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Gray Panthers Call PPW Bike Lane Battle 'Ageist'

The group issued a statement calling for "seniors to be heard" in the bike lane battle.

The Gray Panthers, a well-known advocacy group for seniors, issued a statement today condemning the now infamous battle over the Prospect Park West bike lane as “ageist.”

“The amount of hateful, snarky, and dismissive ageist remarks that we have seen in the debate about the Prospect Park West bike lane is incredible,” said Jack Kupferman, NYC Network Co-Convenor for the organization, who said the organization is taking no position on the two-way, parking-protected lane itself. “We must fight ageism everywhere, and many people have belittled seniors who have real concerns about the safety of the bike lane, many of whom belong to Seniors for Safety and Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes, simply because they are over the age of 55.”

The statement references, in particular, comments left by anonymous commenters on Internet blogs and news websites.

But while snarky blog commenters may have indeed pegged the lane debate in ageist terms, a number of seniors have also come out in support of the lane.

Gene Aronowitz, 73, cycles frequently from his home in Sunset Park to Park Slope shops via the Prospect Park West bike lane, and said that he feels the street has been much safer – for bikers and pedestrians of all ages – since its installation last summer.

“Elderly people are really more vulnerable on the streets and you really have to be more sensitive to their concerns, but I’m not sure how much that applies to getting across Prospect Park West.”

Though Aronowitz did mention he’s seen some comments on blogs that he was “shocked” by, he feels that the majority of the bike lane battle has stuck to “legitimate concerns on both sides.”

As the Gray Panthers point out, a by Assemblymember Jim Brennan did show that while a majority of locals support the lane, 42 percent of those age 50 or older polled feel less safe the bike lane was installed.

“If we really believe in democracy and vigorous debate, then we cannot dismiss this group based on age,” said Mary Springer, another NYC Network Co-Convenor for the group. “Imagine the cry that would have gone up if there had been racist remarks used to dismiss legitimate concerns about the bike lane.”

But while SFS and NBBL have long argued that the lanes have made the parkside boulevard less safe for pedestrians of all ages, even filing a arguing for the removal of the lanes in March, at numerous public hearings and rallies, the lanes have drawn out supporters of all ages – from elementary school tikes staying up past their bedtimes to speak on the lane’s behalf, to 73-year-old Aronowitz, who has become a sort of unofficial spokesperson for seniors who support the lane.

The lane itself was also initially requested by Community Board 6, which boasts many older members.

“Some of the rhetoric employed by both sides of this issue has indeed been regrettable. But the previous configuration of Prospect Park West, with three lanes of speeding traffic and no provision for cycling, was inherently ageist by design,” said David Alquist, a Slope resident and member of the AARP [formerly, the American Association of Retired Persons], via E-mail.

Proponents of the lane, including the Department of Transportation, have maintained that the lane has improved safety on the pretty boulevard. The DOT has even planned to make further to the lane to enhance lane safety for all ages even further – which Community Board 6 also approved, unanimously.

"Ageist remarks have no place in the discussion of street safety and they obscure the fact that bike lanes make everyone safer: pedestrians, drivers and bicyclists of all ages,” said Transportation Alternatives spokesperson Michael Murphy. “That's why 70 percent of Park Slope residents support the Prospect Park West bike lane and that's why the AARP, supports bike lanes and other complete streets initiatives."

“The Gray Panthers should join with AARP to promote ‘Complete Streets’ and combat this kind of ‘design ageism,’” said Alquist. “While urging seniors to ‘not go silent’ in confronting semantic ageism, the Gray Panthers, by ‘not taking sides’ in the Prospect Park West debate, oddly perpetuate another variety.”

