Kate Hinds is an Associate Producer for WNYC News. She also reports for WNYC and Transportation Nation, a public radio reporting project that combines the work of multiple newsrooms to provide coverage of how we build, rebuild and get around the nation.
Lawyer Who Sued to Remove Bike Lane Is De Blasio Backer
Thursday, March 21, 2013 - 02:23 PM
The lawyer appealing a lawsuit to remove the Prospect Park West bike lane has held a fundraiser and donated the maximum allowable amount to Bill de Blasio's campaign for New York City mayor -- but a de Blasio campaign spokesman says the candidate for Mayor, if elected, won't remove the lane.
James Walden's name shows up on a list of fundraisers released by the de Blasio campaign "to demonstrate Bill de Blasio's personal commitment to transparency."
Brooklyn resident Jim Walden, the attorney for Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes, held a January 10 fundraiser for de Blasio. New York City campaign finance rules state the limit for a contribution to a mayoral campaign is $4,950, and Jim Walden has given the maximum allowable contribution to Bill de Blasio's campaign.
Neither the de Blasio campaign nor Walden would comment on the reasons for his support, though Dan Levitan, a de Blasio spokesman, says "Walden has been a long time supporter of Bill's," dating back to de Blasio's days as a city council member. Levitan says the Public Advocate, if elected Mayor, won't remove that bike lane.
Walden has also given $1,000 to mayoral candidate William Thompson.
Former Giuliani Deputy Mayor Randy Mastro, Walden's law partner, has also given $2000 to De Blasio and $3000 to Thompson.
De Blasio spokesman Dan Levitan said the campaign doesn't comment on individual donors, and pointed out the candidate has already issued a statement expressing support for bike lanes.
"The need for safer streets for bikers, walkers, and drivers is one I feel in my core,” de Blasio said in his statement last month. “For that reason, I fully support bike lanes and I want to see them continue to expand around the city. They are clearly making many NYC streets safer. But I think we need to take an approach different from the Mayor’s. While more and more communities and riders want bike lanes, the City still hasn’t come around to proactively engaging those who are concerned by them.
But more to the point: Levitan said de Blasio "has no plans to revisit the Prospect Park west bike lane.”
So under a de Blasio mayoralty, a de Blasio-appointed DOT commissioner won't rethink, rework, re-pave the bike lane?
Jim Walden did not return several phone calls.
The lawsuit against the Prospect Park West bike lane -- dismissed by a Kings County Supreme Court Justice in August 2011 -- is currently under appeal.