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Markowitz Questions City Study of Prospect Park West Bike Lanes

Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz questions the validity of the DOT's recent bike lane data.

The city has called the Prospect Park West Bike lane , but Borough President Marty Markowitz isn’t buying it.

At a Thursday Community Board 6 meeting, the Department of Transportation revealed new data showing that the controversial Prospect Park West bike lane has successfully decreased speeding on the avenue, decreased accidents and injuries and increased bicycle use, among other things.

Markowitz, however, questions the findings.

“The DOT has to justify the Prospect Park West bike lane, so I question the validity of any data coming from the very agency that installed the lane,” Markowitz told Park Slope Patch via E-mail. “As I have said all along, we need an outside study—not one conducted by the DOT but perhaps by the NYPD—to get an impartial analysis of the Prospect Park West reconfiguration.”

Markowitz has long been an opponent of the bike lane. At a New York City Council hearing on the city’s growing bicycle network in December, Markowitz called the parking-protected, two-way bike lane a This year, the Borough President’s Christmas card was even a playful jab at the lane.

“The DOT’s own numbers show increases in daytime travel times along another southbound thoroughfare, Seventh Avenue,” said Markowitz. “Among the questions that could be answered by an independent study is whether the changes to Prospect Park West are negatively impacting Seventh Avenue and other thoroughfares in the neighborhood.”

Markowitz has not been the first to question the DOT findings.

At the Thursday Community Board 6 presentation, a representative for Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes stood up and said that her group had also monitored bike lane use, sometimes on the same days as the DOT studies, but found numbers that were drastically lower than the numbers the DOT presented at the hearing

The DOT representative, Ryan Russo, was quick to offer a simple solution: Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes had monitored a different section of Prospect Park West, a section with less bike traffic.

On Friday, Markowitz told CBS that the DOT got higher numbers than Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes because bike advocacy groups had somehow known the days the DOT was counting bikers and showed up to bolster the numbers.

At the Community Board 6 presentation, however, the representative for Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes charged they had found discrepancies in the numbers even on the days that their monitoring of the lanes coincided with the DOT’s study.

“Until there is an independent assessment of these changes,” Markowitz said, “these biased DOT studies will continue to ‘prove’ what they want us to believe.”

Though there have been a vocal group of naysayers in support of the lane’s removal, the bike lane also has many supporters, both in local residents and politicians.

“I think the data is very encouraging. I think we should keep at it and I think we should move forward.” said Councilmember Brad Lander at Thursday’s DOT presentation, who found much support for the lane in last year.

If the DOT does eventually decide to remove the lane, rather than make the pilot project permanent, the agency said its removal would cost three times as much as its installation.

