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Opponents of the Prospect Park West bike lane — whose case against the world’s most controversial cycle path was thrown out last week — are now demanding that the city remove the bike route entirely or face another lawsuit.
Last Friday, lane foes issued the ultimatum to Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan because Supreme Court Judge Bert Bunyan’s ruling required the group to “exhaust administrative remedies” before it may file a new lawsuit against the city.
To Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes — the group that has been fighting the lane ever since its installation last year — that means that the city must remove the cycle path entirely or else a second suit will be filed.
A new case can only go ahead if lane foes can prove that the city never intended the bike lane to be a permanent alteration because suits against such permanent changes must be filed within four months.
That’s why Bunyan tossed the suit last week, avoiding the foes’ larger argument that the city turned Prospect Park West into a danger to pedestrians when it improperly removed a lane of car traffic to create a two-way protected bike lane.
Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes intends to prove the path was actually a temporary project — an argument that would allow the group to skirt the statute of limitations.
Their case was bolstered last month, when Borough President Markowitz swore under oath that Sadik-Khan told him that the lane was merely a “trial” project, not a permanent change.
A spokeswoman for the city’s legal team declined to comment on the threat of a new lawsuit, saying only that the Law Department had received the letter.
The city has long maintained that it installed the traffic-calming project after extensive analysis and a process that was “rational and reasonable in all respects.”
What’s more, most of the neighboring community also supports the bike lane, according to two surveys.
One of those supporters is Transportation Alternatives director Paul Steely White, who called the new letter “a desperate quest for headlines.”
“These malcontents had their day in court,” he said. “The people of Park Slope have endured this reckless PR stunt long enough. It’s time to move on.”
For her part, Sadik-Khan had called the case “frivolous” last week — but Walden thinks the commissioner is the one who is being self-serving.
“We intend to address the condescension and high-handed manor in which she has dealt with this case,” Walden said. “I have never seen a public servant with such hubris.”
©2011 Community Newspaper Group
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