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City rolls out two-way bike lane on Prospect Park West

Here's how the new configuration would work. Notice: One fewer lane for cars.
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The wheels are in motion for a revolutionary, two-way bike lane along Prospect Park West that would not only aid cyclists but, supporters say, would also calm the southbound speedway.

The Department of Transportation unveiled the plan to Community Board 6 on Thursday night, telling the group that it plans to remove one lane from the three-lane throughway between Grand Army Plaza and Bartel Pritchard Square in order to make room for the multi-directional biking path alongside Prospect Park.

Very little parking would be lost in the deal — but one lane of car traffic would be removed.

As a result, the cycling route won’t just help bikers by providing a needed two-way link between Park Slope and Windsor Terrace, but will also benefit pedestrians on the bike-filled Prospect Park West sidewalk, and drivers, Transportation officials said.

“Prospect Park West needs traffic calming, and it needs to be more accommodating to all users,” said Josh Benson, the agency’s acting director for Bicycle and Pedestrian Programs.

Despite efforts in 2007 to reduce traffic speeds by changing the timing of stoplights on Prospect Park West, more than 15 percent of drivers roared down the straightaway at speeds exceeding 39 miles per hour last month — nine miles per hour above the speed limit, according to a Department of Transportation study.

But by nixing one lane of traffic on the 49-foot wide street — where 58 accidents involving motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians were reported between 2005 and 2007 — the agency is confident it can slow drivers.

“Prospect Park West has excess capacity and that allows people to speed,” said Benson, who noted a similar phenomenon before a lane of vehicular traffic was removed from each direction of Ninth Street to make room for a bike lane.

“If we take away that excess capacity, that will take away their ability to pass, which almost always brings speeding down.”

The design will only cost drivers a few parking spaces, according to the agency. At intersections, raised concrete islands will establish the start of the bike lane and provide refuge for pedestrians crossing the street.

Transportation officials have not yet determined the cost of the project, which could begin in the late summer and be completed as early as September — but the agency estimates that it will be less expensive than a similar bike lane on Ninth Avenue in Manhattan that cost $400,000.

Biking advocates celebrated the city’s plans for the wide street — which activists have long suggested should be converted into a two-way throughway.

“It’s a pretty good package,” said Transportation Alternatives spokesman Wiley Norvell. “You get safer access to the park — and the chance to put in an innovative bike lane in one of the densest cycling communities in the city.”

Community Board 6 District Manager Craig Hammerman also cheered — especially because the bike lane will give cyclists who reach the terminus of the Ninth Street bike lane a protected route while they pedal towards Prospect Park’s only bike-friendly entrances at Grand Army Plaza and Bartel Pritchard Square.

“This will exponentially increase the number of pathways for both recreational bicyclists and commuters,” said Hammerman.

Updated 3:10 pm, April 17, 2009: Story was updated to fix an overstated speeding figure that was our fault.
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Reasonable discourse

Lex from Park Slope says:
Don't the cyclists already have all of Prospect park to ride in? That's not enough?

So you take out 1 of 3 lanes on PPW. Add a double parked car that's unloading packages, children, or an elderly passenger, and now you've choked 3 lans down to one. Instant traffic jam, slowing down cars so they use more gas and create more greenhouse gases. Golly, thanks Transportation Alternatives!

The cult of Radical Cyclists won't stop until motor traffic in New York can't move any faster than a Razr scooter.
April 16, 2009, 9:59 am
Brooklyn from Kensington says:
Lex,

The issue in your example isn't the bicyclists or the bike path -- it's the moron double-parking that will cause congestion. And spare me the constant woman-in-labor, grandma-with-a-walker, OMG-stop-the-world emergency scenarios. 99% of the time double-parking occurs because people are unconscionably lazy and selfish.
April 16, 2009, 10:22 am
Lex from Park Slope says:
"99% of the time double-parking occurs because people are unconscionably lazy and selfish."

Nice. Right to the "ad hominem." And you know that because you've conducted extensive research and can back that up?

Lets leave out the broadsides and stick to what we know. People will double park for both good and bad reasons. And then there are the delivery trucks that will park by the curb, dropping off couches and HD TVs and Fresh Direct groceries. Did I mention moving vans? They park for a *long* time and on that long stretch of street moving vans are a regular occurrence.

