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Prospect Park West’s two-way bike lane is on a roll

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The city is moving ahead with its long-stalled plan for a two-way protected bike lane on Prospect Park West — despite the continued opposition of Borough President Markowitz and the drivers he says he represents.

The lane, which was approved last year, will stretch from Grand Army Plaza to Bartel Pritchard Square, and will run along the eastern curb alongside a lane of parked cars that will protect cyclists from car traffic.

But the new bike lane comes at a price — one that many opponents say is too steep: one lane of southbound car traffic will be eliminated from Park Slope’s speedway, and 22 parking spaces will be lost.

“It’s going to impact traffic terribly,” Jack Nayer, a Park Slope local, said at a public hearing on the subject on Monday night. “Just a few yards away is a bike lane — it’s called Prospect Park! Why not use that?”

Nayer echoed the concerns of perhaps half in the crowd of roughly 75 people who came to the informational “open house” at Congregation Beth Elohim on Eighth Avenue to learn about the looming project.

But city officials said that the lane would alleviate a pressing problem on the street: speeding traffic.

Many drivers are using Prospect Park West as if it were the Daytona Speedway — a claim backed up by recent research. On the eve of Monday night’s meeting, Park Slope Neighbors, a civic group that supports the bike lane, released a report that showed outrageous speeding on Prospect Park.

Volunteers from the group recently clocked cars and discovered that 85 percent exceeded the speed limit, with a startling 30 percent averaging 40 miles per hour or more.

A survey by the Department of Transportation also hinted at another problem that would be alleviated by the bike lane on Prospect Park West: cyclists riding where they aren’t supposed to.

A tally of 349 cyclists last year revealed that nearly half were riding on the sidewalk — a result of having no way to legally bicycle northbound in Prospect Park.

Borough President Markowitz doesn’t think the bike lane will fix these supposed problems. In an interview with WNYC earlier on Monday, he not only said he opposed the cycle path, but also took a swipe at Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan.

“We just disagree on certain instances where I’m acutely aware that she wants to make it hard for those who choose to own automobiles,” Markowitz said. “I really believe that … she would like to see more people stop car usage and use their bicycles or walk.”

Markowitz later reiterated that he has supported some bike lanes in the past — including one on Ninth Street — but remains convinced that the Prospect Park West bike lane would cause traffic congestion and exacerbate the already woeful parking situation in Park Slope.

But supporters of the project sought to allay opponents’ fear over lost parking spaces, saying that the traffic-calming effect of the lane was worth the loss — an effect that drew some scoffs. Advocates also noted that the cuts proposed by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority would eliminate the B69 bus, which runs along Prospect Park West.

Eliminating the bus stops on that portion of the route should cover all of the 22 lost spaces, said Councilman Brad Lander (D–Park Slope).

“I am completely opposed to the MTA [service] cuts,” Lander said. “But that is a silver lining — if there is one.”

The Department of Transportation says that construction of the bike lane will begin in June, though it said the same thing last fall before Markowitz interceded, causing the near year-long delay.

Updated 6:16 pm, April 14, 2010
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Reasonable discourse

Boris from Bay Ridge says:
In that interview with the WNYC Markowitz also said that he thinks the bicyclists *should* use the sidewalk. He is probably unaware that that's illegal. He might be unaware of the speed limit on PPW, and many other laws of his borough as well.
April 13, 2010, 9:24 am
Chuck from Boerum Hill says:
Markowitz is a corporate tool. Wonder how his sexual harassment thing is working out. Seems to think loser Ratner is a roll model.
April 13, 2010, 9:36 am
Biker from PLG says:
Step off, Marty. Bike commuting in the city is up 30 percent, and bike lanes make it less likely that these people will get hit by cars. Getting hit by a car sucks.
April 13, 2010, 9:38 am
Leon Freilich from Park Slope says:
SEND BIKERS TO RICKER'S

The motorist and the cyclist

Are in a noisy fray

Now that a double bike lane

Is sought for the parkside way.

"They'll eat up parking spots,"

The first group is complaining,

"And already far too few

Are obviously remaining."

"They don't get it at all,"

Rejoins the second pack:

"The city needs to encourage

An anti-auto tack."

The lowly pedestrian

Is shut out from the talks

As if nobody cares

About the guy who walks.

"The drivers follow rules,"

Both he and she aver,

"So nobody is scared

A car'll hit him or her.

