The Prospect Park West bike lane is generating a surprising amount of controversy, even sparking opposing protests on Thursday in Brooklyn. The bike lane originally was designed with two goals; slowing traffic and giving cyclists a safe lane of their own. Both these goals have been accomplished, with speeders going over 40 mph down by 95 percent according to Park Slope Neighbors.
Despite this opponents have found plenty to gripe about, and it’s not only motorists who are complaining. Many are not fans of the aesthetics of the bike lane. Safety is another concern and is a big speaking point for both sides. The area previously reserved for parking is now narrower and exiting a car requires more caution so as not to open a door into an oncoming car on one side or an oncoming bicycle on the other. Another safety complaint is that cyclists do not cede right of way to pedestrians and often speed through lights and intersections with no regard to the law.
The proponents of the Prospect Park West bike lane instead tout the increased safety of Prospect Park West. Speeding is greatly decreased and a former three-lane road which motorists treated almost as a highway has now slowed into speeds more suitable for a residential neighborhood. Other benefits being touted include the positive environmental impact the bike lane provides as well as the health benefits for residents who commute on two wheels instead of four. On a financial note, with MTA prices set to rise yet again commuting by bicycle may become an increasingly popular choice.
This may be a case of time healing wounds. As PPW residents become used to the new lane many of the current complaints could die down. Police handing out tickets will do much to force cyclists to obey the laws of the road and cede to pedestrians. Residents will become used to the new look of the street and those who park on PPW will learn to do so more cautiously. And hopefully more residents will make the switch themselves from driving a car to riding a bike for daily errands, making Brooklyn into a healthier and more cyclist friendly city.