Never have so many words been exchanged about so few feet of pavement and lane striping. Our kids should be forgiven for believing that the Battle of Brooklyn was when George Washington strategically retreated his bicycle across Prospect Park West.
Yes, there has been controversy. But it’s time to accept the facts: Extensive data show the project is a success. The community board asked for it. The vast majority of neighborhood residents support it. The Department of Transportation is proposing a few modifications to make it work even better. Prospect Park West is safer for pedestrians, cyclists, and even drivers.
Let me make one final effort to make the case clear: Community Board 6 asked for this project to calm traffic and provide a safer place to bike (in both directions). The Department of Transportation presented the project to the community numerous times, to hundreds of people, before it was ever implemented, and made changes in response to feedback before laying down any paint last summer.
The Department of Transportation released a six-month report in January, with 67 pages of raw data. Speeding is down. Accidents are down. Injuries are down. Riding on the sidewalk is down. Cycling is up. Overall, commuters using Prospect Park West are up. It takes about the same amount of time to drive down the street, and fears that Prospect Park West would be constantly gridlocked have simply not proven true.
Opponents have questioned the data, but they have not released their own for public scrutiny, and their most recent press release misstated basic facts.
Meanwhile, my office — along with Councilman Steve Levin and CB6 — conducted a detailed survey to which more than 3,000 people responded. Prospect Park West residents were evenly divided. But among all Park Slope respondents, more than 70 percent support keeping the lanes. Most feel safer not only biking on Prospect Park West, but also walking there. Eighty-five percent of respondents said the lanes have met the goal of reducing speeding.
Yes, not everyone agrees. Opponents include some of my friends, and a few former city officials. I respect their opinions. But I hope they won’t waste time and money on a lawsuit — and put at risk further safety improvements — when safety data, public process, and a majority of neighborhood residents all support the lane.
The Department of Transportation recently proposed a few modifications that would add raised pedestrian safety islands, signals to tell cyclists to yield to pedestrians, and “rumble strips.” I’d also like to find a few more parking spaces and adjust loading zones, to make parking a little easier.
Hopefully, the Department of Transportation will make these changes, and we can — at long last — move on.
By whatever mode of transportation you prefer.
Councilman Brad Lander represents Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Columbia Waterfront, Park Slope, Windsor Terrace and Borough Park, and Kensington.