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Survey says! Prospect Park West bike lane is still very controversial

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The Prospect Park West bike lane remains so controversial that 800 people filled out an online survey on the first day it was posted.

A spokeswoman for Councilman Brad Lander (D–Park Slope) called the response “huge,” and saw it as evidence that the four-month-old two-way bike lane along the eastern edge of Park Slope is still a hot-button issue?

Ya think?

Even as Lander and Councilman Steve Levin (D–Williamsburg) were jointly unveiling their Survey Monkey questionnaire, both anti- and pro-bike forces were mobilizing for dueling rallies this Thursday, both seeking to make their claim as the Department of Transportation decides whether to make the bike lane permanent, or scrub it and bring back a lane of car traffic to a key roadway.

“The [city] has been clear that this is a trial period and they’re analyzing accidents, speeding and traffic volume,” said Lander’s spokeswoman Rachel Goodman. “We figured we could supplement their data with some community feedback data.”

The survey, which takes about five minutes, asks questions ranging from what type of transportation you use to whether Prospect Park West has become safer for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers since the bike lane was implemented.

The survey also solicits feedback on a range of adjustments to the lane, including removing parking spots to improve sightlines between cyclists and pedestrians at crosswalks, installing concrete islands for crossing pedestrians and repainting the lane to make it “more compatible with the historic character of Prospect Park West.”

Since the bike lane was first proposed last year, it has been one of the most controversial issues in Park Slope.

Many cyclists and pedestrians hail the lane as a safer path that has reduced the well-documented speeding on Prospect Park West by eliminating one lane of car traffic. But drivers and other locals say the lane is ugly, has exacerbated traffic, reduced parking, and increased the danger for pedestrians who must dodge cyclists traveling in both directions.

Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan has said that the agency will finish compiling data on Prospect Park West traffic by January.

Dueling bike lane protests on Thursday, Oct. 21. Supportes gather at Grand Army Plaza on Thursday, Oct. 21 at 8 am. For info, e-mail rsvp@parkslopeneighbors.org. Antis gather at Prospect Park West and Carroll Street at 8:30 am. E-mail ppwbikelane@gmail.com for info.

Updated 2:45 pm, October 20, 2010: Includes clarity on whose survey this actually was. Both Lander and Levin initiated it.
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Reader Feedback

Bruce from Midwood says:
Not only is it next to a park that people can bike in and around till they collapse from exhaustion it is just downright dangerous for those who are trying to cross the street to get in or out of the park or get in or out of their car. There are blind spots especially when vans and SUV;s are parked there. It is dangerous for not only pedestrians but for bikers too. It is just a plainly stupid idea.
Oct. 18, 2010, 6:44 am
Walter from Midwood says:
Extremely dangerous for both pedestrians as well as automobiles!
Oct. 18, 2010, 7:04 am
Mike from Ft Greene says:
Get real. Removing the very dangerous speeding and weaving traffic from this street, and making it into a calm neighborhood boulevard, makes things safer for pedestrians, automobiles, and of course cyclists. Cars at 40-50 mph do a LOT more damage than cars at 25-30 mph in the unfortunate event of a crash.
Oct. 18, 2010, 9:01 am
common sense from bay ridge says:
Just think of all the jobs that will be created when the next mayor gets rid of all those bike lanes.
Oct. 18, 2010, 9:02 am
Bruce from Midwood says:
Get real? Lets see how many lawsuits are generated against the city as a result of injuries from accidents created by bicycles hitting pedestrians or cars opening doors and injuring a bicycle rider where this bike lane is? Not to mention this bike lane will be a great place for people bent on committing a little insurance fraud to do a little "bike diving" Better than diving in front of a car .
Oct. 18, 2010, 9:20 am
boof from brooklyn says:
That's a fun, smug reply, common "sense", but the outrage over this bike lane is really the manifestation of the anger some people are feeling about the end of the age of uninhibited motoring. Even if the next mayor takes a step or two backwards by caving in to the motorized minority, giving back street space to the people is still part of an inevitable overall trend.
Oct. 18, 2010, 9:22 am
Bruce from midwood says:
I can see that boof but for me really no anger just concern and the hope that better planing will be forthcoming from our city.....but I wont hold my breath
Oct. 18, 2010, 9:29 am
vehicle from park slope says:
I am a car owner, and I am also one less car on the street thanks to the ppw bike lane. I use it in my daily bike commute. Reduced car traffic and speed on ppw have made the neighborhood safer and improved the quality of life for those of us raising families here; this is a fact. Next step for us as a community is to ban cars from driving inside the park.
Oct. 18, 2010, 10:12 am
Or from Yellow Hook says:
Ask them again in January.

