Mean Streets special: Marty sings his contempt for bike lanes at hearing

The Brooklyn Paper
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Borough President Markowitz is so opinionated about bike lanes, that he’s even singing about them!

Markowitz sang the song, “My Favorite Things” from “The Sound of Music” at a City Council hearing on Wednesday — with the lyrics rewritten to emphasize the danger of having the Department of Transportation installs bike lanes without public comment.

“Strollers and schleppers and skaters and joggers, holiday lanes just for egg-noggers, but let’s not forget cars — it’s getting insane,” Markowitz crooned. “These are a few of my favorite lanes.”

That said (or sang), an equal mix of pro- and anti-bike lane advocates spoke at the hearing, which stems from a bill put forward by Councilman Lew Fidler (D–Canarsie) that would require public hearings before the city could install a bike lane.

The hearing’s guest of honor (or dishonor, depending where you live) was Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, who disputed the notion that her agency fails to consider local opinion on a proposed bike lane.

“Every single [bike lane] that exists in New York City today was supported by the appropriate community board or boards,” Sadik-Khan said. “Our project teams and borough commissioners post project plans online, survey buildings and establishments along street corridors, meet with individuals and local groups both before and after projects have been implemented.”

Markowitz disagreed, reiterating his position that the agency is biased against motorists.

“I don’t trust the Department of Transportation to make these decisions,” he later told us.

In his unsung testimony, Markowitz said that he and the City Council should call the shots — after considering local opinion — on new bikes lanes.

“This kind of significant change … should not be the sole purview of the executive branch of city government and the Department of Transporta­tion,” Markowitz said. “Public hearings should be required so that community boards can make informed decisions based on the residents and businesses they represent. And of course, borough presidents must be part of this oversight.”

The borough president picked up a strange bedfellow in Craig Hammerman, the district manager of pro-bike Community Board 6, which supports the same Prospect Park West bike lane that Markowitz despises. Like Markowitz, Hammerman said his board supports public hearings on bike lanes, citing a massive response to a recent survey on the Prospect Park cycle path that found widespread support, but also significant support for some adjustments to the two-way route.

Through it all was the subtext that Markowitz represents two Brooklyns: the so-called North Brooklyn, which is bike-friendly and well served by mass transit; and South Brooklyn, where most people commute by car. Markowitz tried to walk (or really drive) a fine line.

“Although cycling is a wonderful way for people to traverse the city, it is simply not a viable option for the majority of commuters,” Markowitz said. He added that he supports bike lanes in neighborhoods close to Manhattan, but he has been an opponent of the controversial Prospect Park West bike lane, which eliminated a lane for car traffic, as well as 22 parking spaces and changed the stately look of the boulevard. He said at the hearing that the establishment of an “impartial agency” to study the possible benefits and consequences of proposed bike lanes would prevent another Prospect Park West fiasco.

Updated 5:22 pm, July 9, 2018: Includes new quote from the commissioner.
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Reasonable discourse

Eric McClure from Park Slope says:
How is the Prospect Park West redesign "controversial" if a whopping 78% of the neighborhood supports it?

And why does Mr. Markowitz insist on City Council of bike lane projects, but not Atlantic Yards?
Dec. 10, 2010, 6:56 am
Resident from of PPW says:
The survey indicated that 50% of the residents who live on Prospect Park West are opposed to the bike lanes. The "whopping" 78% represents all voters to the survey. Thank you Mr. Markowitz for your support!
Dec. 10, 2010, 7:03 am
Mike from GP says:
Marty is a joke. How embarrassing.
Dec. 10, 2010, 8:02 am
jerry from brighton beach says:
BP Marty Markowitz is a phony bastard.
When it comes to him & his neighbors being troubled by not having parking spaces etc. around their neighborhood he screams bloody murder.
But when it comes to the Parking Problems & Traffic problems created by his Seaside Summer Concerts in Brighton Beach : He's DEAF & doesn't give a s^&t.
Marty Markowitz cares only about Marty.
Well Marty , ther is an old saying : What goes around comes around .
Too F$%king bad !
Dec. 10, 2010, 9:03 am
Mike says:
What a dimwit. Marty should be embracing and advertising the fact that Brooklyn is forward-looking in its transportation, and is a place where you can get around by bike, subway and foot and not need two tons of glass and steel. Instead, he's hopelessly stuck in the 1950s.
Dec. 10, 2010, 9:32 am
Publius from Bklyn says:
Nice to see that Marty is spending the Peoples' money well by sitting in his office, noshing on Junior's, and composing bad lyrics.
Dec. 10, 2010, 9:57 am
Miley from Park Slope says:
Marty may be a phony blowhard who is privately a nasty small animal with beady eyes and a long scaly tail BUT he is right about these lanes: they are a disgrace to this once grand boulevard. But the rabid supporters who are drunk on the smell of their own farts can't see this, and never will.
Dec. 10, 2010, 11:59 am
mjd from park slope says:
Markowitz is a tired cliche
Dec. 10, 2010, 12:07 pm
jay from p s says:
Resident from of PPW says: "The survey indicated that 50% of the residents who live on Prospect Park West are opposed to the bike lanes."

