Judge Dismisses Claim Against Prospect Park Bike Lane

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


The fight over the controversial Prospect Park West bike lane came to an end when a judge dismissed claims that the city failed to go through proper channels when it installed the two-way protected path.

It is the first time a court has ruled on whether the city has legal authority to install bike lanes at a rapid clip.

The suit — which had prominent backers include former city transportation commissioner Iris Weinshall, and her husband, Senator Charles Schumer, who live along Prospect Park West — alleged the city manipulated data, and hadn’t properly consulted the community when it built the lane.

“This decision results in a hands-down victory for communities across the city. The plaintiffs have been dead wrong in their unsupported claims about the bike path and DOT’s practices,” said DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan in a statement emailed by the city.

But the decision ended up hinging whether the plaintiffs had filed their suit in a timely manner, and Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Bert Bunyan ruled resoundingly they did not.

The opponents "presented no evidence that DOT viewed the bikeway as a pilot or temporary project," according to the ruling.

The judge did say the city had failed to properly answer a Freedom of Information request filed by opponents of the suit, and ordered the city to do so. He did not rule on whether the city manipulated data, because the complaint was dismissed on timeliness issues.

The bike lane has proven popular in the community, with polls showing around two-thirds of Brooklynites want to keep as it. But a vocal and influential group has spoken out against it, galvanizing a portion of New York City residents and some editorial pages who are unhappy with the rapid change of city streets.

The city said the lane has dramatically reduced speeding and now funnels cyclists onto the streets, instead of the sidewalks.

Plaintiffs have not said whether they will appeal.

"Although we respectfully disagree with the Court’s determination on the statute of limitations, we will need time to review his comprehensive analysis before deciding on our options," attorney Jim Walden said in a statement.

Don Matteson, who lives on Prospect Park West, said he's generally a supporter of bike lanes -- and liked this one, when it was "on paper" -- but he said the lane causes traffic disruptions. He also said the community was consulted too late in the process.

"That was all after-the-fact," he said, "After it had been all decided and they were all ready to implement it."

Richard Johnson, a neighbor, said he's noticed changes in the way people drive.

"I am not a biker, but I think the bike lane is excellent," Johnson said. "This place was much too fast, much too speedy without it, and the traffic is slowed down. It's improved."

With Fred Mogul


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Comments [5]

Chuck Schumer should be ashamed of himself.

Aug. 17 2011 03:28 PM
mbw from WaHi

To hell with the Schumers. They caved to their cooperators so he could get campaign contributions (possibly) or not offend his neighbors (more likely).
Many years ago I lived on President Street between 7th and 8th. I rode a bike on Prospect Park West and nearly got run over a number of times as it was used as a speedway for thoughtless drivers. That my Senator Schumer should not back a green initiative is disgusting. May shame be upon your head Chuck!

Aug. 17 2011 03:17 PM
Stu from Park Slope

If NBBL and Jim Walden choose to appeal or explore other avenues, they'll be making a huge mistake. Who, other than one tabloid and Marcia Kramer, will take them seriously.

They wanted an independent review, right? Well, a judge gave them one and said, "You don't have a case." Please fold up your tent and pack it in.

Chuck Schumer owes his neighbors an apology.

Aug. 17 2011 12:59 PM
susan from Park Slope

The only jam ups I experience on PPW now are the result of double parking, i.e., Fresh Direct trucks, contractor vans, and right off Grand Army Plaza, the vans that pick up and drop off residents of the nursing home at 1 PPW - there has got to be a better place for that to happen. When there wasn't a bike lane, I had the experience of witnessing triple parking, mostly park goers packing up who couldn't just think beyond their own entitlement to stop where ever they felt. It's that same entitlement that prompted those to question the legitimacy of lane; like the comment prior stated, there are those who think of that section of the park as their own private property.

Aug. 17 2011 12:23 PM
nk from brklyn

You know, when it first was set up, as a driver, I was a little irritated, but in reality, it has not made the area any more congested, and bikers have a safe place to ride. And as a walker, I am not in any danger from bikers, and I simply don't understand the reasons for the lawsuit, except that the plantiffs think of that section of the park as their own private property.

Aug. 17 2011 09:37 AM

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