CB6 hails, but then puts speed bump on Prospect Park bike lane

The Brooklyn Paper
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A Park Slope group voted on Wednesday to support a revolutionary proposal for a two-way bike lane on the park-side of Prospect Park West that would be protected from traffic by a row of parked cars — but demanded that the city delay the project and separate the bikers from the parked cars with a raised median instead of the less-protective painted buffer.

Community Board 6 first voted 18-9 to add the bike path — and take away one lane of car traffic — on the three-lane throughway between Grand Army Plaza and Bartel Pritchard Square.

Then the board voted 16-14 to ask the city to delay the construction of the lane until further study could be done.

Essentially, the board disputed the city’s contention that a four-foot-wide painted median between the bike lane and parked cars on the eastern side of Prospect Park West would sufficiently protect cyclists, motorists, and walkers.

“We don’t like the paint idea and feel that a curb would add more safety for pedestrians — having a physical separation is an important component,” said Craig Hammerman, the district manager of the board.

The city’s current plan calls for raised concrete islands to provide refuge for pedestrians crossing the bike path, but the board would like to extend the concrete islands into lengthy sidewalks that might prevent drivers from encroaching on the cycling lanes, and protect car passengers — especially children — who are accustomed to exiting vehicles beside the park without crossing a bike lane.

Board member and bike lane opponent James Bernard focussed on this portion of the debate.

“This is a crazy idea that doesn’t make any sense,” said Bernard, who fears that children might exit cars and dash towards the park — and into the cycling path — without looking both ways.

“People want to do something good for bikes, but you are robbing Peter to pay Paul — and Peter in this case is safety of the children,” he added.

Department of Transportation spokesman Seth Solmonow told The Brooklyn Paper that the painted buffer would adequately protect cyclists, motorists, pedestrians — and even car passengers.

“We definitely took into account that people would be exiting on the curbside — that’s why we put in the four-foot buffer,” noted Solomonow, who added that his agency would look into the board’s suggestions.

“We want to make sure the project works, and we want it to work in the best way possible,” he said.

The city maintains that constructing the bike lane and eliminating one lane of traffic on the 49-foot wide street — where 58 accidents involving motorists, cyclists and pedestrians were reported between 2005 and 2007 — will make the road safer for all users.

Department of Transportation officials claim that nixing one lane of traffic could also have the benefit of slowing drivers on Prospect Park West, where more than 15 percent of drivers roared down the straightaway at speeds exceeding 39 miles per hour — nine miles per hour above the speed limit, according to a Department of Transportation study in March.

After the second vote to delay the lane construction, bike lane boosters were baffled.

“It’s safer to have bike lanes on Prospect Park West than it is to have bikes on the sidewalk, which is what we have now,” said Jeff Strabone. “If we believe that this will make our lives safer, why delay safety?”

The board’s vote to delay the bike lane was meaningless anyway because the Department of Transportation said it did not plan to install the cycling routes until September.

Updated 5:13 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

j mork from p hts says:
Is this an underhanded attempt to kill the bike lanes by increasing the budget beyond reach? That would be a huge mistake.

Mr. Bernard's comment that "children might exit cars and dash towards the park — and into the cycling path — without looking both ways" DOESN'T MAKE ANY SENSE:

Many more children enter the park on foot, by crossing PPW, than by exiting parked cars. If he were truly concerned, he would be interested in calming the motor traffic on PPW, for the children.
May 18, 2009, 9:40 am
Gary from Park Slope says:
The perfect is the enemy of the good (Voltaire). This is a good viable plan. DOT should go ahead with it without delay. Bicyclists and pedestrians need the enhanced safety this provides now. The painted buffer serves the same purpose as a raised median to protect both those exiting cars and those on bicycle from cars doors and exiting passengers.
May 18, 2009, 10:30 am
two-wheeler from Park Slope says:
Well put, Gary. While a raised median would be better, a painted barrier is adequately effective. DOT should definitely move forward.
May 18, 2009, 11:27 am
jooltman from Park Slope says:
I attended this CB6 meeting, and I was shocked at the selfish attitude of many of the Board members who object to the bike lane on PPW. They are clearly more concerned with having to potentially incur delays while driving down PPW and losing parking spots (which won't even happen under the current plan!) than with saving the environment, encouraging a viable alternative means of transportation, and saving lives by slowing down the speeders on PPW! People who simply don't want to be inconvenienced in their own personal, car-centric daily routines presented concerns over children's safety as a ruse. Note to the objectors: Worrying about your own petty, selfish concerns is not what makes a good public servant. These board members should resign. Many of them claim to live on or near PPW. Don't they see the bikers speeding both directions on the sidewalk along the parkside of PPW? This is what endangers our children! Jeff Strabone was one of the only intelligent, sensible voices I heard all night.
May 18, 2009, 8:26 pm
Mike from Greenpoint says:
Why do we have hysterical and ill-informed pro-car folks like James Bernard "representing" us on community boards? These people are 50 years behind the times and are holding us back from repairing the damage the car has done to our city. Get rid of these bozos!
May 18, 2009, 8:58 pm
paco from cobble hill says:
DOT has already proven success with painted buffers on roads way more congested than Prospect Park West. The vote to delay it now for a costly, unnecessary addition makes me fear it'll give anti-bike folks more time to try and brainwash the CB with lies that they need to travel 50mph there and will in the end vote against it fully. Let's hope they stick to logic and get the bike lane in there as originally scheduled.
May 19, 2009, 4:56 pm
Evelyn from Park Slope says:
Speaking of hazards, the bikers do not hardly ever obey traffic lights or traffic rules. It's a rare day to see a biker stop at the corner for a red light and wait for the light to turn green. They are an extreme hazard to all others in the street. They ride against traffic jeopardizing pedestrians crossing and they go thru intersections blatantly ignoring red lights at full speed. They hog the road beyond the bike traffic lanes, and have become an extreme hazard to cars, trucks, pedestrians in all of Brooklyn.
May 26, 2009, 4:43 pm
frogman from brooklyn says:
Evelyn -- sounds terrifying.

