Award–winning journalist Andrea Bernstein is Senior Editor for Politics & Policy for WNYC News. She has previously served as Metro Editor, Political Director, Director of Transportation Nation, and Senior Reporter.
Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) In a rare legal action, a group of residents opposed to a two-way protected bike lane along Prospect Park in Brooklyn has filed a lawsuit in Brooklyn state court to have it removed. The city law department says it received the papers late Monday afternoon and "is reviewing them thoroughly." A pdf file of the lawsuit can be found here (NBBL vs. NYCDOT) or at the end of the post.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the group Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes, which is backed by the former New York City DOT commissioner, Iris Weinshall, her husband, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, and a group of residents, many of whom live along Prospect Park. In legal papers, the group says says the city did not perform an environmental review, did not adequately collect data, and did not accurately measure the safety of the design changes after they were implemented. It seeks removal of the bike lane, and restoration of Prospect Park West to three lanes of automobile traffic and two lanes of parking, with no bike lane.
The two-way bike lane was approved by the local community board before it was installed.
Transportation Nation first broke the story of the Brooklyn lawsuit last month.
In a statement, city DOT spokesman Seth Solomonow said: “This project has clearly delivered the benefits the community asked for. Speeding is down dramatically, crashes are down, injuries are down and bike ridership has doubled on weekends and tripled on weekdays.”
DOT data has found crashes involving injuries are down 63%, speeding is down from 75% of cars to 20%, and cycling on the sidewalk down 80%. Solomonow said there has been no change in traffic volumes or travel times.
In legal papers, opponents of the bike lane suggest that data did not adequately sample crashes, and that the time period it reflects was chosen arbitrarily. They say that if the city had looked only at data immediately prior to bike lane installation, it would have shown the bike lane did not increase safety.
City Councilman Brad Lander, who represents much of the district, disputes that.
"Most neighborhood residents feel that Prospect Park West is now a calmer, safer street," said Lander. “The data shows that accidents, injuries, riding on the sidewalk, and speeding are all down. The DOT is proposing additional modifications – many suggested by community members – that will make PPW even safer. I hope that the lawsuit does not put these additional safety improvements at risk. Of course everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I believe this lawsuit disregards the opinions and jeopardizes the safety of the community."
A survey Lander did of 3000 residents found three quarters support the bike lane. Opponents said the survey is flawed.
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