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Marty Markowitz Chooses the Perfect Moment to Jump Into PPW Lawsuit

How’s this for some impeccable timing? Less than 48 hours before the next scheduled court date in the Prospect Park West case, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz is inserting himself into the proceedings in an attempt to keep the tenuous suit from being thrown out.

Not on Marty's watch: After fighting for years against a redesign that has brought all-ages cycling to Prospect Park West, the borough president has now directly inserted himself into the legal maneuvering to wipe out the PPW bike lane. Photo: PlanetGordon/Flickr [1]

Yesterday afternoon LCG Communications, the PR firm representing bike lane opponents, alerted the local press: Markowitz had submitted an affidavit [2] stating that DOT “explicitly described the PPW bike lane as a trial.” (Streetsblog is trying to obtain the actual affidavit; for now we just have the press release [PDF [3]].) Markowitz has been fighting this project for at least two years, and the finality of the redesign has been a central legal issue for months, but only now, apparently, at the eleventh hour, did the borough president’s memory kick in.

For everyone who’s catching up on this story — we are deep in the weeds here. The permanence of the PPW redesign is a legal question with no actual bearing on the success, popularity, or legitimacy of the project. We are talking about an idea that was requested and approved by the local community board [4]. A redesign that has slowed down speeding traffic, reduced crashes causing injury, and increased cycling while reducing sidewalk riding. It enjoys widespread [5] support [6] in the local community, and it’s attracting new riders [7], including kids who can now safely bike to Prospect Park on their own.

In a legal sense, however, the “trial” issue is important, because the plaintiffs missed their chance to file a lawsuit within the four-month statute of limitations following the permanent installation of a city project. Their case will get tossed unless the judge rules that the PPW redesign was implemented on a temporary basis.

The most pressing question raised by Markowitz’s affidavit is this: Why now? Why, with only hours to go until the next court hearing, did Markowitz come forward to share a recollection from 16 months ago? Given everything we know about Markowitz’s relationships with bike lane opponents and his deep involvement in the campaign to reverse the redesign of Prospect Park West, the sequence of events makes no sense.

Consider:

Only now is Markowitz coming forward with this recollection of being promised that the PPW redesign would be a trial — a memory that would have served his purposes on several prior occasions. Perfect timing.