PPW Bike Lane Foes Gearing Up to Sue the DOT?!

ppw-bike-lane-2-2011.jpgGood heavens, is it possible that the Prospect Park West bike-lane brouhaha is going to drag on longer than the Williamsburg one did? It sure is seeming that way. WNYC reports that “Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes,” a group that questions the city’s rationale for installing the lane, is not giving up. The article says that in “late December, a lawyer working pro bono, Jim Walden, wrote a letter to transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan asking for additional data, saying he hoped ‘this begins a constructive phase of dialogue between DOT and the affected community members’…there’s been no official legal action, though that’s expected to come next week.” One member of Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes says she thinks the lane should be moved into the park. Meanwhile, the Post reports that Sen. Chuck Schumer, despite being a cyclist, is not a fan of the Prospect Park West bike lane either: “Sources said Schumer — who has yet to take a public position on the 19-block bike corridor — shared his feelings privately with some members of the City Council. ‘He’s asked legislators what they’re going to do about [this and other] bike lanes,’ said one source.”
Residents Prepare Lawsuit on Brooklyn Bike Lane [WNYC]
Not in Chuck’s Back Yard! [NY Post]
Prospect Park West Bike Lane Back in the News! [Brownstoner]
Photo by swimfast.

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  • Schumer’s a cyclist but he also lives adjacent to the lane which is probably a more significant factor.

  • Neighborliness? Block Association? Community? Perhaps there is something other than laziness. Instead of ranting about what’s not done, help out and just pay it forward.

  • this is the dumbest thing i have ever heard of. these NIBMY a holes are worse than DDDB. i wonder if dan goldstein is advising them?

  • I’m not taking sides on this but it does seem as if the DOT is playing fast and lose with public reviews and is acting like part of an authoritarian regime. No real surprise there in terms of this administration. I fully support communities when they get together to question government. Bloomberg’s City Hall is unaccountable politically so one needs to seek democratic remedies through the courts.

  • people, ITS A BIKE LANE!!!!! if anything, communities should get together and sue the city to fix pot holes which cause damage to your car.

  • Minard, the PPW redesign was developed in response to community demand and input via a process that began five years before the lane was constructed. The community board specifically requested that the DOT study the possibility of a two-way bike lane, and the proposed redesign was unanimously approved by the community board. Do you fully support communities getting together to make their streets safer?

    Please site evidence that DOT is ‘playing fast and loose with public reviews and is acting like an authoritarian regime.”

    The movers and shakers behind the lawsuit, and also behind the otherwise miniscule and meaningless “neighbors for better bike lanes” are markowitz, steisel, weinshall, etc. i guess schumer is getting involved because his wife is embarassed — janette sadik-khan is a visionary commissioner of the DOT, who understands that “transporation” in new york city means street safety, mass transit, peds, bikes, and not keeping the cars moving as fast as possible.

  • “here we go again….”

    damn, cant recall the artist on that song

  • It bothers me that I personally know a couple of these NIMBYs. I hope they sue. They need to have their ridiculous opinions put into the public record.

    The ridiculous arguments are the following:
    ** The bike lane has made the road narrower. (Yep, that was the point!)
    ** Traffic is more congested. (Nope. It’s not. It just “seems” that way because you can’t drive 50 mph.)
    ** It destroyed the aesthetics of the boulevard. (Ya, whatever.)
    ** And stuff about pedestrians… I personally find it MUCH easier to cross now. And I’m able bodied. It must be a MILLION times better for an 80-year old.

  • i wonder if Schumer and the rest of the anti bike lane crowd would have supported it if the DOT promised that it would create “jobs and housing and hoops.”

    the contrast is so stark:

    a bike lane conceived of by the community, with community support and input, that is shown to reduce accidents, increases eco-friendly transport and costs relatively next to nothing, is hysterically opposed by a few rich NIMBYs (a term i hate), including a former transportation official, a borough president and a senator


    a top-down, private development that uses eminent domain, which might never deliver its promised housing and jobs, will generate more auto traffic with a temporary surface parking lot for 1000+ cars, leaves the taxpayers with most of the costs and the developer with most of the profits, and is causing blight in a neighborhood that it was supposed to be enriching.

    this is truly crazy town.

  • Randolph — the pot holes are CRAZY from the plows. Just pealing up any patches and leaving enormous holes. Yikes!

  • “”here we go again….”

    damn, cant recall the artist on that song”

    Dolly Parton, I think.