Robert Olson January 23, 2011 at 06:36 PM
easy there Marty you try to take away the bike lane from these almost militant hipsters and youll really have problems..... Besides dont you know their mantra.. motor vehicles are evil and we must all learn to bike , take mass transit or walk everywhere... I Personally am glad to see that someone else thinks this particular bike lane is a poor design...
Eric McClure January 23, 2011 at 08:53 PM
You mean the "poor design" that has reduced speeding from 75% of vehicles to 20% of vehicles, shortened the crossing for pedestrians, significantly increased cycling, and provided Park Slope's kids a safe, protected place to learn to ride? To my knowledge, no one advocating for this project has suggested cars are evil. What we have said is that two travel lanes are plenty for moving Prospect Park West's traffic, something borne out in DOT's traffic-volume data. But, oh, yeah, you don't believe those numbers, either.
Eric McClure January 23, 2011 at 09:25 PM
On April 12, 2010, Marty Markowitz, speaking of the redesign of Prospect Park West, told WNYC's Andrea Bernstein "if [DOT is] right, and in fact it causes no bottlenecks, no inconvenience, and if it works, I’ll be the first to say I was wrong. I would." Not quite. Now that DOT, after studying the redesigned avenue for six months, has reported that speeding has been cut by more than 70% (with no reduction in vehicle throughput), cycling has increased by between 200% and 300% (with many children riding safely on a New York City street for the first time), and most importantly (as reported by Marty Markowitz's arbiters of choice, the NYPD), crashes have been reduced by 16%, crashes with injuries have been reduce by 63%, and ZERO pedestrian injuries were reported between July 1st and December 31st, well, Marty Markowitz says he doesn't believe the data.
Eric McClure January 23, 2011 at 09:25 PM
That's right. The complaints of Markowitz and the so-called "Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes," whose mission is singularly focused on a NIMBY effort to get exactly one bike lane removed, have been trumped by the facts, so in desperation, they're trying to change the topic. And they would have us believe that their so-called "data," collected by people with an axe to grind at one end of Prospect Park West (akin to measuring Long Island Expressway traffic at Exit 68 and calling it representative, or counting the number of people on a subway train at its last stop and claiming it represents peak ridership) calls into question DOT's report. Of course it doesn't. What it does is reinforce the shakiness and inconsistency their arguments. They'd also like us to forget that, in an unbiased survey conducted by Councilmembers Brad Lander and Steve Levin and Community Board Six, 71% of Park Slope residents expressed support for the redesign. Of course, they don't believe those results, either. Instead, they want us to believe that DOT, NYPD, our two City Councilmembers and the local Community Board are engaged in a grand conspiracy to – egad – make Prospect Park West safer for everyone who uses it.
Eric McClure January 23, 2011 at 09:25 PM
And all facts and figures aside, anyone who experienced the old Prospect Park West and the new Prospect Park West knows darn well that there's far less speeding, far more cycling, far fewer bikes on the sidewalks, and shortened crossings for pedestrians. Who you gonna believe? Your own lyin' eyes, or Marty Markowitz and the "Neighbors for Banning Bike Lanes?"
Joanna Smith January 24, 2011 at 12:09 PM
Marty's tea-partyesque "Your Government is Lying to You/Trust Nobody" hysterics are sad to see...and dangerous.
Doug Gordon January 24, 2011 at 02:10 PM
“The DOT’s own numbers show increases in daytime travel times along another southbound thoroughfare, Seventh Avenue,” said Markowitz. “Among the questions that could be answered by an independent study is whether the changes to Prospect Park West are negatively impacting Seventh Avenue and other thoroughfares in the neighborhood.” Read the DOT study, Marty. Travel times on 7th Avenue have only increased by only 20 seconds on 7th Avenue. They have gone down by comparable amounts on PPW, 8th Avenue, and 6th Avenue. These changes are all within the realm of statistical variation and are insignificant. In other words, the PPW reconfiguration has had no effect on travel times on Seventh Avenue and other thoroughfares in the neighborhood. If a tiny statistical blip of a delay on one avenue is all it takes to guarantee safety on another, that's a sacrifice I'm willing to make. Either Marty is ignorant when it comes to traffic and roadway design and safety or he is merely grinding a political axe. Either way, it is dangerous to have someone like him standing on the Borough President soap box. Also, how would a NYPD study be any more objective than one done by the DOT? Should the same NYPD that is doing a winter bike crackdown study the effects of a bike lane? And even if the NYPD could conduct its own study, does it really have the resources to devote to the project when there are so many other matters of true concern facing Brooklyn? Move on, Marty.
