SoHo Car Owners Mobilizing to Save Parking, Fight Bike Lanes

The SoHo Alliance is at it again. The neighborhood organization that specializes in persecuting street vendors and artists rather than helping to figure out ways to carve out a bit of street space for them and all of the people over-spilling SoHo’s sidewalks, is now mobilizing against the City’s plan to install new bike lanes along Prince and Bleecker Streets.

Their goal? Prevent "reckless cyclists" from "speeding down busy Prince in their own private lane,
running red lights, and hitting unwitting tourists and residents." They also want to preserve the 126 car parking spaces that currently hog up a whole lot more of the space on Prince Street than those evil street artists. Sound familiar?

Livable Streets advocates will need to show up in force at the full meeting of Manhattan’s Community Board 2 to make sure that the full board supports the transportation committee’s recommendation to install bike lanes. Find the meeting details in this e-mail from the SoHo Alliance:

Subject: Emergency: Community Board Meeting Thursday
From: Sean Sweeney, SoHo Alliance <info@sohoalliance.org>
Date: Tue, 17 Apr 2007 18:12:48 -0400

Hi,

In August, the SoHo Alliance proposed a dedicated, protected bike lane as part of the reconstruction on Houston Street.  This was supported by the Community Board and by all our elected officials.  

D.O.T. rejected Houston and offered us Prince & Bleecker Streets instead.  DOT said Prince Street was safer, without offering any documentation or statistics.  In fact, DOT wants to turn Houston Street into a high-speed traffic corridor.

Last week the SoHo Alliance sent out emails and flyers to our members along Prince – from the Bowery to Sixth Avenue and from Spring to Houston – seeking comments on this counter-proposal from DOT.

91% of the respondents to last week’s survey insisted on Houston over Prince.  Unfortunately, the traffic sub-committee of the community board acquiesced to the DOT and voted for a Prince bike lane.  

This proposal will cost us almost 200 parking spaces to provide for this special bike lane.  126 of these parking spots will be lost on Prince alone.

In addition, there are obvious congestion and safety problems created by some reckless cyclists speeding down busy Prince in their own private lane, running red lights, and hitting unwitting tourists and residents.  

We did not start this project to exchange cyclists injuries for pedestrian injuries.

I am organizing SoHo people to attend the Full Community Board meeting to speak out against this cockamamie and dangerous proposal.  We need to overturn the committee’s report.

It is very important for SoHo.   Bodies Count!  

Thursday, April 19th, St Vincent’s Hospital, West 12th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues (closer to 7th), Cronin Auditorium, 10th floor.

It starts at 6:30.  You must sign a "speaker’s  card" to register your opinion and to speak.  Be sure to write "No Prince Street Bike Lane" on the card.  Arrive no later than 6:50.  It should be over by 8:00.

Please email this to friends and neighbors.

Regards,
Sean Sweeney

  • Super G

    In case you’re wondering, Mr. Sweeney’s “survey” was an unscientific push poll that he personally conducted.

  • Super G

    Also, given that Mr. Sweeney supports a bike lane on Houston Street, I find his claim that a bike lane on Prince Street would be magnet for “reckless cyclists” disingenuous.

  • Lars

    I just did an unscientific push poll with my cats that found they wholeheartedly support the new bike lanes. That is 100% approval.

  • ddartley

    Cars NEVER speed down busy Prince, run red lights, or hit unwitting tourists and residents.

    Therefore, we should not do anything that might slow cars down.

  • Charlie D.

    I always make sure to hit witting tourists and residents. What fun is it if they don’t see me?!

  • The SB irony meter just broke.
    Can you all tone it down a bit.

    Of course, I seem to be pushing the irrelevant comment meter into the red now.

  • epc

    I’ve been clipped by three cyclists since January while crossing a street with the light. Two were riding the wrong way down the bike lane on Henry Street (Brooklyn), the other was riding the “right” way down the Clinton bike lane but blew through the light.

    None of the three were messenger/delivery guys.

    All three cyclists took the time to stop and scream at me for crossing the street (in the crosswalk, with the light) and then took off.

    Sure, autos and trucks do the same thing, can cause more damage, but they’re the incumbents, they have the power and the support. When I got clipped by a taxi a witness and I were able to get the TLC number.

    Cyclists aren’t going to win fans or support by hitting or clipping pedestrians and treating them with disdain and contempt.

  • Franklin

    Accidents are learning experiences, epc. If you’d have been clipped by cars three times since January you’d probably be dead.

    It’s a big crowded city. We bump up against each other. I’d rather bump into street users that won’t kill me. Give me a bike clipping any day of the week.

    P.S.

    If this has happened three times and you got yelled at each time, maybe it’s something you are doing? Time to look inside?