  • Jim Walden is the same lawyer who sued to prevent the reopening of the BHOD (and lost). Despite being a very prominent and successful lawyer, he seems prone to taking the reactionary nonsense side (i.e. whatever Marty wants) of all arguments. Oh, and he’s a first class a$$h0l3.

  • There is also a serious generational disconnect in this that is unfortunate. As usual, younger folks just want old folks to drop dead and the older generation see the young as entitled and pampered and kind of silly.
    The final outcomes are usually decided at the ballot box and there, older citizens seem to come out ahead as they tend to vote in larger numbers than the young.

  • Completely ludicrous that this group of self-entitled elitist NIMBY pricks are getting pro bono representation, are tying up the city (and our tax dollars) in a ridiculous lawsuit, and are going around the expressed will of a clear majority of the neighborhood who support this traffic calming project.

    There’s nothing wrong with the new PPW that a little bit of concrete and some signs won’t fix. There was nothing wrong with the 5-year-long public process that led to this redesign. The only things wrong are with these millionaire NIMBYs who can’t stand not getting their way.

  • Minard, really having a hard time following you here.

    PPW redesign makes the street safer for seniors because you can cross the street in two sections instead of having to get across 3 lanes of high-speed traffic in a single trip. Yes, pedestrians have to learn to look both ways before crossing the bike lane. It really isn’t so hard, and I am pretty sure that members of the “older generation” can learn this trick.

    Is it the “older generation” that was driving PPW at speeds over 40mph?

    Your post is very confusing.

  • Wow, the sore loser parade marches on.

  • I love the argument that the bike lane interferes with the original beautiful design of PPW. Because cars are gorgeous and bicycles are disgusting. Oh, and paint lines on the street are terrible, except where its the paint that marks different lanes for cars, and then its awesome. Bunch of idiots.

  • Southbrooklyn… I think Minard’s point was that it’s the old folks that are the whining NIMBYs here and tend to hate change. Any change. And it’s the old folks that consistently show up at the polls to reelect idiots like Marty Markowitz. And, I believe, in this case… “old folks” includes these PPW millionaires that were old folks at age 35 because of their money.

  • (meaning they’ve had a lot of practice being old folks that bristle at anything “newfangled” like a bike lane!)

  • My kids love riding in that bike lane. We use it all the time.

    Also, we were walking on the sidewalk on PPW (park side) recently and it seemed a lot quieter than it used to be. The cars are now further from the sidewalk and they move more slowly.

  • mgm — So bsically, what you’re saying is that the bike lane destroyed the beauty of PPW and it’s more dangerous than ever?

  • Outrageous that these people are thinking of tying up the courts to undo a bike lane that is (1) demonstrably safer than the previous configuration and (2) favored by the majority of people in the neighborhood. I’m a PPW resident, too — shame on Iris Weinshall and her cronies.

  • I have to ask the question, what exactly do borough presidents even do?

  • I really don’t understand the opposition to the bike lanes on PPW. I don’t always agree that bike lanes are a plus- depending on where they are, but here, certainly they are.

  • Agree with you totally, Minard. From streets, to school governance, to smoking, to … well, whatever, Emperor Mike’s administration has a habit of playing fast and loose with statistics. If the “visionary” of the DOT felt that any fair analysis of the statistics on PPW (or of the Herald Sq pedestrian mall, for that matter) would back her up, why wouldn’t she release all of the raw data? Her intransigence suggests that her people have cherry-picked data to “prove” her point of view. That’s why the DOT is being sued to comply with FOIL.

    I find it amazing that so many people here, especially young and presumably healthy ones, found it impossible to cross PPW at the traffic light before the bike lanes were installed. If that were really the case, then why is it the “old” people here, presumably less spry and quick-moving, who are against the bike lanes? In any event, probably a better, easier, quicker solution to this supposed dilemma would have been for the DOT to adjust the traffic lights to allow for longer “reds” and which would have discouraged racing cars from actually using PPW.

    Of course, that would not have not satisfied those who believe in the inherent evil of urban driving in 2011.

  • This is such a fraught topic isn’t it? It’s like the Unitarians and Methodists arguing as to who is more righteous and closer to God.

  • “I really don’t understand the opposition to the bike lanes on PPW. I don’t always agree that bike lanes are a plus- depending on where they are, but here, certainly they are. ”

    yeah – totally. there’s only really 3 or 4 bike lanes that have been installed the past few yrs that seemed really necessary (Kent/PPW/Flushing and maybe Sands). The rest? eh

  • You know, Minard, as a devout atheist, I’m not totally up on that Unitarian – Methodist argument. :-)
    I do find it amazing, though, that I so often see comments complaining about how we anti-PPW bike lane guys use the aesthetics argument against the lanes. Amazing in the context of brownstoner.com which spends probably half its time talking about the aesthetics of brownstones, interiors, and decoration.