No, NOT 50% "of those who live" there: 50% of those who live there AND who responded to the survey.

The whole survey included 3,150 respondents - 78% of whom favored the lanes.

Of the 3,150, only 272 lived on PPW.
So your "50% of the [PPW] residents" consists of just 136 people on all of PPW (and just over 4 percent of all respondents).
Dec. 10, 2010, 1:21 pm
J from Brooklyn says:
Screw it -- I give up. Let's do it the way Marty first suggested... let's all bike on the sidewalk.

Back in the clown car, Marty!
Dec. 10, 2010, 4:02 pm
Chicken Underwear from Park Slope says:
Marty does not realize that most of is supporters have already moved to Sunrise Lakes.
Dec. 10, 2010, 4:08 pm
Mike from Maspeth says:
Hey! A little sympathy for Marty, who's never been very good with numbers (unless you put a dollar sign in front, like Ted Baxter...) Remember, Brooklyn is 1000% in favor of Atlantic Yards!
Despite anything they may say to the contrary!
Let's just say he's using very personal, very convenient, and very old math.
And the comments support Marty 1,000,000%! At least that's how he'll add it up...
Dec. 10, 2010, 11:22 pm
Mike from Park Slope says:
Bikers are never wrong. They use any issue - speeding, which DOT calculates as 33mph on PPW - to justify the need for "traffic calming", which is DOT admits is achieved by reducing traffic to two lanes as a means to also say we need a bike lane. Please. Bikers are riding on the sidewalk - we need a protected bike lane. Really? Then let's take out all of the non-protected bike lanes like the ridiculous one on 5th Ave. Bikers can't do that. How would the three people that ride to work from Park Slope to Williamsburg survive? Eric McClure and his band of Sanctimonious pedal pushers - oh, I mean, Park Slope - remember to use zip code 11215 when you fill out the survey - should just take a hike.
Dec. 11, 2010, 10:40 am
Another Mike from Park Slope says:
Mike, I can assume that you never actually tried to cross PPW. You just double park your SUV in front of where you need to be.
Dec. 12, 2010, 9:23 am
pete from windsor terrace says:

I'm neither biker, nor car-driver ...I'm a longtime resident of Windsor Terrace who walks.
Yeah, it takes a little getting used to to cross Prospect
Park West, but it's a much better use of what I could
only describe as kind of a drag- strip by the Park.
Yes, it was exhilerating coming home in a cab with a
date late at night racing down PP West to the next
traffic light, but was a waste of the road really.
The new use is intelligent, can be adjusted, and
yes, cuts down on the roaring traffic aspect.
Also, bikers I notice obey the lights a lot more now.
Marty Markowitz is a selfish jerk.
Dec. 12, 2010, 12:15 pm
Kyle from Boerum Hill says:
Most of the major cities in the United States are redesigning their transportation systems in favor of bicycles. It can be tough in the short term, but in the long term bicycles reduce a community's pollution, traffic congestion, deterioration of roads, and dependence on oil. Brooklyn with either move ahead with the times, or will be left in the dust as a backwards, polluted, car congested dump.
Dec. 12, 2010, 10:28 pm
Any Mouse from Any Where says:
What Marty Markowitz fails to understand is exactly how irrelevant he is in the grand scheme of things.

Only 750 days left in office, Marty.

