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Brad Lander

The Brian Lehrer Show

Taking Back the Gowanus Canal

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Leslie Albrecht, reporter for DNAinfo.com, talks about all the controversies surrounding the future of the Gowanus Canal, from disputes between the city and EPA over the ongoing cleanup process, to clashes between politicians and residents over planning future uses of the neighborhood.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

Rules for the New City Council

Monday, January 27, 2014

City Council deputy majority leader and chair of the Rules Committee (Brooklyn 39th) Brad Lander talks about his City Council leadership role and the progressive bloc's agenda.

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Transportation Nation

NYC Council Bill Calls for Citywide Bus Rapid Transit Network

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

WNYC

New York City's transit authority has introduced five Select Bus Service routes in recent years and proposed more than 20 others, but that's not enough for some supporters of faster buses who want to use legislation to speed the city's adoption of Bus Rapid Transit.

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Transportation Nation

Relief as Renovated Gowanus Station Re-Opens After 22 Months

Friday, April 26, 2013

Applause, giant ribbons, politicians and working escalators were in abundance Friday as MTA officials re-opened the Smith-9 Street subway station on the G and F lines after 22 months of renovations. But for area residents, the word most associated with the re-opening was "finally."

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WNYC News

Council Considers Ban of Credit Checks on Job Applicants

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Councilman Brad Lander said credit reports weren't designed to be a hiring tool, and they're not a good indicator of whether a person will be a good worker.

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WNYC News

Development Near Gowanus Canal Moves Forward After Sandy

Monday, November 26, 2012

WNYC

The Lightstone Group is moving ahead with plans to build a 700-unit apartment complex near the Gowanus Canal, even though the site flooded during Sandy.

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Transportation Nation

NYC Council Speaker Not Saying If She'll Back Traffic Crash Investigation Reform

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

(UPDATED)  New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn is remaining mum on whether she'll back legislation to reform the way the NYPD investigates traffic crashes.

"As with all legislation on the day that it's introduced," said Quinn, "it will be referred to committee, I will review it, and it'll make its way through the legislative process."

Several New York City Council members have introduced a package of legislation that would broaden the number of crashes the New York Police Department investigates.

Current NYPD policy is to investigate traffic crashes only if the victim is dead or has suffered a life-threatening injury. And only members of the 19-member Accident Investigation Squad can conduct those inquiries.

Some 243 people were killed in traffic crashes in 2011. A TN investigation found that in "all cases where a driver kills someone — pedestrian, cyclist, other motorists, themselves — forty percent of the time, there’s not even a traffic ticket."

Council Member Brad Lander, who's co-sponsoring 'The Crash Investigation Reform Act,' says too few officers are dedicated to crash investigation. "We can train a lot more people to do that investigation work who are patrol officers or regular precinct cops," Lander said.

The bills and resolutions introduced into City Council would also require the NYPD to investigate serious -- not just deadly -- crashes; create a task force analyzing how crashes are investigated; broaden the NYPD's crash statistic reporting; and require the NYPD to collect insurance and ID information from drivers who injure cyclists.

These proposed reforms come five months after a bruising City Council hearing where NYPD brass defended the department's procedures.

"A broad set of people came out of that hearing feeling really troubled," said Lander. He said that he, Peter Vallone, and Jimmy Vacca -- three council members who haven't always agreed on transportation issues -- see eye on eye on this one.

The NYPD did not return a request for comment.

 

 

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Transportation Nation

Transit-Poor Brooklyn Neighborhood To Get Some Bus Relief

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Riders on the B-61 (photo courtesy City Councilmber Brad Lander)

The B61 -- Red Hook's only bus line -- will get some additional bus service this spring. New York's MTA said at a committee meeting Monday that it will tweak the schedule and add service on the beleaguered line.

This change follows a report put out last month by Brooklyn Councilman Brad Lander that said buses on the route don’t come often enough -- and bunch up when they do. Lander said he was happy the MTA plans to add buses to the line, but added there's more that could be done to improve service.

