Supporter and Opponent of Prospect Park West Bike Lane Pen Dueling Op-Eds

02/25/2011 1:34 PM |

Nobody opposed the late-19th century Prospect Park bike lane.
  • Nobody opposed the late-19th century Prospect Park bike lane.

Yep, we’re still talking about this thing: today the Brooklyn Paper published competing opinion pieces from Councilman Brad Lander and Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes member (and Brooklyn College dean) Louise Hainline about the awesome two-way bike lane on Prospect Park West. Neither really says anything new: Lander explains how he and fellow Councilman Steve Levin and Community Board 6 surveyed Slopers and found them mostly in favor of the lane; Hainline reiterates her bike lane-hating group’s proposal to reduce the lane to one direction while making some incomprehensible claims.

For instance, enumerating the problems the lane was designed to help resolve but has, in her group’s view, aggravated, there’s this passage:

When drivers drop off elderly and disabled passengers and local businesses access customers on Prospect Park West, a busy thoroughfare is reduced to a single lane.

Don’t local businesses usually “access” customers, like, in stores? Unless we’re talking about, say, drug dealers, sex workers and delivery guys, in which case, sure, the loss of a lane might be problematic. Hainline continues:

Last year, the Department of Transportation installed this two-way obstructed lane and has since converted this “pilot program” into a permanent fixture without properly evaluating it or addressing local residents’ concerns.

Lander, meanwhile, lists the various improvements coming to the Prospect Park West bike lane following a six-month evaluation period and concerns voiced by local residents:

The Department of Transportation recently proposed a few modifications that would add raised pedestrian safety islands, signals to tell cyclists to yield to pedestrians, and “rumble strips.”

“Supporters of the lane say that it has reduced the speed of cars and increased safety,” Hainline concludes (which, yes, a DoT report says this). “But the pedestrians facing new dangers and the travelers who can no longer move efficiently should be given consideration as well.” The new dangers she’s referring to must be looking both ways when crossing the street, though pedestrians no longer have to worry about cyclists on the sidewalk, and have one less lane of cars to dodge. As for the travelers no longer moving efficiently, well, that’s a mystery, unless what she meant to say was “travelers who can no longer move at a rate over the local speed limit.”

(Image: “The bicycle path from Prospect Park, Brooklyn, to Coney Island.” Illustration from an 1896 issue of Munsey’s magazine, courtesy NYPL)