Someday this Prospect Park West bike lane war is gonna end, but today is not that day. And could it be that the tide is turning in the direction of the anti-lane forces, who are suing the city to get the controversial lane removed? The Brooklyn Paper reports that the local community board quietly dropped a scheduled discussion of new bike lanes on 14th and 15th streets between Third Avenue and Prospect Park West. The anti-bike lane crowd smells blood in the water, and they couldn't ask for better propaganda than this CBS 2 segment showing an ambulance driving in the bike lane to avoid a PPW traffic jam.
A couple of things about the video used in this segment. First, because it only shows one camera angle, we have no idea what's causing this traffic jam. Is there an accident up ahead that the ambulance was trying to get to? Is Marty Markowitz in the middle of the road doing the Truffle Shuffle to the tune of Take This Lane and Shove It? Correlation does not imply causation, and assuming that this traffic is caused by that bike lane is just that—an assumption. Later in the segment, reporter Marcia Kramer is repeatedly shown alongside a jam-free PPW, so what does that tell you? Secondly, a study has shown that not only is speeding is down on PPW, but there is no discernible difference between pre-bike lane and post-bike lane travel times on PPW.
But hey, we certainly get the appeal of sensational, anecdotal evidence and tendentious, one-sided reporting! This is Kramer's third segment on the Prospect Park West bike lane war, so we're not surprised to see this photo of Kramer acting chummy with Park Slope resident Senator Chuck Schumer, who is said to be anti-bike lane, along with his wife, former NYC DOT commissioner Iris Weinshall. Streetsblog thinks Kramer, who's done a great job locking horns with Senator Pedro Espada, Jr., should use her skills as a political reporter to get at the real story:
They call themselves “Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes,” but they actually just want to remove this bike lane. Interesting, no? What really makes the story pop, though, is that this group has some first-rate political connections. The most active members of the group include a former deputy mayor and the previous DOT commissioner, who happens to be married to Senator Schumer.
The law firm that’s suing the city for them? They’re one of the top firms in the nation — Gibson, Dunn, and Crutcher. The head of their litigation arm, Randy Mastro, was deputy mayor under Giuliani, and it’s been reported that he brokered the whole arrangement with the anti-bike lane group. Oh, and the lawyer who’ll be suing the city over the bike lane made the maximum contribution to Chuck Schumer’s re-election campaign in 2010.
We reached out to Kramer for comment and will update if we hear back. In the meantime, expect the war to spill over onto the Windsor Terrace border, where Councilman Brad Lander (D-Park Slope) says he remains committed to making bike-friendly changes to 14th and 15th Streets. Though the topic was dropped from an upcoming community board meeting, Lander tells the Brooklyn Paper, "We look forward to having a dialogue later this spring with residents of 14th and 15th streets about a range of possibilities, including bike lanes and other approaches, to address the goals they’ve expressed — which is what we had planned all along."