Double-Parking in a Bike Lane? There Isn’t Even a Check Box.

ParkingTicket.jpgThose of you who are sick of reading about DOT's plan for Park Slope's 9th Street and the small but well-organized group of car-owning residents who are opposed to it, will be pleased to know that whole affair may soon be resolved.

On Thursday, May 17, the transportation committee of Community Board 6 will take up the 9th Street issue once again. This very same committee voted in favor of DOT's plan back in March but that wasn't good enough for the full board, who sent the plan back to committee, presumably, for more information from DOT. It is important that people who support DOT's "Road Diet" plan show up, make their support known and, most important, try to educate Community Board members about its benefits for the neighborhood. Mark your calendars:

Thursday, May 17, 6:30 pm
Old First Church
729 Carroll Street
(corner of 7th Avenue)

Likewise, supporters will need to come out to the general board meeting on Wednesday, June 13, 6:30 pm. It would be sad to see CB6, the Community Board with, probably, the highest rate of cycling in the entire city reject a traffic safety plan for 9th Street because it includes bike lanes.

One of the main reasons why this group of 9th Street residents wants to eliminate the bike lane portion of the plan is because they believe that bike lanes will prevent them from double-parking and will also cost them more in traffic tickets.

Robert Levine, the Community Board member who has been leading the neighborhood opposition, has been telling elected officials and anyone else who will listen that the fine for double-parking in a bike lane is higher than normal double-parking fines.

There is no basis in reality for Levine's claim. The Department of Finance web site makes clear that double-parking in a bike lane, Violation 48, carries the same $115 fine as double-parking anywhere else, Violation 46.

And here's the kicker: It turns out that the New York City parking summons doesn't even have a check box for double-parking in a bike lane! Violation 48, "Stopping, standing or parking within a designated bicycle lane," isn't even on there. (Thus exists the special niche filled by this web site).

Unfortunately, Levine doesn't seem to be much interested in policy arguments, studies or facts. On 9th Street he is pursuing a kind of "Swift Boat" strategy -- just keep raising doubts, stoking anxiety and throwing mud at DOT's plan and eventually some of it sticks, people have doubts and the plan becomes "controversial."

Don't make the mistake John Kerry made in the 2004 presidential campaign. Livable Streets advocates need to show up next Thursday and make sure that the facts are known. I fully believe that the more people understand DOT's plan for 9th Street, the more they will see that it is thoughtful, responsive and something that needs to move forward.