As PPW Intrigue Mounts, Brooklyn Paper Defends the Completed Street

ppw_bike_lane_1.jpgThe new Prospect Park West makes biking and walking safer for all ages. Photo: Jeff Prant

Before I get to the "intrigue" part of this post (it’s juicy), first let me say that if you haven’t checked out the Prospect Park West re-design yet, you owe it to yourself to head on over and take a look. Last time I checked, some of the finishing touches have yet to appear, but it’s already one of the most effective street transformations the city has undertaken.

With two lanes of traffic instead of three, PPW feels like it’s been reclaimed for the neighborhood. I haven’t biked the new two-way path since it opened, but I’ve walked on each side of the new PPW, and it’s a pleasure. The highway speeds and zooming traffic noise are gone, and the calming effect seems to rub off on everybody.

The experts at Project for Public Spaces, where I worked before coming to
Streetsblog, will tell you that the "outer park" matters just as much
as the "inner park."
Well, now the west side of Prospect Park has more breathing room — it’s a much better "outer park." If you’re walking next to the park, you don’t feel hemmed in by parked cars and traffic, and you’re not sharing the sidewalk with cyclists any more. And the bike lane is attracting kids and other riders who never would have felt safe biking on the old PPW.

Not everyone sees it this way. These folks on Facebook want to see the bike lane disappear. (They’ve been eclipsed by the growing ranks of this pro-bike lane group, which — full disclosure! — I joined today.) Last week, Courier-Life publications ran a screed against "pedal-pushing jerks in their fancy Spandex uniforms," though they were curiously silent about the business casual commuters, the pants-wearing errand-runners, and the families-with-kids-in-T-shirts-and-shorts crowd who seem to be enjoying the new lane immensely.

And, a few nights ago, staffers from Marty Markowitz’s office were seen leaving an anti-bike lane strategy session held at 9 Prospect Park West. The apartment building is home to U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer and former DOT Commissioner Iris Weinshall, whose daughters have both signed on to the anti-bike lane Facebook group, but I was not able to confirm a rumor that the meeting happened inside the Schumer-Weinshall residence. Streetsblog is in the midst of following up on that particular storyline.

In any event, the confrontation over this traffic-calming, sustainability-promoting piece of 21st century transportation infrastructure isn’t over. So it was a pleasant surprise today to see the Brooklyn Paper leap to the defense of the new bike lane. After running a critical opinion piece last month, before the re-design was implemented, the editors have come around:

For all the hysteria in its first two weeks, the Prospect Park West
bike lane has already solved many problems: it has gotten cyclists off
the sidewalk, it has slowed down cars, it has turned Prospect Park West
back into a neighborhood street instead of a thruway, and it has
strengthened the connection between the park itself and the roadway
that frames its western border.

We call that a win for everyone — except drivers, who have had it too good for too long.

Well put.

  • The Prospect Park West bike lane was a fitting start to the way out to the Coney Island Aquarium on Friday.

    It was kind of scary remembering when the Aquarium first opened, so long ago and such a tremendous thing to have here in Brooklyn.

    And, kind of weird that Borough President Markowitz and former DoT commissioner Weinshall do not see the beauty of these new bike infrastructure advances and embrace them with open arms; truly taking the streets back for the people as the first cracks in the impenetrably profound monopoly of transportation systems based on cars.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Three Myths From Marty About the PPW Bike Lane

|
It’s showtime for the Prospect Park West bike lane, with a bike lane protest and a rally for the redesign coming up tomorrow morning. In a prelude to the big day, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz is making some rounds in the media. The Brooklyn Paper and NY1 got some choice quotes from the beep, […]

Facebook Tally: PPW Bike Lane Support Outnumbers Opposition 4 to 1

|
A lot of neighborhood activists swear by the maxim that it’s easier to organize against something than to drum up support for something new. But apparently this rule of thumb doesn’t apply to the Prospect Park West bike lane. Based on the latest tallies from Facebook, the incipient skirmish over New York’s newest two-way protected […]

Thursday, March 10 Is CB6’s Prospect Park West Bike Lane Finale

|
I make no guarantees about the ultimate accuracy of this headline, but you’ve got to admit that next week’s Brooklyn Community Board 6 forum on the Prospect Park West redesign is shaping up to be a showstopper [PDF]. After all the rallies, surveys, Marcia Kramer segments, senatorial intrigue, threats of lawsuits, and mountains of data […]

Hundreds Rally in Support of Prospect Park West Bike Lane

|
Hundreds of Brooklynites gathered this morning at Grand Army Plaza to show their support for the redesigned Prospect Park West. They made a statement that should be hard for elected officials and the press to miss: Most people who live in the neighborhoods near PPW like biking and walking on the new, traffic-calmed street and […]