Did Marty Markowitz bring the Prospect Park West bike lane to a skidding halt?
What was once billed as a way of keeping bicyclists off the sidewalk and perhaps reduce traffic in the process now may not be implemented at all — and many believe that the Department of Transportation’s reluctance to move ahead with the two-way protected lane dates back to Markowitz’s sternly worded letter to the city last year.
The lane was all set to be built last September. It would have removed one lane of car traffic from the one-way, three lane road that runs from Grand Army Plaza to Bartel Pritchard Square at 15th Street, moved the lane of parked cars off the curb, and installed the two-way bike lane where the parked cars used to be.
That “road diet” would supposedly encourage drivers to behave themselves while also encouraging bikers on Ninth Street — which has a bike lane — to not enter the park via the various footpaths.
But just as the city was about to start building, Markowitz wrote to the city’s top transportation official that the Prospect Park West lane was an “ill-advised proposal that would cause incredible congestion and reduce the number of available parking spaces in Park Slope.”
The Beep’s letter also argued that the bike lane would be especially problematic during the summer surge in foot traffic, when park-goers are barbecuing, attending concerts and participating in many other activities.
Markowitz claimed that there is ample space for bikers in the loop within Prospect Park — though it only goes in one direction — and called for further research into traffic solutions.
Markowitz’s letter came after Community Board 6 backed the bike lane in May, albeit with a demand for a stronger separation between bikers and cars, plus traffic signals for bikers entering Grand Army Plaza.
“The city plan had no control of northbound bike traffic,” said Craig Hammerman, the district manager of Community Board 6. “We wanted lights for bikes” as on Eighth Avenue in Manhattan.
A Department of Transportation spokesman would not provide any estimate of when the bike lane would be re-examined, though one thing is for certain: the lane won’t built anytime soon, as the city does not work on such projects during the winter.