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Stinging rebuke of Courier-Life anti-bike editorial!

The Brooklyn Paper
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The editorial board of our sister publication, Courier-Life, ran an editorial last week condemning the Prospect Park West bike lane, calling it “a ticking timebomb” and referring to its users as “over-empowered jerks in Spandex.”

At The Brooklyn Paper, we certainly encourage debate, but not when it is so egregiously ill-informed. So it falls upon us to set the record straight:

Complaints about the new, two-way protected bike lane, which runs from Grand Army Plaza to 15th Street, are mostly coming from drivers, who lost a lane for car travel on what was once a three-lane speedway.

To our thinking, helping bikers and inconveniencing motorists goes a long way towards rebalancing the scales that have long tipped in favor of those loud, powerful, dangerous four-wheeled machines.

The Courier editorial argued that reducing Prospect Park West to two lanes has not had the desired traffic-calming effect — but this is just wrong. Indeed, reducing the roadway by one lane has slowed-down cars — in fact, it slows them to a crawl whenever someone double-parks or drops off a kid at soccer practice. Just listen to the honking and you’ll know that drivers are upset.

But, make no mistake, double-parked cars are not the fault of selfish Spandex-clad cyclists, but of selfish drivers who can’t be troubled to pull into a side street or idle at a fire hydrant to let others pass.

Other complaints have come from some pedestrians who are not accustomed to looking both ways before crossing the one-way street. To be sure, speeding cyclists do pose a new challenge for these pedestrians, but it is only a matter of a time before everyone is comfortable with the new arrangement, and stroller-pushing parents or dog walkers learn to look both ways and cross at the green, not in between.

For all the hysteria in its first two weeks, the Prospect Park West bike lane has already solved many problems: it has gotten cyclists off the sidewalk, it has slowed down cars, it has turned Prospect Park West back into a neighborhood street instead of a thruway, and it has strengthened the connection between the park itself and the roadway that frames its western border.

We call that a win for everyone — except drivers, who have had it too good for too long.

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Reader Feedback

Marty Barfowitz from An Outer Borough says:
What?! A reasoned, thoughtful, wise Brooklyn Paper editorial of the "Mean Streets" genre?! I'm pleasantly stunned.
July 1, 2010, 8:33 am
Mike says:
Marty's right. The Paper's early coverage of this lane, before implementation, was clearly biased against it. Good to see they've come to their senses and realized this project is a benefit to the community.
July 1, 2010, 9:07 am
DriverPedestrianCyclist from Park Slope says:
The reality is, people who are oppose new bike lanes are going to make a lot of hysterical noise, but the many, many people who use, enjoy and support the lanes don't have a reason yell and scream about a new one. That doesn't mean supporters don't exist, though.

In addition to making the neighborhood streets safer for everyone, the lanes are another way for people to get to work and school, and to patronize businesses in nearby neighborhoods at a time when MTA fares are going up, service is being cut, and the economy is tough.

Drivers who swerve, honk and yell insults at people on bikes, and park or drive in the existing bike lanes--these things happen all the time--only make the argument and the political movement for separate bike lanes stronger. So: if you don't like bike lanes, don't drive like an a-hole!

The DOT does exhaustive studies and statistical analysis based on vehicle counts, speed measurements and accident stats to determine the viability of bike lanes, so they're not just based on a random whim or a theory. They are proven safer for all road users.

Also, the last time I checked, it's hard to park because there are too many cars, not because there are too many bikes.
July 1, 2010, 10:29 am
NotLycraCladNotSpeedingFemaleCyclist from Windsor Terrace says:
Thank you for this editorial, Brooklyn Paper! Although, as someone who's been using the new bike lane every day since it opened (and even before it opened), I have to say that I haven't seen a single speeding cyclist on it. I'm not saying that it will never happen, but I think it's time to put to bed the image of all cyclists as speeding, inconsiderate and spandex-clad. As as a matter of fact, I've never seen as many kids using a bike lane anywhere else.

