The Prospect Park West bike lane was controversial from the first mention. But most of the 250 miles of bike lanes added by the city in the last four years have attracted both anger and applause-playing out a miniaturized version of a more global debate between legacy institutions and upstart innovators.
For the Prospect Park West bike lane, the controversy started immediately. As soon as the Department of Transportation announced their plan to use simply a painted median to buffer the two-way bike lane from cars, Community Board 6 voted to change their green-light for the project to a red light.
Then Marty Markowitz and others began criticizing Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan of wanting to make life difficult for people who own cars.
More recently, Councilmember Brad Lander asked Park Slope residents and Brooklyn locals who use the street to fill out an online questionnaire-hoping to provide the Department of Transportation with extra community feedback to supplement the data it collects on traffic, parking, and accidents.
Brad Lander told The Brooklyn Paper that the hot-button issue was so controversial, 800 people filled out his online survey on the first day alone.
Now random groups of seniors have taken to starting impromptu protests along the bike lane, even sporting signs and slogans. Two large protests were also recently organized near the park-one pro-bike, and one anti-bike.
The Prospect Park West bike lane, which eliminated one lane of traffic, was designed to slow speeding cars and return a more relaxed vibe to the community. Instead, it may be creating an even larger divide.
Before the bike lane was constructed, 85 percent of cars traveling on Prospect Park West exceeded the speed limit. According to the NY Daily News that percentage has dropped to just 25 percent. Radar guns recorded that 30 percent of cars traveled faster than 40mph before the bike lane. Now only 1.4 percent achieves that speed. However, much of the reduction is likely due to losing a lane of traffic. Vehicles double-parked now have a greater impact upon passing cars.
Stephen Brown, Survey says! Prospect Park West bike lane is still very controversial, The Brooklyn Paper
Erin Durkin, Bike lanes take ‘speedway’ out of Prospect Park West, NY Daily News