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.