Dueling rallies over bike lane! Supporters out-spoke foes

The Brooklyn Paper
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Supporters vastly outnumbered opponents in dueling rallies over the Prospect Park West bike lane on Thursday morning, as 250 cyclists rallied in Grand Army Plaza and then took a victory lap roughly four dozen opponents gathered just to the south.

The supporters first gathered at Grand Army Plaza, pledging their love for the four-month-old two-way lane, which has been controversial because it eliminated one lane of car traffic, as well as 22 parking spaces, and changed the stately look of the boulevard.

Cyclists praised the lane because it provides them with a protected link between Grand Army Plaza and points south, and because it has made Prospect Park West safer for everyone because it has slowed down automobile speeds.

“As a traffic-calming measure, it’s been like night and day [compared to before the lane was in place],” said Cory Bruce, who lives on Montgomery Place. “Prospect Park West was really hectic before, I would never bike on it — it was unsafe! Now, people obey the speed limit.”

But protesters say the lane has done just the opposite and made the lane more frustrating for drivers and more dangerous for pedestrians.

“I raised two children here, we never had problems crossing the street,” said Carol Linn, who lives on Prospect Park West and helped organize the opposition rally. “If you’re worried about speeding, putting in more traffic lights is much more effective.”

Linn complained that the now two-lane Prospect Park West is often blocked by double-parked cars and trucks.

“Congestion does calm traffic, but that’s not a good solution!” she said.

Linn conceded that the anti-bike lane crowd was strongly outnumbered, but that she and her comrades — mostly seniors — had still “gotten our message out there.”

She added that she wasn’t surprised by the large turnout of lane supporters.

“They’re a very organized and vocal group — they have an almost religious feeling about this,” said Linn. “Who knows where all those people come from.”

Many bike lane critics — including Marty Markowitz — said the existing roadway inside Prospect Park is perfect for cyclists, especially if it is made two-way.

Bruce scoffed at the suggestion.

“It irks me that they keep saying, ‘Use the park,’ ” said Bruce. “The park is only open until 1 am, so it’s closed for much of the night. And there aren’t exits everywhere!”

The debate over the lane is certain to rage on at least until next year when the Department of Transportation will present statistics on usage as well as the affect it has had on traffic.

Supporters of the lane say they have evidence that drivers have slowed since the lane was installed — and they expect that the city’s data will bear that out.

“The numbers will show what everyone already knows: cyclists are using it, the street is safer and calmer, and it has reduced speeding,” said Bruce.

Updated 5:21 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

H from PPW says:
Are public demonstrations really going to be how politicians make decisions about public policy? So, because a person had to go to work and couldn't attend a rally in person, does that mean that their opposition to the bicycle lane is less valid or their opinion doesn't matter? At the end of the day the politicians on all levels (including CB6) are going to do what is in their best interests (either financially or their "legacy") and tell the people that their actions were for the greater good. The more things change, the more things stay the same.
Oct. 22, 2010, 5:52 am
mike from GP says:
H - no, politicians should make public policy decisions based on studies, facts and reason. And all 3 support the new, traffic-calmed PPW.
Oct. 22, 2010, 6:30 am
John from Kensington says:
I support the PPW bike lane 100%.

BUT--would the Brooklyn bikers who are reading this please do a better job of following traffic laws? Bikers seem to think that they need not stop at red lights--they do!! It doesn't matter if you're in a bike lane or on a non-bike lane street, if there is a red light, it applies to you!!

Again, I'm a non-biker who is, bike riders, help me out here and follow the laws so everyone can be safe and you quit scaring the beejesus out of my wife and kids.
Oct. 22, 2010, 8:23 am
Peter from Park Slope says:
One thing that pedestrians in the neighborhood don't seem to understand:


The bike lanes have been equipped with flashing yellow lights - bicyclists are supposed to yield to pedestrians, but there is no light indicating a stop.
Oct. 22, 2010, 8:37 am
Peter from Park Slope says:
Following up - I'm not trying to justify bad bicyclist behavior here. I'm just trying to point out that there's no traffic signal device that's telling bicyclists to stop.
Oct. 22, 2010, 8:38 am
Suzanne from Ditmas Park says:
"Are public demonstrations really going to be how politicians make decisions about public policy? So, because a person had to go to work and couldn't attend a rally in person, does that mean that their opposition to the bicycle lane is less valid or their opinion doesn't matter?"

