In case you thought the battle over the Prospect Park West bike lane was over, you better buckle up your helmet.
A new court ruling has pumped some air into the bike lane opponent’s tires on Wednesday night, and they are trying another attempt to get the Department of Transportation-installed bike lane removed.
The New York State Supreme Court Appellate Division ruled unanimously to appeal the August 2011 dismissal of Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes and Seniors for Safety’s suit to remove the bike lane by Judge Bert Bunyan.
Judge Bunyan’s statute-of-limitations dismissal was based on the fact that NBBL and SFS only had four months from the completion of the two-way bike lane, which was June 2010, to file suit. However, the opposition claims the DOT deferred to make the project “final and binding” only until after the bike lane’s post-construction study period, which ended in January 2011.
The court also stated that the suit should not have been dismissed on a technicality before it determined whether or not the Department of Transportation’s project was a meant as “trial” or “permanent” project in the first place.
Now the ruling orders “a full factual hearing” on whether or not the Prospect Park West bike lane’s installation was on a “trial or a permanent basis.”
As evidence in favor of the NBBL’s belief that the DOT installed the one-mile strip of green paint as a trial, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, who referred to the bike lane as a “disaster” in 2010, claims that the DOT’s Commissioner told him so.
Outlined in the court documents is Markowitz’s claim:
“The affidavit of Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, asserting that NYCDOT Commissioner Sadik-Khan told him, at a meeting on March 1, 2012 that ‘the PPW bike lane would be implemented on a trial basis’ and that ‘any decision to finalize the PPW bike lane’ would be based on data collected during a postconstruction study.”
Jim Walden, who represents anti-bike lane groups Neighbors for a Better Bike Lane and Seniors for Safety, said they are ready for the courtroom.
“We are gratified by the Court’s decision, and we look forward to finally forcing the truth from the Department of Transportation,” said Walden, the petitioners’ lead attorney from Gibson Dunn and Crutcher. “As we have maintained all along, DOT broke the rules, fudged the data, and orchestrated actual harassment against people who disagreed with its tactics: it is just shameful.”
Eric McClure, the founder of Park Slope Neighbors and a staunch supporter of the bike lane, said that the appeal is not a “victory” for the opposition, considering three of the four causes of action the group claimed were dismissed.
And with only one cause left, to prove if the project was trial or not, McClure said that the continued fight by NBBL and SFS isn’t one for the over-all good of the neighborhood.
“But like Ahab with his White Whale, this small group of malcontents, who are neither for better bike lanes nor for safety—nor representative in the least of the vast, vast majority of Park Slope residents—continues an irrational quest to undo one of New York City's best and most popular complete-streets projects. We're hard-pressed to understand what motivates them, but it's clearly not the goal of making something better or safer.”
But is the bike lane going anywhere?
Seth Solomonow, the DOT Press Secretary, said that they are not worried about the ruling.
“We’re confident that the Prospect Park West bike lane is here to stay. We’re very pleased that three of the four causes of action were dismissed by the Appellate Court, which also returned to the trial court one claim for a limited finding on a technical issue,” he said. “We are fully confident that the trial court will decide that there is absolutely no merit to what is left of this case. In the meantime, local residents will continue to enjoy the safety that this community-requested and supported lane has provided every day for the last two and a half years.”