Time to register your bike! Ticket the bikes without lights at night, require insurance for bikers, ticket those running lights, and require uniforms for commercial bikers.

It's for the children!
Oct. 18, 2010, 10:27 am
Bruce from midwood says:
Hey 'vehicle 'sounds as if you are saying only people from park slope have a right to an opinion? Up until recently I was a single person making six figures in this city. I pay my taxes ( more than most)and I used the park very often. Just because I live in another area doesn't mean I shouldn't have a say in what occurs at a public place does it?.Now as a married man with a 5 year old I use the park even more often. I cross PPW west a lot. And I see near accidents almost every time I do. There should be a better and safer way to do this.
Oct. 18, 2010, 10:33 am
petunia from park slope says:
As a pedestrian who uses the park every day and has to cross PPW to do so, I find the idea that it's less safe now completely ludicrous. I do have to take care to look both ways now, but weren't we all taught to do that by our parents anyhow? Is that really so hard? It just doesn't compare to the previous safety issue of speeding cars - and that's so much better now. Better sightlines and reminding bikes that the red lights apply to them would help as well, but we're going in the right direction w/ the bike lanes.
It's amazing how some motorists get so irate over a simple thing like having to give up part of the road for bike riders - it makes me wonder if they drive with that same attitude.
Oct. 18, 2010, 11:26 am
Bruce from midwood says:
As the survey says.............. its controversial. These so called planners get paid a lot of money to 'plan'. There should be a better way. Parking cars at the curb and putting the bike lane where every other bike lane in the city is may be a start. People are not used to looking for bikes in between cars and the curb.....period
Oct. 18, 2010, 11:31 am
Emm from Park Slope says:
This bike lane is dangerous and ugly. I'm a driver and a biker. If this bike lane has reduced the speed of cars on PPW, it's increased the weaving of cars trying to get away from people inevitably double parked or pulling over on the right side. Meanwhile on the left, adults and children are stepping out onto the path of bike's coming in both directions. Bikers come perilously close to pedestrians unaware of their surroundings. I hope no one has to get seriously injured before it's changed. Also, everything's so cramped. PPW has lost some of its grandeur. It's a bad recipe all around.
Oct. 18, 2010, 11:53 am
Jake from Park Slope says:
I wonder why they didn't think to give up part of the sidewalk for the bike lane? Or put up an actually barrier between cars, bikes and pedestrians.
Oct. 18, 2010, 11:56 am
J from Brooklyn says:
Change is a pain, isn't it? Behaviors need to change and can. Cyclists need to be respectful of pedestrians because ultimately they have the right of way (ticket people for endangerment to get the point across), Pedestrians need to learn to look both ways (oh the horror!), and drivers need to realize that great cities aren't planned around SUV parking opportunities (which sucks when you've been catered to as such for so long -- I get it).

The current design can be perfected, but at legal crossings on PPW, there is plenty of space for pedestrians to not be caught in blind spots between vehicles. Cross in the middle of the block or at a non-designated intersection and you do so at your own peril. There is also a lot of room for cars to open doors and not hit cyclists in the bike lane... You have to have really large doors and be a space cadet violent door-opener to nail someone.

My biggest quibble is that cycling signage is too high. It's done so the signs aren't stolen, but people on bikes don't see signs 20 feet in the air. Signs that remind you to do things like yield to pedestrians at cross-walks. Cyclists need to alter their behavior too. Once infrastructure is in place, the wild west attitude that was needed for survival needs to get toned down...

Behavior change takes time and will also need some enforcement to get the point across. That means ticketing cyclists for being aggressive, pedestrians for jaywalking, and cars for double parking and speeding.
Oct. 18, 2010, 12:19 pm
Stacey from Downtown says:
I think the bikes are worse than the cars. I can't even tell you how many times I've almost gotten hit by bikes in the crosswalk when I have the right of way. They do not follow traffic laws and think they can ride anywhere. I just kick them if they're coming into me. Seems like the people who can't drive a car have moved to a bike. I don't know what is scarier.
Oct. 18, 2010, 12:25 pm
Howard from Park Slope says:
"Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan has said that the agency will finish compiling data on Prospect Park West traffic by January." - sounds like the fix is in. Ms. Sadik-Khan tells CB6 to jump and CB6's only response is "how high". If CB6 would have bothered to contact the residents of PPW and find out what they want (or at least take it into consideration) maybe the actual residents would have embraced this idea. If the genesis behind the bike lane was to slow down auto traffic, then install speed bumps or stagger the traffic lights. Commissioner Sadik-Khan, remove the barriers!
Oct. 18, 2010, 12:29 pm
Larry from Park Slope says:
I got rid of my car two years ago and have become a happy camper. 22-years of alternate side of the street parking--NO MORE! No more expensive tickets!