"But cyclists take the position

The street belongs to them,

So spurring two-way riding

Will add to walker mayhem."


What chance has the walking stiff

Against the forces of green

In moving about the world

Without some kind of machine?
April 13, 2010, 12:42 pm
Leon Freilich from Park Slope says:
Correction in title:

SEND BIKERS TO RIKERS

The motorist and the cyclist

Are in a noisy fray

Now that a double bike lane

Is sought for the parkside way.

"They'll eat up parking spots,"

The first group is complaining,

"And already far too few

Are obviously remaining."

"They don't get it at all,"

Rejoins the second pack:

"The city needs to encourage

An anti-auto tack."

The lowly pedestrian

Is shut out from the talks

As if nobody cares

About the guy who walks.

"The drivers follow rules,"

Both he and she aver,

"So nobody is scared

A car'll hit him or her.

"But cyclists take the position

The street belongs to them,

So spurring two-way riding

Will add to walker mayhem."


What chance has the walking stiff

Against the forces of green

In moving about the world

Without some kind of machine?
April 13, 2010, 12:43 pm
liam from kensington says:
Sounds like a win-win - cyclists get a northbound route that doesn't involve sidewalks, pedestrians and cyclists don't have to contend with drag-strip drivers, and PPW becomes more of a normal street.

I'm sure the driver's losing parking spots are aware of 2 facts: 1, we have some mass transit options available, and 2, park slopers clearly spend more time parked than driving; if they drove more there would be less pressure on parking spaces, so maybe they should build a coop garage or something to cater to their parking needs (as opposed to driving needs, which are completely different).

Also - drivers - more bicyclists = less parkers. If you allow more bicycle infrastructure you may find more people tired of paying the $$/month needed for cars, and more people willing to ditch them for a bike. Which will create more parking spaces, you dig? I followed this exact path, so don't say it can't happen.
April 13, 2010, 2:28 pm
tom from sunset park says:
I know the population of Brooklyn has gone up, and will continue to do so. Can anyone confirm whether the number of drivers & vehicles has gone down as the number of bikers & bikes has risen? I don't think so. There certainly will be greater competition for the limited resources on the streets and rationing the streets will not improve anything.

April 13, 2010, 5:04 pm
Chicken Underwear from Park Slope says:
Markowitz thinks that biking and walking is only "recreational" or something your doctor tells you to do. He has a driver and parks on the sidewalk in front of Borough Hall.
April 14, 2010, 5:20 am
johnnyboy from park slope says:
Even with a new path, these emotionally under developed, will still insist on riding on the parkside endangering families out for a enjoyable walk.

The city should require all bikers to have licenses and insurance.

Better yet, they should go back to Dip—— Iowa , with the rest of the mutants.
April 16, 2010, 9:42 am
David on Middagh from Brooklyn Heights says:
"Jack Nayer, a Park Slope local, said at a public hearing on the subject on Monday night. 'Just a few yards away is a bike lane — it’s called Prospect Park! Why not use that?'"

Because there are limited entrances/exits, it's a BIG detour, and it, too, is supposed to be one way, and in the same direction as PPW!

(Note the problem in going streetwise from PPW @7th St. to PPW @2nd St.; a seeming five block trip requires backtracking, detouring to 8th Avenue, overshooting & then backtracking again: fourteen blocks.)

http://www.prospectpark.org/visit/interactive_map
April 17, 2010, 7:16 pm
adam w from park slope says:
I would just disagree with the assessment that about 50% of the folks at the Monday meeting expressed reservations about the bike lane. I was there and there was a very small but vocal minority of people who expressed their concerns. AW
April 19, 2010, 10:24 am
adam w from park slope says:
I disagree with the assessment that about 50% of the folks at the Monday meeting expressed reservations about the bike lane. I was there and there was a very small but vocal minority of people who expressed their concerns. AW
April 19, 2010, 10:26 am
Janine from Park Slope says:
I've been living on Prospect Park West for 15 years and though many drive too fast on it, I've yet to see or hear about an accident. I'm not unalterably opposed to the bike lanes, but they are way ahead of demand in a neighborhood with relatively easy access to several subway lines. Once a biker gets to GAP or 15th St under this new plan, the risk to life and limb returns in a hurry.
April 19, 2010, 8:51 pm
David Schiffer from park slope says:
In almost all ways you may weigh this change, I believe it is not a good idea. I agree that the fast motor traffic on PPW is dangerous, but the proposed method doesn't solve the problem, which is more likely to be solved by adding more traffic lights.