  • Chuck Schumer is married to Iris Weinshall, the previous Transportation commissioner, who known for more auto-friendly initiatives.

  • morralkan, they DID release the raw data. It’s on their website. Your paranoia is unbecoming.

    Adjusting traffic lights to increase the red time would have led to actual congestion, and actually longer travel time, not the hypothesized-but-absent congestion and travel time increases that the NIMBYs thought this project would cause. It didn’t.

  • I love the argument that the bike lane has ruined PPW’s historic charm? Really? Did they have cars along the street 100 years ago?

    Here’s a picture.


  • zinka, why would they sue for data that had already been released? I’m not paranoid, but you apparently love to drink the DOT kool-aid. Must taste great!

    In the absence of ALL the data, referring to “hypothesized-but-absent congestion and travel time increases”is perhaps premature.

    A hallmark of the Bloomberg administration has been to obfuscate, deny, invent data, and to generally demonize anyone who disagrees with the emperor.

  • morralkan, I certainly agree about the emperor and the way he runs his administration, but are you against he bikes lanes here? Why so?

  • Um, they haven’t sued. They’re talking about suing. And it’s not really for the data. It’s because they want to make the street dangerous again.

    The data have been released. They don’t show congestion or travel time increases. Neither does the real world. It’s time to drop this. You’re embarrassing yourself with this head-in-the-sand posture.

  • bxgrl, we generally agree on lots of things, but here we part ways. I disagree for numerous reasons. High on my list is the question of aesthetics: it simply looks awful. PPW is a beautiful street and parked cars in the middle of the street, bikes going two ways down a one way street, lines … PPW looks like crap. There is a place for bike riding over there and it is in the park. Believe me, I ride bikes a lot, but I don’t see the need to demonize drivers or to take over a section of the road 12 months a year, 24 hours a day, when it will barely be used for a lot of that time.

    zinka, no you have me thinking that YOU are the one who is getting paranoid or delusional. The goal of the bike lane objectors is to make PPW more dangerous? The objectors, who are generally characterized as old biddies, want to make PPW more dangerous so that they … will get run over and killed? For what purpose? So that their heirs can collect on life insurance policies? Or do they just have a death wish? Or maybe they want to stand at their windows watching people die or be maimed? As for the data, it makes little sense that they are threatening to sue for information which you maintain is completely available on the DOT website. Does that really make any sense to you? If so, then it appears that not only have you downed their Kool-aid, but you are peddling it also.

  • You’re right — their threatened lawsuit makes little or no sense. But it’s not for data. That’s a smokescreen. It’s to have this safety project rolled back.

    No, they don’t want it removed because they specifically want the street to be more dangerous. But that would be the effect if they won.

    The real question is: why do they hate the results of this community-driven process so much? Why do they hate their neighbors? Why are they so selfish?

    morralkan, you are totally missing the point here. Even if there were no bike path — even if the current bike lane were just a striped buffer, or were planted with trees — the new PPW would still be a safer, and more functional, street than the old PPW. Three lanes were simply too many, and resulted in crazy speeding and weaving. Now that that space has been taken away from irresponsibly fast drivers, it can be used as a bike path — a free bonus gift to the neighborhood.

  • Zinka — it’s really you who seems to have only a tenuous grip on reality and logic. Tenuous might be too generous; minimal is more apt.

    You clearly asserted that the anti-bike lane group wants to make PPW more dangerous. When I pointed the absurdity of your assertion, you change your tune. It makes no sense that seniors, who presumably would be most affected by PPW safety issues, would want to reverse the lanes project if it really posed the danger you state. they “hate” their neighbors? They’re selfish? Those are your illogical opinions.

    It would make no sense to plant the roadway with trees; directly adjacent to PPW are plenty of trees. It’s called a park. Apparently many people believe that three lanes were not too many, including the original designers of of the park and PPW. Beautiful boulevards should be part of our borough, but the fanatical Sadik-Khan’s project (and those awful-looking pedestrian malls in Manhattan) destroys the beauty of PPW. Your main objection seems to be to people who have the nerve to want to drive in the city. Demonize them. Demonize people wo don’t agree with you. Whatever. You have a great, safe bike path in the park. Use it and stop trying to foist your bias on everyone else.

