Park Slope residents have spoken once again – according to yet another bike lane survey, residents largely favor the controversial Prospect Park West bike lane.
Forty-four percent of residents in the neighborhoods surrounding the two-way, parking protected bike path favor keeping the lanes as is, while just 28 percent favor removing it altogether, according to a new poll conducted by Assemblymember Jim Brennan released on Friday afternoon.
Another 25 percent preferred keeping the bike lane, but altering it.
The Prospect Park West bike lanes have been wrought with controversy ever since they were installed last July. The Department of Transportation has as a success, and another by Councilmember Brad Lander revealed that locals overwhelmingly support the lanes, but a group of opponents claim that the lanes have caused increased traffic and threatened the safety of pedestrians on the boulevard. The opponents – Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes and Seniors for Safety – even filed a to remove the lanes last month.
Brennan’s survey was compiled from a random sampling of 500 Park Slope, Windsor Terrace and Kensington residents, interviewed over the phone on March 27 and 28.
The survey revealed that while “voters in the surveyed area have a more positive than negative reaction to the new bike lane,” certain demographics feel differently about the change.
Residents under 50, for example, support the bike lane by an overwhelming 59 percent, while 44 percent of residents over 50 oppose the lanes. Sixty-two percent of regular cyclists support keeping the lanes as is, while only 32 percent of non-bicyclists and 27 percent of non-bike-owning drivers had the same opinion.
Fifty percent of residents polled agreed that the bike lanes have successfully reduced speeding, but 44 percent said traffic flow is worse. Of those polled that have actually driven one Prospect Park West since the lane installation, 54 percent said traffic flow is worse.
The survey also revealed that 33 percent of the respondents now feel less safe while crossing Prospect Park West. Twenty-two percent of those polled feel more safe crossing the street and 48 percent said the bike lane is a change for the better.
Brennan said in a statement that his findings made him hesitant to support the bike lane in its current state.
“I am reluctant to endorse the bike lane as is, and would prefer that the City and the community continue to study the elimination of the two-way lane or the transfer of the bike lane to the right-hand side of Prospect Park West with a buffer (an ordinary bike lane),” said Brennan. “That would enable the traffic calming measure (the reduction of three travel lanes to two) to continue, but lessen concerns about safety from the unusual bike lane with a parking lane separated from the curbside.”
But lane supporters said that Brennan’s poll only endorsed the existence of the lane.
"The results of the poll commissioned by Assembly Member Brennan further validate the broad community support for the Prospect Park West Bike Path and Traffic-Calming project,” said Eric McClure, co-founder of Park Slope Neighbors. “If this were an election, it would be considered a landslide.”
Meanwhile, the opposition group heralded the study as further indication that the lane either needs to go or be drastically altered.
“Pedestrians feel less safe crossing Prospect Park West, as this poll decisively shows,” said Jim Walden, the pro bono attorney for Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes and Seniors for Safety. “And people feel less safe because they are less safe. In the end, safety is not a popularity contest.”
The DOT has recommended several changes to the lanes that it hopes will enhance safety, including the addition of rumble strips and elevated pedestrian islands. Last month, Community Board 6 unanimously endorsed the proposed changes. A city study of the lanes, released in January, reported that since the lanes were installed there have been no injuries to pedestrians or cyclists.
The overall poll results offered similarities to the aforementioned survey conducted by Councilmember Brad Lander last year. Lander found that 49 percent of residents polled support the bike lane as is.
“I am pleased to see how closely the results of Assemblymember Brennan’s poll mirror the results of the 3,000 person community survey that my office conducted in October,” said Lander in a statement. The results show that the community generally supports the Prospect Park West traffic-calming project and bike lane.”
Complete survey results will eventually be posted on Assemblymember Brennan’s website.