Dear DOT, Tear Out This Bike Lane NOW! (Updated)

bike lane haters Dear DOT, Tear Out This Bike Lane NOW! (Updated)

BOOOO-IKES! (Gothamist)

Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes and Seniors for Safety keep spinning their wheels on the bike lane lawsuit.

The groups just sent a letter to the Department of Transportation and Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan demanding the Prospect Park West bike lane be removed. This despite the fact that on Tuesday a Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice dismissed NBBL’s Article 78 challenge, arguing the community groups had missed the window in which to file a petition against the lane.

It seemed like that would be the end of the line for the challenge, though the possibility remains for an appeal. Instead, NBBL’s clever attorney Jim Walden has seized on the details of the judge’s decision to gin up bad press for the bike lane yet again.

“We’re pleased the Court saw through DOT’s efforts to stonewall the community, as we have contended all along,” Mr. Walden said in a statement. “We have little doubt that DOT, if it follows Sadik-Khan’s prior pattern, will continue its bob-and-weave strategy, rather than complying with the Court’s order.  But, we also have full confidence that Justice Bunyan will not tolerate more of her antics.”

The groups’ “demand” letter (below) actually appears to be a technical formality. It is a careful parsing of the decision by Justice Bert Bunyon, which charged the groups with exhausting all other administrative remedies before they can pursue further court action.

One of these is the demand letter, traditionally a quiet, technical affair. In this case, the letter was also sent to the press. This would not be the first time negative attention was drawn to the DOT its beloved bike lane through Mr. Walden’s legal wranglings. He subpoenaed a handful of DOT officials earlier this summer, including Commissioner Sadik-Khan, though the court later determined the opponents had no cause to do so and asked the subpoenas be withdrawn.

On Tuesday night, after the decision was handed down, Mr. Walden also released two differing statements, the first one cautious, the latter more insistent, that nothing had actually been lost in the judge’s dismissal. Keep hope alive.

In its demand letters, the groups also seek to FOIL the department for a cache of documents they hope will prove their case, that the lane was always intended as a impermanent pilot program that never had full community support. They had hoped to discover this information through depositions and discovery during their trial, but the judge forbade any such fact-finding at the time.

Update 5:55: Transportation Alternatives executive director Paul Steely White released the following statement condemning the letter:

“In their desperate quest for headlines, the opponents of the street safety improvements on Prospect Park West continue to ride roughshod over the wishes of local residents. These malcontents had their day in court, and their groundless case was dismissed. The people of Park Slope have endured this reckless PR stunt long enough.  It’s time to move on.”

Update 6:21: According to a city official, DOT has yet to receive the letter, underscoring the impression that Jim Walden’s real target here is not the city but the media. The letter was promptly emailed to newsrooms and assignment desks across the city earlier today, but has been sent to DOT via snail mail.

mchaban [at] | @MC_NYC

Bike Lane Charts for Demand Letter

PPW Demand Letter – FINAL 8-19-11


  1. James S.T. Stranahan says:

    “Don’t block the flow”?

    Looking at some of those old bags, I don’t think they’ve had much “flow” since the first President Bush.

    I love my foxy grandmas and as a highly experienced native NYC cyclist have little use for the bike lane crybabies but THIS was just silly, start to finish. Rich white people live next to a park and are upset the street became more… park like, waah waah waah

    1. Nnhdsh says:

      You don’t like white people?  Why inject race into this?

    2. Nnhdsh says:

      Also, I assume you know who James S.T. Stranahan is? Or did you just pass the statue a thousand times without doing any research?  He wanted to attract all classes to the park but also wanted to attract the rich as residents to the area.

      Leave racist remarks out of it, please.

  2. Enough says:

    Jim Walden, you lost.   GO AWAY.

  3. Schumerly says:

    These guys had a decision against them and they are still going for it?  Chuck Schumer, time to come out of hiding and distance yourself as far as possible from this dude.

  4. Anonymous Commenter says:

    You see how those charts all say “PPW Only?”

    To arrive at the figures in those charts, Jim Walden and friends simply eliminated all of crashes and injuries that took place at intersections and side streets. Given that most crashes take place at intersections, this is improper.

    In terms that Jim Walden himself likes to use: NBBL has “fudged,” “cherry-picked” and “manipulated” the NYPD crash data to come up with this stuff.

    My question to Matt Chaban: Why are you still putting it out there? Why are you covering this? Jim Walden, quite literally, has no case. FOILing a government agency — which Jim Walden and any other citizen in New York is free to do — is not newsworthy. Are we really going to provide media attention every time these people fart out another press release? 

    1. Matt Chaban says:

      Because if I don’t expose the sham, other outlets will play it straight. I’d rather be first out of the gate with the real story than let them continue to, uh, spin everyone.

      1. Sally says:

        Baloney. No one else is covering it and even if you do print something, why print the idiotic What the Data Show charts they’ve been passing around for a year?  Walden is cherry-picking data to suit his client’s desire – his data is not correct.  But that’s not new and that’s not news.

