Survey Shows Support for Park Slope Bike Lane

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

bicycle wheel bicycle wheel (Hans Hamburger/flickr)

City Councilmember Brad Lander says a survey of some 3,000 Brooklyn residents finds, by a three to one margin, residents approve of a two-way protected bike lane along Prospect Park West. That support diminishes to just half, however, when only residents of the boulevard are surveyed. Lander acknowledges his poll is not a scientific study, but says it remains the broadest sampling of public opinion on the controversial lane to date. The survey comes as residents around the city are clashing over bike lanes on First and Second Avenues, Staten Island and the Upper West Side.

The Prospect Park West bike lane has been controversial since before it was built, at the behest of the local community board. Community Board Six wanted both to provide safer biking and slower traffic along PPW, as it's known. At the time of that vote, more than half of motorists were driving above the 30 mile per hour speed limit, according to the New York City Department of Transportation. 

But Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz immediately protested, firing off a letter to the DOT warning the lane would cause congestion and confusion. Opponents also said the lane would destroy Prospect Park West historic character.

The DOT built the lane anyway, and earlier this fall said speeding had been dramatically reduced to one in seven motorists and that cyclists riding on the sidewalk had dwindled from forty percent to almost nothing. 

City Councilmember Brad Lander -- who voted for the lane as a member of the local community board -- said the high passions on both sides caused him to do the survey.  He says he spoke with some 300 PPW residents and 3,000 Brooklynites overall, most from neighboring Park Slope.

While some residents said the lane had coaxed them onto bikes, and cyclists said it made them feel far safer, the survey did identify some problems, including fear among pedestrians crossing the bike lane and reduced parking. Lander said some of that could be addressed through better design.

A Markowitz spokesman said the Borough President wouldn't comment until he'd fully read the survey but James Bernard, a PPW resident and community board member, said his opposition remained undiminished. 

Lander said the DOT will be analyzing the lane in early 2011.  

For more news and analysis on the lane, go to


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Comments [14]

Brooklyn Trolley Dodger from Park Slope

Opponents of the bike lane want PPW returned to its historical condition.
In that case, bring back the two trolley tracks and speeding streetcars, which is what was there for the majority of PPW's life. And abandon one row of parking.

From the mid 19th Century up through 1951, the Vanderbilt Ave trolley line ran down PPW connecting to the CI Ave and McDonald Ave cars.

The 2 trolley tracks were on the park side of the street, where the bike lane and parking lane are now. Southbound street car stops were in the middle of the street - passengers had no platform or protection from the passing traffic - at first horse & wagon and later motor cars.

There were two traffic lanes - not three, and parking was only on the western-house side of PPW. There was no car driving or parking on the park side, that was exclusively for the trolleys.

Pedestrians crossing PPW had to look out for not only cars and any cyclists, but cross two trolley tracks with cars coming from both directions - and there were no refuge spaces at all.

Be careful what you wish for.
You may find yourself dodging big fast trolley cars instead of bicycles.

Dec. 08 2010 10:32 PM
tom from Brooklyn

Andrea: 3-to-1 in favor among respondents overall, but among people who live on the boulevard(PPW) support diminished to half that. That what you wrote.
The survey actually says that among the 272 respondents living on PPW there was a roughly even split. In fact though, a majority (137 of 272 is slim but still a majority) wish to go back to the previous configuration. Eighty-five, or 31%, want to keep it as-is. Fifty, or another 18%, say keep it but want some measure of change.
How do you count? This is not the US Senate.

Dec. 07 2010 10:57 PM
Gary from PPW from PPW, Park Slope

It is a complete success and the community recognizes that. I love the lane and use it multiple times every day.

Dec. 07 2010 01:42 PM
Emily from Union Street, Park Slope, Brooklyn

Prospect Park West now looks like a hideous nonstop traffic jam, with cars lined up in the middle of the street.
It's far less safe, also, particularly near Grand Army Plaza--I've seen multiple near collisions as traffic merges around Grand Army Plaza.
I'm glad I don't live along Prospect Park West. I used to walk along there, but it's too ugly and congested now; I don't feel safe crossing the street along there anymore either.

