Bike lanes in the Big Apple just can’t catch a break. As New York City continues to expand its greenways, it seems that every project is faced with opposition in one way or another. This past Sunday, hundreds of cyclists took to the streets to support the Prospect Park West bike lane, a lane that has courted controversy since being put in place less than a year ago. As we reported back in March, the lane is a 2-way greenway that runs along Prospect Park in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Supporters believe it is a family-friendly re-design of a once 3-lane, one-way road that accommodated speedy drivers and not much else. A larger than expected crowd showed up for the event, giving us hope that the lane won’t be removed.
Opposition to the bike lane is being spearheaded by two groups, Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes and Seniors for Safety, who filed a joint law suit against the Department of Transportation in regards to the lane in March. They say that the lane is dangerous to pedestrians, and they are demanding that the lanes be removed while an independent study re-examines traffic patterns to determine whether or not the street is safe enough for a bike lane. This comes after claims that the DOT acted irrationally when developing the lane and suppressed earlier criticism towards the project.
Supporters at the rally on Sunday disagree, asserting the lane is just what Prospect Park West needed. The lane was put in place not just for bikers but also as a traffic-calming alternative that was meant to help protect pedestrians from vehicular traffic and bikers competing for road space. The re-design has resulted in PPW now being a 2-lane one-way street, with a lane of parallel parking acting as a buffer between vehicles and the 2-way bike lane. Supporters say they feel much safer with the lane in place, and they often feel uneasy biking in areas when there is no clear bike lane.
Councilman Brad Lander (D-Park Slope) showed support on his own bicycle chanting, “Yield to Pedestrians!” helping to bring awareness to the true issue with the lanes: bikers must be aware not just of vehicles but pedestrians that use PPW. On the weekends and during the summer, the street is flooded with pedestrians making their way to Prospect Park.
The show of support is the second since the lane opened last June, the first brought in a few hundred supporters last October. It also comes on the tail of angst towards a proposed bike lane on Greenpoint Avenue Bridge, which connects Brooklyn and Queens. Supporters hope that their actions speak louder than the words of the lawsuit and that those opposed to lane can see that there are many benefits of the PPW bike lane. But as Councilman Lauder chanted, bikers must follow the rules just like everyone else or similar battles will continue to creep up.
Via Brooklyn Paper
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