Can you get some stats about how many deaths and injuries this bicycling menace is causing, as well as some numbers about motorized violence, so we can rationally address the threat?
May 28, 2009, 9:44 am
Evelyn says:
Dear Frogman:
It seems your rationalization that deaths and injuries this bicycling menace is causing should be proven by you since you suggest this is your rationalization that this is occurring. Or maybe you should disprove it then.
Do you have statistics that all bikers stop at red lights and wait for the green signal before proceeding across streets and intersections?
Do you have statistics that all bikers ride along with the traffic flow and not against it?
Do you have statistics that prove all bikers change lanes appropriately without cutting in and out of traffic?
Do you have statistics that prove that all bikers stay within their own bike lane?
Do you have statistics that prove bikers to not injure pedestrians?
Do you have statistics that bikers do not ride on sidewalks?
The fact is anyone who drives within the city on a daily basis knows the terror that bikers cause and all the close calls that occur daily with the chances the bikers take testing the limits of luck along with law.
May 31, 2009, 5:05 pm
frogman from brooklyn says:
Actually, cars kill hundreds of pedestrians and non-pedestrians each year in NYC. The average killed per year by cyclists is zero.

-frogman (I wasn't actually expecting a rational argument, but I wasn't expecting it to be completely incoherent)
June 2, 2009, 3:07 pm
Ed from Williamsburg says:
Truth is through observation and not through intellectual analysis such as what you believe to be rational conditioned thoughts.
June 5, 2009, 9:29 pm
VoiceOfReason? from Park Slope says:
Evelyn, look: the uncomfortable reality that no one wants to talk about is that most of the time cyclists disobey traffic laws, it is to avoid cars and protect their own lives. If you push through a red light, you can ride for a block without someone trying to run you down. If you go on the sidewalk you're less likely to get car-doored or have to swerve around someone double parked.

If there are more lanes for cyclists to ride safely, they'll be more likely to obey traffic laws. Frogman is correct that statistically, cyclists don't injure people very often, but car drivers kill people regularly.

Most motorists speed most of the time in NYC. The signs that say "wait for green light" are there because drivers here need constant reminding what the colors of the traffic lights stand mean. We pay the highest car insurance rates in the country because drivers in Brooklyn are the worst.

Everyone in NYC jay-walks--don't pretend you don't. We're all guilty of not being robot-citizens.

Better infrastructure will make the city less of a free-for-all without making it a police state at the same time.
July 1, 2010, 9:53 am
emm from Park Slope says:
Evelyn, I totally agree. I have been hit while walking *twice* by cyclists, never by a car.
Oct. 18, 2010, 11:04 am
Libs from Grand Army Plaza says:
Great going, Evelyn!!!
New bike laws would be fine - if bikers didn't just ignore them and didn't hog the streets (roads and sidewalks alike) for themselves. Take Plaza Street for example.
The City Planners often have a warped sense of what's practical. Plaza Street is a curved, ONE WAY street, with restricted sight lines. There isn't ONE legal cross walk all the way from Eastern Parkway to Vanderbilt - where people with babies and pets cross Plaza Street all day long. Some genius decided it would be perfectly OK to turn Plaza Street's bike lane into a two-way lane. A Two Way Lane on a One Way curved street with a very restricted sight line!!
It's gotten so that crossing the street is a life-threatening act. I've already been accosted by a speeding biker who came between me and my dog - held two feet from my body. The biker came between us and got caught up in the leash - didn't stop - and dragged my poor pup at least 10 feet - while I was screaming for him to stop. I had the leash wrapped around a finger = and that finger was badly injured. My dog is OK-she was wearing a heavy coat...but my finger never healed correctly. This teenager just rode away w/o even asking if we were alright! The bikers have no lights, no bells --- and worst of all are the electric bikes used by delivery men. They zig-zag all over the road - even with the clearly delineated lanes. We have no physical barriers between car and bike lanes...the street isn't wide enough!!

Plaza Street is a homicide just waiting to happen!! We need at least a speed bump and/or stop signs. and legal cross-walks. Cars and bikes come speeding from Eastern Parkway to Vanderbilt - to try to make the light. This is a residential neighborhood with children, moms with carriages, people walking their dogs - out all day crossing Plaza Street.
"Attention must be paid"!!!!!
July 11, 2013, 9:41 am

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