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    Let me get this straight. The Soho Alliance supported bike lanes on Houston and still wants them there and favors traffic calming measures there.

    The Prince/Bleecker bike lanes would not calm traffic, and might even speed it up, because they would replace on-street parking. They would also not make the streets significantly safer or easier for cyclists.

    160 parking spaces is minimal, but the drivers would probably park illegally in the bike lanes anyway, especially if they have permits.

    And for all this you and the Alliance are willing to let the DOT divide and conquer you? What’s the benefit? Is it worth fighting over?

  • epc

    Franklin: nice retort, really, because it’s up to the pedestrian to know that a cyclist is allow to ride the wrong way, run the light, and hit me; definitely something wrong inside there.

    If I walk against the light, in front of a bike, riding the right way down the street, then sure, clip me, turn around and curse me out; but if I’m in the crosswalk, and you’re running the light, the WRONG way, and you hit me, don’t expect me to get up and be all thankful that at least it wasn’t a car.

    There are more pedestrians than cyclists and drivers combined, you can either get us on the side of cyclists, or not.

  • Anne

    Franklin:

    don’t be ridiculous.

  • epc

    I thought about this more overnight, and Franklin’s comment illustrates why cyclists have poor support from the rest of the community. If you respond to criticism with ad hominem attacks against the critics, and ignore the criticism, you’ll lose each of these battles.

    You want the Prince Street bike lanes? Demonstrate that removing parking and increasing the “throughput” of Prince will increase business, and yet be safer for pedestrians, cyclists, and even drivers. Demonstrate that deliveries will occur faster (I’m assuming that there’d be 2 traffic lanes + the bike lane, or 1.5 traffic lanes). Taxis (yes, ugh, taxis) will be able to pick up and drop off people more easily.

    The perception of the bike lanes on Prince is that it’s a net takeaway for the community, show that it isn’t and that it would be a net benefit.

    The business community is slowly coming to the realization that traffic is actually bad for business, use this to get business on your side.

  • Franklin

    epc,

    I guess what I’m saying is, first, I don’t believe your story. Second, if this same type of thing keeps happening in the same spots in the same way then that might indicate a problem with street design more than anything else. Perhaps we need a reverse flow bike lane on Henry Street. Finally, I ask you: In the same time period that all of these awful cyclists picked on you, how many times were you honked at aggressively, intimidated in crosswalks, spewed upon by diesel exhaust, jolted by car alarms, jostled by pedestrians on overly crowded sidewalks, or treated rudely on the subway? Are you counting those stats too? Or just watching for naughty bikers?

  • Franklin

    epc,

    All of that has been demonstrated repeatedly in studies and in practice. Somewhere on this blog I know that you can find a Bruce Shaller study showing how very few people shopping on Prince Street arrived by car.

    Unless you are Mayor Bloomberg, bike advocates don’t really need to justify to you how much more efficient and socially beneficial a bikeable, walkable less traffic-filled city is. It’s not worth the energy. Rather, we just need political will to make these changes over irrational objections. We can either choose to make the changes now or we can wait until high gas prices, climate change or a failing, congested, degraded city force us to make the changes. I’d rather start now. We’re already decades behind other big cities.

  • OK, kids, Let’s not get in fights in the comments section.

    I maintain that pedestrians and cyclists have been squeezed into the margins of public space by motor vehicles and that we are really on the same team.

    But because bikes and peds aren’t wrapped up in three tons of steel, we tend to get in fights with each other more than the guys who are actually doing all of the hogging of public space.

  • Stacy

    What’s the point? Coraling cyclists on Prince and Bleecker Streets isn’t going to make Houston Street any safer

    And who’s going to keep these trucks and tour busses and drunk tourists out of these bike lanes? Sounds like a big waste of time and paint.

  • Anarcissie

    I agree with Stacy. Mere painted bike lanes are vacuous decor — motorists constantly use them for parking, standing and driving. Often, the motorists are driving city vehicles. Check out Lafayette Street, 2nd Avenue, Grand Street, 8th Avenue and so on. A physically separated lane on Houston Street would be worth something; some stripes on Prince Street are worth nothing, except to the city’s machinery for issuing parking tickets to raise revenues.

  • Not Insane

    Bike lane on Prince St not Houston?
    Are these people crazy?

    The speed of the bikes is closer to cars than people.
    Prince St is a pedestrian nightmare, narrow, filled with the hawkers + the tourists + the bobo shoppers + the regular live/work people, who are already walking in the street already just to get somewhere.
    Why would they want to add speeding cyclists?
    WTF?

  • ddartley

    Or, instead of a physically separated lane on Houston St. (or up/down avenues), how about a center lane for emergency vehicles and bikes/human powered vehicles only, that cars can cross, but not stay in, as I’ve suggested many times?

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