In a raucous street corner rally last Thursday, senior citizens pushed back against the millennial bicycle culture – alleging that young bikers are behind a residential parking ban along Greene Avenue in Clinton Hill without any concern for the elderly.
The rally, which former Democratic District Leader Renee Collymore organized, drew several dozen people – mainly elderly to the corner of Greene Avenue and Cambridge Place.
They were protesting a new city Department of Transporation (DOT) Residential Loading Zone Program, which installed ‘No Parking Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.’ in pre-selected locations across Brooklyn with little community warning as KCP first reported.
The three corridors in Brooklyn where the signs have popped up are Greene Avenue from Cumberland Street to Classon Avenue; Bergen Street from New York Avenue to Sixth Avenue; and Manhattan Avenue from Ainslie Street to Bayard Street.
“This is unconscionable,” said Linda Maurice Vittal, 78, who has lived on Greene Avenue since 1947. “Because I couldn’t get up at 7 a.m. on Tuesday morning and move my car, I got a $185 ticket. Then I got a $60 ticket for parking there. Then, when I went to redeem my car, I got a flat tire because the lady who put my car on the trailer pushed down on it. I spent two-and-a-half hours at the Navy Yard to get my car out. Now you tell me if that’s right.”
Norma Smith, 78, who has lived on the block since 1971, said she worked in the community when a lot of people of color couldn’t live there because it was redlined, and once she moved in she worked with a bunch of community people to get traffic safety measures installed.
“Now everybody is coming and I don’t think I should have to wake up at 7 o clock in the morning and jump out of my bed and move a car. What kind of bullshit is that?” Smith said. “People are not going to come in here at this stage of my life and say I can’t park here. Bicycles shouldn’t be running on this street. It’s two-way and a bus route. Let them go put bike lanes on side streets. And what I don’t like about bicycles is they don’t stop at lights. They go through the lights and nobody’s giving them any tickets.”
Jeanette Harrell, also a senior, said the bicyclists seldom follow any rules of the road and are very rude. She told the story of a young millennial woman who cut between cars at such a fast speed and then came so close between her husband, who was crossing the street with their 10-year-old granddaughter that the bike handles snatched the little girl’s lunchbox.
That was the only reason the biker stopped because she snatched the lunchbox. There has to be equal regulations and accountability for bikers the same way as for cars, Harrell said.
Ernest Augustus, 69, who lives on Adelphi Street between Greene Avenue and Fulton Street, said part of the problem when it comes to bike routes and new DOT parking regulations is that the de Blasio administration only listens to the Transportation Alternatives lobby.
“We are also concerned about safety. The bicyclists can not claim the safety narrative as their own. We were concerned about safety before the bikers even got here. I grew up in this community and I’ve seen people come together to lobby successfully for stop signs and street signs and speed bumps. So the safety narrative does not belong to the biker alone,” said Augustus.
City Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo (D-Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Prospect Heights, Crown Heights) also showed up at the rally and vowed to speak with DOT and city officials about getting refunds for the tickets given.
She also said she will speak with her colleagues in the council and hopes to hold a hearing on the issue.