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Council bike data bill will prove us right — foes <i>and</i> cycle supporters say

The Brooklyn Paper
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Friends and foes of bike lanes can’t wait for a new city bike-crash data law to take effect — because both sides think it will show they’re right.

Just about everyone in this cycling-obsessed borough is happy that the City Council passed a trio of bills last week that will require officials to gather collision statistics — and release data about two wheel-related fatalities, injuries and infractions.

Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes, a group of Park Slopers that is opposed to the controversial Prospect Park West bike lane, thinks that the numbers will vindicate them by proving that the new lane has made the street more dangerous.

“Bikers are now a hazard in their own right,” said Louise Hainline, president of the group. “People don’t feel safe.”

But Noah Budnick, a spokesman for the cycling advocacy group Transportation Alternatives, said his organization is just as jazzed about the legislation, which, he claimed, was inspired by a 2009 report by his group that shows that dangerous drivers are the real problem.

Other Brooklynites battling for street turf may have missed the new legislature, which the City Council quietly passed on Feb. 16.

The three bills would:

• Make the Department of Transportation compile all collision data involving bicycles.

• Make cops report both car and bicycle infractions online every month, along with info about what led to the bang-ups.

• Make the Department of Transportation explain — with data to back it up — why it has rejected a request for a traffic light or stop sign. And it needs to show data to back up the decision.

Whatever the collected data show, critics of the Prospect Park West bike lane said the very existence of the legislation is evidence that they aren’t alone in their fight.

“It’s not just a local problem; it’s citywide,” said Lois Carswell of Seniors for Safety, which has long opposed the lane. “There have been a lot of troubling ways the city has constructed these lanes.”

But the city says that its Prospect Park West bike lane has made the neighborhood safer for drivers and for cyclists.

In January, the Department of Transportation said that its data shows that crashes are down 16 percent and those that occur are half as likely to include an injury; cars are much more likely to drive at or below the speed limit; and that no pedestrian injuries or pedestrian-cyclist crashes have occurred since the lane was installed last June.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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