"We're looking forward to sitting down and talking with them about the crowding, about all the long waits, about all the buses that are skipping stops, and the need for real-time bus information and some route changes," he said, "but this is an important first step."

The B61 goes from Windsor Terrace to downtown Brooklyn. The MTA, which monitors schedules and makes adjustments to bus service quarterly, will put two additional buses into service along the route during the afternoon rush hour. But that's not the only bus service change this spring. The agency is making 82 bus schedule changes on 63 different routes.  (See the list here, beginning on page 73 of the pdf.) Thirty-eight of those changes reflect increases in service frequency or running time. The remaining 44 represent reductions in frequency.

The changes go into effect in April.

 

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WNYC News

Subpoenas Withdrawn in Brooklyn Bike Lane Case

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

All subpoenas in the lawsuit against Brooklyn’s Prospect Park West bike lane have been withdrawn and the lawsuit is now awaiting judicial action. No new court dates have been set.

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Transportation Nation

Rallies and Rancor: Emails From the PPW Bike Lane Saga

Thursday, June 23, 2011

New York City Council member Brad Lander, flanked by Park Slope residents, on the steps of City Hall earlier this year (photo by Kate Hinds)

Wednesday was the first day of formal court hearings in Brooklyn's Prospect Park West bike lane case (see our coverage here for more information).  And as we reported, the judge adjourned the case for a month to give the group suing the city time to review the documents from a Freedom of Information Law request it made.

We are also looking at those documents. Here's the background:

Soon after Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes/Seniors for Safety (NBBL) filed a lawsuit earlier this year seeking the removal of the Prospect Park West bike lane, the group's attorney, Jim Walden, submitted a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request seeking all records AND /emails between New York City Council member Brad Lander and/or his staff and a group of known bike-lane supporters.

In a statement today, Walden said: “We are pleased that Justice Bunyan has given us adequate time to review the FOIL documents  - all 691 pages of them – that Councilmember Lander provided the night before today’s hearing. We are confident that we will find even more evidence that will help our case, given the close relationship between Councilmember Lander, DOT, and bike lane lobbyists."

Lander also provided Transportation Nation with copies of the emails.

It's no secret that the Brooklyn councilman is a longtime supporter of the PPW bike lane. He's filed an amicus brief in support of the New York City Department of Transportation (the agency being sued over the lane's installation), and he held a rally outside a Brooklyn courthouse Wednesday morning, just before the hearing. And an initial read of hundreds of pages of email correspondence between Lander and others, including members of Brooklyn's Community Board 6 and various bike advocates, provides a glimpse into Lander's strategy to advocate for the lane:  facilitate public displays of support for the lane, make the case that Prospect Park West is now safer for everyone, and keep hammering home the message that both the data -- and the majority of Park Slope residents -- support the lane.

Below, some excerpts of the correspondence.

Following a New York Times profile of embattled city DOT commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, Lander moved to quickly mobilize support both at the grassroots level and in City Hall.

3/6/11 email from Brad Lander to Aaron Naparstek (founder of Streetsblog and bike lane advocate) and Paul Steely White (executive director of Transportation Alternatives, also a bike lane supporter):

"Yesterday’s article obviously makes it even more imperative that we (a) win the April CB6 vote on PPW by a large margin, and (b) get the pedestrian islands poured quickly. So we’re planning to treat the next 5 weeks like a mini-political campaign. Looking forward to working with you guys on this. I'm sharing this separately with a very small number of other mutual friends. Please keep it within this very tight circle, and be mindful of what it will look like in court. : - )"

3/7/11 email from Brad Lander to Howard Wolfson (NYC deputy mayor):

"There is very strong majority support for the PPW bike lane in Park Slope….We did an online survey (CM Levin*, CB6, and me), to which over 3,000 people responded. 70% of Park Slopers (including PPW residents, who were evenly split) favor keeping the lane. The calls, letters, emails, hearing & rally turnout, comments on the street, facebook pages, etc all run strongly (about 2 to 1) in favor of the lane. I know this may be different than in other neighborhoods around the city; but, well, it is Park Slope...Assuming that the Community Board votes in favor next month, I'm asking City Hall support DOT (and the community board, and the councilman, and majority sentiment in the neighborhood) on this one."

