October/November 1999, p.10

Bay Ridge Stops Street Widenings

In a massive show of discontent, more than 1200 Bay Ridgers turned out at two public hearings in July to oppose a plan to convert 3rd and 5th Avenues in Bay Ridge into one-way thoroughfares and to narrow the sidewalks on 5th Avenue. The plan would have meant an increase in speeding and a decrease in pedestrian safety, as leisurely two-way shopping streets were converted into high-speed thoroughfares, and already scarce sidewalks were narrowed. Residents were also protesting the fact that Community Board 10 had approved the plan in May with almost no public notice. It was only after intervention by State Senator Vincent Gentile, Assemblywomen Joan Millman and Adele Cohen that neighborhood residents could air their views about the proposed plan.

Around 800 people attended the first hearing. Resident after resident, as well as local elected officials, spoke vehemently against the proposal, with only one speaker in support. After the first meeting, T.A. wrote a letter to DOT Commissioner Wilbur Chapman urging the Department of Transportation to maintain the existing two-way traffic patterns. At the second meeting, attended by approximately 400 people, Commissioner Chapman, sensing the overwhelming community opposition to this half-baked plan, agreed to rescind the one-way plan, and also committed to pedestrian improvements for 5th Avenue, including more trees, lights, and wider sidewalks.

"It would hurt local merchants who depend on foot traffic - not cars whizzing by on their way to somewhere else"
-Bay Ridge Resident Florence Sullivan

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