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Marty’s lane pain is fodder for his Christmas card

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Is it a holiday wish — or holiday diss?

The Prospect Park West bike lane controversy takes center stage on Borough President Markowitz’s annual holiday greeting card, which envisions a frenzied boulevard as the epicenter of the “Borough of Lanes.”

The illustration, by Markowitz’s regular colaborator, Oregon-based artist Dennis Adler, depicts Prospect Park West as an avenue run amok with lanes for every possible Christmastime constituency: a car lane and a bike lane, a lover’s lane, holiday-only lane, and a walking lane.

The car lane is narrowest of the six, with vehicles are piled high up in the background, a reference to Markowitz’s contention that the city favors cyclists — and, in the Beep’s satiric version of the bike lane controversy, toy soldiers, snowmen and reindeer — at the expense of motorists.

Inside are re-written lyrics to the song “My Favorite Things” that reveal more of Markowitz’s take on the bike lane controversy. The Beep sang a portion of the song, written by Brooklyn-based Jon Hatch, at a City Council hearing last week about a bill that would require public hearings before the city installs bike lanes.

“Strollers and schleppers and skaters and joggers/Holiday lanes just for egg-noggers/But let’s not forget cars — it’s getting insane/Welcome to Brooklyn, ‘The Borough of Lanes,’ ” the card reads.

Markowitz said the card is intended to “send a message,” albeit in a lighthearted way.

“I happen to believe that most of Brooklyn feels there should be oversight as to where these lanes are places,” he said. “The shouldn’t be discrimination to those who prefer to own or need their cars for their livelihood or convenience.”

He said he and wife Jamie are behind the concept of the illustration, and hope that even pro-lane advocates will “take it with a sense of humor.”

But bike lane supporters aren’t laughing.

“There’s nothing funny about mocking serious street improvements that have reduced speeding and potentially saved lives,” said Kim Martineau, spokeswoman for Transportation Alternatives a cycling advocacy group.

But Martineau may be taking the Beep’s holiday card out of context. The colorful annual greeting is always filled with coded messages and timely commentary, the Beep’s holiday well-wishes have long been a source of media attention and fun.

Besides the hit-you-over-the-head-with-an-anvil-obviousness of this year’s theme, there are also “Easter eggs” hidden away in the illustration, which is part Hieronymus Bosch, part Sergio Aragonés, of Mad magazine fame.

Our eagle-eyed analysts spent hours pouring over the card and found:

• A discarded mattress, leaning against a tree —a nod to the city’s bed bug epidemic. “It’s something that impacts people,” Markowitz said.

• An African-American Santa whose sleigh is being pulled not by reindeer, but by geese, a reference to the goose slaughter this summer, when the feds killed hundreds of Prospect Park geese in the name of aviation safety. “Most of us would have loved to have seen the geese not handled in the way they were handled,” Markowitz said.

• A same-sex couple in a warm embrace, a nod to the Beep’s strong pro-gay marriage stance.

• Markowitz and his biggest booster, wife Jamie, and their African grey parrot Beep, sitting in the middle of the mayhem — sipping Champagne and eating a hot dog. Now that’s classy.

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Reasonable discourse

BK from Brooklyn says:
I support the bike lanes and I love the Beep's card. At least he has a cheerful sense of humor about it! Great illustration!
Dec. 12, 2010, 1:02 pm
SP from PS says:
He can't find an illustrator in Brooklyn?
Dec. 12, 2010, 3:03 pm
Steve from Park Slope says:
"The car lane is narrowest of the six."

Actually That makes the illustration still preferable to the old Prospect Park West with three lanes of auto traffic.

Why is Markowitz wasting taxpayer money on pushing a political agenda with which most of Brooklyn does not agree? That's our money he's spending. Think about how many hot holiday meals he could have bought for some of Brooklyn's poorest kids.
Dec. 12, 2010, 3:42 pm
common sense from bay ridge says:
“The(?) shouldn’t be discrimination to those who prefer to own or need their cars for their livelihood or convenience.”

Didn't Marty get the memo from Bloomie and his DOT that car owners are to be ostracized, demonized and plundered of their resources until they give up their 4 wheeled monsters.
Dec. 12, 2010, 4:36 pm
Mike says:
what a jerk.
Dec. 12, 2010, 6:38 pm
Mike says:
Also: giving most of the street over to cars -- but slightly less than before -- is somehow "discrimination"? Is he insane?
Dec. 12, 2010, 6:42 pm
SteveF from Park Slope says:
"...those who prefer to own or need their cars for their livelihood or convenience.”

Marty, as a drawing, the card is funny, but the real issue boils down to something deadly serious:

Drivers refuse to give up a little of their convenience to give cyclists and pedestrians a lot of safety.

Your "convenience" is my "life-safety!"

28 years ago, I dropped my son at day care on my way to work. I rode a bike to day care and then then to lower Manhattan - a commute I did for 30 years. Day care was in Union Temple and I had to get there from Central Park Slope. 8th Ave is too narrow to be safe - a cyclist has to "take a lane" and block all cars - an inconvenience to drivers and a risk to me and my son from an aggravated driver. My solution was to ride up a side street, with traffic, to PPW, and then ride the PPW sidewalk north to Grand Army Plaza.

Yes, I was one of those cyclists sharing the wide PPW sidewalk with pedestrians, dog walkers and joggers every morning. It was the only safe route to day care. There are no usable entrances to the Park Drive, and I would be riding the wrong way on Drive - not a viable solution.

The roadways through Park Slope to GAP are not safe for a slow cyclist riding with a child aboard, or a parent accompanying a child to day care or school or soccer. I'm a Brooklyn Soccer Dad. I don't use a mini-van to schlep the kids, instead, we get on our bikes and ride to the soccer fields. Or do you prefer to have fat little kids in more cars and need more car parking spots at the park?

I rode this way in 1982, and Marty, without the new PPW bike lane, I would be riding the sidewalk again today if I had to bring my grandson to day care. The new bike lane is safe, the roadways there are deadly.

Marty, I was the City Council hearing Thursday and heard you speak and sing. I was not impressed with what I heard. You are wrong about the DOT, the DOT listened to years of community input, and then did the right thing.
Dec. 12, 2010, 7:16 pm
Michael from UWS says:
Actually, Marty's card really makes the opposite point of what he wants: If you count how many people are in the various lanes, it clearly shows (a) there is a need for all the other lanes and, more importantly, (b) all non-car lanes have a higher density of people per area, hence a much better use of public spaces ... ;-)
Dec. 13, 2010, 8:28 am
@stevef from milky way says:
Nice post, railing about drivers refusing to give up their convenience for others safety, and then describing how you have been doing the same thing since 1982.
Dec. 13, 2010, 8:30 am
boof from brooklyn says:
Marty thinks his card is cleverly snide (he must, knowing his opinion of PPW), but it actually raises an important question: Why do we still give so much public street space to cars when a minority of us even own one?
Dec. 13, 2010, 10:45 am
Robert from Dyker Heights says:
I bicycle commute in from southern Brooklyn, coming through the park both ways. I use the PPW bike lane for only about a block in the a.m. and not at all in the p.m. due to the routing I use. (Down the bike lane on 2nd and up the bike lane on 3rd.)

That being said, how could ANYTHING be wrong with something that forces NYC traffic to slow down at the same time it creates opportunities for people to choose a healthier lifestyle?

The cars are going away, one way or the other. Either we run out of fossil fuels or we become sensible now. Future generations will see this debate as laughable. For the record, I am a car owner and regular driver in NYC.
Dec. 13, 2010, 2:20 pm
Eazy D from Sheesphead Bay says:
For a change I actually agree with Marty. Why do F do I need out of town hipsters and a mayor who gets driven everywhere to try and make me feel sad about having a car. I love to bike -- for recreation. Seriously, all of you car haters need to get a life!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Or, better yet, go live somewhere else.
Dec. 14, 2010, 2:40 am
Or from Yellow Hook says:
And if there is snow in the bike lane, you can now take your bike on the SUBWAY even during rush hour!
Dec. 14, 2010, 1:21 pm
boof from brooklyn says:
Eazy -- why do you feel sad? The current changes have increased the total number of street users on PPW (cars bikes now is greater than cars bikes before).

Or from Yellow -- If there's snow in the bike lane, you are free (by law) to ride in a regular lane. Same as any time the bike line is not safe for riding.
Dec. 15, 2010, 9:59 am
BklynPeg from BkHgts says:
Easy D said it well. According to other readers, I'm still supposed to feel "compassion" for those bikesters who ride side by side, chatting through narrow streets in Cobble Hill, and give 69 y/o women-drivers the
finger for daring to use the streets on a weekend! I don't think they are any more respectful to pedestrians.
Why don't these bike-rs care more about the over-development that's leading to traffic, and construction-
caused delays? (can they squeeze between the bulldozers?). For once lately, the BP's on the right track
(if only, sooner, regarding FCR many other developers).
P.S. the Pedestrian "Islands" (actually peninsulas), that remove a lane (and several parking spaces) at crucial and unforeseen corners are probably a less useful and more dangerous "innovation" here in Bklyn. No warning, no light on them at night. On one corner residents placed a garbage pail to stop drivers from riding over the peninsula at night.
Thanks for the card, Marty, I'll save it.
Dec. 15, 2010, 1:25 pm
boof from brooklyn says:
Development doesn't cause traffic. Cars cause traffic.
Dec. 16, 2010, 3:57 pm

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