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Bikelash round up

Dateline 3/24/11.
Our old pal the Prospect Park West Bike lane is still blowing up the news like the crazed tweets of Martin Sheen’s son, well maybe not that popular. (Charlie Sheen does have 3,141,447 followers on twitter.)

WNYC’s Brian Lehrer couldn’t resist the opportunity since the cover spread in NY Magazine. Yesterday he hosted a 20 minute segment called: “Bike Lane Brouhaha,” featuring lawyer Jim Walden who’s taken on the Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes case to sue the DOT for “not doing their job.”

Seems kind of ridiculous that a 1,000 dollar a hour lawyer would work pro bono to sue a city agency for accountability especially since the DOT has been working on this bike lane in complete transparency since 2007. Luckily, Michael called in the show who works for Councilman Brad Lander to set the record straight about how the local community board asked for this bike lane and 70% of local residents approved and felt safer.

Part 2 is on today’s show with Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson calling in to praise the bike lane. He recently wrote an article in the Huffington Post saying, bike lanes serve a simple purpose in NYC, “to help provide all New Yorkers with more diverse transportation choices.” He also pointed out a recent Quinnipiac poll which illustrates how “City residents give bike lanes the nod by 15 points, 54-39.” Read more here.

I dunno, maybe I have it all wrong about supporting this bike lane. Perhaps we should base safety improvements and a less auto centric direction of the city on the convinces of a few people who happen to live on one of the widest streets in Brooklyn.

Meanwhile, things have elevated to a major case of the ridiculous in Central Park. What started as a massive NYPD ticket blitz against cyclists for not stopping at red lights has now turned to speeding. That’s right the cops are giving cyclists tickets for breaking the speed limit designed for automobiles. Of course their setting up their sting operation on the downhill part of the park around 110th st.

I recieved this email from a bikeblog reader:

“Unfortunately, I have some frustrating news regarding to the cycling situation in Central Park.

As you know, many cyclists spoke out against the crackdown on cyclists in Central Park at the community board meeting. They expressed reasonable opinions and criticism to the police and asked for the ticketing – which Boro President Stringer called “harassment” – to stop.

The police have responded by ramping things up: this morning, as early as 6:00AM, the police set up a RADAR speed trap on the West Side of Central Park. It was placed at the bottom of a hill, with two black unmarked police cars and approximately six police officers in the roadway, blocking off more than a full lane.

At about 6:10AM, I passed the officers. It was dark, the officers were dressed in their dark uniforms and their black cars had no lights on. Their cars were difficult to see.
To express that their position was unsafe, I said to the officers “cars in the middle of the road? really?”
One of the officers responded “you got a problem with that?”

When police set up speed traps for cars – they do not park their police cars blocking half the roadway.
Clearly, their goal is not safety – tickets are the goal.

In addition, I saw a few cyclists get pulled over for running red lights *directly in front of the officers.* It’s clear that these people had no idea that they were supposed to stop at the lights – otherwise, why break the law in front of a police officer.

Our petition currently has 1,586 online signatures + more handwritten.
The NYCC petition currently has 586 online signatures + more handwritten.”

Here is more about this from Gothamist. and here is video from one rider in which the NYPD tries to explain why cyclists shouldn’t go more than 15 m.p.h.

Read more here.

Meanwhile two city council members Brooklyn’s Brad Lander and Manhattan’s Ydanis Rodriguez have introduced a flashing yellow bill to change the stop lights in Central Park to cater to cyclists.

More on this in NYvelocity.com

Here is a story that just about made me faint. The NYPD had to apologize for giving speeding tickets to cyclists in Central Park.

NY Times:

Police Apologize in Person for Cyclist’s Ticket in Park
By JOSEPH GOLDSTEIN
Published: March 22, 2011

David Regen was sitting down to dinner Tuesday night when two police officers appeared at his home under circumstances that will instantly evoke envy from any New Yorker who has ever been issued a ticket.

The officers had come over to apologize for a ticket issued to him earlier that day.

“They said, ‘We’re here because we’re withdrawing your ticket because we feel you were treated unfairly,’ ” Mr. Regen recalled about an hour later in a telephone interview.

The ticket was for speeding through Central Park on a bicycle some 13 hours earlier. Mr. Regen, who lives on West End Avenue at 103rd Street, was one of 10 cyclists caught Tuesday morning on a police speed gun, a rarity during the early-morning hours in Central Park, when cars are not allowed on most of the roads.

Read the article here.

Meanwhile, City Councilwoman Gale Brewer has a better idea for dealing with Central Park, she is introducing a bill that will completely eliminate motor vehicles from both Central Park and Prosepect Park.

Way to go Gale!

Read more from NY1.

1 comment to Bikelash round up

  • JulieH

    I am against the bike lane on Prospect Park West. I bicycle in the city and understand the increased need for improving bike safety with bike lanes, but I speak here as a pedestrian who walks the perimeter of Prospect Park West for exercise at least three times a week, and uses the park on weekends.

    At the last CB6 meeting, I would have liked to have seen a show of hands indicating how many cyclists in the room actually use the PPW bike lane. My regular, on-the-scene observations show that for all the noise, conflict and money spent on it, the space allocated for the lane is barely used by cyclists. During the morning rush (prime time for bike commuters), I will regularly see a few small kids on razor scooters in the lane, with parents walking alongside them on the park perimeter. Around lunchtime, there is an occasional food delivery person on a bike, the kind with red plastic pizza boxes. Yes, there are other cyclists during the day, but mostly when the weather is good. There is an increase of use on weekends, but not by much; recreational-use cyclists are in the park.

    As a pedestrian, I take issue with crediting the bike lane with “traffic calming”. I usually cross at the light at 5th Street or 3rd Street. From the park side, the bike lane forces the pedestrian to make several new and risky decisions in crossing the avenue. The light turns green, you go, but as you step off the curb you must look both ways for bicycles and then, because the line of parked cars down the middle of the street blocks the view of oncoming cars (pressed into two narrow lanes) if you lean out to look, you risk getting side-swiped by a car.

    The PPW bike lane does not calm traffic. I have seen this firsthand. Traffic lights and speed videos calm traffic. If safety on PPW was the original issue brought forth by the community, then new traffic lights and speed video monitors should have been included in the original study to make the PPW roadway safer.

    I have lived in the area for 40 years and as the neighborhood has grown, CB6 has been very responsive to requests for help in installing traffic lights, and has surely saved lives by working with DOT on the community’s behalf. I know this because until we enlisted the Board’s help to get a light at 6th Avenue and 5th Streets, our block witnessed accidents involving children who could not see beyond the parked cars. This is the situation as it currently stands on PPW. That line of parked cars is an accident waiting to happen.

    The bike lane was initially installed on a temporary and experimental basis. It is not the resounding success that Council Member Brad Lander’s statistical survey would have us believe. Please consider taking the bike lane out on an equally experimental basis as it went in, and installing more traffic lights and speed cameras that issue speeding tickets. This “study” surely will not cost as much as what was proposed last night at the meeting for the “tweaking” phase to improve the bike lane, and speed monitoring may actually produce revenue for the city.