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Marty still hates PPW bike lane — and slams Transportation Commissioner, too!

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Hours before tonight’s public hearing on a two-way bike lane on Prospect Park West, lane opponent Borough President Markowitz tore into the city’s Transportation Commissioner as a zealot who “wants to make it hard” for drivers.

Markowitz’s opposition to the two-way lane, which would eliminate one lane of southbound car traffic from Grand Army Plaza in Park Slope to Bartel-Pritchard Square in Windsor Terrace has halted the Department of Transportation’s plans, which were approved last year.

But on the eve of tonight’s meeting at Congregation Beth Elohim on Eighth Avenue, Markowitz told WNYC radio that Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan is an anti-car zealot — and the bike-lane plan is one example of it.

“We just disagree on certain instances where I’m acutely aware that she wants to make it hard for those who choose to own automobiles,” Markowitz said. “I really believe that … she would like to see more people stop car usage and use their bicycles or walk.”

When pressed, Markowitz admitted that it’s a “worthy goal.”

“If I walked more or used the bicycle for pleasure, I would be in much better shape, for sure,” he said, adding, though, that he still resented Sadik-Khan’s patronizing approach. “But I represent everyone, not just a segment of the population.”

As a solution to the two-way bike lane, Markowitz made an unconventional suggestion: allow cyclists to ride on the sidewalk on the quiet stretch of Flatbush Avenue between Grand Army Plaza and Empire Boulevard.

“The sidewalks are enormous,” he said. “And there is almost zero usage by pedestrians on that portion of Flatbush Avenue — zero. The sidewalk is wide enough.”

But Markowitz dodged the question about what Park Slope cyclists should do when they want do the more common commute: northbound from points south to Grand Army Plaza. Flatbush Avenue is not an option.

For her part, Sadik-Khan pressed on with her bike lane plan, ignoring Markowitz’s personal attack.

“Prospect Park is the front yard for thousands of Brooklyn residents, and this project will make its entrance safer and more inviting,” she told The Brooklyn Paper in a statement. “Protected bike lanes are a proven traffic-calming strategy that benefits everyone on our streets — whether you’re on foot, on a bike or in a car — and the Park Slope community is enthusiastically working with us on the development of the project.”

Indeed, hours after Markowitz’s broadside against the commish, Park Slope Neighbors, a civic group that supports the bike lane, released a report that showed outrageous speeding on Prospect Park.

Volunteers from the group clocked cars on the first weekend of spring and discovered that 85 percent exceeded the speed limit, with a startling 30 percent averaging 40 miles per hour or more.

The group supports narrowing Prospect Park West to two lanes of car traffic to accommodate the bike lane.

“What was true a year ago is even more true today,” said Eric McClure of Park Slope Neighbors. “Speeding poses a significant danger on Prospect Park West. On the occasion of tonight’s [bike lane meeting], we urge the city to begin implementing this critically needed project immediately.”

Prospect Park West bike lane public meeting at Congregation Beth Elohim [274 Garfield Pl. at Eighth Avenue, (718) 643-3027], April 12, 6:30 pm.

Updated 6:15 pm, April 14, 2010: Updated with a comment from Sadik-Khan.
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Reader Feedback

Lex from Park Slope says:
I love Streetsblog. This from today's edition on the topic of the PPW bike lane -
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A DOT survey last March clocked 70 percent of drivers on PPW traveling faster than the 30 mph limit, with 15 percent driving 40 mph or faster. Last month, on an unseasonably warm weekend at the outset of spring, volunteers with Park Slope Neighbors found even higher rates of speeding, observing 80 percent of motorists exceeding the limit and 30 percent driving faster than 40 mph. All this lawlessness is happening a few feet from one of the biggest walking destinations in the borough of Brooklyn, but Marty doesn't acknowledge it.
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You know what's really funny? Prospect Park West is the safest major avenue in the neighborhood. I know that because Crashstat, the website maintained by pro-bicycle groupTransportation Alternatives, says so.

I compared PPW from President St. over to 15th St. (a 19 block span) with the matching sections of 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th avenues. The results were amazing.

For the 10 year period from 1995 to 2005 (the last year covered) Crashstat shows the following accident statistics -

5th Ave. - 234 (1.23 accidents per block per year)

6th Ave. - 73 (.38 accidents per block per year)

7th Ave. - 114 (.6 accidents per block per year)

8th Ave. - 63 (.33 accidents per block per year)

PPW - 27 (.14 accidents per block per year)

The "safety" argument for the PPW bike lane is a lie.

http://www.crashstat.org/
April 12, 2010, 4:32 pm
Park from Park says:
Marty loves donations. He embodies "special interests." If bicyclists paid more than motorists, he'd be pro bike lane. It really is that simple with Markowitz.
April 12, 2010, 7:47 pm
yellow hook from bay ridge says:
The is a very simple solution to speeders that doesn't cost residents their parking spaces, raise asthma rates by causing gridlock, and make a majority of the residents miserable. It's called enforcing traffic laws, and it actually makes money instead of costing it.

Enforce the traffic laws, and have bikes and cars share the road like they do in the rest of civilization. Very simple solution.
April 13, 2010, 1:07 pm
Fact Checker from Park Slope says:
Lex, your "statistics" are meaningless because they don't take into account any population statistics. The other avenues had more accidents because they have much more pedestrian traffic. PPW has housing only on one side, and no retail, and the presence of the park begin to offset that. And cyclists certainly avoid PPW because of the speeds of the cars.

And here's an actual fact for you: a pedestrian struck by a car going 20 mph has a 95% chance of survival; at 40 mph, the fatality rate leaps to 85%. And cars routinely hit 40 mph or more on PPW.

Crawl back in your hole, Lex. This safety project is happening, and not a moment too soon.
April 18, 2010, 9:54 am

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