         If a group of private citizens writes a letter to DOT demanding that they rip out the BQE, would you print that too?  I’m drafting a letter right now.

        These people have no standing anymore.  They lost their case. 

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  5. Where's Walden? says:

    People with a good story to tell don’t tell it on a late Friday afternoon in the middle of August.

    Meanwhile, in other news, Walden’s bogus lawsuit got dismissed this week.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Which kind of human excrement do you think Gibson Dunn attorney Jim Walden is?  The kind who really believes the shit he is arguing in that letter, or the completely cynical variety who doesn’t give a fuck about public process, the public good, kids, cute puppies, or anything other getting than getting down on his knees and sucking off Charles Schumer for free in the hope of getting a pat on the head and maybe an appointment?  Looking over his list of past clients, I’m guessing the latter.

  7. Anonymous Commenter says:

    “…underscoring the impression that Jim Walden’s real target here is not the city but the media.”

    Umm… duh?

    Matt: What if Linda Gross issued a Jim Walden press release on the Prospect Park West bike lane and, simply, no one in the local New York City press corps covered it, no one tweeted about it to #bikenyc and it was just crickets chirping here in the comments section? 

    Now, that would actually be newsworthy. 

  8. More Cars! says:

    “Bike lane = fewer parking spots”

    That’s what it’s about for these people, huh?  Selfish is as selfish does.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I’m in favor of this bike lane and think those guys are crazy, but to be fair, the statistical data don’t show anything either way and both sides are guilty of “lying with statistics”. The numbers are too small and the uncertainty too large. I’m simplifying things a bit, but roughly, whenever you are talking about ~9 injuries per year, the standard deviation may be estimated at about +/- 3. That means that you could have 9 injuries one year, 15 injuries the next year, and 3 injuries the year after that, all due to chance without any “trends” at all.

    1. ohhleary says:

      Qrt145: Sorry, but that’s perfectly normal, not “lying with statistics.” The DOT used an average of 3 years of data instead of just 1. One year of data is simply statistically insignificant, but Jim Walden and his idiot ilk tried to use just one year of data as evidence that the DOT was “lying with statistics.” The DOT used the same 3 year average in virtually every other project they’ve done, because it’s the statistically honest thing to do. 

      1. Anonymous says:

        Using an average over a longer period is a great way of reducing the uncertainty, but comparing the data for the three previous years with the data for only 2010 *still* does not result in a statistically significant difference. Maybe, and just maybe, in 2013 we might be able to tell if injuries went up or down in a statistically significant way. By then we’ll be able to compare three years before with three years after installing the bike lane. But the current study only had six months of bike lane and five injuries during that period. (The number of crashes is about 5 times larger and the difference is slightly, but only slightly, more significant.)

      2. Anonymous Commenter says:

        qrt145: I was at the well-attended Community Board meeting where DOT presented this data. It was presented as a 6-month review and nothing more. Three- and five-year averaging is standard industry practice and was done at NYC DOT when PPW law suit petitioner Iris Weinshall was commissioner there. At the presentation, DOT never said anything more dramatic than based on what they saw in the first six months that the bike lane was up and running, they were satisfied that the project was working well, they recommended a few tweaks and changes, but that they would leave the bike lane on the ground and continue to monitor and evaluate the street.

        The only lying being done here is by the NBBL folks who decided that they didn’t like the NYPD crash data as it was, so they unilaterally just got rid of a bunch of crashes that took place at intersections and side streets just off of PPW. While the DOT staff painstakingly went through each individual NYPD crash report evaluating crash diagrams and reports drawn up by police officers at the scene, NBBL simply cherry-picked the “PPW Only” crashes to come up with their little charts.

  10. Reader says:

    If Iris Weinshall doesn’t step forward soon to tell these people to stop it, she should be ashamed of herself. She chose the wrong side and lost. Time to stop suing the kids, parents, and seniors who like safe streets. Iris, get some courage and do the right thing. Enough with the lies, bogus charts, and entitled letters. It’s over. The people and the judge have spoken.

    1. Gerson says:

      Agreed.  She’s shameless.  Chuck Schumer, stop these people!

  11. The Senator's Wife says:

    These people are going to keep sending bogus letters to the media, and are going to keep trying to find any reason to sue the DOT, even though a judge tossed their case.

    It’s really up to Iris Weinshall to step forward and make a few calls to end this thing.  Tell Walden thanks for messing up your chances here and not filing the lawsuit on time, but he’s got to end this.  What part of losing a lawsuit doesn’t a lawyer get?  Or is this not about the lawsuit, not about his “concern” for little old ladies crossing the street, and really about some sort of hatred for Bloomberg and JSK? 

    Honestly, Chuck.  Tell your wife to cut it out and make this thing go away.  We know you’ve made calls about the bike lane in the past — time to do it again. 

    Heck, I may even form my own group, write a letter on fancy paper, and “demand” that he do just that!  That will have as much standing as this group of nobodies.