*NYC Council member Stephen Levin

When the bike lane isn’t plowed, no one is happy – not even bike lane opponents.

1/23/11 email from Aaron Naparstek to Brad Lander:

“I’ve been asking around trying to figure out who is responsible for the PPW bike lane not being plowed for the second time in the last few weeks. I assumed it was Steisel* talking to some old friends in Sanitation. Tupper** – very off the record – says Marty*** has insisted that the PPW bike lane be the last street in Brooklyn that gets plowed and, for some reason, Sanitation is complying. Apparently not even Norman is happy with this. Tupper first asked Steisel if the lack of plowing was his doing. He said that the lack of plowing has actually made it harder for him to access his car and he doesn’t like it either.”

*Norman Steisel, former Deputy Mayor, former Sanitation Commissioner and member of Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes

** probably Tupper Thomas, the former head of the Prospect Park Alliance

*** Marty Markowitz, Brooklyn Borough President

Even if a few parking spaces are returned, the bike lane still probably won’t please the borough president:

2/7/11 email from Brad Lander to David Woloch (deputy commissioner of external affairs for the NYC Department of Transportation):

“I’m waiting for a response from Carlo* on whether Boro Hall will take part in my ‘let’s find a few parking space’ exercise. I was clear with him that the goal is to have it included in the CB6 resolution in favor of pouring concrete, but that Marty would of course be free to fulminate against the lanes until the end of time (or his term, whichever comes first).”

* probably Carlo Scissura, Marty Markowitz's chief of staff

About that survey: bike lane opponents were concerned about who would participate.

10/18/10 email from Lois Carswell (member of Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes) to Craig Hammerman (district manager of Brooklyn's Community Board 6); cc: Brad Lander

“But the larger concern is that anyone, anywhere can participate and receive consideration. The bike lobby is extremely well financed and organized. At the push of a button they can elicit hundreds if not thousands of responses from people who have never – and will never – cross the Brooklyn Bridge. This is something that is basically impossible to check. It is one thing to say that park users who do not like in Park Slope deserve to be heard, but to allow well organized bikers from anywhere in the city who have no intention of ever casting their eyes on Prospect Park West to influence the survey’s outcome is just plain wrong. None of these people have to live with the dangerous, congested conditions and the defacement of a magnificent boulevard that installation of the bike lane has caused. Responses of Park Slope residents—especially those in the Prospect Park West corridor—should be heavily weighted. The others should be heavily discounted, even though they might support the overarching agenda of a bureaucracy which does not have to live with the consequences of its actions.”

Sometimes Lander wanted to keep the more vocal bike lane supporters out of the spotlight:

3/8/11 email from Brad Lander to Aaron Naparstek and Paul Steely White (leading up to a press conference on the steps of City Hall):

“Can I make a somewhat sensitive request: For today, I think, it would be better to minimize the ‘radical bike extremists’ part of this story…so while it would indeed be great to have a few people at the presser, I’d like to keep the speaking to Park Slope leaders who have not already been tagged in this light…and I also think it makes sense (though I recognize this will read like a megalomaniac politician) to try to have people who reach out to TA*, Aaron, Streetsblog instead talk to me, Michael Cairl**, etc. (Sorry! I hope you know this is for the cause.”)

* Transportation Alternatives

** Michael Cairl is the president of the Park Slope Civic Council

Lander felt that opponents weren't just reacting to the bike lanes.

12/12/10 email from Brad Lander to Aaron Naparstek:

“On the one hand, there is a strong outer borough populist strain, which is what I think is strongest in the opposition, and lumps bikes, Bloomberg, Park Slope/UWS*, congestion pricing all in one big lump. SO it doesn’t help us much with this crowd that there is support in Park Slope for PPW. (And this is why I think it is hard to make Marty feel any pain on this: for him, culturally, this is an extension of the Atlantic Yards debate.)”