A double parked vehicle has zero impact now but if this plan goes through you'll have regular traffic jams on PPW that will create noise and spew exhaust gas. And a car creeping along at 5MPH uses a lot more gas then one moving at 30MPH. That doesn't sound too Earth friendly either.

No, this sounds like a really bad idea masquerading as Green Thinking.
April 16, 2009, 10:42 am
Ed from Crown Heights says:
It's bad practice to have thoroughfares 5 lanes wide separating dense residential neighborhoods and large parks (3 moving lanes, 2 parking lanes). This road needed to be narrowed for safety anyway.

The addition of a protected, straight, direct, not hilly path for cyclists is a major safety and convenience improvement for traveling from Park Slope to Grand Army Plaza, Prospect Heights, Fort Greene and Manhattan - all the avenues in Park slope are very dangerous and are sites of REPEATED cyclist fatalities.

If double-parking is a problem, you're right Brooklyn - that is a parking issue that should be addressed with different regulations and better enforcement. It is not a traffic issue that precludes narrowing the street and providing a safe and convenient facility for cyclists. Besides, there are no stores on that street and one whole side of it is a park! How much double parking is there really going to be?
April 16, 2009, 11:08 am
Lex from Park Slope says:
"Besides, there are no stores on that street and one whole side of it is a park! How much double parking is there really going to be?"

There are plenty of apartment buildings on the west side of that street. Lots of people living there means lots of delivery vans and double parked cars.

You mention enforcement as a solution to double parking. What about enforcement as a solution for speeding? Don't tell me one works but the other doesn't.

What we *don't* need is another empty bike lane like we have at Plaza Street West next to Grand Army Plaza. A street that was 2 lanes was narrowed to 1 when a bike lane was put in. Traffic used to flow freely. Now at busy times there is a line of stopped and idling cars waiting for the light to change so 2 or 3 of them can get through the intersection.

And the bike lane? It sits empty. I'll bet the people who live off the Plaza must love it.

*That's* what happens when you take out traffic lanes for ideological reasons.
April 16, 2009, 11:27 am
Peter from Prospect Heights says:
Sounds like a great idea to me.

With respect to the bike lane on Plaza Street West, I don't know what the commenter above is talking about. I like right off of Plaza Street and I can tell you there's never any traffic on it and the bike lane gets used pretty frequently.
April 16, 2009, 11:39 am
Ed from Crown Heights says:
I ride that Plaza Street bike lane virtually every weekend and I am grateful for it. It connects Prospect Park with the bike lanes on Vanderbilt Avenue. It makes sense to have bike facilities in a network that actually connect them to each other instead of ending abruptly and dropping people off in a no-mans land like the intersection of Flatbush Avenue and Eastern Parkway. People on bikes would be getting mowed down there. I usually see many other people on bikes in that lane when I ride on it, including parents and children going to and from the farmer's market or the park. I don't know when you you're there, but clearly it's not during peak times.

Believe me, when they put a two-way bike lane on PPW it is going to be used. It may not be a flood of thousands of cyclists every minute of every day, but it will be heavily used by commuters, sport cyclists, cruisers, and families and children. It's not about ideology - this isn't a bike lane for the sake of bike lanes. It's about safely accommodating people on bicycles and connecting them to their destinations.

now of course there are apartment buildings on that block taking deliveries and drop-offs. But of all the streets in Brooklyn to put a bikeway, I would think a street with buildings only on one side and no stores would be ideal! Where should they put a bikeway in Park Slope? Right up 5th or 7th Avenue and take away storefront parking?
April 16, 2009, 11:44 am
D from Queens says:
Lex,

You already live in Park Slope. Just drink that Kool-Aid and start riding.
April 16, 2009, 11:46 am
D from Queens says:
Lex,

You already live in Park Slope. Just drink that Kool-Aid and start riding.
April 16, 2009, 11:46 am
Lex from Park Slope says:
"I like right off of Plaza Street and I can tell you there's never any traffic on it and the bike lane gets used pretty frequently."

What counts as frequently? One cyclist every 15 minutes? Next you'll tell me that traffic doesn't back up on Plaza Street.

I'd like to see a sunset law for bike lanes. When one gets put in I'd like to see them monitored to see how often they're used. If they stay empty, they should be eliminated.

I'll give you another example of an empty bike lane that causes traffic jams and pollution - the one on Third avenue that runs into Prospect Ave. At rush hour cars back up waiting to get on the Gowanus expressway now that a traffic lane has been removed. Meanwhile the bike lane sits empty.

