Bike Lane Controversy Getting Litigious

February 6, 2011

Some people really don’t like the Prospect Park Bike Lane. How much don’t they like the bike lane? They’re suing to have it removed.

That’s right.

And what a group of Brooklyn civic heavyweights. Says Andrea Bernstein at WNYC:

Iris Weinshall, the former city transportation commissioner and wife of U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. A dean at Brooklyn College. Norman Steisel, the former deputy mayor under Edward Koch and David Dinkins. And the other former deputy mayor, Randy Mastro (under Rudolph Giuliani) who introduced the group to a colleague at his high-powered law firm, Gibson, Dunn, and Crutcher. And what is all this former government firepower being assembled to do? Remove a bike lane on Prospect Park West in Brooklyn.

And what is it that this high-octane group has against the bike lane. Well, they say it:

–causes congestion.

–changes the lovely, historic character of PPW.

–poses danger to pedestrians

Brooklyn’s Borough President is dead set against the bike lane and makes his opinion known at every opportunity.

In a report released last month by the Department of Transportation, studies show that the bike lane has decreased speeding and increased pedestrian safety. That it’s a win-win for public safety and quality of life.

Clearly others disagree. Indeed, this controversy is pitting neighbor against neighbor and civic groups against politicians. It’s a hot button issue. The bike vs. the mighty automobile.

Where do you stand???

Filed under: Civics and Urban Life  by · 7 Comments
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7 Comments on Bike Lane Controversy Getting Litigious

  1. Jon on Sun, 6th Feb 2011 3:15 pm
  2. Total eyesore. And crossing the bike lane is dangerous – the product of a one-way street and a two-way bike lane. But the real question is about the impact on cyclists. If it makes it safer to bike around Brooklyn, I suppose we need to grudgingly put up with it.

  3. Eric McClure on Sun, 6th Feb 2011 5:33 pm
  4. These politically connected insiders intend to sue to try to get rid of a project that has reduced speeding by 75% (speed is the #1 cause of automobile-caused fatalities), reduced crashes and reduced injuries (belying the false claim that it’s made crossing the street dangerous). They intend to sue to try to overturn a project that has garnered overwhelming support: 71% of Park Slope residents and 78% of Brooklynites at large, according to a survey conducted by Councilmembers Lander and Levin and Community Board Six. They intend to sue to try to eradicate a project that was asked for and supported by the Community Board.

    Does anybody seriously think Prospect Park West was more beautiful when three lanes of car traffic was whizzing by, three-quarters of it above the speed limit? Is that what they want back?

  5. Peter Loffredo on Fri, 11th Feb 2011 6:17 am
  6. Sorry, but I have to land on the side that is against the bike lane. The stats on decreased speeding and accidents are manipulative. If you closed Prospect Park West to traffic altogether, there would be an even greater decrease in speeding and accidents, wouldn’t there? Traffic congestion always decreases speeding. In fact, it often decreases movement altogether. A majority of Park Slope homeowners own cars, mainly because the bus and train service out here sucks. So, how does it serve the community to narrow one of the major thoroughfares? As always, though, that group of delusional, usual suspect Slopers want to imagine that this neighborhood is some idyllic haven that actually isn’t part of an urban environment. Hey, if the buses and subways were really great around here, I’d feel differently about the bike lane. But I have to get my kids to school, go to work, shop for food… and I can’t do any of that with my bike.

  7. L on Fri, 11th Feb 2011 5:24 pm
  8. I have to also comment on those stats about the survey of approval.

    I filled out that survey and I really tried to be fair. I’m sure my comments got counted as PRO bike lane because I bent over backwards to be fair to both sides and I’m sure it came out that way.

    But if you look at the comments I wrote on the survey, I really do not like the bike lane as it stands now. I love the idea of a sheltered bike lane, but a two way bike lane with a one way road is just dangerous. If it were only one way I’d support it. But the way it is now, I do not.

  9. Eric McClure on Sun, 20th Feb 2011 9:35 pm
  10. Peter,

    I have to take issue with several of the things you’ve written.

    “The stats on decreased speeding and accidents are manipulative.”

    That’s just not true. DOT’s measurements have shown that speeding and crashes have declined, while traffic volumes and average travel times have stayed the same. Sure, if you closed PPW to traffic altogether, speeding and vehicular crashes would be eliminated altogether, but that’s an absurdity — we’re talking the removal of one of three travel lanes on what was a neighborhood street with far too much capacity. Do you think we should add travel lanes to 8th or 7th or 6th or 5th Avenues, all of which have two vehicle lanes? Of course not.

    “A majority of Park Slope homeowners own cars.”

    That’s not close to accurate. According to the 2000 census, the most recent data available, slightly fewer than 40% of households in zip code areas 11215 and 11217 owned vehicles. You can look it up yourself here: http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/DTTable?_bm=y&-geo_id=86000US11215&-gc_url=&-reg=&-ds_name=DEC_2000_SF3_U&-_lang=en&-mt_name=DEC_2000_SF3_U_H044 (just change the 11215 to 11217 and add the two results).

    “Delusional, usual suspect Slopers want to imagine that this neighborhood is some idyllic haven that actually isn’t part of an urban environment.”

    What? It’s precisely BECAUSE we live in an urban environment that we support slowing down speeding vehicles and making walking and cycling safer and easier. This ain’t suburbia. We’re quite well served by public transit, though that could always be improved.

    L,

    “A two way bike lane with a one way road is just dangerous.”

    Again, not true. NYPD accident reports show clearly that PPW has gotten SAFER after the implementation of the bike path.

  11. Lisa on Thu, 24th Feb 2011 8:02 am
  12. I am happy to continue to watch both ways when crossing the road, sidewalks (I’m still running into bikes on the sidewalks) and the bike path when going into the park and using our car on Prospect Park West. But the DOT figures on both speed and incidents don’t add up to my personal experiences on a regular basis so that leaves me very confused regarding the real definition of “safer” after the implementation of the bike path.

    I’ve lived on PPW for 20+yrs and have seen more fender benders and collisions since the installation of the new traffic configuration than in the entire 20yrs before that. Perhaps just coincidence but I don’t really buy that.

    My experiences have been criticized as being suspect because they are “self-reported” but I know what I’ve seen over the years and I’m not anti-bike at all – just question the current configuration based on my personal experience. Our living room and bedroom face the park so I also see/hear the emergency vehicles caught in traffic – never thought of the possibility of them moving into the bike lanes!

  13. Peter Loffredo on Sat, 26th Feb 2011 7:38 pm
  14. Thank you, Lisa. My experience validate yours. I’ve been driving on PPW everyday for 7 years, and it is clearly not only more congested, but more dangerous because people are driving angry. Sometimes first hand accounts trump stats.
    http://fullpermissionliving.blogspot.com/