First off, have you seen the pictures? While the pro-bike laners are from all across the age spectrum the anti-bike laners are almost all seniors, ie. people who have nothing better to do than act like like a bunch of cranks. The people who came to the pro-lane rally *made time* to come before work, or to get to work a little late.

Which leads to the second part: Politics is supposed to be about carrying out the will of the people. If the people care enough about something to take off time from their busy lives to make their will known, yes, that actually does mean something.

Of course it doesn't and shouldn't stop there but remember that the next time you think that going to a demonstration or a rally "just isn't important." It is.
Oct. 22, 2010, 8:57 am
John from Kensington says:
@Peter, I should have been more clear that in that part of my comment I wasn't talking about PPW specifically. I was talking about bike lanes in general, which are frequently on streets with traffic lights. I've got one right in front of my house (Caton Ave) and I rarely see a biker stop and wait for green. Again, I support bike lanes, but we need bikers to follow traffic laws.
Oct. 22, 2010, 9:06 am
YuppieDestroyer from Park Slope says:
Ride your bike in the park!! There, problem solved. This isn't Fire Island or Amsterdam. The streets in NYC are not wide enough. It's dangerous and ridiculous. Living in Park Slope, I have already witnessed 5 bicycle-related accidents. This is New York CITY, not a suburb. There's tons of outdoor park space if you wanna ride your bike and feel like Pee-Wee Herman or the Wicked Witch of the West.
Oct. 22, 2010, 9:11 am
Gia from Park Slope says:
Drivers, lets keeps hitting the bicyclists. Maybe the city will get the point of how dangerous these stupid bike lanes are. Dont worry, their injuries will miraculously heal themselves. Flax Seed, Free range eggs, nasty plain ass yogurt and and an Organic diet are linked to the ability to regenerate.
Oct. 22, 2010, 9:18 am
Jefrey from Clinton Hill says:
Seems like many of the opponents of the bike lanes don't understand that an increasing number of people in large dense cities all over the world use their bike for everyday transportation -- commuting to work, grocery shopping.....everything.
This is not about recreating on loopy road in a pastoral park.
Oct. 22, 2010, 9:56 am
Tony from Bay Ridge says:
And increaseing number of people in large dense cities all over the world that use their bikes for everyday tramsportation are getting injured and killed. I say, bring on te bike lanes aka Population Control
Oct. 22, 2010, 10:01 am
Tamara from Flatbush says:
If You Build it, They Will Come....and run over your babies.
Oct. 22, 2010, 10:02 am
YuppieDestroyer from Park Slope says:
I hope all those damn bikers get run over! Who are they to think they can run us out of our own neighborhood.. I can't even run! I can't stand these young professionals who move into our neighborhood with their successful jobs and having children and wanting to enjoy the outdoors.. that's the complete opposite of why I moved here long ago. To hell with those who want change!
Oct. 22, 2010, 10:25 am
bw from cg says:
I bike everyday.. and yes there are some dumb bikers in this city! They do dangerous dumb stuff.. so don't protest the bike lanes.. advocate more enforcement of the laws. The laws are there.. they're just not enforced.
Oct. 22, 2010, 10:44 am
Jacob from Brooklyn says:
Commenters like Gia and YuppieDestroyer are the reason we need these types of protected lanes. If drivers traveled slowly and respectfully, we wouldn't need protected bike lanes. The reality, though, is that people drive as fast as the road lets them, often quite aggressively. As shown on PPW, though, this behavior can be changed through good design.
Oct. 22, 2010, 12:08 pm
H from PPW says:
Commissioner Sadik-Khan, tear down those bike lanes!
Oct. 22, 2010, 12:16 pm
H from PPW says:
We need to raise the NYC speed limit from 30 to 55!
Oct. 22, 2010, 12:45 pm
Native Park Sloper from Park Slope says:
Whats next? A white babies in strollers with their Caribbean Nannies lane?
Oct. 22, 2010, 1:03 pm
common sense from bay ridge says:
How about an out of town hipster pedestrian lane so they stop clogging up the whole sidewalk while their unemployed asses stroll around with nothing to do.
Oct. 22, 2010, 1:18 pm
common sense from bay ridge says:
Yeah an out of town hipster lane so the unemployed hipsters can ride through fancy schmancy Park Slope from Bay Ridge to Greenpoint without the big bad cars!
Oct. 22, 2010, 1:53 pm
original common sense from bay ridge says:
Great idea, copycat CS. Just close some streets off at 1pm, the hipsters wont need the lanes before then.
Oct. 22, 2010, 2:10 pm
Or from Yellow Hook says:
Drove down PPW today.

