Two groups of Park Slope residents opposed to the controversial Prospect Park West bike lane have filed a lawsuit against the DOT to get it removed. The well-connected group Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes—whose members include former NYC DOT commissioner (and wife of Chuck Schumer) Iris Weinshall and former Sanitation Commissioner Norman Steisel—filed the lawsuit this afternoon along with the group Seniors for Safety. Not only does the lawsuit (which you can read in its entirety below) accuse the DOT of conducting a misleading analysis of the bike lane's impact, but it also accuses the DOT of working with cycling advocates to smear the lane's opponents. And the plaintiffs obtained juicy e-mails to prove it.

E-mails obtained via the state's Freedom of Information Law allege that DOT official Ryan Russo encouraged bike lane advocates to "neutralize" and "counter-attack" the bike lane opponents. We're not sure whether that's illegal, but the anti-lane lawyers (working pro-bono, by the way) are trying to portray the DOT as a bunch of zealots willing to use any means necessary to shove the bike lane down Park Slope's throat—even if it means encouraging other people to make comments on the Internet. In these e-mails, Russo tells one bike lane "lobbyist" he found his comments deriding the anti-bike lane crowd as "quite enjoyable." In those comments, opponents are referred to as:

  • "shameless, selfish pigs"

  • "complete f'ing troglodytes"

  • "the worst of what the Baby Boom generation has to offer"

  • "monsters" who should "move to Florida" where "they probably won't live long enough to experience what climate change has in store for the Sunshine State."

Well, the debate certainly has been, uh, spirited! The lawsuit—which also argues that because of Park Slope's historic nature, the DOT needs to conduct an environmental review—comes days after the plaintiffs' lawyer threatened to sue Streetsblog over a blog comment. (Streetsblog initially refused to remove the comment, but later took it down at the commenter's request.) All this should make Thursday night's Community Board meeting (6:30 p.m. at 237 Seventh Avenue, between 4th and 5th Street) to discuss the bike lane a real hoot. Just please don't say anything mean in the comments, you guys, thanks!


In a statement, DOT spokesman Seth Solomonow says, "This project has clearly delivered the benefits the community asked for. Speeding is down dramatically, crashes are down, injuries are down and bike ridership has doubled on weekends and tripled on weekdays." And City Councilman City Councilman Brad Lander, who conducted a survey about the bike lane, tells Transportation Nation, "Most neighborhood residents feel that Prospect Park West is now a calmer, safer street... The DOT is proposing additional modifications - many suggested by community members - that will make PPW even safer. I hope that the lawsuit does not put these additional safety improvements at risk. Of course everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I believe this lawsuit disregards the opinions and jeopardizes the safety of the community."