Kevin Beers June 09, 2011 at 04:27 PM
The reason for the lawsuit is that there is question about how the data was compiled. Already there has been evidence of manipulation. And the Bloomberg adminstration doesn't have a very solid record of reliability. They fudged the snow removal, fudged the paperwork to give the old tobacco building in Dumbo to St Ann's Warehosue and they are fudging on firehouse closings. So you can spout all the numbers you want but until it is presented in an unbiased court no matter how many times you reitierate these statistics I am not convinced. ANd as far as my being the only person you've encountered who disputes that you haven't been reading this and other forums. Oh and I see people riding on the sidewalks all the time. In fact a couple of days ago there was a guy riding down the sidewalk on PPW on the west side rather than in the bike lane, a guy riding down the sidewalk right next to the bike lane and I saw a girl riding her bike on the sidewalk right nest to the bike lane with her dog on a leash who defended doing it because she was walking her dog. In fact I carry a camera all the time and I have pictures. Too bad I can't post them here. But even if I had pictures posted your statistcs would still trump them right?
Peter Kaufman June 09, 2011 at 05:03 PM
kevin, Please.. NBBL planned to file the suit before they saw ANY data. They were/are opposed to the lane every step of the way. And let's stick to facts HERE. (the Brooklyn Bridge Corp. is state-run, not city, and has nothing to do with anything, particularly this. ). If you had ANY data, you'd show it. If you ANY proof that this data is 'bad', you'd show it. The fact you've seen people on the sidewalk riding their bikes, means what exactly? Nothing. It's like saying, 'my grandfather smoked 2 packs a day and lived to 100. No one claimed the lane would completely eliminate that - there's no way it could -people will do what they want, though it defies sense as to why anyone would choose to do that when the lane is available. What do your pictures show? A person on the sidewalk? Even the NBBL people now seem to admit that speeding has been reduced, though they claim it can be fixed in other ways, and never saw speeding as a problem before. I guess the board of CB6, who have voted for the lane time and time again are idiots. Several have filed amicus briefs in support of DOT. Also, as of a couple of months ago anyway, there has not been a single pedestrian injury reported to NYPD. If you know differently, share.. If you'd like, I 'll provide you with a link to post your photos, and I'll put them on my blog, and you can put whatever comment you'd like too. But yes, data gathered by professionals, trump yours (or mine), snapshots, or anecdotes.
jb312 June 09, 2011 at 05:03 PM
Yes. Data trumps anecdote, every time. Sorry Kevin.
Kevin Beers June 09, 2011 at 05:07 PM
Yeah jb we know statistics don't lie.
Kevin Beers June 09, 2011 at 05:10 PM
Peter I was responding to your comment- There's more data in the PDF, and you are the first person I've encountered who has claimed that a) speeding has not been reduced and b) number of cyclists on sidewalk has not been reduced. The fact is I see it all the time. But your statistics trump my personal experience. And sorry Peter I am really not in any position to acquire "data". So you keep tossing out your statistics.
Kevin Beers June 09, 2011 at 05:12 PM
Data and statistics worked well in tracking down WMDs in Iraq didn't they?
Peter Kaufman June 09, 2011 at 05:13 PM
Kevin, Are you joking? Is that your response?
Peter Kaufman June 09, 2011 at 05:26 PM
Kevin, Beyond your 100% lack of anything remotely looking like evidence to support your side, I don't think you understand how this works. Every time the city does something you don't like, is not grounds for suit. It's called an "Article 78 proceeding". The following are the questions that can be raised in a proceeding under this article : 1. whether the body or officer failed to perform a duty enjoined upon it by law; or 2. whether the body or officer proceeded, is proceeding or is about to proceed without or in excess of jurisdiction; or 3. whether a determination was made in violation of lawful procedure, was affected by an error of law or was arbitrary and capricious or an abuse of discretion, including abuse of discretion as to the measure or mode of penalty or discipline imposed; or 4. whether a determination made as a result of a hearing held, and at which evidence was taken, pursuant to direction by law is, on the entire record, supported by substantial evidence. That's -it-. No bloody gloves, no snapshots, no, "I saw someone riding on the sidewalk yesterday". NBBL has to show that DOT acted in an "arbitrary and caprcious "manner. The DOT has put in the lane, at the rquest of the Community Board. As NYU Law Prof. Roderick Hills said, "“In sum, I take this complaint to be largely public relations, with no more law behind it than is minimally necessary to avoid sanctions for frivolity.”