Then, back to the obscurity you so mortally fear.
Dec. 13, 2010, 5:50 pm
totally anonymous from Brooklyn says:
The photo that is missing from this article is the one of Marty's SUV parked on the sidewalk next to Borough Hall.
Dec. 15, 2010, 8:08 am
Mike from Park Slope says:
To repsond to another Mike from Park Slope,

Yes, I have crossed PPW; I don't own an SUV and I don't double park because it is against the law.

I beleive traffic has been calmed on PPW by reducing the traffic lanes from 3 to 2 - it has nothing to do with the bike lane

I would like to retain the two lane configuration ansd return PPW to its original beauty by

1. moving the parked cars back to the eastside curb
2. providing a buffer to bikers to protect them from passenger side doors being opened
3. provide a bike lane - their is no need for dedicated lanes in each direction given current ridership, regardles of the day or time
4. a buffer to protect bikers against the calmed traffic - just 90 % of allthe bike lanes in Brooklyn and NYC

Bike lane, beauty, safety

Dec. 16, 2010, 5:13 pm
Ann from Park Slope says:
Oh, Mike from Park Slope, don't get in the way of the other Mike's narrative. You MUST own an SUV. Otherwise, how could you possibly disagree with the fabulous bike lane?
Dec. 16, 2010, 5:28 pm
Mike says:
Mike from PS, your idea simply won't work. We'd lose the northbound bike route entirely, and the southbound bike route wouldn't be nearly as safe. Plus, it would be full of double-parked cars most of the time. FAIL.
Dec. 16, 2010, 5:31 pm
Other Mike from Park Slope says:
Yes, those painted buffers don't work. They fill with double parked cars.
Dec. 17, 2010, 7:04 am
Ann from Park slope says:
If they double park, ticket them. Under the real mike's plan, it would also be easier to see those bikers who don't follow the rules and ticket them. And since the alleged purpose of this project was traffic calming, traffic calming, traffic calming, the loss of the southbound bike lane shouldn't be a factor. The current set up has destroyed the beauty of PPW. I think the bike lane is redundant, underused and an eyesore. But at least a modification would alleviate some of the problems that now exist. mike's plan seems like a reasonable compromise. Not everyone gets what he or she wants, but everyone gets something. And no, I don't own an suv.
Dec. 17, 2010, 8:33 am
Other Mike from Park Slope says:
"The current set up has destroyed the beauty of PPW"

I looks better to me! I just don't understand how the current plan is bad for anyone. Who lost in the way it is now?
Dec. 17, 2010, 10:07 am
Ann from Park Slope says:
Who lost? The traffic lanes are quite narrow, making it is extremely dangerous for anyone exiting a car on the passenger side. I know, I know, people who drive cars are terrible, etc. But watch an elderly person try to get out of a car, at night, with cars going by. Pretty frightening. ALso, already scarce parking is reduced----because the bike lane caused ridiculous back-ups on Union, there is no longer any parking on that street. I agree that people should be encouraged to bike---but it's not realistic for everyone.
If there is to be a bike lane at all, which is redundant given the proximity of the park, then efforts should be made to accomodate the interests of everyone----those who live in the neighbodhood, and those who pedal through. Most of the bike lanes in NYC are designed the way Mike from Park Slope described. It would still achieve the stated goal of "traffic calming," which is the big justification for having it.
Dec. 17, 2010, 12:31 pm
Other Mike from Park Slope says:
"The traffic lanes are quite narrow,"

No, now they are actually wider than 8th Ave.

"because the bike lane caused ridiculous back-ups on Union"

Not so much. Double parkers are causing the backups.

and the lack of parking on Union has nothing to do with bike lanes, parking has been removed to help SPEED traffic in Union Street.

and bike lanes don't encourage people to bike they make biking possible and safe. Nobody is gonna make you bike.
Dec. 17, 2010, 12:44 pm
Ann from PArk Slope says:
Other Mike, double parking does suck, but that is not the reason the parking was removed from Union. If that were the problem, they would have removed the parking long ago. The fact is that the reconfiguring of PPW, right off Union, created longer backups. And just because 8th avenue is too narrow doesn't justify making PPW too narrow. It's too narrow, and is in fact narrower by a considerable margin than what DOT initially said it would be.
Dec. 17, 2010, 2:11 pm
Mike says:
Actually it's the NORTHBOUND bike lane that would be lost by this harebrained scheme, which would have no actual benefits to anyone other than double-parkers. Get real. You might as well not have a bike lane at all.