eveostay January 24, 2011 at 02:44 PM
Stop lying, Marty. It's disgraceful. "On Friday, Markowitz told CBS that the DOT got higher numbers than Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes because bike advocacy groups had somehow known the days the DOT was counting bikers and showed up to bolster the numbers." Is that really what you believe? A vast bike conspiracy? If so, you've lost your marbles truely. (Also, how can I sign up for this bike count mailing list? I bike PPW every week day and no one told me when to show up.)
JimboGold January 24, 2011 at 03:58 PM
Hey, ease up on poor Marty. His main job was to get the A-OK for Atlantic Yards. Mission accomplished, though We, the Taxpayers will be cleaning up that mess for decades. Back to Marty, now that he's term-limited and has nothing to do, he’s gone completely over the top. What to do? Get back at the school bullies who made fun of him back in the Fifties. He's got a tin-pot little office as bully pulpit, complete with media access via Marcia Kramer as his willing supplicant to keep feeding the hate. Looking at Marty and his triple chin on Channel 2, I’m guessing he was never much of an athlete. But Marty, apoplexy is a leading cause of heart disease and heart attacks. Get yourself under control! Oh, and your secret love thing for Janette Sadik-Khan is becoming more obvious every day. Put a cap on it before Mrs. Markowitz figures it out.
Peter Kaufman January 24, 2011 at 04:27 PM
"Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything that's even remotely true!" Homer Simpson or Marty Markowitz?
Mellow Yellow January 24, 2011 at 05:30 PM
I can't believe someone used the words "NYPD" "impartial analysis" in the same sentence regarding an evaluation of bike infrastructure! That is like saying "lets have Pat Robertson do an impartial analysis of legislation allowing same-sex marriage".
Lisa January 24, 2011 at 09:34 PM
Way to go Marty. The Dot has also stated that the vehicle traffic volume has not changed, so the same number of cars continue to traveling along PPW only with two lanes (sometimes one lane due to cars parking, deliveries, EMS etc.) and NO DELAY in emergency response time???? Do the math DOT. Secondly how would it cost three times as much to remove blinking lights and paint? As it is the cost to put in a trial bike lane was approx $300k according to the DOT but no mention on the cost to maintain. Bike registration should help with that budget??
Eric McClure January 24, 2011 at 09:49 PM
Lisa, you can do the math too. The reason is that there was excess capacity on PPW relative to the traffic volume, which is why drivers would routinely speed along over 40 mph. Two lanes can handle the volume without a problem, but now the vast majority of drivers have to obey the speed limit. Fact: injuries are down for all users of PPW. Falsehood: emergency responses have been delayed.
Doug Gordon January 24, 2011 at 09:59 PM
I live near two one-lane streets, if you account for the two lanes of parking on either side of the road and the one lane of moving traffic down the middle. To my knowledge there are thousands of those in NYC. FDNY and NYPD have no problem getting up and down them when they need, provided there are no double-parked cars.
Marty Barfowitz January 24, 2011 at 10:53 PM
I find the selfishness of the anti-bike lane people simply staggering. Prior to the redesign of PPW we had two lanes of southbound motor vehicle traffic inside Prospect Park and three lanes of southbound motor vehicle traffic on PPW itself. Meanwhile there was simply no good way for a person on a bicycle to travel on PPW. Cyclists were squashed onto the sidewalk with pedestrians. Marty, NBBL and friends, in other words, are fighting to maintain FIVE LANES of southbound traffic between Grand Army Plaza and Bartel Pritchard Square (along with an additional two lanes of motor vehicle parking). How does anyone in their right mind believe that we need motor vehicle capacity equal to a superhighway at the top of Park Slope? How mind-boggling entitled and selfish are these people that they are fighting over this?
Czerny January 25, 2011 at 03:42 PM
