After the tale of the lawsuit to remove the Prospect Park West bike lane was put to an end August 2011 with a judge dismissing it on grounds of statute-of-limitations, it was wakened this past Wednesday with the New York State Supreme Court Appellate Division ruling unanimously to appeal the ruling. But on Friday, Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes and Seniors for Safety made an attempt to settle before the case has a full hearing before the court.
Jim Walden, a lawyer representing NBBL and SFS, wrote Michael Cardozo a letter, the Corporation Counsel from New York City Law Department representing the NYC Department of Transportation, proposing to drop the suit if the DOT agrees to hire an independent expert to conduct an “objective study of traffic and safety impacts on Prospect Park West.”
If the study concludes that traffic and safety conditions have improved compared to the period before the bike lane was installed, “we will withdraw the lawsuit,” Walden’s letter read.
But, as Walden’s letter continues, if the study concludes that traffic and safety conditions have not improved, or in fact worsened, “then DOT will concede that the bike lane has failed to achieve its stated objective (calming traffic) and will remove it.”
If you think the DOT has already preformed a study on the bike lane’s affects on traffic along Prospect Park West, you’re correct.
In Jan. 2011, the DOT released statistics that compares post-lane data from July 1, 2010 to Dec. 31, 2010 to police accident and other data for the three years prior to the installation of the lanes June 2010.
The DOT’s study, which the NBBL and SFS believe was biased, manipulated and contorted to show the bike lane’s positive impact, found that the PPW bike lane improved safety conditions along the road.
The study found, among other things, that the number of speeding vehicles on the avenue have decreased from three in four to one in five, that the average number of crashes in a six-month period is down 16 percent, and that crashes causing injuries over a six-month period have dropped by a staggering 63 percent.
According to the DOT, the lanes have also caused a major increase in cycling – weekday cycling has nearly tripled, and weekend cycling has doubled.
According to Walden, NBBL and SFS, the “DOT has fundamentally misled the public about the safety of the Prospect Park West bike lane.”
In Walden’s letter, he writes that according to “objective expert analysis of DOT’s own data” they have confirmed that since the bike lane was installed June 2010, “both car crashes and resulting injuries increased by approximately 20 percent on Prospect Park West.”
In a statement to Patch, Walden said,
"My clients have offered a completely reasonable mechanism to resolve the claims in the lawsuit, about which DOT has so bitterly complained,” he wrote. “Hundreds of community members earnestly believe the bike lane has compromised safety, so the Independent safety study my clients propose represents sound public policy. Certainly, the study will be less expensive than continuing the litigation, so we see no reason DOT shouldn't embrace it."
But will the DOT “embrace” Walden’s offer to settle?
After reading the letter, NYC Corporation Counsel Michael Cardozo wrote to Patch that they will not be taking the offer.
“This offer—designed to maximize press coverage by rehashing their prior distortions—is rejected. The Prospect Park West bike lane has already been subjected to the most thorough analysis and review of any bike lane in history,” Cardozo wrote. “The petitioners simply reject and misrepresent the results of these reviews, and are now seeking to move the goal posts yet again.”
In receiving Cardozo’s response, Walden reacts:
"DOT has made it clear they'd rather spend your tax money on litigation than safety,” Walden wrote. “Everyone should be disgusted. The fight goes on at DOT's insistence."
The next step will be a full hearing of the case in court. But, who is going to win?
Cardozo has an idea who will come out on top:
“The bike lane has dramatically reduced dangerous speeding on Prospect Park West, reduced sidewalk cycling and made the road safer for everyone,” Cardozo wrote. “We remain confident that, just as was the case with the three other claims in this lawsuit, the court will see through the petitioners' one remaining claim and again dismiss the remnants of this lawsuit.”