Yesterday we learned, to our horror, that the Prospect Park West bike lane battle is still not over—the lane's politically-connected opponents won an appeal that will require a judge to consider a lawsuit that was dismissed way back in August 2011. The plaintiffs—a group called Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes—claim the DOT misrepresented data about the bike lane's impact and violated the State Environmental Quality Review Act. But today they offered to drop the lawsuit if the DOT gets an "independent" expert to conduct another study of the oh-so-controversial-but-not-really-jesus-christ-it's-a-freaking bike lane.
In a letter sent to Michael A. Cardozo, the Corporation Counsel for the New York City Law Department, the plaintiffs' attorney Jim Walden writes, "Our clients—many of Whom are generally supportive of DOT's expansion ofthe City's bike network and planned bike-share system—simply want to ensure that any bike lane on Prospect Park West is assessed in an independent, scientifically valid manner, and that it actually improves public safety."
So if the DOT hires "a fully independent, mutually agreed-upon expert to conduct an objective study of traffic and safety impacts," and the study finds that "traffic and safety conditions have improved compared to the period before the bike lane was provisionally installed," the haters will drop the lawsuit. But if the study contradicts the DOT's claims, then they have to get rid of the bike lane and return Prospect Park West to the dangerous drag racing strip it was in days of old.
Walden adds that, "The study will be less expensive than continuing the litigation, so we see no reason DOT shouldn't embrace it." His full letter is below. Needless to say, the offer is dead on arrival. Cardozo, the city's lawyer, sent us this statement:
This offer—designed to maximize press coverage by rehashing their prior distortions—is rejected. The Prospect Park West bike lane has already been subjected to the most thorough analysis and review of any bike lane in history. The petitioners simply reject and misrepresent the results of these reviews, and are now seeking to move the goal posts yet again.
The bike lane has dramatically reduced dangerous speeding on Prospect Park West, reduced sidewalk cycling and made the road safer for everyone. We remain confident that, just as was the case with the three other claims in this lawsuit, the court will see through the petitioners' one remaining claim and again dismiss the remnants of this lawsuit.
Indeed, the DOT has already conducted a thorough study concluding that the bike lane—which was created with the Community Board's approval—has calmed traffic and make the boulevard safer. Transportation Alternatives spokesman Michael Murphy adds, "They're asking for proof of something that's already been proven beyond any shadow of a doubt. It's just incredibly obvious that these people are not acting in good faith—there's no use pretending otherwise. Meanwhile, fatal crashes are happening all over the city and these self-proclaimed safety advocates are nowhere to be found."