Regarding PPW, I must say the interesection of PPW, Union and GAP remains very dangerous.

Also, bikers must reject their anarchistic approach to biking. Bikes need to be registered and licensed with NYPD. Traffic rules and laws apply to bikers also.
Oct. 18, 2010, 12:35 pm
Mike from Prospect Heights says:
If we're going to protect the "historic character" of the street, let's get rid of the parked cars and put in a planted median there.
Oct. 18, 2010, 7:48 pm
Julian from Windsor Terrace says:
Cars are a pox in this city, plain and simple. There should be fewer of them and they should be smaller. In the meantime we should be upgrading public transit in every possible way and bikes are an incredibly sane part of any realistic solution to ease the overcrowding of our roadways. Car owners must learn to share the road. Or try biking! You'll lose some blubber, discover the joys of not looking or paying for parking space, and perhaps develop a little respect for those of us who prefer, yes prefer, two wheels to four. It is a great way to get around town and often faster than driving.
Oct. 18, 2010, 8:10 pm
dept of motorists from brooklyn says:
Make it a thruway; I mean like it used to be. Make the park itself a lot. Make the New Jersey wannabes happy.
Oct. 18, 2010, 8:35 pm
jh from windsor terrace says:
I would be happy to get rid of the bike lane if they completely stop cars from going into Prospect Park.
Oct. 19, 2010, 5:45 am
Gary from Park Slope says:
As a PPW resident, I have to say I love the lane and its traffic calming effect. The complaints just don't add up. Traffic is slower and there is much less weaving and jockeying for position, there are shorter crossing distances for pedestrians with great sight-line, and if you use the least bit of common sense in crossing the bike lane (look both ways, make eye contact), there is never a problem. And there a virtually no bicycles on the sidewalk now. Yes, it feels a bit more crowded on the roadway and cars drive a bit slower-THAT IS THE POINT. It is a residential neighborhood at the edge of Prospect Park, with lots of pedestrians and bicyclists around. Slow down and enjoy it.
Oct. 19, 2010, 9:29 am
Jo from Park Slope says:
The assumption in the first sentence of this article that survey participation numbers indicate controversy is flawed. It could just as easily be that the large majority our community that supports the lane did a great job mobilizing supporters to fill out the survey to counter the very loud minority who opposes the lane.
Oct. 19, 2010, 9:39 am
George from Gowanus says:
I use this bike path every day on the way to work. Bike traffic within the park goes in one direction, so this is an enormous help traveling in the other direction.

As far as safety - people just need to LOOK, keep their eyes OPEN and be aware that there is traffic. In ten years biking this city during all seasons I have never hit a pedestrian, but every time I have com close it is because they have jumped out from between parked cars without looking, stepped into the bike lane without looking, jay walked brazenly in front of me. And almost every time they've been on a cell phone. Pedestrians just need to look both ways before crossing the street and be AWARE that bikes exist.

This bike lane has made everyone safer, whether they got a scare from a bike or not.
Oct. 19, 2010, 9:50 am
Brooklyn from Kensington says:
Everyone writing in here that they were "almost" hit by a cyclist, you do know that "almost" doesn't matter? Did you "almost" report the incident to the police, "almost" call an ambulance to treat your near-tragedy, and "almost" hire a lawyer to deal with your "almost" civil case?

It's a false argument, and I'm tired of hearing it.

The height of summer came and went with this bike lane in place. I ride it every day. I haven't seen, nor seen evidence of, any blood on the streets.

Use two eyes and half a brain while crossing the street and you'll be fine.
Oct. 19, 2010, 11:30 am
Michael from UWS says:
This article has fairly sloppy reasoning: The fact that 800 people filled out the survey does not at all say anything whether the bike line is controversial, it could be that 790 of them were in complete favor of the bike lane and only 10 against! It only that the issue is dear to the heart of many people. To say anything about controversial, you have to evaluate at the content of the survey which afaik hasn't been done yet....
Oct. 19, 2010, 12:28 pm
Stacey from Downtown says:
Use two eyes and half a brain while crossing the street and you'll be fine.

