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

New survey says people like — though some fear — the bike lane
0.15 miles of Prospect Park West will open to Pedestrians May 4.
Photo by Tom Callan

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.