Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams is calling on the Department of Transportation to hasten its efforts to improve Brooklyn's many deadly thoroughfares, after a cyclist was killed by the driver of an SUV on Atlantic Avenue yesterday.
To emphasize his point, Adams led a small contingent of reporters on bicycles down Flatbush Avenue near Barclays Center, a brief but terrifying jaunt that reminded everyone how inhospitable that particular roadway is to cyclists.
Adams, who prefers to bike when possible, referred to the road as "hairy," which felt like an understatement as cars screamed by.
"I ride often—just about every day," he said. "I was extremely leery about riding on Flatbush Avenue. As an experienced rider, I do all that I can to not ride on Flatbush Avenue."
In March, the de Blasio administration announced the birth of its Great Streets initiative, which will funnel $250 million in capital funds toward improving four of the city's most dangerous arterial roadways—Queens Boulevard, the Grand Concourse, Atlantic Avenue, and Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn. Queens Boulevard—where 38 New Yorkers were killed and 448 more were injured between 2003 to 2013 — is slated to receive protected bike lanes and a pedestrian walkway, with construction scheduled to begin in August.
How long will it be before Brooklyn's deadly streets receive the same treatment? Adams is unsure. Last year, Atlantic Avenue was given a dose of "Vision Zero" improvements that included retimed stoplights, increased NYPD enforcement, and a newly lowered, 25 m.p.h. speed limit. Will Atlantic and Flatbush avenues be given protected bike lanes? DOT has not responded to requests for comment.
Regardless of the mechanics, Adams was adamant that such crashes become a thing of the past. In the last three years, there have been three fatalities in this corridor. In November, a woman was hospitalized after getting hit by a car on Atlantic near Washington Avenue. Last June, a crash on Atlantic near the BQE left one driver decapitated after he crashed into a flatbed truck.
"Vision Zero is not a slogan. It is a mandate that we allow all to utilize our roadways in a safe fashion," he said. "The days of vehicles being the only traffic on our roadways are over."
He said he chose to ride today with reporters because it's "important for them to see those who use Flatbush, how intimidating it is to ride here," he said. "More than 150 car crashes have occurred in this area alone between January 1 and July 7," Adams said.
One day after a fatal crash at this intersection, drivers - including the NYPD - blatantly run the red. pic.twitter.com/0qTq39gDn2
— Brooklyn Spoke (@BrooklynSpoke) July 14, 2015
"Oftentimes, when you're in car...you feel invincible having a vehicle around you," Adams concluded. "But when you're on a bike, your only armor is your body, and as we saw, that body is not a strong enough armor."