* Upper West Side of Manhattan

1/22/11 email from Brad Lander to Aaron Naparstek:

“Backlash is definitely more organic than that. Jimmy Oddo & Eric Ulrich & Lew Fidler & Dov Hikind & Jimmy Vacca* are all acting on their own here, none influenced by PPW. I think CQ** is very unlikely to get involved. It’s not only the physical manifestation of Bloomberg (though it is very much that), but it also links the things they hate about Bloomberg with the things they hate about Park/Slope/Upper West Side/liberals.”

* all are members of the New York City Council

** Christine Quinn, the Council speaker

It's not easy being one of the only elected officials who vocally supports the bike lane.

Despite his position as a bike lane standard bearer, at one point Lander seemed to be a bit piqued when he felt Transportation Alternatives had misrepresented his position on the bike lane as being lukewarm -- as shown in this 7/15/10 email from Brad Lander to Paul Steely White:

"We're very glad to get the pro-bike calls on the bike lanes, so that we will be able to report accurately that the calls are running strongly  in favor of the bike lanes. But I wouldn't mind also getting a bit of credit  with the TA crowd for being the only elected official who's been willing to stand up in support of this. Yes, I've tried to cover my flank a bit by asking for the data from the study period, and have tried to engage the NIMFY's* in an open spirit...but in every communication I've been straightforward about my support...so I certainly have not been winning any love from them! And as the only elected official I know of who's been willing to clearly express support...I'm taking plenty of their fire."

* Not In My Front Yard

And remember: other eyes may be reading.

3/9/11 email from Brad Lander to Eric McClure (founder of Park Slope Neighbors and a bike lane supporter),  Aaron Naparstek, Benjamin Fried (editor of Streetsblog), Paul Steely White, Michael Freedman-Schnapp and Rachel Goodman (latter two are staffers in Lander's office):

"One thing it made us fairly certain of: this email chain will be subpoenaed!"

3/11/11 email from Brad Lander to Paul Steely White:

"I'm optimistic, but not taking anything for granted. I've been talking with CB6 (and transportation committee members, and will keep doing so, over the next week until the committee vote, and over the next month until the CB6 vote...NBBL may, of course, also reach out to CB6 members, but I think all are very clear that the 'alternative' is no 'compromise' but in fact the elimination of the bike lane. We are working with CB6 on the 'find a few more parking spots' plan, which I think (rightly) has a much better chance of being seen as an appropriate additional modification to address some of the PPW resident concerns....

PS: Hello Jim Walden!”

 

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Transportation Nation

PPW Bike Lane Case: First Day Of Court Hearings

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

 

Kings County Supreme Court, where the Prospect Park West bike lane case is being heard (photo by Kate Hinds)

Today was the first day of formal court proceedings in the lawsuit seeking to remove Brooklyn's contentious Prospect Park West bike lane -- and it will be the last for a month.

The courtroom, on the fourth floor of the Kings County Supreme Court in downtown Brooklyn, was standing room only. After the case was called, half a dozen attorneys approached the bar -- two for the plaintiff, two for City Council Member Brad Lander, who filed an amicus brief in support of the bike lane, and two on behalf of New York City. They all spoke quietly to Justice Bert Bunyan, who interjected questions from time to time.

Most of the conversation was inaudible -- and after about ten minutes, it was over when the judge adjourned the case. The next court date in the case is July 20th.

Jim Walden, the attorney suing the city on behalf of Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes/Seniors for Safety, had asked for additional time to review documents given to him that morning by City Council member Brad Lander. Walden requested Lander's emails with the city DOT and bike lane advocates under the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) , and he said this morning he had been given 671 documents.

Lander, a longtime bike lane supporter, held a pro-bike lane rally on the steps of the courthouse before today's proceedings. He was not in the courtroom.

