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New survey says people like — though some fear — the bike lane

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The survey says — again! — that Park Slopers like their controversial bike lane.

Forty-four percent of residents favor keeping the two-way cycle path on Prospect Park West exactly the way it is, while just 28 percent want it removed, according to a new poll conducted by Assemblyman Jim Brennan (D–Park Slope) and released late on Friday.

Another 25 percent favor keeping the bike lane, but “altering it to respond to pedestrian and driver concerns,” the survey revealed.

Since its installation in July, the two-way lane has been an ever-burning bush of controversy. Drivers have complained that the removal of one lane of car traffic has made for unhappy motoring, while some pedestrians say they feel less safe crossing a one-way street only to encounter a row of parked cars and then a two-way bike lane.

Cyclists have been pleased with the lane.

The findings in Brennan’s survey — compiled from phone interviews on March 27 and 28 with 500 Park Slope and Windsor Terrace residents — reflect the many opinions on the matter. For example:

•62 percent of people who bike regularly want to keep the lane as it is, while 32 percent of non-bicyclists and 27 percent of non-bike-owning drivers have the same opinion.

• 48 percent of respondents said the lane was a change for the better, while 32 percent said it was a change for the worse.

• Younger people like the bike lane more. Fifty-nine percent of people under 50 support the lane while only 36 percent of people over 50 support it. Younger residents also favor keeping the bike lane as is, while 25 percent of older residents are in favor of changing it and 39 percent want to get rid of it entirely.

• Half of survey respondents feel that the bike lane has reduced speeding on Prospect Park West, but a plurality of residents — 44 percent — feel that traffic flow is worse, and more than half of drivers — 54 percent — think traffic flow is worse.

• 33 percent of all respondents feel less safe crossing Prospect Park West, while 22 percent feel safer.

Such findings are part of the reason that the city is moving ahead with slight changes to the bike lane, including “rumble strips” to warn cyclists of upcoming intersections, but those moves apparently don’t go far enough for Brennan.

“I am reluctant to endorse the bike lane as is, and would prefer that the city continue to study the elimination of the two-way lane or [moving] the bike lane to the righthand side of Prospect Park West [as] an ordinary bike lane,” he said in a statement. “That would enable the reduction of three travel lanes to two to continue, but lessen concerns about safety from the unusual bike lane with a parking lane separated from the curbside.”

Bike lane supporters drove right over Brennan’s argument.

“The results of his own survey do not support that position,” said Eric McClure of Park Slope Neighbors. “The lane has resulted in improvements in safety and the reduction in speeding and injuries.”

And, McClure added, a one-way, southbound-only route would leave northbound cyclists back where they started from — once again increasing the likelihood of bicycling on the sidewalk.

An opposition group focused on a key part of the study — pedestrian safety.

“Pedestrians feel less safe crossing Prospect Park West, as this poll decisively shows,” said Jim Walden, attorney for Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes and Seniors for Safety, which is the city to force the removal of the lane. “And people feel less safe because they are less safe.”

City statistics show that there have been no injuries to pedestrians or cyclists since the lane was installed, down from an average of one injury every two months.

Brennan’s results offer some similarities to a study published last year by Councilman Brad Lander (D–Park Slope). As such, he cheered the latest poll.

“I am pleased to see how closely the results of Assemblyman Brennan’s poll mirror the results of the 3,000-person community survey that my office conducted in October,” he said. “The results show that the community generally supports the Prospect Park West traffic-calming project and bike lane.”

Complete survey results will be posted on Assemblyman Brennan’s website at www.assembly.state.ny.us/mem/James-F-Brennan.

