Community board 2 voted down the proposal after a heated debate during their June meeting that often times turned tense. Here's what Macartney Morris, chair of the Transportation Alternatives Queens Committee had to say after the vote:
“All eyes are on Jimmy Van Bramer. People in safe streets community have held him up as an ally, as a Vision Zero leader. This is the moment of reckoning.”
Well, Van Bramer did not fare well in that “moment of reckoning” in the eyes of Morris and his fellow bike lane advocates.
“I don’t believe we can move forward with this DOT plan at this time,” Van Bramer said a couple of weeks after the board's vote. “The DOT’s plan, while changed a few times, still failed to gain enough support among residents, community institutions, elected officials and Community Board 2.”
Van Bramer tried to have his cake and eat it too in a sense, saying that he remained a bike lane advocate and his most important duty “as an elected official is to protect lives,” and placed the blame squarely on the Department of Transportation for a “disastrous” initial community outreach effort that doomed the project.
Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives, called Van Bramer's decision a “troubling shift in priorities.”
“His backpedaling on a previous call to install protected bike lanes in this corridor is disappointing,” he was quoted as saying in this paper, “and flies in the face of Vision Zero and his record.”
But we think that Van Bramer knew that Mayor Bill de Blasio would order DOT to move ahead with the bike lanes despite the board's objections. Skillman and 43rd avenues would get bike lanes anyway, and Van Bramer could be on record as supporting the community and opposing them. Which is exactly what happened.
Well, it appears that Van Bramer regrets that move if his Twitter account is any indication. In a series of tweets, he came down strongly in favor of bike lanes and, to his credit, admitted it was a mistake not to do so from the get-go.
But given the divisiveness of the issue, Van Bramer can't really win now. While bike lane advocates praised him in replies, the bike lane opponents who thought the councilman was on their side strongly criticized him for flip-flopping on the issue.
But he did get one response that summed up the issue pretty succinctly (see slide show).