Lane pains! Foes of Prospect Park West cycle path threaten new suit

The Brooklyn Paper
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

Opponents of the Prospect Park West bike lane — whose case against the world’s most controversial cycle path was thrown out last week — are now demanding that the city remove the bike route entirely or face another lawsuit.

Last Friday, lane foes issued the ultimatum to Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan because Supreme Court Judge Bert Bunyan’s ruling required the group to “exhaust administrative remedies” before it may file a new lawsuit against the city.

To Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes — the group that has been fighting the lane ever since its installation last year — that means that the city must remove the cycle path entirely or else a second suit will be filed.

A new case can only go ahead if lane foes can prove that the city never intended the bike lane to be a permanent alteration because suits against such permanent changes must be filed within four months.

That’s why Bunyan tossed the suit last week, avoiding the foes’ larger argument that the city turned Prospect Park West into a danger to pedestrians when it improperly removed a lane of car traffic to create a two-way protected bike lane.

Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes intends to prove the path was actually a temporary project — an argument that would allow the group to skirt the statute of limitations.

Their case was bolstered last month, when Borough President Markowitz swore under oath that Sadik-Khan told him that the lane was merely a “trial” project, not a permanent change.

A spokeswoman for the city’s legal team declined to comment on the threat of a new lawsuit, saying only that the Law Department had received the letter.

The city has long maintained that it installed the traffic-calming project after extensive analysis and a process that was “rational and reasonable in all respects.”

What’s more, most of the neighboring community also supports the bike lane, according to two surveys.

One of those supporters is Transportation Alternatives director Paul Steely White, who called the new letter “a desperate quest for headlines.”

“These malcontents had their day in court,” he said. “The people of Park Slope have endured this reckless PR stunt long enough. It’s time to move on.”

For her part, Sadik-Khan had called the case “frivolous” last week — but Walden thinks the commissioner is the one who is being self-serving.

“We intend to address the condescension and high-handed manor in which she has dealt with this case,” Walden said. “I have never seen a public servant with such hubris.”

Updated 5:25 pm, July 9, 2018: Slight change in language to be more clear.
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

Reasonable discourse

PPW Crosser from Park Slope says:
I cross PPW twice a day. The challenge, as I see it, is that current street protocol gives the pedestrian the right of way. The Manhattan avenues have bike-specific stop lights. No such absolute stops exist on PPW. When a person on foot approaches a biker in the lane, I believe the organic instinct on the part of the pedestrian is to stop and let the faster moving person on a bike have the right of way so they don't get hurt. Similarly, a person on a bike, whether pedaling at 5MPH or 20MPH (I've seen many bikers hurtling down the lanes) instinctively keeps on going less s/he be hurt. All of it makes sense in terms of behavior but it changes the dynamic of being a pedestrian, at least on PPW in my experience. Yes, bike riders are supposed to stop for pedestrians but the instinctual reactions of both rider and pedestrian dictate otherwise. This happens even if both rider and pedestrian are on the ball, which often is not the case. The questions becomes: Is the bike lane fairly placed to accommodate pedestrians, supposed-tos notwithstanding?
Aug. 22, 2011, 12:42 am
Resident from PPW says:
Tear down those lanes Commissioner Sadik-Khan!
Aug. 22, 2011, 3:48 am
manhatposeur from manhat says:
Keep the lanes!
Aug. 22, 2011, 5:51 am
DS from Boerum Hill says:
Is anyone else incensed that Senator Chuck Schumer's wife is throwing taxpayer money down a big effing hole on this stupidity while the state is enduring a financial crisis? Are the rich and powerful truly so callous that they need to waste our time and money just so they can insist on more parking space for their limousines? If anything, Brooklyn residents should be amassing on the Schumers' stoop insisting that they leave our neighborhood all together.
Aug. 22, 2011, 7:01 am
Gert from PPW says:
Iris Weinshall, YOU LOST. Stop this madness. No one wants PPW to be a three-lane speedway again, except for you. Enough already.
Aug. 22, 2011, 7:09 am
boof from brooklyn says:
Bolstered? Here's what Judge Bunyan said about Markowitz's testimony:

"[T]he Borough President’s conclusory affidavit is devoid of detail and fails to raise a genuine issue of material fact."