    If you think that all the data (and accurate date at that) has truly been released by any Bloomberg entity), then you are really gullible.

  • You’re right. It does make no sense that some seniors want to roll back this project. The problem is that they have a hard time dealing with change, even when it’s for the better. This is a stereotype (see grandpa on the Simpsons), but in this case it’s very true. However, many other seniors are in favor of this project, including several who spoke at the public meeting last month at the church on Carroll St.

    You clearly have no idea about the history of PPW if you say that “the original designers of of the park and PPW” wanted it to have three lanes. In reality, there was really no such thing as a lane in the 1800s. Streets were not marked with lanes until well into this century, after massively increased auto traffic. Take a look at old photos if you don’t believe me. Plus, the park side of PPW used to be a two-way trolley right-of-way. Ditto, old photos. They’re out there. So, historically speaking, the area that is now the bike path plus the “floating” parking lane used to be a trolley right-of-way. If you’re so concerned with historical accuracy, it should absolutely not be used for car lanes today. But I haven’t made that argument, because it’s silly: our streets should change as our needs change, and today, what we need is safe, calm, efficient traffic combined with safe mobility for pedestrians and cyclists. That is exactly what this project has delivered.

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder; I think the street looks great now, and so do many other people. If that’s your best argument, at least admit that it’s an aesthetic, not a universal, judgment.

    The bike path in the park serves entirely different needs than this one, and it’s not appropriate to substitute one for the other. Nor is it even separated from cars. And as I’ve said, this project stands alone even without the bike path. There were simply too many lanes for the street to be anything but a speedway.

    I see no evidence whatsoever that the DOT has lied about its data. The burden of proof is on those who claim it has. Your ideological beliefs about Bloomberg, fair as they may be, seem to have blinded you to the fact that by any standard, save perhaps aesthetic (which, again, is in the eye of the beholder — I think it’s great), is a runaway success.

  • Here’s a photo of PPW from 1947 showing the trolley right-of-way and lack of lane markings:

  • And no parked cars… or any traffic to speak off. The “aesthetics” argument is total bullshit.

    I agree, PPW would look a lot better with no parked cars! How do you think that would fly?

    (Actually, among the folks suing and vocally bitchy about the bike lane, I’m sure they’d be happy with it. It wouldn’t affect them. They have private parking….)

  • Actually, there do seem to be parked cars towards the left side of the shot. Which is fine with me — without parked cars, I’d be much more afraid of moving cars going up onto the sidewalk, since unlike many European cities, we don’t seem to protect pedestrians with bollards.

  • “Apparently many people believe that three lanes were not too many, including the original designers of of the park and PPW.”

    What are you talking about? When PPW was built, it was absolutely NOT designed to carry three lanes of car traffic. For goodness’ sake, there are no streetlights or road markers, how could it carry significant traffic? There’s a 1915 picture linked above, and you can see its “historic” charm includes ZERO cars.

    The thing they appear to have made room for on the road were lanes for TROLLEYS in both directions and what looks like a double-wide passing lane so that, I assume, horse carriages could pull over and let the trolleys get by.

    And I do not understand how two lanes of parked cars flanking a 3 lane-wide street is an aesthetic marvel, but two lanes of parked cars flanking a 2-lane wide street is a visual abomination. Google street maps has the old view, it’s ugly.

    Not to mention, the biggest visual offenders on these streets are all the signs and traffic lights, etc. Which, um, are pretty much all there to deal with car traffic. If you want PPW to be returned to its majestic state, what you should do is ban all cars, and then you can rip down all the parking and no-standing and bus stop and big yellow children-playing warning signs, and the one-way and no-right turn, and no entry signs, and all the big yellow boxes for pedestrian crossing and the gigantic “PROSPECT PARK SOUTHWEST KEEP LEFT” signs and the traffic lights. Those are far more visually assertive than a bike lane, especially when cute kids are pedaling down said bike lane.

    I think it’s ridiculous to pretend the bike lane is some sort of eyesore and all this other stuff is majestic. Ah, the grandeur and majesty of the “PROSPECT PARK SOUTHWEST KEEP LEFT” sign!

  • “The goal of the bike lane objectors is to make PPW more dangerous?”

    Sounds nutty, but yeah, it’s basic logic.

    The street redesign has made the street safer. Opponents want to undo the redesign. Therefore opponents want to make the street more dangerous.

    It is unbelievable, isn’t it? Too bad it’s true.