Afterward, in a courthouse hallway, Walden said: "the city is hiding something and they do not want us to find it. And we're not going to give up until we do."

Walden contends the city is withholding all the documents related to a study on the safety of the lane. The city, as well as Council Member Brad Lander, maintains that the bike lane was requested through Park Slope's community board, that the process of considering and installing it was transparent, that the lane has made the street safer for everyone, and that city's Department of Transportation had a "rational basis" for installing the bike lane and that the agency always said the lane was permanent and never considered a trial. But all of that is beside the point, the city says, because the lawsuit was filed too late.

This case was filed under Article 78 proceedings, which has a four-month statute of limitations. The bike lane was installed in June 2010; the lawsuit seeking the lane's removal was filed eight months later.

Walden isn't convinced.

"Somebody had the bright idea to say crashes went down 16 percent when they really went up," he said. " Someone had the bright idea to say injuries went down 21 percent when they really went up. ... someone made that decision, and they're holding back the documents and keeping them secret. That is fundamentally inconsistent with the city's obligations."

Last month, city attorney Mark Muschenheim told Transportation Nation "we've already provided much of what they wanted through FOIL." A spokesman for the city DOT also said today that they've already produced "thousands" of documents.

When asked why he had FOILed Lander's emails, Walden said:  "We believe clearly, given his own public statements, that the DOT told him in no uncertain terms it was a trial program, it was a trial bike lane. The city is now claiming that it was never a trial. It's the great bait-and-switch from the City of New York. They called it a trial so people wouldn't sue right away, they said they were going to conduct a study. Now in their papers they say the study never mattered. No matter what the study said, we were going to have a final decision to have the bike lane. So a thousand people could die, apparently, (and) according to the city's paper, that wouldn't matter. So we certainly hope the documents -- I can't say they'll put the lie to the city's position, because it's already clear that it's based on lies, but it will further buttress the notion that the city's playing games in the litigation."

Mark Muschenheim, the attorney who is arguing the case on behalf of the city, said in an emailed statement:  "The petitioners have been unable to refute the key legal issues in the case. Their lawsuit was brought after the statute of limitations had expired. Even if it weren’t filed too late, the bike path was clearly a reasonable and rational response by the city to community concerns, the sole legal standard for this case. In addition to enhancing Brooklyn's bike lane network, the installation of the bike path successfully addressed excessive speeding on Prospect Park West, as well as the high numbers of cyclists riding on the Prospect Park West sidewalks. The plan was revised several times with the input of the local community -- and it was, from the beginning, a permanent project to address these concerns."

The city also included in its email an affidavit from Joshua Benson, the director of the NYC DOT's bicycle and pedestrian programs. In it Benson said he attended an April 2010 Community Board 6 meeting and that "I distinctly recall one of the representatives stating that the PPW Project would be a trial project, and I immediately corrected this publicly by stating that the PPW Project was not a trial project, but that after its installation it would be monitored with adjustments made as deemed appropriate. In fact, I do not recall anyone at DOT stating that the PPW Project was a trial or pilot project, unlike other DOT projects that are so identified."

On his way to the elevator, Walden asked a city attorney if Lander was going to be in court on July 20th -- "because if he's not, I want to know because we're going to subpoena him. "

 

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WNYC News

Schools Chancellor Walcott Grilled by City Council About Teacher Layoffs

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

City Council members grilled Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott on the city's plan to eliminate 6,100 teaching positions — most through layoffs — during a contentious hearing Wednesday. 

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Transportation Nation

Community Board Unanimously Supports Prospect Park West Bike Lane, With Changes

Thursday, April 14, 2011

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation)  Park Slope's community board six voted unanimously yesterday evening to support the bike lane along Prospect Park West, with modifications.

This is now the third local community board vote supporting the bike lane. In New York, community boards are elected to advise the city, mostly on community planning issues.  Though they have little direct authority, their decisions are meant to express community will to city government.