Updated 11:49 am, April 4, 2011: An earlier version of this online story misspelled "rumble strips."
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Reader Feedback

Steve from PPW says:
Good try Brennan and Jim Walden, but Park Slope likes safer streets. As much as Louise Hainline may want it to go away, this poll just reconfirms earlier polls. Walden can spin it anyway he wants, but people are safer on Prospect Park West now than they were before.
April 2, 2011, 7:01 am
mike from GP says:
Nice try Assemblyman Brennan, but you lost the argument. Grow a backbone and support your community and life-saving traffic calming projects like PPW.
April 2, 2011, 8:25 am
Brooklyn Dad from Park Slope says:
It's pathetic that the so-called Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes can't find an actual member of the community to speak up on its own behalf at in public forums and in the press. It's bizarre that they hide behind this attorney, Jim Walden.
April 2, 2011, 9:11 am
Eric McClure from Park Slope says:
Actually, it's likely that the people who say they feel less safe are saying that because Walden, his clients and their PR firm have spent the past five months trying to convince them of it. The fact is they're now more safe. Speeding, the #1 cause of injury and death in crashes, is down 75%. There hasn't been a single pedestrian injury on PPW since the redesign was implemented. The roadway crossing is shorter and bikes are now off of the sidewalks and predictably within the bike path.

It almost seems that opponents are wishing for people to get hurt so they can say, see, we told you so.
April 2, 2011, 9:49 am
Mike says:
Worth repeating this VERY salient fact, which is buried near the bottom:

"City statistics show that there have been no injuries to pedestrians or cyclists since the lane was installed, down from an average of one injury every two months."
April 2, 2011, 10:43 am
Steve from PPW says:
"It almost seems that opponents are wishing for people to get hurt so they can say, see, we told you so."

Bingo. The minute there's an accident Louise Hainline will send the tape to Marcia Kramer.
April 2, 2011, 11:48 am
Andrew from Williamsburg says:
They're called rumble strips, not rubble strips.
April 2, 2011, 12:33 pm
Jacob from Prospect Heights says:
Is this still in the news? The deeper everyone digs, the more and more the obvious truth is revealed: people like the new PPW.

Efforts to oppose it are sounding more and more desperate and out of touch. Happy walking and biking, everyone!
April 2, 2011, 1:24 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
This still doesn't change the stance from NBBL. Don't forget that Louise Hainline did put up a camera that shows the bike lane on a daily basis, and she will use the footage to prove her point that it's hardly used on a regular basis. After she shows what was recorded, we will then see if it really is used normally or not.
April 2, 2011, 4:15 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I did not write that comment at 4:15 PM because I was out running errands. Who is the imposter who is trying to say things that I would never say? I hope Hainline does not record the bike lane on nice days because that will prove the bikers point that it's used all the time by lots of riders. That should not be shown at all if NBBL wants to win their case. I pray for Louise Hainline to win so all the people who are using the bike lane have to ride in traffic like cars and pedestrians have to do.
April 2, 2011, 5:51 pm
J from Park Slope says:
This whole saga needs to be over. Louise Hainline, Lois Carswell, Iris Weinshall, Norman Steisel, to name four people, could make that happen by realizing that their lawsuit has no merit and they are suing against the wishes of the community. I know they believe the DOT lied, but do they honestly believe that the vast majority of their neighbors are idiots?

The street is safer now and people love the lane. I was out there today and it was packed with kids, parents, and all kinds of riders. Not a cyclist on the sidewalk either, so all the pedestrians who were out enjoying the day were safe, too.

Why on earth would Hainline and Carswell keep pushing this? Do they care so little for their neighbors? Aren't there any current or former members of NBBL who will put a stop to their lawsuit? We don't need another dollar wasted on this non-existent controversy.
April 2, 2011, 10:04 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
For the record, I was not at my computer at 5:51 PM. I was seeing a film known as Matchmaker over at my local art theater, which started at 5 PM. Nice try whoever you are. I am rooting for NBBL all the way, and they will have the videos to prove their statement. BTW, there was no law against her placing that camera, so Hainline did nothing wrong.
April 2, 2011, 10:35 pm
Dave from Park Slope says:
Actually, J, they don't even remotely believe that DOT lied. They know that DOT's data is totally solid, but since reality isn't on their side, they need to latch on to something.

