A certain someone is going to love this: In an interview with WNYC, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz blasted bike-loving Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan as "a zealot." Marty is miffed because of all the damn bike lanes encroaching on car territory, particularly on Prospect Park West, where the DOT has finally decided to move ahead with a bike lane from Grand Army Plaza to Bartel Pritchard Square, despite opposition from motorists. On the eve of last night's final public hearing on the issue, Markowitz wrathfully tore into Khan:
Even our commissioner of DOT, who you very well know is probably the biggest advocate of doing everything possible to eliminate automobiles. Even she, when she goes to meetings, she’s not on a bicycle. She’s in a chauffeur-driven car. Interesting, isn’t it?... She is a zealot... We just disagree in certain instances where I’m acutely aware that she wants to make it hard for those that choose to own their automobiles. She wants to make it difficult, their life difficult. I really believe that.
Markowitz did concede that if he walked and biked more he would "probably would be in much better shape," but argued, "I represent everyone. Not just a segment of the population. And I have to balance out those that feel that everyone should be on bicycles and those that feel that they need their automobile and that they shouldn’t be stigmatized." Streetsblog notes that 57 percent of Brooklyn households don't own cars, so surely you can understand why motorists feel like a downtrodden minority struggling under Kahn's boot.
Instead of a two-way bike lane on PPW, Markowitz thinks northbound cyclists should just ride on the sidewalk on Flatbush Avenue between Grand Army Plaza and Empire Boulevard—which would be a strange substitute. And part of the reason the DOT wants to remove a lane of traffic and add bike lanes to Prospect Park West is to slow down traffic; a DOT survey found 70 percent of drivers on PPW traveling faster than the 30 mph limit, with 15 percent driving 40 mph or faster. At last night's hearing, one Park Slope resident summed up the opposition: "Just a few yards away is a bike lane — it’s called Prospect Park! Why not use that?"
In response to the brouhaha following his interview, Markowitz has released this statement:
Like our DOT Commissioner, whose professionalism I respect, I too support cycling in this city, and have not only supported bike lanes like the ones on 9th Street in Park Slope and Kent Avenue in Williamsburg, but have also been a major proponent of the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway, a 14-mile on-and-off street bike lane that connects Greenpoint to Sunset Park. Without my office’s support and advocacy the Greenway would not be happening. What I am opposed to is bike lanes on Prospect Park West, which will both take away needed parking for residents and park-goers and interrupt access of pedestrians to the park during peak usage in summer and on weekends. There are better options to explore that would meet everyone’s needs—such as adding traffic lights to calm traffic, and adding another bike lane to the park itself. By the way, as borough president I advocate for bikers, and also for those who do not live near public transportation, those who cannot bike for various reasons, and yes, those families and residents who chose to own a car in this borough.
Also, to clear up an apparently ambiguous statement from my original WNYC interview, I in no way advocate for cyclists to break the law and ride illegally on the city's sidewalks. My comment about utilizing excess sidewalk space on Prospect Park West and Flatbush Avenue off Prospect Park stems from the fact that, given low usage and wide widths, these sidewalks can potentially safely accommodate the creation of new off street bike lanes. I think that such a proposal should be explored since it would avoid removing a lane from Prospect Park West.