Reality Check: A Small Fraction of NYC Streets Have Bike Lanes

kramer_PPW.jpgKramer on the "already-congested" Prospect Park West.
Cross motorhead journo Marcia Kramer with sidewalk-hogging Brooklyn Beep Marty Markowitz and this is the unholy offspring that you get: A skewed news segment on the proposed Prospect Park West bike lane, where facts don't matter and wild assumptions go unchallenged.

Kramer followed up last week's hack-job on the city's public plaza program with another error-riddled report last night. At one point, she gestures at the wide-open expanse of Prospect Park West and tells the audience that "what the transportation commissioner wants to do is eliminate two full lanes of traffic." Actually, the project will take away one traffic lane, and more than a thousand people have asked DOT to do it. Is anyone checking facts at CBS2?

The segment is basically a platform for Markowitz to condemn the expansion of New York's bicycle network. When the Beep claims that the city is "putting bicycle paths on every single block of New York City," and the reporter makes no attempt to question the assumption, you know you've crossed into paranoia-land.

What Kramer neglects to mention is that, even after the addition of 200 lane-miles in the last three years, the NYC bike network -- including sharrows -- covers about five percent of the city's streets, probably less if you apply some rigorous math.

(The city has about 420 lane-miles of on-street bike routes, and 6,375 linear miles of streets. That works out to about 6.5 percent, but two-way bike lanes like the ones on Allen Street, Kent Avenue, or Fifth Avenue in Brooklyn get counted twice, so the actual percentage is smaller.)

While Marty imagines that ubiquitous bike lanes have "stigmatized" drivers, and Kramer, standing in front of the free-flowing traffic on PPW, wants her audience to believe that it's "already congested," we don't hear a word about the dangers of walking and biking on a street where most drivers speed, nor a citation of the mounting evidence that NYC's new bike-ped improvements are reducing injuries to pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists. Plenty of commentary from people who don't know anything about bicycling for transportation, though.

By the time Kramer gets to the shot of DOT spokesperson Seth Solomonow's disembodied voice, the piece feels like total self-parody. Up in the McMansion-land that she calls home, though, this stuff probably still comes across as a good faith attempt to conduct journalism.