If the bike lane is placed where shown in the diagram, a person crossing will not always see bike traffic, because vans and SUVs will block the sight line.

A large number of SUVs and vans park on PPW. A pedestrian now walking south along PPW becomes invisible when passing behind them. A person crossing east towards the park can't see him/her, and certainly not continuously. Now imagine he or she is on a bike -- hidden, moving faster, and a bike rider's head is likely to be even lower than a pedestrian's. As the person crossing reaches the other side, their first opportunity to see traffic in the bike lane is when they are right in it. If the street crosser is elderly, jumping out of the way of the cyclist is going to be very difficult. Even more so with bike traffic coming 2 ways. Many local cyclists are competitive racers practicing at high speeds.

Prospect Park already has a number of paths and areas for bike riding. In the PPW area of the park, some people may very well be inconvenienced by the inability to go north within the park. But there is no reason to expect that every person's wishes are going to be possible. In trying to open up more possibilities for bike riders, other entire groups of people will face new inconveniences. Responsible motorists will face more congestion, as will local deliveries. Maneuvering to park within a narrower street will be difficult. The net number of parking spaces, already at a premium, looks likely to go down. And if the buses are moved off PPW, older people, working people and students will lose a valuable service.

The changes are gratuitous, and I believe they will introduce a number of new problems whose effects may take a long time to play out. I write this as a person regularly biking, driving and taking buses in the neighborhood. When weighing the effects on each of the things I do, this change is not one I recommend pursuing or approving. And considering the expense, I don't believe this is a good way to spend money, and it should be scrapped.
April 22, 2010, 6:26 am
Mike from Ft Greene says:
David, if you look at the DOT presentation, you will see that they are adding "daylighting" to the parking area near crosswalks so that there will be excellent visibility between cyclists and pedestrians.

In addition, the removal of the B69, while unfortunate, has nothing whatsoever to do with this bike path project. It's because of MTA budget cuts.

This plan is a win for everybody.
April 22, 2010, 11:20 am
Parksloper from Parkslope says:
Hilarious parody on this issue from a comedian. Read it. The idea is not half bad!
http://williammullin.com/2010/04/22/strollerlane/
April 23, 2010, 9:45 am
Marty K. from Park Slope says:
sounds good, as long as bicyclists stick to using the bike lanes and stay off the sidewalk. Rigorous ticketing of cyclists on the sidewalk should commence after a brief post-bike lane acclimation period.
April 24, 2010, 11:20 am
Marty Barfowitz from Outer Borough says:
The notion that the PPW sidewalk is some kind of danger zone b/c of cyclists is absurd. If anything, the safety of sidewalk and the near total lack of bike-ped crashes has show that "shared space" arrangements can work in NYC.

As for rigorous ticketing -- I'd much prefer the city's limited police enforcement powers to be used on the armada of sociopathic motorists who come screaming up and down Flatbush Avenue, PPW and Ocean Parkway each and every day. Unlike cyclists, those drivers in their precious automobiles are actually KILLING AND MAIMING PEOPLE every f'ing day.
April 26, 2010, 7:14 pm
Greg from Bensonhurst says:
Whats the point of making it a two way path? A southbound cyclist can just ride in the park, that might leave enough space for another lane of cars. I drive and bike and I'm not sure two lanes would be enough on PPW (although I'm no urban planner). I'm not really sure the lane would take away more than a few parking spots, which, although unpleasant considering how hard it is to park in Park Slope, would not be the end of the world.
May 17, 2010, 5 pm
Greg from Bensonhurst says:
P.S. the guy in the picture isn't even riding, and he would certainly not be doing track stands in the bike lane!
May 17, 2010, 5 pm
William from Park Slope says:
There is another hidden advantage of the new bike lane. It will squeeze out the soft ice cream trucks that have been plaguing the neighborhood, especially around the park entrances, for years. The City Council should outlaw these ice cream trucks from the city.
June 21, 2010, 1:18 pm
prospectr from Park Slope says:
I hope the bikers use it. I'm sick of bicyclists thinking they are above the law. Perhaps they should be ticketed aggressively.
July 5, 2010, 9:43 pm
Antanette from Parkslope says:
This is ——ing retarded!!!!! what is wrong with the bike lane inside the park?! are they serious?!
July 12, 2010, 11:59 am

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