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

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

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Sadik-Khan, though the court later determined the opponents had no cause to do so and asked the subpoenas be withdrawn.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

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