Unfortunately, I had a reminder of the absolute necessity of the PPW protected bike lane yesterday, when biking North on 7th Ave. As I was carefully veering around a car pulling out of parking, the young male passenger of a car that passed me too closely, yelled out of his window: "get the f*** out of my way!".
July 1, 2010, 11:12 am
Eric McClure from Park Slope says:
Thank you, Brooklyn Paper, for this thoughtful, well-reasoned and spot-on editorial. I don't hesitate to tell you when I think you're wrong, so I'm happy to praise you when you're absolutely right -- as you clearly are about the Prospect Park West bike path.

Bravo.
July 1, 2010, 11:21 am
Ben from Prospect Heights says:
best editorial ever
July 1, 2010, 11:45 am
Tom Rorb from Red Hook says:
Well composed opinion here. Other papers could learn. I will say there is a very, very similar treatment in Montreal that works just fine. Also in Copenhagen. Also in Bogota. Also in....but why bother...it works just great!

All the folks against this are really not well informed. It took a 3 land speedway and calmed it. Pedestrians now have a shorter road to cross. Cyclists now - FINALLY - have a way to ride the opposite way of traffic on PPW safely, efficiently....and drivers STILL have two lanes. Two lanes are more than most roads in NYC, and the amount of cars driving on PPW could even get by with one more less!
July 1, 2010, 11:52 am
Larry Littlefield from Windsor Terrace says:
I use that lane almost every day on a bicycle, and find it a great improvement in my quality of life. I now have a relatively calm, safe route all the way to the Manhattan Bridge.

I don't expect much change when using the street as a driver either, save perhaps for less hostility from other motorists for traveling at a mere 30 mph.
July 1, 2010, 2:51 pm
ch from bh says:
i've used this bike lane three times already in just 10 days. BEST BIKE LANE IN THE CITY.

Every street and avenue should have it so good.

Watch out for Schumer on this. He's up to something. Marty's probably sending him some slush money to have a Federal law passed banning bike lanes in front of Senatorial residences.
July 1, 2010, 2:55 pm
David from Reality says:
How is it not a win for drivers? They are now less likely to kill and die on PPW; they have done both in the past. Do motorists dislike that?
July 1, 2010, 3:35 pm
Gary from Park Slope says:
As a resident of PPW, count me as a fan of the new configuration. This is a massive improvement for all users.
July 1, 2010, 3:38 pm
Charles from Midwood says:
Prosepct Park belongs to the people of the borough and the city in general. The residents of this upward community seem to think that they have the right to dictate, demand, and to deliver on all things that they prefer. It often seems that they ONLY WANT SLOPERS in the PArk. The Park now has an elaborate and long bike, and running, path... and the people from areas south of Brooklyn are told pretty much 'stay out with your cars'. The truth is that, at rush hour, cars may enter the park at Coney Island Ave. but MUST EXIT AT FLATBUSH AVENUE, turning that street into a bumper-to-bumper environmental disaster, which is apt to get even worse as development continues. With the 'Slopers' carrying the 'winning banner' of shutting the park to 'others', it is too much to also develop an out-of-park bike lane. Totally ridiculous. People living south of the Park no matter how athletic, are not biking into Manhattan. Sorry, ain't gonna happen... so those who need cars must use them or else deal with the inequiities of the ongoing spectre of the further demise of TA facilities. Enough is enough.
July 1, 2010, 4:58 pm
Charles from Midwood says:
Prosepct Park belongs to the people of the borough and the city in general. The residents of this upward community seem to think that they have the right to dictate, demand, and to deliver on all things that they prefer. It often seems that they ONLY WANT SLOPERS in the PArk. The Park now has an elaborate and long bike, and running, path... and the people from areas south of Brooklyn are told pretty much 'stay out with your cars'. The truth is that, at rush hour, cars may enter the park at Coney Island Ave. but MUST EXIT AT FLATBUSH AVENUE, turning that street into a bumper-to-bumper environmental disaster, which is apt to get even worse as development continues. With the 'Slopers' carrying the 'winning banner' of shutting the park to 'others', it is too much to also develop an out-of-park bike lane. Totally ridiculous. People living south of the Park no matter how athletic, are not biking into Manhattan. Sorry, ain't gonna happen... so those who need cars must use them or else deal with the inequiities of the ongoing spectre of the further demise of TA facilities. Enough is enough. Now watch the added bottlenecks on Prospecty Park Southeast and other streets. But, after all, the Slopers aren't living there.
July 1, 2010, 4:59 pm
Marina from Windsor Terrace says:
Dear Charles from Midwood,

