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Bike-lash! City bails on plan for another two-way lane after PPW protests

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The city abandoned plans for a two-way bike path on Plaza Street West in the wake of a lawsuit over the controversial Prospect Park West bike lane — and seething cyclists say that transportation honchos were simply scared of another fight.

In April 2010, the Department of Transportation drafted its “Grand Army Plaza Enhancement” plan, which included a two-way connector lane on Plaza Street West that would link up with the about-to-be-built bike lane on Prospect Park West, where the city was set to remove a lane of car traffic to install a two-way protected cycle path.

The rest is history: The Prospect Park West bike lane became the subject of loud opposition — particularly from a wealthy and politically connected group of neighbors — prompting a lawsuit and plenty of bad press for the Department of Transportation. Then the city has quietly scrapped the connector path on Plaza Street West.

Department of Transportation spokesman Seth Solomonow said that the agency will not install the new lane this year due to “the scope” of a bigger Grand Army Plaza project, which includes a new stop light and an expansion of the farmer’s market area. But those elements have been part of the city’s plan since its inception, an indication that the choice to shelve the Plaza Street West portion is based on more complicated factors, cyclists charged.

“They’ve stopped because of the push back [from bike lane opponents],” said cycling advocate Eric McClure. “But a two-way lane on Plaza Street West really makes sense from a bike-connector perspective.”

Cyclists on the curved street, where a one-way bike lane is located, often end up on Plaza Street West as they leave the Prospect Park West bike lane because there are no signs directing cyclists to Plaza Street East, which actually provides the best connection to the Vanderbilt Avenue bike lane.

The decision to delay or completely abandon the lane comes nine months after a group of neighbors sued the city over the Prospect Park West bike lane, saying it turned the scenic street into a dangerous fishbowl of cars, cyclist and pedestrians, although it later lost.

Around that time, residents on Plaza Street West — some of whom have ties to the same group, Neighbors For Better Bike lanes — also wrote the city letters opposing the connector lane, saying it would taint the tree-lined street and make it difficult for drivers to maneuver around double-parked cars.

But cyclists and some residents say that a two-way lane would make the area safer and that more bike traffic on the street will send a message to the dollar vans — which double park there — that the space a meant for bikes, not mini-vans.

For now, the city won’t provide a timeline for when — or if — the two-way Plaza Street lane would be completed.

“We will continue to work with the community on ways to improve bike access at this location,” Solomonow said.

Some residents don’t want to wait.

“This is important,” said Plaza Street West resident Robert Minsky. “What happened to it?”

Reach reporter Natalie O'Neill at noneill@cnglocal.com or by calling her at (718) 260-4505.

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Reader Feedback

Boxarch from Park Slope says:
As you say, Plaza St East is the best way to go (as do cars), so why not have the same one way signage as for cars - on both the east and west sides of Plaza Street? it certainly is cheaper not to mention more logical.
Nov. 2, 2011, 8:24 am
Mike says:
Much more balanced article than usual from Natalie O'Neill, although it would have helped if she had explained why the two-way lane is necessary (because of major park access routes from bike lanes on Lincoln and Berkeley, and the use of the existing bike lane as a passing lane by rude motorists).

The city should proceed with implementation ASAP.
Nov. 2, 2011, 8:38 am
G from PPW says:
It also would have helped if Natalie O'Neill and Gersh Kuntzman hadn't contributed to the year-long misinformation campaign from NBBL against the PPW bike lane. The wild claims, errors, and downright lies that they allowed to be printed in this paper are one of the reason Plaza Street remains as dangerous as it is.

We need a two-way, protected bike lane on this street to connect with existing bike lanes on Lincoln and Berkeley. As it stands right now, the design is a virtual invitation for cyclists to ride the wrong way down a blind curve on Plaza Street, potentially into a speeding dollar van or someone else who uses the painted bike lane as a passing lane.

If an accident occurs there, it won't be an accident. It will be the direct result of a cowered DOT, the conflict-driven Brooklyn Paper, and the efforts of Louise Hainline, Jim Walden, Iris Weinshall, and Chuck Schumer.
Nov. 2, 2011, 9:14 am
Kevin from Flatbush says:
Mike & G, you forgot about Vanderbilt Ave.
From Vanderbilt to the park would be much better along a 2 way protected bike path along plaza street.

Same situation as you mention on the other side, of course - just in reverse.
Nov. 2, 2011, 9:58 am
WDTBT from Unpleasantville, NY says:
What does Tal Barzilai Think?
Nov. 2, 2011, 10:52 am
Robert from Park Slope says:
Thanks for this highlighting this important issue. A protected bike lane on Plaza Street will make the street safer for pedestrians, bikers and drivers. The DOT needs to build this immediately. It has already been approved by 2 community boards. There is no excuse for further delays.
Nov. 2, 2011, 11:42 am
Other Michael from Park Slope says:
Yes, Were are you Tal?
Nov. 2, 2011, 11:44 am
ty from pps says:
I had to read the byline several times... did Natalie O'Neill really write this?!
Nov. 2, 2011, 2:23 pm
al pankin from downtown says:
the bike lanes around prospect park are plain dangerous...it is installed for seasonal usage...it's dangerous to drive in that area, cars and bikes comming from all directiosn..the bike lanes never should have been built..horray for Chuck Schumer and his wife for standing up against them.
Nov. 2, 2011, 2:31 pm
Other Michael from Park Slope says:
Al Pankin

Are you for real? Have you actually ever seen the bike lanes?