They should be ashamed. They need to drop the lawsuit. Do they care enough about their neighborhood to do that? Not likely.
April 3, 2011, 12:21 am
Resident from PPW says:
Just curious, as a Prospect Park West resident who attempts to keep with the latest news, facts and rumors on this topic I have never heard of Assemblymen Jim Brennan (who I guess is my assemblymen) so what kind of poll did he take and how was the community notified that a poll was being taken on this topic?

Also, what questions were asked in this poll? Did the option of extending the bicycle track inside the park to make it two way and ban the cars appear in the poll?
April 3, 2011, 6:14 am
Other Michael from Park Slope says:
It should also be noted that the phone survey was only answered by land lines. One can draw their own conclusions but that means that the sample of people who responded would be likely to be older.
April 3, 2011, 6:46 am
Other Michael from Park Slope says:
and the article says "Drivers have complained that the removal of one lane of car traffic has made for unhappy motoring...." Who are these drivers?

Or is the Brooklyn Paper just reprinting what NBBL says?
April 3, 2011, 6:48 am
Tyler from PPS says:
Resident, it was a professional poll with a sample size of 500 within the two zip codes adjacent to PPW. The details are here. (The PDF of the poll results is linked in the first paragraph.)

http://www.streetsblog.org/2011/04/01/jim-brennan-poll-finds-3-2-margin-of-support-for-ppw-redesign/
April 3, 2011, 9:04 am
Tyler from PPS says:
I drove my car down PPW on Thursday night during rush hour (at about 6:10) -- it wasn't even that busy, never mind problematic. NBBL is really good at exaggerating nonexisting problems.
April 3, 2011, 9:06 am
Or from Yellow Hook says:
So if the laws covering bike riding were enforced, everyone would be happy!

I see a simple solution - enforce the bike laws.
April 3, 2011, 9:59 am
bklynpol from park slope says:
There is wonderful irony in the picture at the head of this article. As you look down the two lane bike path toward GAP, you will see two bicyclists riding side by side, one going the wrong way down the lane. How brilliant! It says it all.
April 3, 2011, 10:49 am
johanna from Park Slope says:
Hello Bklynpol. Have you ever heard of common sense? Do you jay walk? do you ever cross a street when you see no cars anywhere for miles? The bike lane is a two way lane but the right hand side has more choppiness and roughness to it for some reason, the street is the way it is. So the right hand side (going toward Grand Army Plaza from South Slope) is more bumpy. When you see there are no bikes coming your way, you ride on the other lane. When you see a bike coming, you switch back over. In addition, many families have been using the bike lane and have their 10 year olds on bikes with them. They take up both lanes. Nobody cares. The point of the bike lane is to give riders a place outside of the fatally dangerous traffic. Tell me that you have never jay walked and I'd be happy to never vary my lane on the two way path.
April 3, 2011, 11:20 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I would like to know who was surveyed for this. Also, some surveys tend to ask very vague and sometimes biased questions. If someone said no to the bike lane, they were probably considered being either against change or against the environment. Crains has a history of using biased surveys in favor of developers. It's a good thing that we live in a country that doesn't do everything just because it's popular, which is what James Madison mentioned in Federalist No. 51. Should we have not abolished slavery if the majority of those being surveyed said no? Would it be wrong to have women's rights if majority said no? Maybe it would be wrong to have civil rights and integration if majority said no. Then again, maybe if people were surveyed about Israel's right to exist as a nation, many will probably say no, and the same might say the same thing about the WNBA. It just shows that how biased surveys can be.
April 3, 2011, 11:51 am
Dave from Park Slope says:
@bklynpol,