I'm guessing you mean the bikers since they don't follow the traffic laws.
Oct. 19, 2010, 12:28 pm
Rico from Park Slope says:
The bike lane is a disaster. Noise pollution has increased exponentially from horn honking and screeching brakes. Double parking to unload your car is much more dangerous. Sanitation street sweepers seem wholly unable to keep the lane clean. And the kicker? - Very few people even use the thing. I can see from Grand Army to 7th St and never see more than 1 or 2 cyclists, and more often than not I see none. That shouldn't come as a surprise considering THERE'S A PARK 30 FT AWAY!
Asinine.
Oct. 19, 2010, 12:30 pm
JanetG from Park Slope says:
It is true that some cyclists ride without any regard for the lights or "yield" signs, but there is no reason for a van or vehicle to obstruct a pedestrian's view if s/he is crossing at the corner, in the crosswalk.
The alleged danger in opening of car doors is also a red herring: what do you think the buffer between the parking lane and the bike lane is for?
Commuting by bicycle is sensible and many more people have begun doing it with the construction of bike lanes.
Oct. 19, 2010, 1:41 pm
Lauren T from Windsor Terrace says:
The bike lanes are wonderful. Non-bikers need to understand that it can be very unsafe to ride the "wrong way" in the park -- other bikers and park dept vehicles come too fast. The alternative to traveling from WT to PS or elsewhere is to ride on the sidewalk, which is dangerous for the peds, or ride on 8th Ave, which is extremely dangerous for bikers. I agree that some bikers are inconsiderate -- too fast, ignore peds -- but not all of us are! I agree that registration would be a good idea -- even a bike license. Also, bikers are not riding just for recreation, but to get to work or to shop and run errands.

PPW is safer for drivers and peds now because there is less speeding. Honking is not a traffic problem, it is an attitude problem, in my opinion. As if honking ever helped!

Bike lanes (and good public transport) are givens in so many cities around the world -- it's time for NYC to join the civilized, forward-thinking world. Keep the PPW bike lanes!
Oct. 19, 2010, 1:53 pm
Or from Yellow Hook says:

"Bike lanes (and good public transport) are givens in so many cities around the world -- it's time for NYC to join the civilized, forward-thinking world."

You mean like Europe - that had to be bailed out by us TWICE last century?
Oct. 19, 2010, 3:41 pm
Jenifer from Greenpoint says:
Hey Brooklyn from kensington
the reason for "almost " is because we pedestrians have to be Extra careful because cyclist are self centered and act like rules of the road don't apply to them. Just because you have not seen any accidents doesn't mean they aren't happening. I "almost " get hit several times a day by bikers who run red lights at high speeds. It is no way to live, having to take your live in your hands every time you try to cross the street. Cars for the most part know what a red light is.
The time has come to make all cyclist register for a licence and take mandatory saftey class. I'm sick of it.
Oct. 19, 2010, 10:54 pm
Pete from Windsor Terrace says:


The PPW bike lane seems to be working-cars used
the Avenue like a drag strip previously, and Bikers
seem to be following the rules more than they used to.
Yeah, you really have to look up the bike lane to make
sure noone is coming, but that's easy enough to do
Saying people should use the Park loop or sidewalks
is not realistic; Side walks are for pedestrians.
We have rights too!
Oct. 20, 2010, 11:03 am
steve f from park slop says:
Yes, let's put PPW back the way it was for most of it's life.

You think car parking along the park and one way traffic is Way Things Always Were? NOT!

Put back the trolley tracks!

The Coney Island Ave street cars ran along PPW, two tracks, both along the PARK Side of PPW for a century. There was no car parking on the street, there was two way traffic and there was trolley tracks.