They don't go around the park, ya know.
Nov. 2, 2011, 2:45 pm
Antonio Ricci from Roma says:
wheres my Bruno? AND WHO STEALED MI BICICLETTA! i have poster of Rita hayworth to paste up...& no more balnket sheet to sell...
Nov. 2, 2011, 2:59 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Although I thank Eric McClure in his fight against the Atlantic Yards, I will have to say he is wrong about that planned bike lane. It is just as much of a boondoggle as the Atlantic Yards is, and in some cases, just as shady not to mention parallels that can be drawn between DDDB and NBBL. Getting to the truth of the matter, cyclists are still a fringe for the most part. Al does make a good point about why they are only used seasonally and are seen as a waste of space durring the cold parts of the year. Seriously, how many actually ride their bicycles when it's raining or snowing, because JSK never seems to give that information? I give a thanks to the stopping of this bike lane. Power to the people and not to the few!
Nov. 2, 2011, 5:02 pm
Other Michael from Park Slope says:
Lots of people have been using their bikes in the rain and recent cold. I know I have and I was not alone.

The bike lanes make is safer and more convenient to ride so more people do.

When is the last time you actually saw the PPW bike lane??
Nov. 2, 2011, 6:19 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Other Mike, what difference does it make weather I have actually seen the PPW bike lane or not? I can googol streetsview it just like anybody else easily enough. In any event, this has no bearing on my right to comment as I see fit. Wasting scarce resources on a fringe group of streetsblogger zealouts is not what I want my tax dollars going to, especially while motorists are dealing with crumbing roads and ever rising taxes and fuel costs. Next thing you know, those streesbloggers will be demanding covered bike lanes so as to avoid inclimate weather. I wish the silent majority out there would come to my defense more often b/c I am getting tired of being kicked around by everyone like Israel is the whipping post of the muslim world and anti-semites everywhere else.
Nov. 3, 2011, 11:14 am
ty from ppp says:
Yeah, Tal, you're just like Israel... poor persecuted you.

Have you ever thought you get "kicked around" is because you say ridiculously uninformed and willfully ignorant things? Even when you are provided CLEAR data about bike lane usage, etc., you come back with the same ignorant comments over and over and over and over again.
Nov. 3, 2011, 11:30 am
Johanna Clearfield from Park Slope says:
Here's what you do when you get to the "nowhere to go" part - on Plaza Street West -- you ride opposite the traffic (because you only have to get to Flatbush and its about another few blocks). Then you get killed by oncoming traffic. Or, even better. When you go in the CORRECT direction (on Plaza Street West) you will find that the FRESH DIRECT trucks double-parked in front of the apartment buildings cause the cars, trucks and vans to all use the BIKE LANE and so you can forget about there being a bike lane there. Just sayin.
Nov. 3, 2011, 12:15 pm
tom from sunset park says:
A friend who lives ON Plaza Street West let me know that they are adamant that there be no bike lane on their street. Enough is enough.
Nov. 3, 2011, 12:43 pm
Mike says:
But... there's already a bike lane on Plaza Street West. It's just often full of cars. Amazing that your "friend" is so much more concerned with their own convenience than with people's lives.
Nov. 3, 2011, 12:46 pm
Other Michael from Park Slope says:
tal

Of course you are entitled to your opinion, but looking at Google street views really does not make it informed.
Nov. 3, 2011, 1:51 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
First of all, I was not at my computer at all yesteday, so whoever made that post, wasn't me, but I have a suspicion on who did. Why do your needs outweight everyone elses'? Right now there are a number of sections in the public sector that are being forced to close or downsize due to the lack of funding, but I take it that you cyclists are apathetic to those. As long as you get you bike lanes, nothing else matters as the end will justify the means. I just don't find it necessary to spend money to build bike lanes and pedestrian plazas when they will mostly be used when weather permitting compared to fixing roads that are used all year long. If there really are those that use their bikes when it rains or snows, I would love to see the stats for that rather than hear one of your ramblings. Why is it that neither Bloomberg or JSK will show that if they know that there are those that will brave the weather? My guess is that is that most never do this, which is why it's never shown.
Nov. 4, 2011, 2:49 pm
Other Michael from Park Slope says:
Tal

Bike lanes cost very little and they make it saver for people to get from place to place. YOU WOULD UNDERSTAND THAT IF YOU EVER SAW ONE!
Nov. 4, 2011, 3:32 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Other Michael, I just heard from the NY Post that it's now a law that community input must be involved at least 90 days before even putting a bike lanes. This means that communties now have a say, and if they oppose for the most part, the lanes will not go there. Of course you and your bike zealout friends will probably be crying foul on this especially if you lose. It just shows that democracy is a double edged sword, and can work both ways. Don't give me that bike lanes give protection, because that has been found to be false. I believe that as much as I believe the Muslim Brotherhood finally recognizing Israel as an existing nation, and don't ask me what that means, because you would probably feel better if I didn't tell you that.
Nov. 4, 2011, 6:47 pm
Other Michael from Park Slope says:
Tal

I feel better knowing that you are not real so your input does not count.
Nov. 5, 2011, 5:37 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I am as real as you are, and maybe you should ask Eric Mclure, who does No Land Grab, because he knows me and met me numerous times. How do I know that you are a real person and not someone using several names, Mr. Idontuseaconsistantnamewhenicommenteventhoughiamprobablythatverysameperson? Let's not forget that there is a possibility that you could have impersonated me as well. Reguardless, I find the communtiy input with time to look it at them a very fair way to place future bike lanes or not, because at least the community will be invovled, though Streetsblog and TA will probably send their flash mobs to all of them to outnumber the possible communities that oppose them.
Nov. 5, 2011, 4:48 pm
Mike says:
"Don't give me that bike lanes give protection, because that has been found to be false."

Citation please. All known studies find that bike lanes make streets safer.
Nov. 9, 2011, 11:15 am

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