"Going the wrong way?" Are you joking? It looks to me from the photo that it's two cyclists heading in opposite directions. And regardless, it could be one passing the other. Should we not allow passing? I'm okay with that if we apply the same standard to cars.
April 3, 2011, 12:14 pm
al pankin from downtown says:
why is this city spending needed tax dollars for bike lanes when they are not properly fixing the roads and bridges, layings off teachers, cutting bus and train service, sending acess-a-ride vans from queens to staten island carrying one passenger and charging $2.25 per ride each way. where does this tax money come from...some tax fairy? everyones project is "special"....maybe if taxes were reduced across the board these fools we elect won't have the money to waste.
April 3, 2011, 1:47 pm
Jax from Park Slope says:
If I'm not mistaken, the main goal of the bike lane was to make PPW safer, by slowing traffic. That bikers get a safe bike lane is almost a side note. I feel incredibly safer crossing since the installation of the lane, and I cross PPW at least 6 times a day. I was concerned about speeding bikers in the bike lane but the spandex-clad riders who seem to have no regard for others rarely use it and I've had no close calls--bikers aren't flying through and are able to slow or otherwise accommodate pedestrians.

I live on a corner of it and have not had problems other than double-parkers causing others to honk, and that happens on most roads (and perhaps should be ticketed more).

I'd also like to add that I'm riding my bike significantly more because of this one additional bike lane. Love it.
April 3, 2011, 2:13 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
After much thought, I've decided to change my stance and support bike lanes everywhere. Especially in Pleasantville.
April 3, 2011, 2:50 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I could not have written the post at 2:50pm because I was busy alphabetizing my socks. It is shocking that so many people from Streetsblogs and Transalts are busy faking my name. It must be because they are afraid that I will convince people of my positions. I think it was probably Mark Gorton saying it, as James Madison mentioned in Federalist No. 51. Or Bruce Ratner upset by how effective I was in opposing Atlantic Yards. In any case, just as Israel has the right to exist as a nation and the WNBA has the right to exist as a professional (not to mention sexy) sports league, I have the right to post my opinions over and over again.
April 3, 2011, 5:23 pm
Other Michael from Park Slope says:
Tal

Here is a link to the Data

http://www.streetsblog.org/wp-content/pdf/brennan_ppw_toplines.pdf

Since only voters who had land lines were interviewed. They wold be likely to be older than the average Park Sloper.
April 3, 2011, 5:45 pm
Mike says:
According to this post, they did actually call some cell phones, but a big majority of interviews were on land lines.

http://transportationnation.org/2011/04/01/breaking-poll-plurality-favors-keeping-prospect-park-west-bike-lane-as-is/
April 3, 2011, 6:02 pm
Spartacus from Ancient Rome says:
I am Tal Barzilai.
April 3, 2011, 8:08 pm
Other Michael from Park Slope says:
^like^
April 3, 2011, 8:29 pm
Howard from Park Slope says:
The problem with the statement from Jax and so many others, plus of course the findings of all these studies, is that they confuse the issue with facts. Of course there is less traffic, it is moving more slowly, there are fewer accidents and fewer injuries. After all, that was the intention. But there we go again, confusing the issue with facts. The solution is obvious: rip up the bike lane and roadway, ban all motor vehicles, bring back horse drawn trollies, and recruit NBBL to keep the dirt covered street clean of horse poop (since they have already shown their expertise in using such, er, um, produce in addressing the current conversation).
April 3, 2011, 9:40 pm
Tim from Windsor Terrace says:
And it's ridiculous to just poll Park Slope residents. That street doesn't belong only to them. Yes it passes through their neighborhood and they have to deal with issues related to the bike lane that others don't. So yes, there opinion counts quite a bit. But don't users outside the neighborhood get to weigh in? We must often pass through Park Slope somehow to get where we're going.

If only take into account those who in Park Slope instead of all stakeholders you get a skewed vision.

If you polled only PPW residents about concerts at the band shell you'd get a very skewed opinion of their popularity. Likewise with polling only Slopers about this bike lane
April 3, 2011, 9:42 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Sorry Other Michael, but I don't take Streetsblog funded statements as evidence. If anything, it only makes me more suspicious. Then again, it if it wasn't in their favor, they would probably say it was biased to them. Also, a select group that was polled doesn't represent everybody, which is what we all know as elitism.
April 3, 2011, 10:36 pm
Other Michael from Park Slope says:
Tal,

Then go find the data for yourself, but that is the raw data. Better yet, come look at the bike lane. Have you ever seen it?
April 3, 2011, 10:48 pm
Mike says:
No, he hasn't.