Ann, getting out of a car on the current PPW is EXACTLY equivalent to doing it on any other normal one-way street. For example, 8th Ave. The geometry is the same. Don't believe me? Measure.

The Union St changes have nothing whatsoever to do with the PPW bike path. To say otherwise is a blatant lie. Irrefutable evidence of this fact is this Post article. Note the date: this change was planned before the PPW bike path was even installed!
Dec. 17, 2010, 3:17 pm
Mike says:
All: Ann's other "facts" are similarly full of lies. Note how completely she was refuted on one issue, and consider whether anything else she says is worth believing. I think you'll conclude that it isn't.
Dec. 17, 2010, 3:19 pm
Other Mike from Park Slope says:
I don't think 8th Ave is to narrow. It is just right to keep cars moving at a safe speed. The old PPW was so wide it gave drivers the impression they could drive to fast
Dec. 17, 2010, 3:20 pm
Ann from PArk Slope says:
I've lived in the slope a long time. Crossed the street with small children. I walk there. Go running there. even bike there. PPW is now constantly clogged with traffic, and it was not before. the school bus double park in the mornings, fresh direct trucks (and you can't be hating on them because every family using fresh direct is one fewer person driving to fairway) ambulances, and the stopping of traffic every time someone attempts to park in the parking lane--it's not good. And for what? A bike lane that at most will be used seasonally, when prospect park is right there. Cars move at a safe speed if the traffic lights are appropriately timed.
Dec. 17, 2010, 4:03 pm
Other Mike from Park Slope says:
Ann I think there are thinks we must disagree on. I do not think that "now constantly clogged with traffic," and that is is a good thing that Fresh Direct double parks.

The traffic is going to be measured by the DOT. I think they will find that it is moving at an adequate speed.

I don't use Fresh Direct and I don't use a car to get my groceries. Maybe some of the larger buildings on PPW should apply for a loading zone permit in front of their service entrance so Fresh Direct wont have to double park.

Slower traffic is not the end of the world. It is actually a good thing.
Dec. 17, 2010, 4:17 pm
Mike from Park Slope says:
Other Mike from Park Slope,

Now you've got me really concerned. Maybe the only bike lanes we should have are protected bike lanes and all the rest should be eliminated. Are you serious?

I am a biker. I use all kinds of bike lanes. If I didn't use unprotected bike lanes all I could you is ride back and forth along the PPW bike lane the way Eric McClure and his friends do to increase the ridership stats for JSK.

If I did'nt want to use unprotected bike lanes I couldn't get out of Park Slope. Couldn't go to the Manhattan Bridge. Couldn't go to Williamsburg. Couldn't go to the Brooklyn Bridge.

Is that what you want?

If cars double park on the strips they will be in plain view for the police to ticket them.
Dec. 17, 2010, 7:25 pm
Mike from Park Slope says:
What's with the losing northbound or southbound or whatever bound if we change to one big bike lane? You biker weirdos talk as if you have two trains passing each other on these lanes. There is never a constant stream of bikers using the bike lane at any time, any day, any season. Just slow down and heaven forbid let your fellow biker pass.
Dec. 17, 2010, 7:40 pm
ann from park slope says:
other mike from park slope: dude, when did i say slower traffic wasn't a good thing? I am totally down with slower traffic. Ripping up a gracious boulevard and installing an underused, redundant bike lane is not the way to achieve that.
So you don't drive to get your groceries or use fresh direct. I'm also guessing you don't have a large family. Trust me, can't carry the weeks groceries for a family of any size on the bike.
"but Ann,' you say. "I'm a member of the food coop."
Impressive! I don't drive an SUV, but no way am I spending my already diminished spare time working for my groceries.
Unless I've misjudged you, other mike. for which I apologize.
Dec. 17, 2010, 8:39 pm
ann from park slope says:
One other thing, Other Mike. I don't exactly trust DOT's analysis of anything----pathetic performance by JSK at the recent city council meeting. I'd accept a truly independent analysis. Now I must go and gas up my 3 Hummers and 7 mobile homes and drive to my tea party meetings.
Dec. 17, 2010, 8:44 pm
Mike says:
Mike from PS: The point being that if you move the parked cars back to the curb, there is nothing protecting northbound bikes from moving cars. Which means that you couldn't have northbound bike traffic on a one-way street. That's why that idea doesn't work.