More pollution caused by misguided green thinking.
April 16, 2009, 12:06 pm
Lex from Park Slope says:
"You already live in Park Slope. Just drink that Kool-Aid and start riding."

:-)

I ride the subway every day.
April 16, 2009, 12:07 pm
Gary from Park Slope says:
I live on PPW and I think this is a terrific. PPW does not need three lanes of traffic. The open highway feel encourages drivers to treat it like a highway. Reducing the number of traffic lanes should go a long way to drivers treating it like a residential street. The park loop is one way and no help for bicycles heading north and there is no good safe north/south route for bicyclists through Park Slope.
April 16, 2009, 1:46 pm
Ed from Crown Heights says:
"The cult of Radical Cyclists won't stop until motor traffic in New York can't move any faster than a Razr scooter."

No Lex, it's actually about residents in the community wanting motor traffic in New York not to be driving homicidally fast where parents and children are trying to cross the street to get to the park: http://www.parkslopeneighbors.org/ppw8/videoppw8.htm

"Park Slope Neighbors was out with a radar gun and a video camera, sampling vehicle speeds on Prospect Park West... While the posted speed limit is 30 miles per hour, we clocked a number of cars traveling at 40 mph or above, with the MAJORITY of cars traveling at 35 mph . And we were recording speeds for less than 10 minutes when we clocked one car traveling at an incredibly dangerous 65 miles per hour. That was at three o'clock in the afternoon, with many people taking advantage of the warmest day of the year to visit Prospect Park."

Vehicles aren't moving as slow as scooters, they are racing through at 65 mph! get your facts straight. Please don't tell me you are defending the motor vehicles routinely breaking the speed limit on this street. This street needs to be narrowed for the safety of the community, and a two-way protected bike lane is a perfect use of the reclaimed road space because the avenues in Park Slope are so dangerous that cyclists are regularly injured in crashes. If you don't like this plan, then safety must not be important to you.
April 16, 2009, 2:04 pm
lee from park slope says:
Lex, tell you what, I'll trade you the bike lane on PPW for the car lanes in the Park.
April 16, 2009, 2:16 pm
Lex from Park Slope says:
"No Lex, it's actually about residents in the community wanting motor traffic in New York not to be driving homicidally fast where parents and children are trying to cross the street to get to the park."

In Manhattan Fifth Ave. borders on Central Park. It's 3 lanes wide with additional parking lanes on each side. Somehow the earth continues in it's orbit and the stars don't fall out of the sky. Do you have evidence, any evidence at all, that PPW is less safe than any multi lane street in Brooklyn?

It's really not particularly difficult to cross PPW. It's one way so you only have to look in one direction to check for cars. (You're SOL on the cyclists though because they feel entitled to ride in whatever direction they feel like.) Then you take your kid by the hand and walk across the street. Trying to make this into some type of child safety issue is totally bogus.

"Park Slope Neighbors was out with a radar gun and a video camera, sampling vehicle speeds on Prospect Park West... While the posted speed limit is 30 miles per hour, we clocked a number of cars traveling at 40 mph or above, with the MAJORITY of cars traveling at 35 mph . And we were recording speeds for less than 10 minutes when we clocked one car traveling at an incredibly dangerous 65 miles per hour.

Vehicles aren't moving as slow as scooters, they are racing through at 65 mph!"

You found one. O-N-E. And you couldn't be bothered to sample for even 10 minutes. Please.

I have a practical suggestion. Go get your radar gun and a video camera and clock speeds for 60 minutes. You'll have a representative sample and if there are lots of people going 40MPH or more you can take this real evidence to the local precinct commander and demand that the cops start enforcing the law.

I doubt you'll do it. Your real agenda is Bicycles 24x7. The bogus speeding issue is only a way to get another empty bike lane.
April 16, 2009, 2:40 pm
Ed from Crown Heights says:
You're right, Lex. That video clearly documenting speeding is no evidence at all I don't know what I was thinking. And why make streets any safer for pedestrians and bikes - what's the point of that? It's just getting in the way of driving.

