Marty Markowitz Derails Prospect Park West Bike Lane — For How Long?

A city plan designed to make Prospect Park West safer and more accessible for cyclists and pedestrians has not materialized months after its promised delivery date, the Brooklyn Paper reports, and Brooklynites have Marty Markowitz to thank for it.

marty_markovitz__300x300.jpgA safer path to Prospect Park? Fuhgeddaboudit! Photo: New York Post

The borough president last year fired off a letter to DOT about its proposal for a two-way, parking-protected bike lane on the east side of Prospect Park West, calling it an "ill-advised proposal that would cause incredible congestion and reduce the number of available parking spaces in Park Slope." The project garnered the qualified support of Community Board 6 and was set to be built in September.

Eric McClure of Park Slope Neighbors filed a report for Streetsblog last April on the CB 6 committee deliberations, and described the existing conditions on PPW:

At nearly 50 feet wide and with three travel lanes, the street encourages high speeds and reckless driving, forces pedestrians to make long crossings, and lacks dedicated cycling space, despite a high volume of bicycle traffic. Prospect Park West's existing vehicle volume, which peaks at about 1,100 cars per hour, can easily be accommodated by two lanes, [DOT's Preston] Johnson said.

In field surveys last month, DOT found that more than 70 percent of the cars on Prospect Park West were exceeding the 30 mph speed limit, and at least 15 percent were traveling at 40 mph or faster. From 2005 to 2007, there were 58 reported crashes on Prospect Park West.

The new design, set to include pedestrian refuge islands and Greenstreets landscaping, is expected to have a minimal impact on parking, with the loss of about two spaces at each signalized intersection. Yet Markowitz has pegged his objection to this negligible reduction, never mind that everyone who takes the bus, the train, walks or bikes to this side of Prospect Park -- a huge majority -- would have an easier and safer path to get there.

Inexplicably, Markowitz also claims that "the bike lane would be especially problematic during the summer surge in foot traffic," according to the Brooklyn Paper. Actually, no. The bike lane, the traffic calming, and the pedestrian improvements are especially necessary during the summer surge in foot traffic. Not that any of this would necessarily register with Mr. Lights and Sirens himself.

Streetsblog has a message in with DOT to find out if there's still a timeline to build the Prospect Park West bike lane, or if this important safety measure is on indefinite hold.