New York City loves drama. Not just the cinematic kind.
Over the last few years the rise in cycling in NYC has led to all kinda of drama; some good – like car-free sections of midtown (who would have thought?), city cycling fashion, new cultural experiences like “Bike in Theater,” a NYC messenger themed feature film with Joesph Gordon-Levitt and bunches more. On the bummer side there’s been a seemingly endless series of cyclist injuries and fatalities that go unpunished, un-investigated (there aren’t even sufficient laws in place), Police harassment, lack of infrastructure or education and of course the absolutely ridiculous Prospect Park West Bike Lane Debacle.
Hopefully this is something you’ve never even heard about – because if you have you’re likely completely sick with how preposterous & drawn out the whole thing has been. But today there’s some very encouraging news; particularly since this case has become a barometer for integrating cycling lanes – and cycling in general – to a wider American and International list of cities.
The short version of the story is that the city put in a protected 2 way bike lane next to a major city park and in doing so removed a row of parking. Perhaps that doesn’t sound controversial (because it shouldn’t). But some very wealthy people live nearby and this made parking their cars much more difficult. There was also the usual small group of stubborn seniors who through sheer habit are under the impression that removing a lane of cars will make crossing the street far more dangerous for them. To make matters worse there was an uproar over an ambulance that trying to rush to an emergency became stuck in the unmoving traffic in the two driving lanes and opted to swerve into the bike lanes to jump past the congestion. Of course the louder voices in the bike lane opposition made it sound like the bike lanes were a serious public danger (?!) and the few cyclists that were able to speak up up barely managed to point out how dangerous it is for any vehicle, even an ambulance to rush down a 2 way bike lane. ….Perhaps they were drumming up more business?
Then, just when you thought you might be able to move on and enjoy the bike lane, we were reminded how America really works: an group of residents and filed a lawsuit complaining that the bike lane wasn’t put in with enough input from residents and that it should be considered a “test” and presumably that the test should be ripped out. Practically this was a personal agenda and sadly a lot of people were taken away from doing great work on progressing the state of cycling (Such as Transportation Alternative’s Paul Steely White) were subpoenaed.
Then, like a Christmas miracle in August I woke up to two pieces of great news:
- The case has been dismissed! See HuffPo: http://transportationnation.org/2011/07/26/subpoenas-of-activists-withdrawn-in-brooklyn-bike-lane-lawsuit/
- The Freedom of Information Act is finally being put to some good: cycling advocate lawyers for Streetsblog, are helping to bring the true story of the Prospect Park West bikepath to light. Documents obtained so far show that the opponents of that path — who include Chuck Schumer’s wife and children and CUNY administrators — have improperly used their influence and resources as public officials to wage their campaign against community-supported traffic safety improvements. They expect to force disclosure later this month that will contain a large cache of documents giving a comprehensive picture of the bike path opponents’ tactics. Stay tuned to Streetsblog for breaking news!
It’s sunny and things are lookin’ up. So put on a helmet & go enjoy some bike lanes!