Lawsuit rolls on: Bike lane opponents appeal Prospect Park West ruling

Update (Feb. 14, 6:05 am): Story updated to include new information about the bike lane’s installation.

Like a bike with no brakes, the fight over the Prospect Park West bike lane just keeps rolling.

Opponents of the controversial lane are appealing a judge’s decision to dismiss their case because they filed it too late, claiming the bicycle route should have been considered a “temporary experiment” — putting them well within legal time limits.

Bike lane foes working under the name Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes are reviving their lawsuit against the high-profile bike lane, arguing that last summer’s ruling by a Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Bert Bunyan was “legally and factually erroneous” because he failed to consider the lane a “trial project.”

The city started installing the bright green bike lane in June 2010 and says it began considering the path a permanent street fixture that same month. But politically connected bike lane opponents claim it only became a fixed part of the streetscape in January 2011.

That seemingly small fact could push back a court-mandated four-month cut-off date for filing lawsuits against government agencies — giving new life to a case filed by bike lane critics in March 2011, lawyer Georgia Winston claims.

“The lawsuit clock started running only after Department of Transportation [installed it] permanently,” said Winston, who filed the brief on Friday.

The lawsuit — which last year earned international headlines and fueled rifts amongst Park Slope neighbors — alleged that the bike lane turned the peaceful street into a danger zone for pedestrians. It also claimed that Department of Transportation fudged data to make the lane seem more successful than it really was.

In August, Bunyan dismissed the lawsuit based on legal minutia — but also noted parts of the lawsuit were “without merit.”

Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes now contends the judge “committed errors” and that the ruling “should be reversed.”

The argument might hold up in court, but it still makes plenty of bike-riding neighbors roll their eyes.

“It’s like arguing about contraception: it’s already here — and everybody’s using it,” said bike-boosting neighbor Mitch Sonies. “They should get a life.”

Longtime cycling advocate Eric McClure was disappointed by the appeal.

“It’s kind of sad,” he said.

The city expects to trounce bike lane critics in their appeal.

“We are confident that the trial court’s decision in our favor will be upheld on appeal,” said Mark Muschenheim, senior council for the city’s Law Department. “The popular bike path continues to enhance the safety of all who use Prospect Park West.”

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