Two bikers in the street - not the bike lane.

Thought about driving on the sidewalk myself for a while, just to see how it feels.
Oct. 22, 2010, 3:11 pm
Or from Yellow Hook says:
I tried to hit the bikers but I didn't want to ruin the lunches they were delivering.
Oct. 22, 2010, 3:21 pm
Charles from Park Slope says:
How about dividing the super wide PPW sidewalk in half. Put the bikes against the park wall - no car doors, no pedestrians, except those entering and exiting the park from the sidewalk and not the traffic lanes. Put the pedestrians between the bikers - separated by a divider of some sort - and the cars. Motorists won't have to worry about dooring a biker and pedestrians - especially the old farts who dare to walk, won't have to worry about being demolished by bikes when trying to cross the street. Return the traffic lanes as they were - add speed bumps, lights, rumble strips, whatever the DOT thinks they need to "calm" (thank you George Orwell) the traffic. Everyone gets what they need only a little differently than the flawed design some traffic engineer's and lawyer's minds were limited to.

Oh yes, the trees and benches. The benches can be moved and maybe used to help divide the sidewalk, and the trees can easily be ridden around. Check it out.
Oct. 22, 2010, 3:44 pm
Smartie from PPW says:
Jet-packs everyone!!! hello!!
Oct. 22, 2010, 3:50 pm
Charles from PPW says:
One last comment:

The level of discourse is painful. It seems that we've moved way beyond having a conversation that could lead to a better design and a better life - and are stuck at one in which I have to win at all costs (or if I can't think of anything at all to say just call someone a schmuck).

I'd like to think it was just this issue, this paper, this borough, or this city. Unfortunately, I think we're all in for a very rough ride.
Oct. 22, 2010, 3:56 pm
Ha from funLyn says:
to hell with War and the Economy! all out civil war over....

bike lanes!

sooooo funny!
Oct. 22, 2010, 4:21 pm
FoodCoopShopper from PushUrOwnDamnCart says:
Back to the Future was set in 2015. In five years we'll have flying cars. No need for bike lanes. Problem solved!
Oct. 22, 2010, 10 pm
Freddy from Flatbush says:
Someone should do a count of the number of bicyclists actually using the PPW (and all the other) bike lanes. There should be a usage standard (as done by the MTA for bus and subway services) below which the bike lane is taken down. Traffic counts are done all the time - why not bikes?
Oct. 23, 2010, 6:10 am
Bruce from Midwood says:
There are so many other streets and avenues in Park Slope. Why all the hub bub about one bike lane on one street? I just don't get it. Why not just not put the bike lane there and have lanes on other less traveled streets and avenues in and around the park that lead to the park? This whole thing is ridiculous.
Oct. 23, 2010, 8:05 am
Joe from Carroll Gardens says:
Get a life losers and then get a job. If you have the time to go stand at a rally in support or opposed to a bike lane you're an a-hole in my opinion. There are more important issues in this world, country, state, city, and borough that need visibility and this is not one of them.
Oct. 23, 2010, 8:16 am
Stacey from Downtown says:
I was thinking the same thing. Why aren't these people working?
Oct. 23, 2010, 11:30 am
Mike says:
The opponents are mostly old retired people, and they called the protest for 8:30 on a weekday.

