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.
©2010 Community News Group
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