The board voted to support modifications  to the lane recommended by the NYC DOT: including creating additional parking spaces, raised pedestrian islands, bike rumble strips and clearer signage.

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The lane has drawn opposition from some prominent local residents, including the former City Transportation Commissioner, Iris Weinshall, and her husband, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, who live along Prospect Park West.  A group formed to file a lawsuit to remove the lane, Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes, is charging the city manipulated safety data.

Jim Walden, the attorney for the plaintiffs, isn't backing down in his dismissal of the community boards recommendation.

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Transportation Nation

In Case You Missed It: Bike Lane Poll Shows Remarkable Stability in Opinion

Monday, April 04, 2011

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation)  In case you missed it over the weekend (what, on a beautiful Saturday you weren't plunked in front of a screen?), here's my analysis of the poll Jim Brennan released on Brooklyn's Prospect Park West bike lane.  (Never has a mile of roadway been so parsed.  But anyway.)

Essentially, its results are identical to the Brad Lander survey taken in December.  That shows a remarkable steadiness in public opinion, despite heated coverage in almost every form of media, and noisy and vehement arguing on both sides.

The bike lane remains the choice of the plurality of respondants...and if you add in those who want to keep it with (unspecified) changes, that turns into a big majority.

The analysis is here.

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Transportation Nation

On PPW Bike Lane: They Like It. They Really Like It.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation)  The most interesting thing about Assemblymember's Jim Brennan's scientific poll of people living in neighborhoods around Prospect Park is how remarkably consistent opinion is on the two-way, protected bike lane.  It was installed last June, reducing automobile traffic from three lanes to two.  But there has been noisy discussion around it -- and a lawsuit to remove it -- ever since.

When Councilmember Brad Lander did a 3000-person survey back in December, 49 percent of respondents said they wanted to keep the bike lane as is, 22 percent said they wanted to keep it with changes, and 29 percent said they wanted to remove it.

When Brennan hired a national polling firm to do a statistically significant survey of how some park-bordering communities felt, 44 percent of respondents said keep it as is, 25 percent said it should be altered in some way,and 28 percent wanted to remove it.

Thus, in December of 2010, 71 percent of those surveyed wanted the bike lane to remain, 30 percent did not.  Today, 69  percent of respondents want the bike lane to remain (albeit some want changes) while 29 percent wanted it removed.  That difference is minuscule, and certainly well with the margin of error on Brennan's poll, 4.5 percentage points.

Given all the press that the lawsuit against the bike lane has gotten -- and all the opportunities for both sides to make their arguments, the sentiment has been remarkably consistent.  Nothing is moving these numbers.

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"This is only the most recent proof that bike lanes and this particular bike lane are and is popular,” Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson told me in in a telephone interview. “Sixteen points is a pretty overwhelming margin. If you have a sixteen point electoral victory they call it a landslide.” (Wolfson, having been a top aide in Hillary Clinton's campaign for President, knows something about elections.)

But if this were an election campaign, it's almost impossible to think of numbers holding like this.   Some public officials have been loudly and vocally berating bike lanes -- the lanes have literally become a punch line.  The tabloids have run anti-NYC DOT headlines for days in a row.  Even the NY Times and NY Magazine have raised the question of whether bike lanes can turn New Yorkers against Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Apparently not.  The Lander survey -- not scientific, but sampling a broad range of opinions using an array of techniques, the Brennan poll, and a recent Quinnipiac poll showing overall, 54 percent of New Yorkers say bike lanes are "a good thing" vs. 38 percent who do not -- would seem to indicate that, actually, bike lanes are one of the more popular things Mayor Bloomberg has done.  (His education numbers by contrast, show only about a third of New Yorkers approve what he's doing in the schools.)

Now, this doesn't mean there isn't dissent.  The Brennan poll probed depths of feeling, and found that both sides felt strongly about their positions, but more of those who are opposed felt strongly in their position.  That's exactly the kind of feeling that gives rise to angry testimony at the city council, lobbying of elected representatives, and, even lawsuits.

