Safety first! Prospect Park West bike lane working

Safety first! Prospect Park West bike lane working
Courtesy NYC DOT

Accidents have plummeted dramatically since the installation of the controversial Prospect Park West bike lane in the spring, new city data reveals.

The statistics, part of a study to be released by the Department of Transportation tonight to Community Board 6, compares post-lane data to police accident data for the average of three prior years (2007-2009) between July 1 and Dec. 31. It found:

• Crashes are down from an average of 30 in six months to 25, or 16 percent.

• Crashes that cause injuries are down from 5.3 in six months to two, a whopping 63-percent drop.

• Before the project, a crash was twice as likely to include an injury.

• Injuries to all street users dropped 21 percent.

The data also found that since the lane was installed last June, there have been no reported pedestrian injuries and no pedestrian or cyclist injuries from pedestrian-bike crashes.

The agency cheered its latest findings, which could be the final push needed to make the pilot program permanent.

“Projects don’t get much better than this — speeding is down, crashes are down, injuries are down and bike ridership has doubled on weekdays and increased even more on weekends,” said agency spokesman Seth Solomonow. “The project has clearly delivered the benefits sought by the community.”

The city said it would be adding more safety measures to the protected two-way bike lane, including raised, tinted landscaped pedestrian islands, “rumble strip” bike markings at intersections, and a narrowing of the buffer between Union Street and Montgomery Place.

The latest data bolster two previous studies released by the city, one in October, which claimed car traffic along the grand roadway has slowed, while bike usage has soared since the construction of the lane — designed to calm traffic and encourage cycling.

And in December, the city found that drivers are not speeding as much as they did absent the lane.

Supporters said the new numbers make the lane’s permanency a no-brainer.

“Now we know that car accidents are down, so yes, I believe it should be made permanent,” said Councilman Brad Lander (D–Park Slope), whose own survey last year found broad support for the lane.

Critics such as Borough President Markowitz charge the lane slows traffic and is an aesthetic affront to the grandeur of Prospect Park West and is part of an “anti-car” agenda by the city.

Responding to some concerns, the Department of Transportation is considering adding raised planted medians (above) along the controversial Prospect Park West bike lane (below).
Courtesy NYC DOT

The survey will be presented tonight to Community Board 6 at its monthly Transportation Committee meeting at Old First Reformed Church [729 Carroll St. at Seventh Avenue in Park Slope, (718) 643-3027] at 6:30 pm.