Too many Mikes on this thread.
Dec. 17, 2010, 11:30 pm
Not Mike from Park Slope says:
I would put a buffer next to the cars to guard against dooring.
Cars at curb, buffer, one big bike lane allowing two way bike traffic, another buffer to protect bikes from car traffic, two lanes of car traffic and finally curb car parking.

It works.
Dec. 17, 2010, 11:41 pm
other mike from Park Slope says:
I might have been misjudged. There are 4 in my family and I shop 5 times a week at Key Food and I own a car
Dec. 18, 2010, 1:52 am
Mike says:
No, Not Mike, it DOESN'T work. DOT would never install an unsafe street design like that. Never! Without physical barriers to keep the path clear, it's totally unsafe to ride against the flow of traffic. Painted buffers don't guard against dooring. The "bike" lane would be occupied by double-parked cars half the time, and by cars entering and exiting the parking spaces much of the rest of the time. And to what end? You'd still have a bunch of random paint, which wouldn't satisfy the minority of people who aren't happy now. And those who are happy now because they have a safe place to ride would completely lose that. The idea is utterly harebrained, could never be implemented, and would not work.
Dec. 18, 2010, 1:58 am
Ann from Park slope says:
Sorry, other mike, for calling you a food co oper. That was wrong. It was stereotyping. But 5 days a week shopping? At key food? Check out fairway. Good prices, good produce, and a sweet view of the statue. Plus, samples!
Dec. 18, 2010, 6:47 am
Other Mike from park Slope says:
I walk by the supermarket and get what I need for the next few days. It is easy and convenient. I have done the Fairway/Costco thing. I thought the multiple trips from my car to the upper floor apartment were a hassle.
Dec. 18, 2010, 7:37 am
Not Mike from Park slope says:
Mike, Mike, Mike!

Easy big fella. It will work. Northbound bikers travel nearest the east side parked cars, far away from the southbound traveling cars. It is safe. Further northbound bikers have a buffer between them and the cars. So with that and car parkers and bikers on the lookout for one another, no problems. No dooring.

Shared space, everyone looking out for each other. Nirvana.

Now maybe we could work on a color scheme instead of those ugly painted lines.
Dec. 18, 2010, 7:41 am
Mike says:
You've completely ignored what happens when there's a double-parked car. Are northbound bikes supposed to magically leap over it? Or ride the wrong way in the traffic lanes? DOT won't ignore that problem, and therefore will never install this patently unsafe idea. So let's stop talking about it. This is ridiculous.
Dec. 18, 2010, 10:45 am
Ann from Park Slope says:
Now, now Mean Mike. Don't go all hatey on everyone who disagrees with you. Some double parker must have done something bad to you. The possibility of double parking isn't a reason to scoff at Nice Mike's plan, any more than the existence of —— bikers is to eliminate bike lanes. The current lane--with the cars in the middle of the street--strikes a lot of us as "patently unsafe."
I await your snarly response.
Dec. 18, 2010, 12:12 pm
Other Mike from Park Slope says:
There should not be any double parked cars. Period.

Find a spot.

We should not be building roads to accommodated the entitled. We should have more loading zones. Wouldn't it be nice if there were actually a handicapped parking spot somewhere near a nursing home.
Dec. 18, 2010, 9:09 pm
Mike says:
If the possibility of double-parking is reason enough, in some haters' views, for getting rid of the bike lane, then it should be relevant enough in a discussion of why this proposed alternative makes no sense whatsoever.

I am done participating in a thread with people so utterly divorced from reality.
Dec. 19, 2010, 12:25 pm
Ann from Park slope says:
Such is the burden of the visionary, Mean Mike.
Dec. 19, 2010, 9:58 pm
Steve from Park Slope says:
" equal mix of pro- and anti-bike lane advocates spoke at the hearing,...."

Did you hear what I hear?

I don't think so!

I stayed at the hearing until it ended after 3:00 PM and of the 60 or so people who spoke, there were about 5 who opposed improving bicycle traffic safety. There was Marty and Steisel and about 3 more anti-bike speakers. Period.

