Today’s news:

The Prospect Park West bike lane had our presses rolling all year long

for The Brooklyn Paper

If there was one story that captured the imaginations and spleens of our readers this year, it was the loathed and loved Prospect Park West bike lane. There was a lawsuit, several mass rallies, and even a Sphinx-like, bike-riding senator who happens to be married to the bike lane’s biggest opponent. Here’s a look back at how the 17-block path became the most controversial slab of cement outside of the Gaza Strip.

January

Battle is on!: A well-connected group of bike lane foes — headed by former Transportation Commissioner Iris Weinshall and former Sanitation Commissioner Norman Steisel — launch a plan to sue the city after it removed a lane of car traffic to install a two-way bike lane.

February

Rough riders: Cyclists stick up for their embattled bike path, saying the well-connected group of opponents doesn’t represent bike-lovin’ Brooklyn. “It’s a small group of wealthy, powerful people,” says Park Slope cycling advocate Eric McClure. “They are trying to play on political connections.”

March

Court day cometh: Bike foes — dubbed Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes — file a lawsuit against the city, demanding the lane be dismantled, claiming it turned the scenic street into a treacherous war zone. They also allege the city lied to make the bike lane seem more popular than it really is. Media from Los Angeles to London pick up the story.

April

Lane lovers: Hundreds of cyclists stage a ride in Park Slope to show support for their beloved bike route, handing out buttons that read, “We ride the lane!” Councilman Brad Lander (D-Park Slope) releases a study that backs that up.

May

Bring it on!: The city defends itself in court, saying the bike lane is a safe, traffic-calming device installed at the request of the community — and only after extensive analysis. Installing the lane was “rational and reasonable in all respects,” court documents declare.

June

Beep’s two sense: Borough President Markowitz — long famous for his opposition to the lane — claims the city is lying to protect the controversial path. He notes in a sworn statement that Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan told him it was simply a “trial” project — legal minutia that could make or break the court case.

July

Swear to tell: Lawyers subpoena Lander and Khan — who both backed the lane — to testify in court about fudged bike lane data.

August

Ride on!: A judge rules bike lane foe’s lawsuit is “without merit” — and the city wins the mammoth case on a minor statue of limitations technicality. The bike lane stays — for now. Lane foes say they intend to file another suit.

September

Party time: Celebration, bragging ensues.

October

Wheely scary!: Rubber-burning editor Gersh Kuntzman dresses up like a bike lane for Halloween in what many believe is the scariest costume of all time.

November

Uneasy rider: Bianchi bike-riding Sen. Charles Schumer — who is married to lane foe Weinshall — stonewalls a Brooklyn Paper reporter who asks if he rides on Prospect Park West. “I haven’t been commenting on that,” he says.

December

Bikelash: Cyclists slam the city for abandoning a planned bike path on Plaza Street West that was supposed to link up with the Prospect Park West lane. Many wonder if the city was simply scared of another year-long fight.

Reach reporter Natalie O'Neill at noneill@cnglocal.com or by calling her at (718) 260-4505.

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Reader Feedback

Dennis sinneD from Williamsburg says:
This is relevant:
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/30/nyregion/nyc-traffic-deaths-set-100-year-low-mayor-says.html?ref=nyregion

Whereas we've read over and over again the many anti-cyclist and anti-bike lane posts about the "dangerous and anarchist cyclists", the recklessness and the callousness of the blithe on two-wheels, there has never been any substantiation of all that irrational nonsense that cyclists or bike lanes somehow harm the social fabric. Indeed, this article by the NY Times indicates the exact opposite--that cyclists and bike lanes make the City safer.
Dec. 30, 2011, 11:19 am
Or from Yellow Hook says:
" the recklessness and the callousness of the blithe on two-wheels, there has never been any substantiation"

Because we don't want to have substantiation.

Cross Fifth Ave and dodge the red light runners.

Bikers need to police themselves, or suffer when the laws are enforced.
Dec. 30, 2011, 2:14 pm
Dennis sinneD from Williamsburg says:
"Because we don't want to have substantiation."

Exactly. "We", ahem, want fantasy instead. Here we have someone, though certainly not alone, who prefers personal anecdote and the evidence of a fragile ego slighted than the proof of a thousand pages of testimony, account and statistics to the contrary.

Of course bikers must police themselves. Of course they must suffer when they break the law. But that is true of everyone and is not specific to them.

The truth is with more cyclists on the streets and less automobile traffic, the City is safer.

But keep wanting--it shows.
Dec. 31, 2011, 9:50 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I thank Natalie O'Neill for covering the true story on this bike lane, and she deserves a Pulitzer Prize for this.
Dec. 31, 2011, 6:20 pm
Natalie Faux'Neill from Brooklyn says:
Enough is enough!
Jan. 1, 2012, 1:46 pm
S from PPW says:
If Natalie and the Brooklyn Paper hadn't waged such a dishonest misinformation campaign and done the bidding of Louise Hainline and Iris Weinshall, more lives might have been saved this year. Shame on them for standing in the way of a safer New York City.
Jan. 2, 2012, 7:40 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Do you have any proof that she works for NBBL, because I will call you for slander if you don't prove it?
Jan. 3, 2012, 6:11 pm
Daquan13 from East Boston says:
Tal Barzilai is a sick, depraved individual is nothing but a fanatic, a maniac who steals my screen name, my identidy, steals MY own personal pics of myself from other websites, smears my name all over the place to make me look like the bad guy and he just won't stop!!

I'm not letting him get away with this crap! The kids I tutor have more intelligense than that imbacile does! That bum who's been banned from streetsblog is over at NYTimes.com using MY screen name here. He's been sternly warned, and on my recommendation, he has been ordered not to use any of my pictures in his avatar! If you go over there and see his screen name (which is mine here), you'll see a KitchenAid mixer in his avatar. No wonder Tal was never disiplined! Probably did all the butt kissing for them by doing their dirty work. He claims to be undebunkable, but really he is just the agent of Hamas.

-Daquan13
Jan. 4, 2012, 3:42 pm
Dennis sinneD from Williamsburg says:
Back to more relevant news, for all you "cyclists are a danger to us auto drivers":
http://gothamist.com/2012/01/04/bronx_man_films_41_drivers_blowing.php

"Awesomely named area man Vincent Ferrari is so fed up with drivers ignoring the stop sign on his street in the East Bronx that he recently sat outside and videotaped the looong procession of scofflaws. (41 in under a half hour!) What really gets Ferrari's goat is that City Council Transportation Committee chairman James Vacca (in whose district Ferrari resides) remains focused on cyclist lawbreakers, and is promising a bigger crackdown on bikers this year—including those who pedal through stop signs and red lights."

Ah, this anti-cyclist nonsense is indeed NOT specific to Brooklyn, it sadly seems.
Jan. 5, 2012, 9:54 am
Hal Barzicrazy from unPleasantville, NY says:
Actually Tal, she works for the WNBA.
Jan. 11, 2012, 11:43 pm

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