Lower East Side residents, undeterred by the continuing downpour, filed into P.S. 134 tonight to tell city transportation officials just how unhappy they are with several recent decisions impacting streets in the neighborhood. The forum was a town hall meeting organized by City Councilman Alan Gerson.
City Transportation Commissioner Luis Sanchez and Gerry Bogacz of the New York Metro Transportation Council mostly listened quietly as people in the community sounded off on the "arrogance" of installing center islands and bike lanes on Grand Street, the unresponsiveness of the city to problems with street signs along Rutgers Street, the behavior of bicyclists and several other issues.
Councilman Gerson said there's a widespread belief among his constituents that their concerns fall on deaf ears. He called on greater accountability and stepped up efforts to involve the community in the decision making process. One resident blasted Mayor Bloomberg for the changes on Grand Street, saying they are "a disgrace to this community."
Tomorrow we'll have much more on the issues addressed at the town hall, street by street. We'll also hit the streets ourselves with video camera in hand to illustrate some of the tensions and problems that were on display tonight. A consistent theme throughout the town hall: bicyclists are a menace in the neighborhood — ignoring traffic laws, going the wrong way in bike lanes, riding on sidewalks. We'll also have more on that, including the response from cycling activists (it's bike month, afterall).