The pro-bike forces heard about this, and decided to turn out at 8am. Nearly all of us do have jobs, so we were either a little bit late to them (we think it's a good cause) or left in time to get to them.
Oct. 23, 2010, 3:03 pm
Joe from Carroll Gardens says:
I'm glad a good cause is giving people the ability to blow every red light and place frogger with pedestrians.
Oct. 23, 2010, 6:09 pm
joe says:
hey yuppie destroyer, dont have to hate the children too? just the yuppies. you sound like a crotchety old man
Oct. 23, 2010, 6:53 pm
Stacey from Downtown says:
If anywhere needs a bike lane it's downtown Brooklyn not ppw.
Oct. 24, 2010, 8:43 am
Justin from Park Slope says:
Why would you take a bike lane on this road away to cater to the spatially inefficient, emission producing machines that people use to travel a few miles in the city? If you live in Brooklyn, there is no reason you should have a car. And if you really do need one, use the zip cars that are all over the city.

One has to stop seeing the bicycles as a problem and more of the solution. If Prospect Park West gets so congested, why are you driving on it? Take a different route, or maybe even get off your rear and shift into gear. Ride a bike and get some exercise!

If you want a sustainable city, it doesn't happen overnight, it happens in small steps. This is one.
Oct. 24, 2010, 5:48 pm
Justin from Park Slope says:
I mean, only billionaires should have cars. The rest of you need to get cargo bikes.
Oct. 24, 2010, 7:59 pm
Or from Yellow Hook says:
But the ppw bike lane will be a Great place to pile the snow when we have a storm!
Oct. 24, 2010, 10:09 pm
Or from Yellow Hook says:
sustainable city?

Those two words together are a contradiction.

This is not the Bioshere -
Oct. 24, 2010, 10:37 pm
JustWonderin from Boerum Hill says:
Nope, none of the exchanges with "Unidentified Staffer" here either. Who's making you censor your stuff after you've published it? Who's on the other end of the phone, huh? Great rag!
Oct. 24, 2010, 10:48 pm
Brad from Park Slope says:
Nothing like rolling out the tired Park Slope stereotypes (nannies, hipsters, vegans, lefties, etc.) and sprinkling it with threats of violence.

It's fine to be anti-bike-lane if you want, but perhaps some facts would help support your argument? When you threaten to run over cyclists or encourage others to do so, you MAKE THE CASE for more bike lanes. So, thanks, in a sense.

You can all imagine that I'm sipping my soy latte, jingling my iPhone in my $300 jeans, and wondering how I'll spend my mommy and daddy's trust fund money as my Jamaican nanny pushes my double-wide stroller around.

But the truth is I'm a late-30s, hardworking, far-from-rich, conservative, Brooklyn resident, who -- GASP -- owns a car which I use frequently. I barely ride, and my bike is collecting dust in my building's utility room. Even I think these bike lanes are a smart idea. They make it safer to walk, safer to drive, and actually get bikers to follow rules, as study after study, including a recent one by the DOT just proved. I'm also a parent, and far prefer my daughter to walk on PPW now that the cars are even farther away.

Oh, yeah...cutting up the sidewalk is a GREAT idea. All those PPW residents who said the lanes desecrate the historic nature of the street will have no problem with that, right? If they go for it, then maybe they're something most Brooklynites can't stand: hypocrites. "Don't mess with PPW, unless you can get the bikes off of PPW, then you can mess with PPW all you want!

Despite not being a rider, I attended this rally. It was early enough that I could get to my job by 9:15. Yeah, there were "hipsters" there, but the crowd was very diverse.

Grow up, Internet.
Oct. 25, 2010, 1:58 pm
Speeding SUV Guy from Flatbush says:
These bike lanes are horrible. I used to be able to easily hit 50 mph on PPW. Now I can hardly drive faster than 30 mph. If you want to ride your bike, go to the playground. NYC streets are for people who use extraordinarily large, dangerous, inefficient, gas-guzzling, polluting, climate change-inducing vehicles. If you don't like cars, move to the suburbs. Oh, wait... the suburbs are filled with cars and totally lacks transit and walkable streets. OK, um, well... if you don't like cars leave the United States of America.
Oct. 26, 2010, 4:38 pm
AlGore from Tenn says:
All the cars in Brooklyn, idling all the time, from now until mid-century, could not change the climate if they tried.
Oct. 27, 2010, 10:09 am

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