You're right, Prospect Park belongs to all the people of the borough and the city in general. It is a large, green area where people go to relax, play with their kids, run and bike. It is NOT a shortcut for drivers to use to get to Manhattan and back.

I'm sorry you're upset that you have to wait in traffic at Flatbush Avenue. Nobody is telling you that you have to bike to Manhattan from Midwood (although some people do). But perhaps you'll consider joining most of Brooklyn's population in taking public transportation. That will save you aggravation of waiting in traffic jams and being part of environmental disasters, as you so eloquently coined it.

And lastly, why is it ridiculous to have a safe bike lane on PPW? The bike lane in the park only goes one way and for people who live South of the park (me included), it's the only safe way to bike North.
July 1, 2010, 5:24 pm
Eric McClure from Park Slope says:
Charles from Midwood,

Sorry you have to now drive the speed limit on Prospect Park West. Apologies for the inconvenience.
July 1, 2010, 7:39 pm
AnotherDriverPedestrianCyclist says from Park Slope says:
The reality is, people who are in favor of the new bike lanes are going to make a lot of hysterical noise, but the many, many people who don't use, enjoy and support the lanes don't have a reason yell and scream about a new one. That doesn't mean detractors don't exist, though.

In addition to making the neighborhood streets less safe for everyone, the bike lanes are another way to make it more difficult for people to get to work and school, and to patronize businesses in nearby neighborhoods at a time when MTA fares are going up, service is being cut, and the economy is tough.

Bikers who swerve, honk and yell insults at people in cars, and pedestrians only make the argument and the political movement against the bike lanes stronger. So: if you like bike lanes, don't drive like an a-hole!

The DOT has not in this case done any exhaustive studies and statistical analysis based on vehicle counts, speed measurements and accident stats to determine the viability of bike lanes, so they're just based on a random whim and a theory. They have not been proven safer for all users.

Also, the last time I checked, it's hard to park because because DOT has eliminated far more than the 22 spaces they claim.
July 1, 2010, 8:57 pm
Mike from park slope says:
For Eric McClure,

Is it too much to ask that bikers obey the law, drive courteously and respect the rights of non-bike riders and park users?
and before you get on your high horse, spend a half hour at the corner of smith and pacific---watch your biker brethren violate all traffic regulations, and then scream and curse at pedestrians.
or go into the park itself......count the bikers who do all of the above to the runners and pedestrians in the park.

You have a serious public relations problem-- maybe you should fix that before lecturing residents about what's best for our neighborhood.

Neighbor
July 1, 2010, 9:13 pm
John Huntington from Windsor Terrace says:
I rode the bike lane for the first time tonight and it's great! I'm also a motorist and I have no problem losing that lane. And, I often walk right across the park and have no problem with crossing cyclist traffic. My hat's off to the Brooklyn Paper for this great editoria!
July 1, 2010, 10:49 pm
Tim from Gowanus says:
I bike a few times a week from Gowanus to Riis Park to go for a swim. If I can do that people from south of the slope could easily bike all the way to Manhattan, and people from south brooklyn could easily bike to Prospect Park...

So get your fat-ass out of your car.. Or don't and you can die from lethargy and I won't have to listen to you —— about traffic..
July 2, 2010, 1:58 am
mike says:
Tim,

First, props to you for your impressive cycling ability---Gowanus to Riis Park---righteous!