But apparently, these strongly held beliefs are not persuading people on the other side.

Now, there were some interesting secondary questions in the poll.   More people than not said  the bike lane made traffic, presumably automobile traffic, worse.  But that's what the members of Community Board were aiming for -- cars were speeding, they wanted them to slow down, they thought trimming Prospect Park West to two automobile lanes from three would have that effect. In general, slower speeds are experienced as more traffic-- whether you like to drive,walk, or bike.

What would be really interesting to know, and traffic engineers have studied this in elsewhere ,is whether making Prospect Park West a less auto-friendly street has affected the overall volume of automobile traffic in Park Slope.

Gridlock Sam one related to me a tale of how, when the West Side Highway fell down, he and the other engineers at City DOT were convinced that surrounding streets would be inundated with traffic -- and they were, for a while. But as they studied the traffic patterns over time what they found was that traffic was dispersing through the grid, and that a full 1/3 of it simply disappeared altogether as people switched to other modes.

A highway, former Milwaukee Mayor John Norquist once argued to me, draws traffic.In fact, because drivers will go out of their way to take a route they see as faster. But if you remove a highway (as he did) it doesn't mean 40,000 cars traveling on the highway will suddenly be plunked down into the surrounding streets.  Ultimately, what happened in Milwaukee is that traffic volume dropped as cars dispersed around the street grid.

Was Prospect Park West functioning in the same way, pre-bike lane,when it was faster to drive on?  Were drivers going out of their way to take PPW versus, say, Seventh Avenue, two blocks over, a notoriously slow commercial street?  (PPW is mostly residential.)

But back to the poll.  Jim Walden, the attorney for the group suing to remove the bike lane, was clear in his dismissal of this poll:  "Safety is not a popularity contest," he said.

But he couldn't resist parsing the numbers, anyway.

"Pedestrians feel less safe crossing Prospect Park West, as this poll decisively shows.  But DOT's own data tell the same story, and the numbers don't lie:  people feel less safe because they are less safe.  In the end, safety is not a popularity contest.”

The poll does not decisively show pedestrians feel less safe:  It shows most of the respondents -- a plurality -- feel neither safer nor less safe.  In fact , 44 percent either feel no impact  (38 percent) , or aren't sure (6 percent).  Thirty three percent feel less safe, and 22 percent feel safer.

The lawsuit argues that the DOT manipulated safety data to make it look as if the bike lane were making the street safer.

Some other interesting numbers -- two thirds of respondents said they owned a car that they used regularly, while only a third said they biked regularly.  Which means that drivers are for the bike lane in pretty big numbers.

Unfortunately, the poll didn't ask a follow up question to the 25 percent who said they were "in favor of altering the bike lane and traffic pattern to address driver and pedestrian concerns," so its impossible to know what those people meant -- putting in pedestrian signals, islands, and adding parking spaces, as Councilman Lander has advocated?  Make the bike lane one-way, instead of two way, as some bike lane opponents have articulated?

The battle now really does move to the courts, as the court of public opinion seems to have weighed in.  The first hearing is scheduled for May 18.

Except, somehow, I'm guessing we haven't heard the last word.  From anyone.

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Transportation Nation

Backlash to the Bike Lane Backlash

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

New York City Council member Brad Lander, flanked by Park Slope residents Joanna Oltman Smith, Eric McClure, and Michael Cairl, on the steps of City Hall

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) A day after opponents filed a lawsuit against the New York City Department of Transportation to compel the removal of Prospect Park West's bike lane, supporters of the lane gathered on the steps of City Hall.

City Council member Brad Lander, who represents Park Slope, said the the lane had gone through years of community review and process before being built.

"A small group of opponents  have chosen to bring a baseless lawsuit in an effort to block further safety improvements, to eradicate the lane, to go back to three lanes of traffic on Prospect Park West—the speedway that it was before—and essentially to impose their will on the community through lawsuit,” he said.