Note that his honor did not use the phrase, "Liar, liar, pants on fire."
Aug. 22, 2011, 8:22 am
Mike says:
NBBL to City: "Stop hitting yourself!"
Aug. 22, 2011, 8:28 am
Ben from Williamsburg says:
Who is Walden, and who misspelled "manner"?
Aug. 22, 2011, 8:29 am
PPWer from PPW says:
Natalie O'Neill strikes again!

"Their case was bolstered last month, when Borough President Markowitz swore under oath that Sadik-Khan told him that the lane was merely a “trial” project, not a permanent change."

Read Bunyan's verdict. He specifically slams Marty Markowitz' affidavit as "devoid of fact." It hardly bolstered their case and probably hurt it.

And Walden's smear of Sadik-Khan is telling in how much it describes his clients. Hubris is a small group of politically connected people waltzing into a years-long community process at the last moment with threats and lawyers and then filing a lawsuit to undo what hundreds of community members worked to achieve and thousands more support and benefit from every day. If anyone is displaying hubris here it's people like Louise Hainline and Norman Steisel, who think they can make an end run around democracy and ignoring the will of the community.

Hubris is having Iris Weinshall and Chuck Schumer make a few phone calls and write some letters to undo what a community board has been working for years to implement. Hubris is jumping the line at a public hearing on bicycles in December and speaking for longer than anyone else, longer, in fact, than people who waited for hours in the cold.

Hubris is assuming that you know better than professionals and members of the transportation committee of a democratically appointed community board, especially when your right to double park is at stake.

Hubris is losing a court case and then demanding people do the opposite of what a judge said could happen.

Hubris is emailing letters to the Brooklyn Paper and knowing that they'll regurgitate anything you write, no matter how outlandish. (Actually, maybe that's just how it works at this paper.)

If anyone is displaying hubris here, it's Iris Weinshall and her friends at 9 Prospect Park West, who don't believe they need to listen to the true needs of their community, all of whom benefit from having PPW a lot safer than it was before.

But never mind all that, Iris and Chuck! Bring back the highway and get the bikes back on the sidewalk. It's clear that you don't care one bit about the safety of seniors, children, or anyone else.

Shame on you.
Aug. 22, 2011, 8:34 am
Dave from Park Slope says:
OK, they lost, and now they're demanding the lane be removed? What?!

Time for these losers to go away.

And the purported "danger" of crossing the street is belied by the total absence of pedestrian injuries since the street was redesigned. That makes it, um, safer.
Aug. 22, 2011, 8:39 am
PPWer from PPW says:
Exactly. The bike lane has been in place for over a year, yet Walden is trotting out charts and statistics from long long ago. If the lane is as bad as they say, where are the dead and injured pedestrians, suffering at the hands of scofflaw cyclists? I'm sure Iris & Co. would trot those people out if they existed, but they don't because the bike lane - wait for it - has made the area SAFER!
Aug. 22, 2011, 8:42 am
Other Michael from Park Slope says:
Jeff from Lefferts says:....

As it stands, the path is quite dangerous as pedestrians quote often walk right onto them coming and going from the park without looking. Why not install some sort of barrier to protect both cyclists and pedestrians? Nothing fancy, just something that will warn everyone of cyclists?

Jeff, have you actually seen the PPW Bike lane?

FOR IT'S ENTIRE LENGTH, there is a striped area at least 2 feet wide that separates the parked cars from the bike lane. There is also a no parking zone at every crosswalk. It is pretty much impossible for a bike to not see a person who is crossing the bike.

So a a pedestrian has to do is pause (not even stop) and look both ways before crossing. Not so dangerous.
Aug. 22, 2011, 9:42 am
Video from PPW says:
Here's how "dangerous" it is to cross the Prospect Park West bike lane.