jb312 June 09, 2011 at 05:31 PM
intelligence <> statistics. That's could be the dumbest comment in this whole stupid controversy. I think it trumps the ridiculous concern that the bike lane will reduce EMT response time because traffic is slower on PPW, and people will die. DIE! (Actually, slower traffic will reduce injuries and fatalities, in any reasonable analysis). Intelligence - especially HUMINT as was the basis of most of the Iraq WMD stuff -- is actually done by compiling and cross referencing anecdotes into as good a picture as is possible, evaluating the agendas and credibilities of diverse sources and checking against the limited objective evidence available. It's never ever 100% reliable. Political interference certainly doesn't help increase the reliability.
Eliot June 09, 2011 at 05:43 PM
Get your facts straight. 70% of residents supported the lane in a survey conducted by Councilmembers Lander and Levin.
MJD June 09, 2011 at 05:46 PM
I'm >50 and use the PPW bike lane daily. I would like for my three kids to be able to bike to school SAFELY and to bike to their daily activities all through the Slope. I commend the volunteers at CB6 and approve of transparent civic discource and decision making. I applaud all those in favor, and all those against. I oppose lawyers sending letters to be read at CB meetings. I oppose lawyers calling political favors "pro bono" action. I oppose closed door, backroom deal making by the politically well connected. And while I'm at it, I oppose getting any older myself.
jb312 June 09, 2011 at 05:53 PM
Hear hear on all fronts! I'm most excited about the bike lane slowing traffic, so I worry less about my toddler who will want to be walking to the park on her own in not too too many years.
Kevin Beers June 09, 2011 at 06:12 PM
"There are lies damn lies and statistics." Mark Twain
Peter Kaufman June 09, 2011 at 06:37 PM
Kevin, And what do you have, Kevin? Besides quoting Mark twain.? ZERO facts - still. You look foolish. NBBL's 's case is going to be bounced out of court. IMHO, the court case was never about winning. it's just to put political pressure on Bloomberg and DOT. At the end of the day, it's about a privileged (very) few, a Senator's wife, a former Deputy Mayor, who are upset that they can no longer double-park in front of their apt. building. The fact that they truly do not give a single solitary sh*t, about the safety of people cycling (and yes, even walking) on PPW, makes them truly despicable. And yet, these millionaires have found an attorney to work for them pro bono. A man who gave the maximum to Schumer's re-election campaign; and guess who recommends nominations for federal judgeships and U.S. Attorney's ? Chuck Schumer.
Cheryl June 09, 2011 at 07:03 PM
Kevin, what data would satisfy you? Whose data would you trust? It's an honest question.
Parksloper June 09, 2011 at 07:08 PM
I'll believe the "facts" when an INDEPENDENT group survey's Park Slope residents not a bunch of anti-car fanatics.
Parksloper June 09, 2011 at 07:11 PM
Right cause you toddler would never get hit by a speeding bike.
Parksloper June 09, 2011 at 07:15 PM
Chuck Schumer = liberal in case you forgot as I'm sure you and the other pro-bike fanatics are as well.
Peter Kaufman June 09, 2011 at 07:21 PM
Parksloper, >Right cause you toddler would never get hit by a speeding bike. Huh? You know the bikes are -off- the sidewalk now, right? You know the majority of cars sped on PPW prior to the lane's installation? You know there hasn't been a single case of a pedestrian/bike accident reported? And yes, I think most of us would prefer to get hit by a speeding bike than a speeding car. As to the Chuck Schumer thing.. huh? Liberal, pro-bike fanatic?.. huh? You really sound like those people who scream in the subways. Why don't you come up with one shred of evidence to support your case? Because everything else.. I get it.. .you're grouchy, you don't like bike lanes, or pro-bike fanatics, (whatever the hell that is), or Chuck Schumer. I am guessing you have a very long list.
Kevin Beers June 09, 2011 at 08:08 PM
Peter you seem to be the one "screaming" here. Your argument doesn't become stronger by repeating it ad infinitum. You say bikes are off the sidewalks- I have photos that show otherwise.
Kevin Beers June 09, 2011 at 08:23 PM
Cheryl, as I have repeated here over and over while the pro bike contingent keeps saying how much better things are now my own experience tells me otherwise. And this is totally dismissed by the zealots. They like Peter keep dragging out their statistics and yet some of the information that was reluctantly released shows that there was probably manipulation of that evidence. There was certainly collusion between the bike lane supporters and the Transportation Alternatives people. We have seen specific transcripts that show the TA representative coaching the bike supporters in how to attack the anti bike as I believe his words were "selfish pigs". I also remember that Sadik Khan had been called on her data on the 34th street crosstown bus lanes. So I am skeptical of Sadik Khan and Bloomberg. As I have stated previously I think that Bloomberg has demonstrated over and over that he is willing to do whatever it takes to achieve his goals including fudging data, the Tobacco Warehouse, Atlantic Yards, the west side stadium, Yankee stadium, firehouse closings, in all these cases it has been shown that he has manipulated things to try to get his way, sometimes successfully sometimes not. You can't support that kind of behavior because in this one instance it serves your interest.
