Cyclists did victory laps up and down Prospect Park West yesterday as news spread of the city's victory in a lawsuit that sought to erase a 0.9 mile bike path parallel to the park. But opposition remains deeply rooted, and after all this time, we're still not sure we understand what it is about this bike lane that continues to tear Park Slope apart. So we went over there yesterday in an attempt to understand what all the fuss is about. Most of the reactions ranged from indifference to outright jubilation, but a handful of locals were eager to inveigh against the infamous bike lane. Here's what the haters told us when we asked why the lane must go:
- "The bikers don’t pay any attention, you see some of them who think they’re in the Tour De France, what with their helmets and the whole gear." - Angus T., a Grandfather living in South Park Slope.
- "It’s a redundancy; they can ride in the park. Bikers never follow the rules; they don’t see themselves as an automobile so they disregard the law. Bikers in general are not informed, including the kids, their parents don’t tell them what to do." - Gary Hogg, 54-year-old Rehab Counselor living in Park Slope.
- "It’s dangerous, really, [the bikers] keep on running people down with their bikes. When you try and find a parking space it’s a nuisance because of them—you have to pay more attention when you're parking." - Billy Kelley, 59-year-old lawyer living in Kensington.
- "Instead of doing this they could have rerouted all the bikers into the park. There are many exits to get out. There’s no automobile traffic in the park, it’s safer for everyone if they use the park to bike. It’s here, let’s face—it’s not going to leave." - Bert Sikowitz, 85-year-old Vietnam Veteran living on Prospect Park West.
Angriest of them all was Larry Wolosky, a 61-year-old man who resides on Prospect Park West and stated his occupation as dog walker. "We’ll see what happens when Bloomberg’s not Mayor anymore," Wolosky said. "[The bike lane] is dangerous, for one, and it's totally unnecessary. It’s dangerous to people crossing with a baby, crossing with a dog, to old people…and the bikers don’t follow the rules. I never see a biker stop at a red light. I’m totally against [the bike lane], it’s a total waste of money. Plus there’s the fact that the traffic backs up and if one person double parks it’s dangerous to the cars going by now that there’s only one lane. There’s so many near accidents. It's a total zoo!"
As if to bolster Wolosky's zoo metaphor, we did count six
wolverines cyclists pedaling on the sidewalk along Prospect Park yesterday, which was peculiar because we thought the city just won a huge lawsuit so they could use the damn bike lane. Also spotted: a nanny pushing her double-wide Maclaren stroller down the bike lane. So maybe the takeaway here is that the bike lane isn't the problem, it's the way some people misuse it.
Still, Kim C., a Park Slope mother, told us, "I think it's great. When my kid is able to ride a bike, I'd rather have a safe place for her to ride. Lots of people are killed in biking accidents and I definitely think as much as they can make it safe for people they should. I'm a lover not a hater." And while the Daily News blasted DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Kahn's "preposterous bravado" in describing Judge Bert Bunyan's decision as a "hands-down victory," Bill Carey, founder of Neighbors for Better Neighbors, issued this statement:
We're saddened to see that the plaintffs' attorney, Jim Walden, would characterize Judge Bunyan's decision as 'just the first battle in what is inevitably going to be a longer war.' Our community is not a battlefield and the work of making our streets safer does not "inevitably" have to be a "war." Mr. Walden's clients can graciously accept Judge Bunyan's decision and move on. We look at the bike path as a place to come together, not a line of division in this great neighborhood.
Come on, hug it out, Park Slope. (Just not in the bike lane.)