Tonight may prove to be a pivotal night in the battle over the controversial Prospect Park West bike lane. Just days after a well-connected group of local residents sued the DOT over the bike lane, the local Community Board is holding a meeting to discuss the hot topic. Citing a decrease in accidents and speeding on PPW, the DOT wants to make the bike lane permanent, but to do so they'll need the blessing of the Community Board. The anti-bike lane lobby would have you believe that the DOT rammed this bike lane down the neighborhood's throat in the dead of night, but it's worth recalling that it was this same Community Board thatasked the DOTto study a two-way separated bike lane on PPW back in 2007.
Last night, Councilmember Brad Lander squared off with the Jim Walden, the lawyer (and top campaign contributor to Chuck Schumer) who is representing the anti-bike laners. You can watch the NY 1 debate here; Walden's argument boils down to a criticism of how the DOT analyzed the accident data. A comparison between when the bike lane was installed to data from a year prior to the bike lane shows a slight increase in accidents, from four to five. But the DOT's study compared the new PPW accident data to an average of three years prior, which Walden's group claims is misleading, and suggests a wider disinformation campaign from the DOT. Again, Streetsblog's Ben Fried somehow summons the patience to meticulously unpack the hysteria:
The thing is, high-quality studies of traffic-calming projects rarely use year-over-year comparisons to evaluate effects on street safety. They use multi-year averages of injury data instead, especially to track events subject to bias from random variation. Statisticians know to look at numbers from several years to dampen the effect of outliers and statistical noise. In this federal study of traffic-calming projects, for instance [PDF], the “before” data uses multi-year averages covering time frames as long as 23 years. Not a single before-and-after case study cited in the report compares merely a single year’s data to the following year’s data. The methodology that Jim Walden and the PPW plaintiffs insist should have been applied to Prospect Park West is as simplistic and misleading as their insistence that the idea for the redesign was imposed from above.
Meanwhile, in Washington, NYC DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan was enjoying some good vibes from cycling advocates at the National Bike Summit, an annual gathering put on by the League of American Bicyclists. Speaking to the hundreds in attendance, Sadik-Khan said, "When you put these bike lanes down, you are improving the safety of everyone who uses that street. The safety gains that you get are really unmatched with any other type of treatment." The Times reports that she also gave a shout-out to the PPW bike lane. "You may have heard about it," Sadik-Khan said of the lane. "It has done extraordinarily, I guess, controversial things, like dramatically reduced speeding."
Burn. And speaking of burning, The New Yorker's John Cassidy took an extraordinary amount of heat around the Internet yesterday for his self-satisfied diatribe against bike lanes and the vast left-wing "bike lobby" conspiracy. If his essay infuriated you, you'll enjoy reading these reactions from Felix Salmon at Reuters, Adam Sternbergh at the Times, Ezra Klein at the Washington Post, The Economist, Bike Snob, and Aaron Naparstek. (Cassidy's response to the blowback here.)
And if you want to attend tonight's PPW meeting, it starts at 6:30 p.m. at John Jay High School Auditorium, 237 7th Ave, Brooklyn, between 4th & 5th Streets. Get there early if you want to speak.