Tal, this is not a "Streetsblog funded statement". Enough paranoia already. It's the raw data from the poll as released from Brennan's office.

What a fascinating definition of elitism: in this case, a random sampling of voters, conducted by an opponent of the bike lane, turned out to backfire on him because it found strong support for it. What's elitist about that?!

Here's the complete results, as linked from WNYC:
http://www.scribd.com/full/52096514?access_key=key-2ow48fpc0s70cysrbvnl
April 3, 2011, 11:25 pm
Joey from Clinton Hills says:
when was the last time Jim Walden passed a solid stool?
April 4, 2011, 10:49 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Mike, anything from Streetsblog is usually biased towards them be it funded or not. I know that they have a bias in supporting bicycles and they will claim that anything that results in their favor was good. If it doesn't come in their favor, they will claim that it was NIMBYs or some lobbyists of either the automobile companies or oil industry that conducted it. I have every right to be suspicious about that survey. I wouldn't be surprised if you and your Streetsblog friends dominated that survey.
April 4, 2011, 3:18 pm
Cal says:
@bklynpol,

No irony here, bikes are headed in opposite directions.
April 4, 2011, 5:55 pm
Mike says:
Oy! This is not "from Streetsblog"! The survey was commissioned and funded by Assemblyman Brennan, who doesn't like the bike lane! Why do you have so much trouble understanding that? And it was a phone survey, so anyone who "dominated it" was part of the random sampling done by the reputable polling firm hired by someone opposed to the bike lane.

The only connection to Streetsblog is that they are one of many sites reporting on the results, and hosting a copy of the results so they can link to it.
April 4, 2011, 9:55 pm
Steve from PPW says:
Tal,

Please come to Prospect Park West this Sunday at 11 AM for big bike ride event, "We Ride the Lanes." There will be a ton of kids, free hot dogs, cupcakes, bike tune-ups, and more.

Since I gather it's been a while since you've been to Park Slope, this would be a great day to come. The ride starts at Grand Army Plaza at 11 AM and ends at Bartel Pritchard Square.

Will you be there?
April 4, 2011, 11:37 pm
common sense from bay ridge says:
I hope those are tofu hot dogs being given away at the ride.
April 5, 2011, 8:58 am
bkynbiker from smugslope says:
another way to write this up would have been: "53 percent of respondents want the bike lane changed or removed, while just 44 percent want it to remain as installed." nice , err, unslanted reporting from mr. former NYpost editor
April 6, 2011, 12:31 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Sorry Steve, but as much as I would like to go, I can't that day. I have to take my family over to the airport, so I can't come. However, I wouldn't have came anyway, because I would have gone to a Mets game if that wasn't the case. Either way, events are just for a day, and they don't prove everything just like how you claim that Louise Hainline is selectively using the feed from her camera durring rush hour and when it looks packed. A picture can be worth a thousand words in that they can say anything.
April 6, 2011, 8:29 pm
Joe from Park Slope says:
It doesn't matter how people "feel", what matters is empirical date. As the article states, there have been no pedestrians injured by cyclists using the bike lane or motorists and cars are actually obeying the speed limit now (mostly). So the fact that some older folks are "scared" of a two wheeled invention called the bicycle is irrelevant...they ARE safer now whether they can read the DOT statistics or not.

PS - I saw Chuck Schummer 3 weeks ago riding his bike on the bike lane on Fort Hamilton Pkwy. near the Windsor Terrace library and he was going the WRONG way (this is a one directional lane that starts near the TD Bank). It was priceless! His wife tried to blast away the PPW bike lane but her husband uses bike lanes (and rides the wrong way on them). What a classic example of NIMBYism!
July 2, 2012, 9:40 am

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