Mend it — don’t end it!
That’s what Park Slopers are saying about the controversial Prospect Park West bike lane, which has been a lightning rod since it was installed in June.
Only 22 percent of residents responding to a survey sponsored by the neighborhood’s two councilmen said that the city should return the roadway to its original three-lane configuration.
Councilman Brad Lander, who prepared the study with Councilman Steve Levin, saw that as a slam dunk.
“There are deep and passionate feelings, but this survey reveals strong overall support from community residents,” said Lander.
Of the whopping 3,150 respondents to the survey, 54 percent that the roadway should remain as a two-lane street with a protected two-way bike lane against the parkside curb. And 24 percent favored that configuration, but with “some changes.”
The most-vehement opposition to the lane came from survey respondents who identified themselves as residents of Prospect Park West itself. Of those 272 respondents, 50 percent favor returning the roadway to its original configuration, while 31 percent favor retaining the new format and 18 percent favor doing so with “some changes.”
Overall, though, the clear majority of respondents reported that they feel safer walking and biking on Prospect Park West, which has long been described as a speedway for motorists, and a danger to pedestrians who were left to dodge cyclists on the wide sidewalk. Bikers said they feel safer now with their protected lane.
Indeed, 85 percent of survey respondents feel that the project has “very much” or “somewhat” met the goal of reducing speeding and 91 percent feel it has “very much” or “somewhat” met the goal of creating a safer space for biking.
A majority of respondents — 53 percent — did feel that it was harder for pedestrians to cross the bike lane because of its two-way configuration. And some complained that traffic had gotten worse on the strip.
“Taking away a lane of traffic has caused a lot of congestion,” said bike-lane opponent Mary Roelofs. “If someone double-parks, Prospect Park West turns into a one-lane road.”
The 13-question survey was collected online and in-person from Oct. 15 to 30, a period that included dueling protests on the lane .
Both councilmembers cautioned that the study is not scientific and is not “intended as a referendum on the project.”
That said the survey will provide the Department of Transportation with a powerful tool as it considers whether to make the changes permanent. The agency had released its own data earlier in the month showing that drivers are not speeding as much as they did before the lane was installed.
Agency commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan hailed both her report and the new neighborhood survey.
“The traffic volume, travel speed and bike lane usage data support this traffic-calming project, and it’s clear that the public supports it, too,” she said, adding that the city looks forward to making the lane “even better.”
Modifications could include redesigning the pedestrian crossings, raising the pedestrian buffer at intersections, and improving loading and unloading zones, which tend to cause congestion during summer weekends when many drivers drop off their athletically minded offspring for games in the park.
The findings are available at http://www.bradlander.com/ppwsurvey. The survey will be presented on Dec. 16 to Community Board 6 at its monthly Transportation Committee meeting at New York Methodist Hospital [506 Sixth St. between Seventh and Eighth avenues in Park Slope, (718) 643-3027].
©2010 Community News Group
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