Things change, the bike lane is new, but at one time cars, parking cars, and one way streets, were new too. Things change for good reasons, and the bike lane is a good reason. Or do you want the trolley tracks back?
Oct. 20, 2010, 11:49 am
Mike from Park Slope says:
"The bike lane is a disaster. Noise pollution has increased exponentially from horn honking and screeching brakes. Double parking to unload your car is much more dangerous. Sanitation street sweepers seem wholly unable to keep the lane clean"

I don't see what these "problems" have to do with bicycles, which don't have horns, don't double park, and don't travel at 40 MPH in a 30 zone. Seems like your anger is misguided.
Oct. 21, 2010, 7:39 pm
E.M. from Park Slope says:
I'm biker, and I live just a block away from beautiful Prospect Park. I love biking in and around the park. Bike lanes can make sense where there is heavy and chaotic traffic-- both in terms of cars and bikes. For example, the bike land built up 8th Avenue in the City is great: there is so much bike and car traffic, and it so chaotic with cabs and messengers, it makes sense to regulate it. The bike lane doesn't make senses along Prospect Park because none of this is true. Traffic is usually not that heavy; it does not typically involve bike messengers or cabs. Those who bike this stretch can ride with traffic, as they have done for years, or ride in the park itself. In the mean time, while the the bike lane is not useful, it has affected the aesthetics of Prospect Park West. What was once a pleasant street to walk along is now interrupted by an odd green strip with 'floating' islands of cars. Living in this neighborhood, I would prefer to see the bike lane rolled back and restore this street to its former glory. Let me emphasize that I still support bike lanes where they make sense; this is simply not one of those cases and seems to have changed a beautiful and historic area of Brooklyn.
Oct. 23, 2010, 1:26 pm
Mike says:
E.M., like many other haters, willingly ignores several salient details:
- Neither PPW nor the park provided northbound bike access.
- This is primarily a TRAFFIC CALMING project. PPW had a serious problem with speeding and weaving traffic -- and this was precisely because the car volumes weren't super high. What happens when you provide too many car lanes for the traffic volumes? Very fast and aggressive driving.

Saying this bike lane is "not useful" is absurd. Saying PPW had "former glory" is also absurd: it was basically an interstate highway separating Park Slope from Prospect Park. There is no reason why that should have existed, and I am so glad it has been tamed.
Oct. 23, 2010, 4:06 pm
Or from Yellow Hook says:
Has anyone worked out how the snow plowis going to get down the bike lane?

Thought so.
Oct. 24, 2010, 8:01 pm
Or from Yellow Hook says:
Translation:

Traffic Calming = traffic jam where there wasn't one before
Oct. 24, 2010, 8:03 pm
Mike says:
The bike lane buffer is 11' wide. Snow plows are about 8' wide. What's the problem, exactly? They get down similar protected bike lanes all over town with no problem.
Oct. 24, 2010, 8:03 pm
Or from Yelllow Hook says:
bike lane 11'
snow plow 8'

Yup - I wrote "snow plow" not 'magic machine that makes the snow dissapear'

Bike Lane? You have a problem!
Oct. 24, 2010, 11:35 pm
Mike says:
Why are you so obsessed with this tiny issue? It's not a big deal! The snow plow will clear the bike lane (which is 8', plus a 3' buffer) just fine. The snow will end up either in the buffer or on the edge of the sidewalk. The bike lane may end up a little narrower for a week or two, but that's not a big deal.
Oct. 25, 2010, 9:17 am
Chuck Reichenthal from Kensington/Midwood says:
There are other problems with the crazed bike lane on PPW. Yes, there's the obvious in that there is a long bike lane in the Park itself. Equally valid, and seldom mentioned, is the problem that the sidewalk may become dangerous at night. when I lived on PPW, I was jumped twice from behind the Park bushes when I parked on the park side of the street. Now, the parking lane and the bike lane both block visibility to the sidewalk. Problems on the park side of PPW can become a site for easy prey on pedestrians late at night. As someone who went through that situation, I may assume that, although times have moved on, the situation mmay become just as tricky.
Oct. 25, 2010, 1:48 pm
boof from brooklyn says:
Mr. Reichenthal,

How does the bike lane or the parking lane block visibility of the sidewalk? There's always (since the trolley tracks were removed) been a parking lane and the sidewalk has always been behind it.

It would seem that the bike lane can only add more people with a clear view of the sidewalk -- namely those bicycling in then new lane. So, if anything, your rationale shows yet another benefit of the bike lane.
Oct. 27, 2010, 3:29 pm
Viv from PS says:
sorry. most of the bikers do not adhere to the rules. They fly through the lights and do not stop. It is dangerous, a waste of space and what will they do when it snows?
Nov. 3, 2010, 12:27 pm
Nick from Brooklyn says:
Look both ways?
Feb. 16, 2011, 7:28 pm

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