In a huge victory for the community and street safety advocates, Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Bert Bunyan has dismissed a lawsuit that sought to stop the redesign of Prospect Park West to include a two-way bike lane. The lawsuit was brought by Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, former DOT Commissioner Iris Weinshall, and other politically connected opponents with a history of opposing bike lanes in NYC. Despite a relentless and misinformed campaign filled with dubious and easily refutable claims against the bike lanes, Brooklyn residents can rest assure that the bike lanes are here to stay.
“This decision results in a hands-down victory for communities across the city. The plaintiffs have been dead wrong in their unsupported claims about the bike path and DOT’s practices,” said DOT Commissioner Sadik-Khan in a statement. “This project was requested by the community, they voted repeatedly to support it, and their support has registered in several opinion polls. Merely not liking a change is no basis for a frivolous lawsuit to reverse it.”
The legal issues surrounding the case had to do with whether the city had acted in an “arbitrary and capricious” manner by installing the bike lanes, despite community requests for traffic calming and better bike connections. It was also taken into consideration the fact that the plaintiffs filed the suit after a four-month statute of limitations had expired. Judge Bunyan’s decision was based on latter. Because Bunyan dismissed the suit based on the statute of limitations, he wasn’t required to address the “arbitrary and capricious” issue.
The plaintiffs and their attorney, Jim Walden, claimed the redesign of Prospect Park West bike lanes was only suppose to be a trial. They also claimed that the project did not become permanent until “the DOT presented data from a six-month evaluation period at a Community Board 6 hearing this January, about two months before they filed suit the first week of March.” The judge rejected this argument because the plaintiffs “presented no evidence that DOT viewed the bikeway as a pilot or temporary project.”
As Streetsblog reports, the bike lanes have thus far significantly reduced “traffic crashes, speeding, and sidewalk riding, and led to big increases in cycling.” According to NYCDOT, the retrofitting of Prospect Park West has led to the 16% decrease in crashes, the tripling of weekday cycling, and shorter crossing times for pedestrians.