What I'm seeing here is that if you talk long enough and loudly enough, everyone will be convinced you are right--where else have I seen that before? I was at the CB6 meeting, and someone asked to see the traffic data; after much waffling double talk, without actually saying no, Ryan Russo denied the request for transparency. After each DOT speaker, there was loud applause and hooting; when someone politely questioned the DOT traffic data, there was disrespectful derisive laughter. Where's the maturity and civility? Ryan Russo, by his own abashed admission, said that PPW was one of the safest roads in Brooklyn. If so, why weren't bike lanes installed on every street that is less safe and needed "traffic calming"? Doesn't that undermine DOT's rationale for the PPW bike lane?
Gary January 25, 2011 at 05:38 PM
I was at the meeting too. Marty was a no show. The DOT was highly professional and responsive to even the most loaded questions. Their explanations were well reasoned and persuasive to anyone without an ax to grind. DOT said the FOIL request will be complied with when all the responsive data is assembled. But even if the bike lane has not increased bike use on PPW, which is preposterous, the reconfiguration has slowed speeding traffic with no discernible increase in travel time, reduced sidewalk bicycling, and most importantly reduced injury causing crashes. Who in their right mind could be opposed to that?
Parksloper January 25, 2011 at 08:11 PM
How can the DOT show up and not have all their "responsive data" available? I call BS. Anyone who believes data given by the same people who profit from said data is an idiot. Also, I want to see why it would cost 3x more ( 1 million dollars) to remove the bike lanes than it did to install. More BS.
Doug Gordon January 25, 2011 at 08:49 PM
Right, Czerny. Given the ease with which the PPW bike lane has been brought into the community, I'm sure the DOT would find zero opposition to installing bike lanes on every street that's less safe. Apparently you don't read the Post or watch CBS2.
Doug Gordon January 25, 2011 at 08:50 PM
It would cost 3x more to remove than install because the Feds kicked in 80% of the money to cover the cost of installation. If the project is removed, the Feds don't kick in a dime.
NiBBLerWatch January 25, 2011 at 09:03 PM
Actually, the definition of an idiot is probably closer to someone who writes "anyone who believes data given by the same people who profiit from said data is an idiot." Profit? Yes, I guess if you measure "profit" in terms of marked reduction in speeding, increase in healthy, eco-friendly cycling, and reduction in both crashes and injuries, then yes, DOT is getting fat off the Prospect Park West traffic-calming project. Anyway, the question of removal cost is moot, 'cause the bike path isn't going anywhere. Time to give the angry, put-upon multimillionaire act a rest.
Parksloper January 26, 2011 at 02:09 AM
Very good. Profit doesn't always equal monetary value. Just keep repeating data provided by the same people who are pro-bike lanes. "Time to give the angry, put-upon multimillionaire act a rest." What?
NiBBLerWatch January 26, 2011 at 02:35 AM
Right, "profit" can mean "to benefit from." And we all, including DOT, benefit from streets made safer. So I guess you nailed them. And you should just keep repeating the crazy conspiracy theories and ignoring the facts. 'Cause we know the anti-safety lobby is so much more credible.
Parksloper January 26, 2011 at 03:29 PM
Still waiting for those "facts" er "responsive data" to become available. Also still waiting for an explanation about the "put-upon multimillionaire".
NiBBLerWatch January 26, 2011 at 03:56 PM
First, let's be clear that this isn't about data at all. So when you get the data, you're going to get a spreadsheet listing bicyclists counted by hour, and the numbers are going to be higher, because DOT counted in the middle of the bike path, near where the PPW path intersects with connector lanes at 2nd and 3rd Street, and you counted from 9 PPW or 14 PPW, and missed a lot of the people who get on or off farther down the avenue. And then you're going to say, well, we still don't believe the data. And you'll insist that NYPD is on the fix with their crash data. And then yadda yadda yadda, science be damned, Barack Obama wasn't born in Hawaii, greenhouse gases don't cause global warming, yadda yadda yadda. And we all know that opposition to the safety improvements is concentrated among a handful of multimillionaire mansion and luxury coop owners on PPW, who don't like the way the street looks, and the safety and security of everyone else be damned.
Parksloper January 26, 2011 at 05:24 PM
You're right in comparing the data to greenhouse gases and "global warming", both are BS. I also didn't see where all the people who are opposed to the bike lanes all live in multimillionaire mansions and or luxury coops. I must be in the wrong house then. Do you have to fill that out on a form somewhere? People want to see data provided by an independent source who has no interest/ beneficial gain one way or the other in the outcome. Is that too hard to ask.

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