July 26, 2018 By Nathaly Pesantez
Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer says he’s made some mistakes in the Skillman and 43rd Avenues affair, and took to Twitter to correct the record.
In a series of four tweets published this morning, Van Bramer made especially clear that he backs the Department of Transportation’s redesign of the two avenues, and regretted that he wasn’t “clear and forceful” about his stance earlier.
“Bike lanes save lives,” he said. “They do not destroy neighborhoods. Sunnyside & Woodside are good, strong, healthy places to live. They do not need to be saved from safety enhancements.”
The tweets clarify Van Bramer’s statement made in late June, when he straddled the fence and said, “I don’t believe we can move forward with this DOT plan at this time” while also reiterating his support for a bike lane on 43rd Avenue and on lanes as a whole.
Opponents of the plan, fearful of the effect the loss of 116 parking spaces will have, reluctantly accepted Van Bramer’s June statement, while supporters of the redesign criticized him for not fully standing behind a safety plan he called for.
“Saving lives will always be more important than parking spaces,” he wrote. “The bike lanes will go in, and I support them. I should have been more clear and forceful earlier. I regret that I wasn’t. That mistake is mine and mine alone.”
Van Bramer also spoke to opponents of the bike lanes whom he believes have run a “scorched earth campaign” based on spreading misinformation and stoking fears.
While he was not specific on what type of misinformation was being spread, many opponents of the redesign have continuously expressed distrust in the DOT’s statistics on how many cyclists use the two avenues and the number of accidents that have taken place through the corridor.
“The bike lanes should happen,” Van Bramer said. “It’s the right thing to do. And even if there is a political price to pay for saying so, I should say it. So I am.”
The Council Member’s strong statements come after a rally held yesterday against the city’s plan. The organizers, Queens Streets For All, did not invite Van Bramer to that event, since they believe he did not come out strongly enough against the plan and stood behind Mayor Bill de Blasio too quickly when he ordered it to be done.
It also comes as Van Bramer is gearing up for a likely Queens Borough President run.
“We wish @JimmyVanBramer had been honest with us from the beginning and not wasted all our time pretending he was advocating for us, when it’s now clear to everyone he was lying to us, his constituents!” Queens Streets for All said on Twitter.
They added: “We regret that we trusted @JimmyVanBramer who WE elected! He was supposed to be on our side. He was never on our side and deceived us into thinking he was. Just another politician playing a game with his community, friends and supporters!”
Many, however, applauded Van Bramer for clearing the air.
“Thank you for your #VisionZero leadership!” tweeted Transportation Alternatives.
“It takes a lot for anyone – let alone an elected leader – to admit they made mistakes & were wrong. I applaud CM Van Bramer for his candor today & for his full-throated support of #SaferSkillman, however belated. Queens *desperately* needs leaders willing to lead,” wrote Macartney Morris, chair of Transportation Alternatives’ Queens Activist Committee.