Clinton Avenue Bike Lane Proposal Mired in Politics And Confusion


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 add two-way bike lanes has many in the Fort Greene/Clinton Hill 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.

Public Advocate Letitia James
Public Advocate Letitia James

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 push back 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 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 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 photographed by tracy collins
Senator Velmanette Montgomery

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 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.

But Caroline Samponaro, deputy director of Transportation alternatives said the characterization that members don’t know where Clinton Avenue is located and don’t have members living in the community is inaccurate.

“It’s quite the opposite. More than 300 local residents have sent letters of support to the community board and the elected officials, and dozens of Clinton Avenue residents are in that mix. While there are differences of opinion, there is a strong amount of support,” said Samponaro.

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.

City Council Member Laurie Cumbo
City Council Member Laurie Cumbo

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

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

The Town Hall is slated for between 6-8 p.m., tonight at Brown Memorial Baptist Church, 52 Gates Avenue in Clinton Hill.


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