Dec. 07 2010 12:51 PM
Carlos Pulido from LIC

Wish these bike lanes had been there when I lived in Park Slope! However, I ride on any road that allows cyclists, with no apologies. Cycling is better for your health, for the environment, and for urban living in general. And as for "historic character", remember people, both Prospect Park and Central Park were originally designed to be CAR-FREE!

Dec. 07 2010 12:26 PM
boof from brooklyn

It's a bitch when the truth doesn't conform to your own opinion, eh, cw?

Dec. 07 2010 11:30 AM
Jonathan from New York, NY

My wife and I rode via the PPW bike lane to visit my dad on Thanksgiving from Manhattan. It makes it a lot quicker to bike to Park Slope from the bridges, via Sands St, Navy St, Flushing Ave, Vanderbilt Ave, Plaza St, and PPW, instead of having to take Dean St and Fifth Ave. And coming back is just as easy.

Dec. 07 2010 11:29 AM

"He says he spoke with some 300 PPW residents and 3,000 Brooklynites overall, most from neighboring Park Slope" Does anybody care what the standards are for this "survey"? To me it is meaningless, or a push poll or simple propaganda. Gee I asked 3 of my neighbors and 2 were against it that must mean 66% oppose this.

Dec. 07 2010 10:58 AM
Eric McClure from Park Slope

Can we please stop calling the redesign of Prospect Park West "controversial" now? A three-to-one margin of support is a landslide. I don't remember any news stories referring to the "controversial election of Andrew Cuomo," and his race was a squeaker compared to this vote.

Dec. 07 2010 10:37 AM
Doug from Park Slope

This is great and not surprising. PPW is so much more pleasant now that it's not a raceway. What's not to like about slower cars, shorter crossing times, and a place where even kids can ride their bikes?

I don't think it's under-utilized at all. Rode it this morning with dozens of people commuting to work and it was freezing outside! To be fair, there are hours of the day when the car lanes are nearly empty. Even biking has its rush hours.

Dec. 07 2010 10:24 AM
Steven O. from Brooklyn, NY

I love this bike lane. I wouldn't be anywhere as comfortable taking my son to school by bike without it.

Leslie -- I find the lane quite well-used, even on a blustery cold day like today. Last time I counted (morning rush hour in November), I saw 11 cyclists (including myself) in three minutes. That works out to 220 an hour or 2,640 in a 12-hour period (it's an admittedly small sample, however). I'd be interested in what numbers you are seeing. Maybe you would take ten minutes to count and report back.

Also, the law states that cyclists do not need to use a bike lane if they find it unsafe or if they are making a turn. (I don't know who would find the PPW lane unsafe, but I believe that each cyclist is free to decide for him or herself.)

I don't understand the PPW residents who don't support the bike lane. This is probably the only place in the world where a significant number of people who are effectively asking for more lanes and faster traffic on their street.

Dec. 07 2010 10:10 AM
Leslie from Brooklyn on PPW

I'm not big fan of the bike lane but yes I and other will adjust to it. It is under utilized to be sure even on weekends. My main gripe is the bikers who still insist on using the car lanes -- seems to be a macho thing not to use the bike lane.

With bike lanes comes the need to conform to the law and police enforcing the traffic rules for all.

Dec. 07 2010 09:26 AM
Linda Robinson from Park Slope

The bike lane is great. DOT just needs to build out the pedestrian refuges - that would end a lot of the bike-ped conflict that is fueling the debate. The painted brown spaces for pedestrians are them out. (Yes, I know DOT did it on the cheap, but c'mon.)

Dec. 07 2010 08:55 AM
Peter from Crown Heights

I can't express how much I love the bike lane. It links smoothly to the great east west lanes on Bergen and Dean and therefore to Manhattan.

I haven't noticed any pedestrian troubles, and mostly found that cyclists and pedestrians are pretty aware of each other.

I can understand how those who live right on that stretch may lament the change, but it must be true that a 2 lane Prospect Park West is easier and safer to cross than a three lane quasi-expressway.

Next up is the Formula one track for passenger vans that is the outermost lane on Flatbush.

Dec. 07 2010 04:28 AM

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