Notice that the few cars on PPW don't have much of a problem speeding.
Aug. 22, 2011, 10:03 am
Dock Oscar from Puke Slop says:
I think that the bike lanes are great BUT, the overall unwritten law is that pedestrians have the right of way. In fact, there are many signs that say "yield to pedestrians" and yet, some cyclists blast through the crosswalks. Yes, some folks do blunder right into the lanes in the middle of the block BUT this is NYC. Heck, just driving around in a car, people jaywalk blindly all of the time. Yet as a car driver, I can't simply smash into them and then yell at them. Same with a bike. I think much of this antagonism can be deflated if we didn't have cyclists with such bad manners.
Aug. 22, 2011, 10:19 am
problem fixed says:
why not ask hasidics to oppose the lanes and then like magic, poooffff there gone in the morning
Aug. 22, 2011, 10:22 am
ty from pps says:
But there actually is no problem... you can keep saying the "bad manners" or the "arrogant cyclists" over and over. The fact is, there is no problem. Where are all of these accidents? Where are all of the terrorized pedestrians sobbing in a fetal position?

The one thing I do know is that 9 Prospect Park West is full of adults that don't know how to cross a city street. That's sad. Must be caused by the fact that most have a car and drive that pick them up at their door -- I'm looking at you Iris.
Aug. 22, 2011, 11:23 am
Phil from Kensington says:
I cross the PPW bike lane several times a week every week. Believe me when I say how frightened I am by the prospect of having to do so. Do I wait for the light to change? Do I have right of way? Those six feet of walking is so fraught with danger that sometimes I lay awake at night unable to have another thought in my head. It just spins and spins in my brain and of course I can't sleep. I have fantasies that I can't turn my head to see if a bicyclist is coming. I am frozen with terror. Those green lanes, those horrible green lanes turn into vile toothed creatures with claws. Oh the horror. The horror. . .And now my shrink is demanding that I pay more since all I do is talk about bike lanes, bike lanes, bike lanes . . . help.
Aug. 22, 2011, 7:49 pm
Iris W. from PPW says:
What does Tal Barzilai think?
Aug. 22, 2011, 8:17 pm
Other Michael from Park Slope says:
He already stated his opinion by impostering himself as Phil from Kensinging.
Aug. 22, 2011, 9:33 pm
Brownstone from Park Slope says:
This NBBL action has been nothing more than a vendetta by a few former city commissioners against the mayor and current commissioner. Far from their being "DOT's efforts to stonewall the community", the Park Slope community demanded, through their Community Board, that DOT control the speeding car traffic on PPW and get cyclists off the PPW sidewalk. The DOT has succeeded spectacularly in both these community based goals.

The NBBL keeps saying that the PPW bike lane was forced on the community as an under the table deal. They keep demanding the transcripts of the "deal" and can's believe that this whole thing was done in the open. They can't believe, because when they were in power, it would have been done under the table. They may still be rich and still have friends in high places, but they no longer control the community.

The current NBBL goal appears to be spreading Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) about all city bicycle projects, not just PPW. They appear to hate bicycles and are using FUD to delay and prevent any and all "intrusions" on their motorists "rights and privileges" that might be caused by pedestrian or bicycle traffic safety measures. They loose in court, but keep the FUD Press Releases flowing, more sewage into the Gowanus.

NBBL talks about the "historic" nature of the 5 lanes dedicated to moving and parking cars, and transferring one of those 5 lanes to a two way bike path on the park side has "ruined" the park. There were two trolley tracks along PPW for nearly 100 year, and no on-street parking, for longer than there have been cars on the street.
Think crossing an 8 foot wide bikeway is a problem? Try crossing in front of two trolley cars closing in on you at 30 MPH! Or try crossing in front of three lanes of cars moving at 50 MPH - which was the status quo before the 3rd car lane was removed.

Despite loosing a lane, traffic has not been negatively impacted. The same volume of traffic travels through the one mile, and total travel time has not been reduced. Yet speeding has been reduced.
How can that be?