Kevin Beers June 09, 2011 at 08:23 PM
I could be convinced if there was in fact a transparent and honest argument of the facts in the court case that is pending. But the people posting on this page don't even want a transparent argument of the facts.. They just keep touting their approval numbers and I guess we are supposed to fall into loyal obeisance. But the fact of the matter is that from my own experience (and those who I've talked to who aren't gung ho bike lane supporters) I find that people often say they are much less comfortable crossing PPW these days. And hauling out their "statistics" these folks herre like Peter dimiss our experience and wave their "statistics".
Kevin Beers June 09, 2011 at 08:26 PM
I am not going to participate in this thread any longer. The original story was about ageist attacks on Anti Bike lane people. Attacks that have been in evidence in previous stories here on Patch. Now we get into this old argument and go round and round. You say that statistics show that things are better on PPW I say my own experience tells me otherwise,, I say let's have an honest hearing on those facts in a court of law and you say how dare this pro bono lawyer bring the case. He should be disbarred. I am so tired of this vicious cycle. And it is vicious.
Cheryl June 09, 2011 at 08:30 PM
http://www.streetsblog.org/2011/06/09/report-older-pedestrians-remain-most-threatened-by-traffic/
Cheryl June 09, 2011 at 08:35 PM
Kevin, thank you for admitting that when the case is heard on June 22nd you will accept the outcome.
Peter Kaufman June 09, 2011 at 08:39 PM
Kevin, I didn't say Walden should be disbarred. I don't know where you got that from. And again, an Article 78 hearing does not do what you propose. Also, it's "vicious circle", not cycle.
Peter Kaufman June 09, 2011 at 08:51 PM
NO Kevin, The question is: Did the bike lane reduce the # of bikes on the sidewalk? NOT did it eliminate it (and by the way, kids are allowed to ride on the sidewalk - i think to up to age 12). Though the protected bike lane is safe enough for kids, as is readily apparent.
Chicken Underwear June 09, 2011 at 09:18 PM
And cars are parking on the sidewalk. Photos are here. http://whatyourdonotknowbecauseyouarenotme.blogspot.com/2011/05/why-we-need-raised-pedestrian-islands.html
Parksloper June 10, 2011 at 01:48 PM
It's not hard to understand, according to you "PPW is safer because of the lane" and the above poster thinks her kid will be safe as well. Maybe I missed something but I never see bike riders actually stop at the crosswalk/light for pedestrians......anywhere. And you seem to think I and others as individuals will have data. I could round up a bunch of people who don't like the lanes but that would be seen as biased just like the DOT and TA data . How about businesses who have to make a living and provide goods to PS. Anyone care what they have to say? I was blocked in, in a parking spot, behind a truck who was unloading because cars in his lane were backed up since they had to go around him into oncoming traffic on 5th ave when there was no traffic in the opposite direction of course. All for some feel good bike rider who thinks he's saving the world and after a good 10 minutes not one biker passed. More people in this city use cars/trucks and we all have to be inconvenienced for less than 1% of the population who use bikes. I say keep the lanes for weekends only.
Park Sloperstein June 10, 2011 at 04:09 PM
Kevin Beers: I'm sorry that you don't like the redesign of Prospect Park West. I am also sorry that you have swallowed a lot of lies and misinformation being propagated by the NBBL people, their attorney and their public relations firm. A lot of the stuff you have asserted above is simply ridiculous. All one can really say to you is that you very much hold a minority view of the PPW bike lane and traffic-calming project. The vast majority of your neighbors, fellow citizens and users of PPW are happy with the project and feel that it has had a substantial positive impact on the street and the community. The vast majority of the community are satisfied with the years of transparent, open and democratic process that led to the redesign of Prospect Park West. Good luck with your garbage Article 78 law suit. I very much look forward to seeing it tossed in the trash heap.

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