Transportation Nation nation first reported on the lawsuit last month.

Lander said a survey of neighborhood residents showed that the majority support the new street design. Out of the 3,150 people who responded, 54% like the bike lane as-is; 24% want some changes, and 22% want to revert to the street's previous configuration. Lander said he was impressed with the response to the survey. “I think if we offered free money at our office we wouldn’t get 3,000 people," he said, "so there’s real passion on this issue.” The survey can be found here.

Michael Cairl, the president of the Park Slope Civic Association, said that his group supported the lane and that its installation had made the street safer. "Prospect Park West before the reconfiguration had been a speedway," he said. "It was unsafe to cross, it was unsafe to cycle on, it wasn’t all that safe to drive on.” New York City Department of Transportation says that data shows crashes involving injuries are down 63%, speeding is down from 75% of cars to 20%, and cycling on the sidewalk is down 80%.

But Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes and Seniors for Safety, which is bringing the suit, say that data has been manipulated and the city's actions were "arbitrary, capricious, and contrary to the civil and criminal laws of the State of New York." In a statement today, the group's attorney, Jim Walden, says:

"Everyone should be concerned about DOT's misuse of the data. Everyone. This case is about a government agency wrongfully putting its thumb on the scale by fudging the data and colluding with lobbyists. That is not what 'public integrity' means. Some people on both sides of the issue are affluent and have political connections. So, the continuous, one-sided name-calling is hardly appropriate. But, more importantly, it keeps people from focusing on the real issue in the case, which I suspect is the true aim."

But Gary Reilly, the chair of the environmental committee of Community Board 6, said he couldn't count the number of meetings that the DOT had with CB6.  "And at various steps in the process, DOT has come back and taken input from the community, absorbed lessons from the survey, taken a look at the safety results, and looked at ways to tweak and make this project better at every step along the way."

Separately Tuesday, following a wave of coverage critical of city DOT chief Janette Sadik-Khan, the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, the Straphangers Campaign, Transportation Alternatives, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Pratt Center for Community Development said they would stage a rally at City Hall Wednesday morning "to Thank City for 3+ Years of Transportation Improvements."

And on Thursday, Brooklyn's Community Board 6 will hold a meeting about proposed revisions to the bike lanes.

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Transportation Nation

Residents File Lawsuit To Remove Bike Lane

Monday, March 07, 2011

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.

NBBL vs. NYCDOT

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WNYC News

Brooklyn Residents Say MTA Platform Closures Leave Them Stranded

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

WNYC

Brooklyn City Councilmember Brad Lander said platform closures in Windsor Terrace and Gowanus, coupled with bus route cuts that went into effect last spring, mean some Brooklyn residents are stuck with few transit options.

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WNYC News

Survey Shows Support for Park Slope Bike Lane

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

WNYC

A new survey of some 3,000 Brooklyn residents finds that, 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.

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Transportation Nation

A NYC Councilman Plays the Bubbe Card

Thursday, November 11, 2010

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) As part of its Safe Streets for Seniors program (see detailed project PDF here),  the NYC Department of Transportation is in the process of installing "pedestrian refuge islands" on Fort Hamilton Parkway in Brooklyn's Borough Park.  The islands drew some community ire, which was then gleefully covered by favorite Streetsblog bête noire, CBS's Marcia Kramer. In an attempt to get everyone to dial down the rhetoric, New York City Councilman Brad Lander, who represents the neighborhood, wrote an op-ed in last Friday's Hamodia that caught our eye (It Could Be Your Bubbe or Zeide: How We Can Make Fort Hamilton Pkwy. Safer).

He writes: "The goal of these islands is to keep any more of our grandparents — or anyone else — from getting seriously injured or killed. In a world with terrorism and crime, hunger and homelessness, maybe we should save our “outrage” for something other than an effort to keep pedestrians safe." Put that way, the DOT is doing a mitzvah!

Read Lander's op-ed below.

Fort Hamilton Parkway Op-Ed

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