The rest, were pro-bike and who despite arriving early, were forced to wait until the opponents spoke first, provided documented testimony that showed how flawed Marty and Steisel's positions are. The opponents of the PPW bike lane make up "facts" and the few they don't make up, they twist beyond comprehension.

Perhaps I am wrong, but it appears that the writer, Alex Rush, left the hearing soon after Marty and Steisel spoke, both well over the two minute speakers limit, so to Alex's ears, it was an equal mix.

Alex, the overwhelming majority of speakers were pro-bike. The only fiasco was your inability stay long enough or to keep count.
Dec. 20, 2010, 10:01 pm
Steve from Park Slope says:
to Ann;
No I don't like Flesh Direct.
Possibly because they bought the noisiest refrigeration compressors in existence for their trucks. I can hear one idling a block away. Drives me crazier than the soft ice cream jingles.

Yes, they may save an individual driving trip to Red Hook, but their operation does not appear to be all that energy efficient.

As to how much can be brought home without a car, my wife packs about 100 lbs into a large shopping cart. Two carts a week fed growing teenagers. This food came from KeyFood and the other shops along 7th Ave.

These days, yes I belong to the Park Slope Food Coop. It's not worth driving, the parking spaces would be further than the house - almost. But many Coop members do use their cars for big loads, so the Coop will send a walker with a big cart out to where the car is parked to bring the cart back. Means not everyone has to try double parking in front of the store.

As to shopping by bike, that was growing so fast that all the bike parking spots were filling up - and there are some 60 rack spaces on that block. To meet the need, the Coop has started Bicycle Valet Parking during peak hours to add secure bike parking. Shoppers have bikes loaded with groceries and kids moving very well.

These are utility cyclists, not recreational cyclists. The bike is their chosen mode to get a transportation need accomplished. But with a big heavy load, a cyclist needs a reliable safe place to ride, and the PPW lane provides just what is needed to move between the ends of the Slope and on into Windsor Terrace if needed.

It seems very hard for drivers to understand, but the PPW-8th Ave street pair was not a safe place to ride a bike. I'm cutting this short, I could add many traffic engineering details about what is wrong with those streets, but it's late. The new PPW two way lane meets the needs of cyclists in that travel corridor that no in street lane can provide.
Dec. 20, 2010, 10:20 pm
Ann from Park slope says:
It's not a matter of being a driver. It's just a difference of opinion. I think this particular kind of bike lane --with the cars smack in the middle of PPW --is dangerous and unsightly. And unnecessary. And I still refuse to work for my groceries.
Dec. 21, 2010, 11:02 pm
Other Mike from Park Slope says:
Ann, I accept your opinion that is is unsightly. But I want you to feel safe, because I believe it is safer for everyone.

You should feel safe too. If your are crossing the street from the park side you can see if bikes are coming a long way away if you are standing on the curb. From the parked car side there is a huge area where you can pause to see if any bikes are coming too.

We know that bikes are "supposed" to yield to walkers but in reality that is not gonna happen. This new configurations gives people crossing the street a chance to see the bikes. The old way you had to stick your head (or your stroller) out from between parked cars to see if a bike is coming.

As far as the driving part of the road being narrower. It is still wider than 8th Ave. Actually much wider than 8th ave from Garfield to Flatbush. 3 lanes was excessive, it led to drivers changing lanes recklessly and speeding from light to light. PPW does not have the volume of traffic that warrants 3 lanes, like Ocean Pky.

Ann, you are so entitled to your feelings that it is ugly, but I truly want you to feel safer. Because if think it is.
Dec. 22, 2010, 7:53 am
Ann from Park Slope says:
Other Mike, that is very nice of you. But if safety were truly the aim, installing this kind of bike lane just isn't the way to achieve it. Changing the timing of the lights would solve almost every safety issue. And for that matter, I just don't buy that PPW was all that unsafe. In fact, I believe that crash stats showed that PPW was one of the safer streets in the slope.
As for feeling safe, I challenge anyone to park at night on PPW and feel safe getting out of his/her car. Maybe 8th ave stinks too--but why is that a reason to ruin a wider street, and clog it with traffic both moving and parked?
But we can agree to disagree. Happy New Year to all the mikes!
Dec. 29, 2010, 6:37 pm

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