Wednesday, September 17, 2014

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Park Slope Residents Divided Over Bike Lane

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A survey is underway to gauge sentiment about the new bike lane on Prospect Park West while massive rallies for and against are being organized. NY1's Jeanine Ramirez filed the following report.

Ask almost anybody in Park Slope about the new bike lane along Prospect Park West and they either love it or hate it.

"The bikes are a hazard because we can't cross. We forget that there are bike lanes. We go to cross to get over to the other side and we say, 'Oh my God.' You have look both ways," said one Park Slope resident.

"I think it's a great thing. It improves the quality of life. Prospect Park West is now being used safely," said another.

So has it improved safety or not? The Department of Transportation is collecting data on the trial bike lane which has been in place only since the beginning of the summer. So far, the DOT says dangerous speeding is down and safer cycling is up. But there are skeptics. Last week, City Councilman Brad Lander and the community board started surveying residents and commuters. In just four days, 2,000 responses poured in.

"We have several thousand written comments beyond what is already allotted with the check boxes. So we'll be able to put some basic data up quickly but it'll take us a while to take all those comments and put them together in a little report," Lander said.

The bike lane offers cyclists space to ride in the street in both directions. Motorists now travel on just two lanes and park in what used to be the third.

Borough President Marty Markowitz says he's not a fan of the changes and recently took his argument to Central Park to criticize the DOT's decision.

"Here we are on the East side of Manhattan, Fifth Avenue. Central Park West, no two-way bike lanes. But in Brooklyn, our entrances into Prospect Park...bike lanes. So why are you treating us different than how you treat Manhattan?" Markowitz said.

Markowitz is calling for the City Council to get involved and adopt citywide policies when it comes to creating bike lanes. Councilman Lander agrees there's room for improvement.

"Cycling has grown in the city substantially for commuting, for recreation which I think is great but rules and enforcement hasn't evolved to catch up," Lander said.

Surveys are being collected until October 28. Meantime, rallies are being organized by both those who are for and against the bike lane. Those are scheduled to happen at the same time Thursday morning.

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