Bike Lanes Don’t Happen Overnight

aaron naparstek Bike Lanes Dont Happen Overnight

Is that a bike or a bulldozer? (Brooklyn Politic)

Yesterday, we brought you the interminable-seeming-even-if-it’s-only-been-a-few-weeks story of the Prospect Park West bike lane lawsuit. The case essentially revolves around whether or not the lane was built with community consent, and to some extent whether or not it was simply a trial and never meant to be permanent (nevermind all the support for bike lanes, belated or otherwise).

Aaron Naparstek, Streetsblog founder and ardent bike advocate, sent over an email with his rather arch take on these proceedings.

You’d think this would be a pretty easy question to resolve, right? Either a bunch of people from the community were involved in a lengthy and legitimate public process or they weren’t and the Imperial mayor and his transportation Czarina came and dropped a bike lane on their heads. Either the community asked DOT to come and fix speeding, unsafe ped crossings and lack of bike access on PPW or it didn’t.

You’d think that if a community process took place then there’d be a timeline of public events you could point back to and there’d be a record of Community Board meetings and votes. If the community process was ridiculously extensive and public and inclusive there might even be online video of community workshops that you could look at on the Internet! Maybe you’d even find a former Community Board chair and current City Council member willing to vouch for all of this in an affidavit

If you’ve been following along, you know that the City Council member in question is Brad Lander, also a strident defender of the lane, and that the community process Mr. Naparstek refers to is indeed well-documented. The Observer has reached out to Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes, the community group that brought the lawsuit against the lane, for a response.

Update: Added links to community input.

mchaban [at] | @MC_NYC


  1. xexon says:

    My sympathies.

    I live on the rainforest coast of the Pacific NW. Both Oregon and Washington have extensive bike lanes. Even in the cities.  Bike riding is a way of life out here.

    But you folks have red tape we don’t. If you want bike lanes, you have to push and push hard. Some of you aren’t pushing hard enough. I encourage you to do so. Bike to work days are a good start and a way to bring visibility to the issue.


  2. Community Member says:

    “Either a bunch of people from the community were involved in a lengthy and legitimate public process or they weren’t…”

    They were!

    Here is a timeline of key public events that took place during the community-driven process that led to the redesign of Prospect Park West…

    March, 2006: At a Park Slope community meeting attended by hundreds,
    concerns about speeding and safety on Prospect Park West are raised,
    noting that cars exceed 60 MPH, and that many cars substantially exceed
    the speed limit.June, 2007: CB6 sends a letter to DOT, requesting study of a
    protected, two-way bike path on Prospect Park West as a way to reduce
    speeding and improve safety.April, 2009: DOT presents initial plan for parking-separated path to
    CB6 Transportation Committee, which unanimously voted to approve the
    plan.May, 2009: The full CB6 board votes to approve the plan, 18 – 9, with suggested modifications.April, 2010: CB6, Lander, DOT sponsor an open house, attended by hundreds, showing design plan for additional public comment.April, 2010: DOT presents the modified design (addressing many issues raised by CB6 and community residents) to CB6.June, 2010: Prospect Park West parking-protected, two-way bike path is installed.Summer, 2010: Lander meets with bike path opponents and supporters.July, 2010: Lander requests that DOT commit to provide data to
    community, after the path has been in operation for several months, on
    how the path is working.August, 2010: DOT commits to provide data, and report back to the community in early 2011.October, 2010: Lander, Councilmember Steve Levin, and CB6 conduct a
    detailed survey on the path, completed by over 3,000 Brooklynites, which
    reveals significant support for the path, and suggests some additional
    modifications.October, 2010: DOT releases first round of data, showing dramatic
    reductions in speeding and sidewalk cycling, and significant increases
    in cycling.January, 2011: DOT presents data to CB6 (at a meeting attended by
    hundreds) on the first six months of the path’s operation, showing
    speeding, accidents, and injuries are down, travel time remains
    constant, sidewalk riding is down, cycling is up.  DOT also proposes
    additional design modifications in response to community requests,
    including raised pedestrian islands and bike rumble-strips to improve
    bike/pedestrian interactions.March, 2011: CB6 holds public hearing (attended by hundreds), at
    which the significant majority of community residents present favor the
    bike path.April, 2011:  CB6 votes unanimously to approve the raised pedestrian
    islands, bike rumble strips, and other design modifications proposed by
    DOT (requesting that the design of the islands be contextual with
    Prospect Park West).

  3. Pedestrian Rights says:

    The headline says it all.  Bike lanes don’t happen overnight and the DOT doesn’t shove them down communities’ throats.  They are the result of study, community involvement and lots of work!  We need more of them to protect people from the menace of speeding, reckless, distracted drivers.