While we're at it - I noticed a traffic jam on the West Side Highway the other day. What do you say we get rid of that ridiculous two-way greenway and widen the highway - we can get even more cars in and go fast fast fast!
April 16, 2009, 6:24 pm
Pat from Park Slope says:
How about a no-stroller lane? Everywhere?
April 16, 2009, 11:56 pm
m from gp says:
Folks, please do not feed the trolls (Lex).
April 17, 2009, 7:55 am
Dave from Carroll Gardens says:
Lex is an idiot. Your debate on 5th ave vs Prospect Park West is not warrented. There is a trafic light at every interesection along 5th ave, clearly not the case on PPW.

This Bike path is the best thing they did on 9th Ave in Manhatttan and will work perfect in PPW, they should institute the same plan on the bike path down 9th street in Park slope with the buffer 4FT Buffer...you have to notice that the DOUBLE PARKERS are always and only blocking the bike lane on 9th street and not clogging automobile traffic. Forcing Cyclists to go dangerously ride in traffic
April 17, 2009, 3:20 pm
Mike from BIKE LANE says:
Lex. its a waste of time, as long as the radical mayor with his DOT commisoner Janet Khan are in office. she has one agenda and that is adding miles of bike lanes, no matter what the consequences are.

Hopefully our new mayor will change things back to normal..
VOTE NO FOR BLOOMBERG!!!!
April 17, 2009, 7:09 pm
Joe from Park Slope says:
Lex, you ARE an idiot. DOT reported that the average speed on PPW was 39.6 MPH when they sampled last month, more than 70% were speeding, and 15% were driving faster than 40 MPH. But I'm sure this won't count as "real evidence."

Last I checked, the cars were the ones doing the polluting, not the bike lanes. I'll take the "cult of Radical Cyclists" over the cult of Radical Motorists any day.
April 17, 2009, 8:48 pm
Michael from Union and 8th says:
"It's really not particularly difficult to cross PPW. It's one way so you only have to look in one direction to check for cars. (You're SOL on the cyclists though because they feel entitled to ride in whatever direction they feel like.) Then you take your kid by the hand and walk across the street. Trying to make this into some type of child safety issue is totally bogus."

Lex, you obviously do not have children.
April 17, 2009, 10:16 pm
Jesse from Park Slope says:
I have a young child and live on PPW. Honestly, crossing the street with a kid is no more dangerous here than on any other street in the neighborhood. You wait for the light, look both ways and cross. The thought of having to cross two lanes of one-way traffic then waiting on a four foot buffer with however many other stroller pushing parents to cross a 2-way bike path is kind of scary to me. I also wonder how safe a 2 lane bike path is especially with families crossing through it at every Intersection on their way to the park. It seems like a recipe for collisions. But even if you take away the pedestrians is it safe to have bike traffic going in opposite directions right next to each other with curbs locking them in on either side?
May 26, 2009, 9:45 pm
eb from park slope says:
I agree with Jesse. I have no problem with a bike path, but why does it have to be two ways ? It does seem kind of dangerous. As far as speeding cars etc- I have yet to see a cyclist obey any traffic laws. In the park they never stop for pedestrians even at red lights. It seems they have alot to say about motorists but not about this issue.Also what is this buffer going to look like-does anybody know ? I live on PPW and really don't want to look out on some ugly concrete wall.
April 20, 2010, 8:38 am
eb from park slope says:
You know, not everybody who owns a car is anti-green and anti-health. Not everyone can or should ride a bike to work or wherever. Some people have no choice, either for medical reasons or because of where their jobs are located, or whatever the case may be, but to drive. Presumeably those who do ride a bike are fit enough to have other choices-i.e. walk, take public transportation (as they most likely can manage subway stairs if they can ride a bike.) Those who cannot manage subway stairs or ride a bike do not have that choice. By the way, why can't there be a bike lane on 8th ave to accomodate cyclists going in the opposite direction ?
April 20, 2010, 8:48 am
M Berg from Windsor Terrace says:
All of us need to be less myopic in our assessments. Go to Montreal, Ottawa, or Toronto and see their success with bicycle transportation. Even with significantly cold winters, Canadians make the best use of their biking. There are traffic lights just for the bikers in Montreal! It appears our addiction to oil is worse than nicotine and alcohol. We all want our comfort zone to be as large as possible with disregard to the big picture. I was terrified when I had to sell my car to move to the city. Now, I feel that I have great freedom in mobility and all the choices I make in living my life. We are slaves to our cars. I can fix my bike on the spot and everyone can fix a flat. Not true with a car.
Aug. 11, 2010, 1:58 am

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