Why can't every single person be like you? I'm going to march right up to that nursing home on PPW and get those folks moving! And mothers who have to drop their kids off at schools? whiners, all!!!
You go, tim!
July 2, 2010, 7:21 am
Eric McClure from Park Slope says:
Mike,

It's not too much to ask that cyclists obey the law and treat other street users with respect. I'm the first to admit that there are bad bikers, just as there are bad drivers.

That's one of the reasons that volunteers have been handing out "Biking Rules" in and around the park, which encourage cyclists to adhere to a street code for which the first rule is "always yield to pedestrians."

At the same time, let's also admit that speeding on PPW was a real problem. And that drivers kill some 150 to 200 pedestrians annually in NYC, and injure many, many more times that number. If drivers had obeyed the law and drove courteously on PPW, adhering to the 30 mph speed limit, there wouldn't have been a need to calm traffic.
July 2, 2010, 9:32 am
Brooklyn from Kensington says:
Mike,

Oh, that old saw -- the elderly and the children. The former is solved with a no-parking loading zone in front of 1 PPW (which may already exist); the latter solved by getting you and your kid's fat ass out of the car and not expecting door-to-door limo service to a school. There isn't ANYWHERE in park slope that isn't well-served by public transit (even after budget cuts), and it's by far one of the most walkable neighborhoods in the city.

Glad I figured that out for you.
July 2, 2010, 9:57 am
Suzanne from Ditmas Park says:
To Charles from Midwood:

You are sooooo wrong. I live in Ditmas Park (which is south of Prospect Park) and I bike every day to and from my job in Manhattan. I bought my bike recently and plan to use it as my main mode of transportation (I have copious "trunk space" on my bike to carry cargo, including my cats). I'm able to do this because the city has been building these lovely, pleasant and safe bike lanes.

Car drivers should thank every bicyclist they see - each bike takes up the space of about 1/10th of a car, which makes it easier for you to drive. New York desperately needs to create a more civilized and courteous driving/riding/walking climate. Getting more drivers out of their cars and onto bikes means there's less congestion which makes this much, much easier. But the vast majority of people are not going to do that unless it's actually safe to ride. That means building protected bike lanes.
July 2, 2010, 11:06 am
Laura from Park Slope says:
Hey, Brooklyn from Kensington:
I think your post exemplifies why some people have the wrong impression about what I hope is the majority of bike lane enthusiasts. Try to walk (or ride!) a mile in someone else's shoes. Clearly you don't have children. Clearly you are physically able to walk and ride. good for you. It's possible, just possible, that not everyone is like you are. Just sayin'
July 2, 2010, 12:11 pm
Crusty from Ditmas Park says:
Of course some bike riders are inconsiderate, dangerous morons. But they are not alone. Some car drivers are also inconsiderate, dangerous morons. I see no reason to believe the proportion of morons among bike riders exceeds the proportion among auto drivers.
July 3, 2010, 9:38 am
Scott Baker from Manhattan says:
In every vehicular-pedestrian encounter, speed is always a factor. Your chances of getting killed by a vehicle go up exponentially as the speed of the vehicle goes higher. Therefore, it makes sense to slow down cars. How? Speed limits are regularly flouted as drivers "keep up" with each other. Signs are ignored. One way is to make a mixed use street, with lanes for bikes, islands for pedestrians, and a general "livable street" bustle. This doesn't even slow overall trip time significantly, because cars practice hurry-up-and-wait, getting slow later in their journey as traffic bunches up again, after thinning earlier. We have to advance past the day of Car Domination, to make our streets an inviting place for everyone, for pedestrians, bikers, store owners (which cars just whiz by) and yes, even drivers. Neighborhoods should not be a place to pass through, they should be a place to live.
Jan. 15, 2011, 9:12 am
pete from windsor terrace says:


This WALKER supports the bike lane.
I've lived here 30 years.
Prospect Park West was nothing
but a drag strip.
The bike lane has improved PPW
in a variety of ways.
I can't believe the reaction by
by the car crowd.
They are selfish beyond belief.



March 13, 2011, 11:06 am

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