Bike lane lie? Beep testimony casts doubt on city position

Bike lane lie? Beep testimony casts doubt on city position

Borough President Markowitz says the city is lying to protect its most controversial bike lane.

The Beep — famous for his opposition to the Prospect Park West bike path — said in a sworn court statement this week that Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan told him that the lane was simply a “trial” project, not permanent one, as the city has claimed in court.

Markowitz’s bombshell testimony bolsters a lawsuit against the city, which cannot move forward if a judge rules that the bike lane was indeed installed as a permanent addition to Prospect Park West.

In the three-page document, Markowitz says he met with Sadik-Khan more than a year ago to tell her he believed the lane would clog traffic on the busy street.

“In response to my concerns, Commissioner Sadik-Khan told me the bike lane would be implemented on a trial basis [and] that if the study proved her wrong, the Department of Transportation would modify it or even take it out.”

The debate as to whether the path was intended to be permanent or experimental is important for one reason: The deadline has passed to sue the city over a permanent fixture — a legal argument the city has made in its defense.

The lawsuit was filed in March by Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes, which claimed that the city manipulated data to show the traffic-calming project was more successful than it really was.

Markowitz has been against the path since its creation, saying it would reduce parking options and cause traffic jams. In April, one month after his meeting with Sadik-Khan, he slammed her as an anti-car zealot on WNYC radio, saying, “I’m acutely aware that she wants to make it hard for those who choose to own automobiles.”

That’s part of why bike advocates say his past agenda taints his testimony in the case.

“He’s been so rabidly anti-bike lane, I question anything he says about it,” said Charlie McCorkell, a former Transportation Alternatives director and owner of Bicycle Habitat in Park Slope, explaining the beep can chose to omit whatever he wants in such a statement. “If there’s something in writing, sure, let’s see it — but this is based on his memory.”

A spokesman for Markowitz responded only that “the affidavit speaks for itself.”

City attorney Mark Muschenheim doesn’t think it says much.

“Simply put, we vigorously dispute it,” he said.