the street and not following traffic laws caught up with the car, and demanded my boyfriend get out of his way by BEATING THE HOOD WITH HIS FIST SEVERAL TIMES. Like, learn how to ride a bike legally and maybe I'll feel bad for you.
    That being said, my boyfriend's dad, an avid cyclist/neighborhood bike repair dude broke a rib last week when he was (legally) riding his bike and a car door opened in front of him. People need to be more aware of what the hell they're doing. If that happened, this would be a moot point.

  • http://www.nedberke.com Ned Berke

    Holly, the vast majority of bicycling laws don't make sense. In truth, cyclists should bike against traffic, where they'll be more visible to drivers AND people getting out of cars. Actually, all the laws regarding bike movement seem to be a mess and not really thought out – and then on top of that there's no respect from others for where they're told to be. Bicyclists are left with no real choice but to look at the laws more as guidelines and to adapt as necessary. After all, they're way more vulnerable to the crap going on around them than either drivers or pedestrians.

    That being said, I don't know if the city needs more bike lanes. I don't know if the city needs bike lanes at all. I don't know if it's proven to have any real benefit for traffic of any kind.

  • http://www.nedberke.com Ned Berke

    Oh, and that biker was a dick. He shouldn't have touched your car. Patience begets patience. Douchebaggery begets douchebaggery.

  • http://kibblesbits.wordpress.com/ Ann

    You think bike laws were just made in a vacuum? It has been proven that bikes are safer when treated like vehicles. There are less accidents when they ride with traffic, not against it, based on how motorists perceive the road. They aren't a mess, they are thought out, there are millions of people worldwide riding bikes with cars, but a shift in attitudes needs to take place to be truly successful. http://www.kenkifer.com/bikepages/traffic/wrong… explains it clearly, but you have to dig through for the sources/references.

  • PayPaul

    Yes indeed! There is stupidity on both sides of the road so to speak. There are some riders I've seen with ipods in their ears while riding. I could wear headphones while walking around in some places but unless I'm in a park area riding I'd feel very uncomfortable trying to ride a bike and listen to music through earbuds at the same time.
    There's been a war going on for a long time between drivers and cyclists. As in all wars foolishness often goes hand in hand with it.

  • PayPaul

    Walking or exercising at least 3 times a week I hear is also good for the brain cells.

  • BrooklynBus

    So you are for removing two lanes of traffic for bike lanes on Avenue P? Wherel will the cars go? Avenue P is already jammed.

  • BrooklynBus

    Saying if people bike more, then the lanes could be justified, is like arguing which came first the chicken or the egg. I think some of the laws do have to be changed. For example, there is no harm biking on the sidewalk in cases where there are no pedestrians using it. It is safer than the street. But since all they care about in this City is revenue, they would give you a ticket anyway.

  • BrooklynBus

    There are some motorists who only look for cars and are blind to pedestrians all together. Sometimes they cut right in front of you and behave like they always have the right-of-way. On the other hand, in Brighton Beach, you have pedestrians who behave like its always therir turn to cross, and if you don't force your way with your car, you can't even get through. It takes cooperation by all parties.

  • Ray Johnson

    I'm sorry to hear about your boyfriend's dad.Hope he is on his way to a quick recovery.
    I tend to agree with you about the mix of cyclists and inconsiderate drivers, but in the end, bike lanes can only be a good thing.
    I wonder if there could ever be such a thing as bikes only lane. Sharing the road with drivers is so very dangerous, even with lines and bike stencils painted down the road.

  • Ray Johnson

    I don't know, Ned, sometimes alerting the driver of a horsepowered car (who, by the way, might see you on your bike) just might the the fistpound for your life.

  • Ray Johnson

    In response to Steve Barrison's comment regarding the number of cyclists in this city, there is no reason to disbelieve that they number in the millions. Just think of the number of bicycles out there. They don't all have to be riding on the street at the very same moment to be included. Has the DOT built one single bike lane that can accommodate every single one of those million or more cyclists all riding at the same time? I can see how that can be a problem. In the meantime, I'm thankful to cyclists who risk their lives every day, bike lanes or not.

  • Local Broker

    As a kid and teen i would only ride bikes and rollerblades and never on the sidewalk. in the city in brooklyn i always knew the risks and felt comfortable with it. if you dont feel safe then maybe you shouldnt be riding in the first place. there are risks driving, walking or biking and you have to deal with them.

  • brooklynq

    It's illegal to make u-turns on Ave Y. Seems the biker wasn't the only one not following laws.

  • KindGreene

    Is this guy really a lawyer? There are a ton of gramatical errors in this letter. It sounds like the ravings of a mad man, especially considering the proposed bike lane is no where near Sheepshead Bay and actually would serve a community that views bicycle use as a primary mode of transportation for commuting and life in general. His railing against bicycle and pedestrian protection in areas so distant from Sheepshead Bay is ridiculous. Brooklynites should not view it as their right to drive through Times Square at top speed, unimpeded by the pedestrian tourists that are a major engine for that neighborhood and NYC in general. The more our population concentrates on making better the areas accessible to them on foot and bicycle the stronger our communities become and the better our collective health. Driving in NYC should be limited to the infirm and to far flung psuedo suburban commuters getting to the nearest mass transit stations. Congestion pricing must be passed for the betterment of our air quality and the efficiency of our city. Wake up people!

  • Ray Johnson

    I'm sorry to hear about your boyfriend's dad.Hope he is on his way to a quick recovery.
    I tend to agree with you about the mix of cyclists and inconsiderate drivers, but in the end, bike lanes can only be a good thing.
    I wonder if there could ever be such a thing as bikes only lane. Sharing the road with drivers is so very dangerous, even with lines and bike stencils painted down the road.

  • Ray Johnson

    In response to Steve Barrison's comment regarding the number of cyclists in this city, there is no reason to disbelieve that they number in the millions. Just think of the number of bicycles out there. They don't all have to be riding on the street at the very same moment to be included. Has the DOT built one single bike lane that can accommodate every single one of those million or more cyclists all riding at the same time? I can see how that can be a problem. In the meantime, I'm thankful to cyclists who risk their lives every day, bike lanes or not.

  • Local Broker

    As a kid and teen i would only ride bikes and rollerblades and never on the sidewalk. in the city in brooklyn i always knew the risks and felt comfortable with it. if you dont feel safe then maybe you shouldnt be riding in the first place. there are risks driving, walking or biking and you have to deal with them.

  • brooklynq

    It's illegal to make u-turns on Ave Y. Seems the biker wasn't the only one not following laws.

  • KindGreene

    Is this guy really a lawyer? There are a ton of gramatical errors in this letter. It sounds like the ravings of a mad man, especially considering the proposed bike lane is no where near Sheepshead Bay and actually would serve a community that views bicycle use as a primary mode of transportation for commuting and life in general. His railing against bicycle and pedestrian protection in areas so distant from Sheepshead Bay is ridiculous. Brooklynites should not view it as their right to drive through Times Square at top speed, unimpeded by the pedestrian tourists that are a major engine for that neighborhood and NYC in general. The more our population concentrates on making better the areas accessible to them on foot and bicycle the stronger our communities become and the better our collective health. Driving in NYC should be limited to the infirm and to far flung psuedo suburban commuters getting to the nearest mass transit stations. Congestion pricing must be passed for the betterment of our air quality and the efficiency of our city. Wake up people!

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