Because before, traffic hit 40-50 MPH and then stopped at the next red light, then zoomed to the next red light to Zero MPH. Now, traffic moves close to a steady 30 MPH - at the city speed limit - and gets from Grand Army Plaza to Pritchard Square in the same elapsed time. The difference is between peak speed and average speed - yet running time is the same.

By the way, cyclists don't speed. Unless one is cycling at over 30 MPH in the bike lane. Please invite that one cyclist to join the US Olympic team. The rest, they are traveling at a legal speed on PPW.

Sure there are problems, when drivers illegally double park and block a lane. But that is drivers being illegal, not cyclists or pedestrians. The NY Police have been seen double parking a police bus and blocking traffic. The NBBL is really annoyed that they can no longer keep their chauffeur waiting in their limo in front of their house without blocking traffic.

We have met the enemy, and they are us.
Aug. 22, 2011, 11:01 pm
Scott from Park Slope says:
DS from Boerum Hill--Amen!

The best turn for all of this to take now is for everyone to amass on the Schumers' doorstep and ask them to leave the neighborhood. Indeed, leave the state!

That would generate great press and wake voters up to how overdue it is to get someone else to represent New York.
Aug. 23, 2011, 9:17 am
Tony from Park Slope says:
PPW residents are just another tiny constituency of elitists that live in expensive homes and view the park and road bordering it their own private playground. If anything, the DOT should create a raised island between the bike lane and street, install bike traffic signals, and remove the parking lane completely. It would address the exaggerated safety concerns and let a vital and safe bike artery to remain.

But wait.... The PPW elite would then complain about lost parking spots. The problem is that they want PPW to remain as is - just like every New Yorker. In DUMBO, a select handful of resident vociferously fought the construction of new housing that would also contain a new public school. Why? Because their million dollar views would be blocked.

I applaud the city for addressing the needs of students and working people. The people for whom bike lanes are more than leisurely pleasure. Bike riding is not only better for health and environment, it is also the most economical way to travel longer distances in the city.

Once again, Marty Markowitz sides with his big campaign donors from PPW over the needs of the working class. Then again, he has no transportation worries, since he illegally uses public funds for his personal travel.
Aug. 23, 2011, 9:27 am
Todd from ParkSlope says:
I mean come on, this is just ridiculous. There has to be something else to this, are they really having problems crossing the street? This is so clearly marked. What the hell is wrong with people,
Aug. 23, 2011, 12:15 pm
Jym from PLG says:
=v= Walden sure issues a lot of press releases for his groundless, dismissed lawsuit. One must wonder why the tabloid press mistakes them for news.
Aug. 23, 2011, 12:26 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I could not have been on my computer at 6:16 pm today because I was busy doing work. Mike, cut it out and just stop it. Or if it was another imposter I will find out and let you know but you should be the one who takes the blame for this.

I say that NBBL should sue as many times as they feel it is necessary to get rid of this unwanted bike lane since most polls show that bike lanes are not popular in this neighborhood and there is proof on a video camera that an ambulance used it to get around drivers who didn't move for it. This is America and everyone is entitled to have a day in court for what they believe in. If Bloomberg wants this he should be forced to testify on TV about the case and prove that people use the bike lane. I do not think they do and even if they do no biker uses it correctly sicne they are all arrogant zealouts who don't deserve streets.
Aug. 23, 2011, 7:38 pm
ty from pps says:
PLEASE tell me that 8:38pm comment was fake... I've been reading the NYPost comments a lot lately, so I'm not sure. PLEASE tell me no one is that stupid and clueless... PLEASE.
Aug. 23, 2011, 9:11 pm
Aunt Bea from park slope says:
I know that anyone who dares question the mighty bike lane is an elitist tea partying billionaire, so I take a considerable risk in pointing out that the vaunted bike lane seems to be quite....empty. The weather's been fantastic, and yet I never see anyone riding in it. Maybe it's because it doesn't really go anywhere? Or maybe it's because it's much nicer to ride in the park? Granted, I'm only out there every morning, and at night, so maybe I'm missing the hordes of riders.
Aug. 24, 2011, 8:55 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
First off, that post last night wasn't done by me at all. As a matter of fact, the lawsuit was only dismissed because of the time it was brought, not because it had no merits. They are allowed to sue again, and I wish the best for them. I wouldn't be celebrating just yet, because it's not over.
Aug. 24, 2011, 9:39 pm
Other Michael from Park Slope says:

The lawsuit was dismissed because it had no merits. It was based on the fact that they claimed the bike lane was proposed as a "trial". The judge ruled that it was never proposed as a trial.
Aug. 25, 2011, 7:40 am
T from PPW says:
Aunt Bea, since the original intent of the PPW project was to calm traffic and make crossing distance shorter and therefore safer, the fact that bike lane usage is high or low is in some ways irrelevant. PPW had too many lanes for the volume of traffic it handled, which lead to speeding. When the community board decided to do something about it, they realized that by solving the first problem of excessive speeding they'd be able to tackle the other problems of northerly bike access and sidewalk riding.

So, you may not see a lot of bikes depending on what time you go out, but be assured that even if the bike lane was filled in with dirt and you planted a vegetable garden, PPW does not need to go back to three speeding lanes of traffic. That was the original intent of the redesign.

I don't think questioning something makes someone an elitist tea party billionaire, but digging in ones heels with hard-set opinions might.
Aug. 25, 2011, 8:59 am
aunt bea from park slope says:
I wouldn't mind being a billionaire. I'd settle for being a thousandaire. As for heel digging with hard set opinions...well, let's say there's quite a lot of that to go around on both sides.

In any event, since the lane is apparently here to stay, I do wish people would at least use it. (it's actually not bad to run in.) as it stands now, a person could set a formal dinner table (something we elitist thousandaires do with great regularity) and enjoy a leisurely dinner!
Aug. 25, 2011, 9:39 am
Other Michael from Park Slope says:
I used it Monday, and I will used it today.

How many people have to use the bike for you to say it is used?
Aug. 25, 2011, 10:07 am
aunt bea from park slope says:
Well, more than none would be a start. And here you are, using it not once, but twice this week! just watch for picnickers.
Aug. 25, 2011, 11:49 am
Jo from Windsor Terrace says:
I use it every day on my way to and from work, although I work odd hours and don't necessarily come home until after 11 PM most of the time. Are you out walking then?

The bike lane is even more necessary in some ways when it's dark. Even with lights and reflectors, car drivers don't always expect to see bikes. So I'm happy to be in a protected lane and I sure as hell don't want to be alone in the park after dark.

To be fair, when I bike home at that hour, I don't see a lot of cars PPW but not too many people are saying it's not necessary because it's empty a lot of the time!
Aug. 25, 2011, 1:55 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Just cut out the personal attacks. I;ve heard what you have to say, and now you will hear me. If you don't like what you read, you can always skip over it. First of all, it is not the case that I am opposed to bikes. They should be treated like any other form of transportation and pay for licenses, etc. If bikers want to have bike lanes, then fine by me, just don't expect my taxdollars to pay for what i see is redundent. Let them join together and biuld there own lanes just like private developers have to pay for the land that they put buildings on. When I start a point of veiw, it sometimes takes people time to come around. On a side note, I was at the fourfront of the movement to rebuild the twin towers with my advocacy work, and now if you where to do a poll, you would find that perhaps 60% of New yorkers would agree with my standpoint. When people take the time to carefully read over my facts, they canot easily dispute them without resorting to name calling, which i consider to be a low blow below the belt and not respectful. I will continue to post on this websight as I represent the moral, mostly silent majority. The whole arab world is against Israel, but it does not back down. Same thing here. You can all gang up on me but i only come through looking stronger and silently gaining converts. I will continue to debunk the untruths b/c I am a nerdy leftist.

-Tal Barzilai
Aug. 30, 2011, 7:56 pm
Mike says:
What a moron.
Aug. 31, 2011, 8:13 am
Other Michael from Park Slope says:

Do you really think people who ride bikes should build their own roads?
Aug. 31, 2011, 10:55 am

Comments closed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.

Keep it local!

Stay in touch with your community. Subscribe to our free newsletter: