Hundreds Rally in Support of Prospect Park West Bike Lane

Photo: Ben Fried
The pro-bike lane crowd at Grand Army Plaza this morning didn't fit into my camera frame.

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 don’t want to see those changes taken away.

I peg the crowd size at about 300 supporters. If you want to count heads, here are two more shots that complete the picture…

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The right side of the crowd.
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The left side of the crowd.

The rally was organized by Park Slope Neighbors, the Park Slope Civic Council, and Transportation Alternatives in response to an anti-bike lane demonstration that took place on PPW and Carroll Street. After massing at GAP, most of the pro-bike lane crowd walked down PPW to declare their love for the safer street to the gathering of about 70 or so opponents, while a large contingent rode up and down the two-way bike path.

The defining moment of the morning, I would say, came when Carlo Scissura, chief of staff to Borough President Marty Markowitz, rallied the bike lane opponents by telling them the PPW redesign was the vision of “one person” — Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. The large mass of bike lane supporters were standing just a few feet away when he said it.

Scissura’s remark elicited a hearty round of booing on a morning that otherwise was largely free of overt confrontation.

Photo: Ben Fried
Carlo Scissura, chief of staff to Borough President Marty Markowitz, addresses the anti-bike lane crowd.

Unfortunately, it appears as though the tape we used to record interviews during the rally was corrupted, so I don’t have the audio and video that I hoped to show everyone. Here are a few more pictures from what was an impressive display of support for safer, bike-friendly streets. Hats off to the organizers and to everyone who showed up.

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  • I love the “bike lane = fewer parking spots” signs. What planet do these people live on? With the bus stops on PPW gone, there are actually more parking spaces on PPW than there were before the bike lane was added.

  • Really you shot tape? Like VHS tape?

    Great to see the awesome show of support for the lane.

  • Danny G

    That PPW 2.0 sign should really read 3.0 or 4.0, you baby-boomer newcomers don’t remember when it was a two-way street with trolley service. Minutiae aside, that was a good event, and much love to those who helped make it happen.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “I love the “bike lane = fewer parking spots” signs. What planet do these people live on? With the bus stops on PPW gone, there are actually more parking spaces on PPW than there were before the bike lane was added.”

    And that’s what makes this the perfect symbol of what is happening. Because of two decades of future selling, we’ve lost a public service — mass transit. And were are going to lose more.

    But at least those who are self-reliant can pedal themselves.

    Perhaps those who claim less parking spaces don’t mean less than before, but less than their could be. Angle parking, anyone?

  • Larry, I almost created a sign just for you:

    “Generation Greed: Now They Want to Take Away Your Bike Lane Too.”

  • J. Mork

    I love the “fewer parking spots” sign too. One honest opponent that explains what all the fuss is about.

    But even if it were true — how could a parking spot for one private automobile be worth more to a community than a complete street that’s safer for all users?

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Now They Want to Take Away Your Bike Lane Too.”

    We seemed to have plenty of less greedy members of that generation there to support the bike lane. They may have been outnumbed by the “Silent Majority,” but perhaps they’ll mount a comeback by outlasting them!

  • Glenn

    This looks so much like the Jon Stewart “Rally to Restore Sanity” versus Stephen Colbert’s “Keep Fear Alive Rally” that it seems like a parody itself.

    Nice try Brownstone Brooklyn and TA, but nobody else believes that this bike lane protest/counter-rally was real. I mean really, you obviously hired some older unemployed/retired actors to hold a fake anti-bike lane demonstration…even punk’d Marty Markowitz into thinking your astroturf NIMBYs were really anti-bike lane. We all know that this was just a PR stunt to show the broad support for the bike lanes. We get it…move on…stop showing off.

  • Ken

    I couldn’t attend the rally, but judging from the crowd photos it’s a starkly generational conflict. The anti-lane contingent is gray or graying, while the supporters are all over the map but skew to the 20s-40s.

    How about a postcard campaign to Markowitz: “The PPW bike lane is part of my vision for a more livable Brooklyn and my name is not JSK!”

  • J. Mork
  • Doug G.

    Thanks to TA and all the volunteers who helped make the rally a fun, peaceful show of support. This is what effective activism looks like. Nice work.

  • Ken: I think there’s an element of truth to the generational conflict analysis but I’m quite certain that we had more 50-and-olders on the pro-bike lane side of the street than the entire NIMBY rally had people.

  • Congratulations and many thanks to Park Slope Neighbors, Transportation Alternatives and its Brooklyn Committee, Streetsblog, the #bikenyc community on Twitter and the many others who made this a success.

    If you enjoyed this taste of what an empowered cyclist community feels like as much as I did, please come to the November 10 event at noon on City Hall’s steps to rally for the completion of the East Side Bikeway all the way to 125th Street! We’ll be presenting a certain Mayor with nearly 2,500 handrwitten letters . . . .

    To find out more about this and other Transportation Alternatives East Side Committee Work, click here.

  • MK

    The NYPD kept telling those standing in the PPW bike lanes to keep it clear for moving bikers. It’s time for them to take that spirit and apply it to cars blocking bike paths on a daily basis.

  • Gary

    Brilliant work. Way to take this publicity stunt by the reactionary anti-bike lane cohort and turn it around on them.

    They were outnumbered by dedicated people with better arguments.

    Bravo!

  • There’s some video footage of the demohere and here.

  • Geck

    I just want to note that my building on PPW had at least 6 resident from 4 different families in attendance that I noticed (many of whom are gray or graying).

  • Ken

    As someone who is gray and getting grayer, I want to stress that I wasn’t suggesting that lane supporters were all pre-AARP age. What’s remarkable about the supporter photos is that it’s a full spectrum; not so with the NIMBYs.

    WNYC had a pretty lame, “he said/she said” report just now. No mention of the respective crowd sizes and the only live interview was with a NIMBY.

  • Matthew

    The best sign was held by someone who infiltrated the anti-bike lane demonstration. It read:

    “No bike lane on my speedway.”

    It was a very impressive display of support for the bike lane.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “WNYC had a pretty lame, “he said/she said” report just now. No mention of the respective crowd sizes and the only live interview was with a NIMBY.”

    That’s the sense I get from the other reports too. Perhaps the PTB are looking for another “our tribe vs. their tribe” conflict to distract from our diminished future and who benefitted from it, in case the media wars over gay marriage, abortion, guns etc. ever peter out.

    Hey MSM, yes it involves boring numbers, but we’re going broke, and the quality of life and future prospects of millions of people will be affected. What were you all doing at a minor conflict over whether a large group of people will be permitted to use a small piece of street space?

    Frankly, I’m a little irritated that I had to show up late to work to take an unpaid bit role in a TV soap opera because there are people who want to make my ride to work more dangerous.

  • ED

    ha. What a piece of shit that NY1 piece is – do they even try?

  • That was an awesome amount of people who came out…especially on a work day!

  • The protest is just cane-shaking at anything different, even if it’s an improvement.

    As if to say, “how dare this dynamic and ever-changing city actually change!” and demand four lanes of speeding traffic back, when they’re given three moderate lanes.

  • When they’re not complaining about safety or having to learn something new, PPW opponents seem to be particularly unhappy about the color, green. One even commented that it looks like the Holland Tunnel!

    I wonder how they would respond were DOT to pave the path with terra cotta pavers and add a few planters to make it more “Park Avenue Like.” Maybe a more subdued style for historic districts, not unlike the brownish-maroon street signs the City uses in historic districts, would make bike lanes more acceptable for those who seem so concerned with aesthetics.

  • While there is undoubtedly room to improve the aesthetics of the bike lane, I feel the antis even miss the point there. Cars take up a lot of space, they’re ugly, they pollute, they make lots of noise, they kill people. Isn’t it so much nicer now to enjoy a street with fewer of them on it and with less obstructed views of the park?

  • Yes, Stacy, I was just thinking that maybe some of this could have been avoided if the green paint had been skipped for this project (or maybe just use the green paint at intersections with pedestrian or motor vehicle traffic). I don’t think that would mateially detract form the safety of the lane, given how full the floating parking lane is all the time.

  • @Geck,

    I assume you mean in attendance in support of the new design?

  • Marina

    Wow! That was completely awesome! I ride the lane almost every day and every time I’m on it, it makes me happy. That’s what I told the WNYC reporter who interviewed me. Ken, or anyone else, can you send the link to WNYC coverage? I can’t seem to find it on their website.

  • Thanks, everyone, for coming out and supporting the rally today. All the help from TA, great coverage from Streetsblog, Bicycle Habitat for bagels and coffee, the 78th Precinct for keeping everyone safe and orderly, and most of all to all of you committed livable-streets activists (from the grey or greying to the too-young-to-have-hair-yet) who took time out of your busy days to make a real statement.

    The size of the crowd this morning blew the lid off even my rosiest prediction. Thanks again.

    Eric McClure
    Park Slope Neighbors

  • Geck

    Eric,
    Yes, of course, and thanks to you.

  • Glenn

    Actually, the average age for both groups was about the same, just cyclists age better than motorheads

  • James B. Creal

    Did anyone bother telling the historic district lady so inflamed about the green bike lane paint that there were no cars in NYC in the late 1880’s when many of the buildings on PPW were built? So, does she spend the rest of her time yelling about the thousands of post-1889 cars in front of her window?

  • Aaron

    so sorry I had a commitment and missed it this morning. I live in Park Slope and regularly bike the new lane on PPW. It’s such a great addition to the neighborhood.

    have to say, my favorite picture is the one with the unused “bike lane = fewer parking spots” on the bench. What a powerful sign… could have also read: “safety for thousands of pedestrians and bikers = fewer parking spots”.

  • Ken

    WNYC just redeemed itself on its 5:30 pm local news. Highlights DOT’s safety data, and any listener would be left wondering what the NIMBYs’ problem is. Plus a great quote from Marina!

  • brian g

    YAY! As someone born and raised in Windsor Terrace I’m so happy to see this much support for such a needed infrastructure dvlpmt. I can’t wait to visit and ride the lane!

  • Joe Joe

    I can’t believe all of the people in support for the Bike Lane. I am in support to bike lanes, if they are on streets that are not heavily traveled. The bikers are safe from the traveling public. It has taken me and my wife 15 mins. to back in our car into a spot and not to mention to even get out. But i guess the traveling public which includes the many delivers from Fresh Direct, UPS, Fed Ex, USPS and many other workers that have to double park to make there deliveries are putting there lives in harms way. Oh yes and let’s not forget the double parked school buses that bring the children to the park during school and camp. I can’t wait for the first snow fall let’s see how sanitation or nyc parks handles the plowing. Oh yes and they originally said this was to slow traffic down. I guess they were wrong…

  • LuLu

    One word – DANGEROUS!!! Unfortunately the yuppies won’t learn until tragedy strikes! 40+ year resident of park slope – the yuppies ruined our neighborhoods, now they are ruining our streets! Bikers have 3 miles of park inside prospect park to ride, isn’t that enough? You have made PPW dangerous to pedestrians and drivers – so much for helping the environment- why don’t you all coordinate your delivery times with fresh direct and let them keep the environment cleaner!

  • Shocking development here in the comments — “Joe Joe” and “LuLu” are the same person.

  • Marty Barfowitz

    It has taken me and my wife 15 mins. to back in our car into a spot and not to mention to even get out.

    Someone please take away JoeJoe’s driver’s license.

  • Doo Doo

    I’m all for bike lanes as long as I, as a driver, don’t have to look at them. What is this baloney about streets being for “all users” — as if there were any legitimate user other than the motorist? Streets are for cars, pure and simple. Always have been, always will be. It’s been that way since Roman times. Did the Appian Way have a bike lane? No. How about the Silk Road? Ridiculous! The Autobahn? Fuggedaboudit! Cars are also the solution to climate change, because the quicker we use up the world’s finite supply of oil, the quicker we’ll be able to put this global warming unpleasantness behind us. And safety? If you want safety, stay indoors.

  • OK, this is hard, but I won’t feed the trolls. Uh, troll.

  • Gargamel Tralfaz

    I am so sick of the PPW Bike Lane. Yesterday I looked at it and it gave me a toothache. Then two days ago I was distracted by the sunlight coming off of it and I impaled myself on a rake just sitting in the middle of the lane. Not to mention last week my doctor diagnosed me with rickets and it was all because of the PPW bike lane.

  • J

    hahahaha, That’s pretty good trolling, though. Almost as good as the governor who claimed that Jesus spoke English. Nice!

  • Did anyone catch the Nine car pileup on Flatbush Ave.@ Grand Army Plaza just after the rally? SUV driver gets inpatient, decides to create a third lane just for himself, between the two traffic lanes, takes out eight of his fellow drivers, one driver needed the jaws of life! Isn’t it ironic, don’t you think…

  • ChrisC

    >>I can’t believe all of the people in support for the Bike Lane. I am in support to bike lanes, if they are on streets that are not heavily traveled. The bikers are safe from the traveling public.<<

    Bike lanes are needed even more on roads that ARE heavily traveled than not dummy. Not only that, but bike riders are traveling public themselves.

  • have to say, my favorite picture is the one with the unused “bike lane = fewer parking spots” on the bench. What a powerful sign… could have also read: “safety for thousands of pedestrians and bikers = fewer parking spots”.

    Not only that, but whoever wrote it outed themself as a non-New Yorker by using “fewer.” Go back to Ohio!

  • Doug G.

    I never understand the “bikers have 3 miles in the park, isn’t that enough?” question. Drivers have THOUSANDS of miles of roadways in the five boroughs. Taking away one lane on one section of one street seems like the most minute of sacrifices they can make for safety.

    The park argument is a canard. Most of the anti crowd is against bike lanes period. I can guarantee that if the DOT put in a bike lane on 8th Avenue, we’d hear the same thing: “Prospect Park is only two blocks away!” You can work you way down to the 4th Avenue on such logic.

    Three miles in the park is great for recreational cyclists, but guess what? A lot of us commute to work, run errands, and drop our kids off at daycare on our bikes. We’re drivers, too, just on a different vehicle.

  • Martin

    everyone comment on the Metro page. They ran a short article in todays paper slanted against the bike lane.

    http://www.metro.us/newyork/local/article/669804–brooklyn-bike-lane-draws-foes

  • I don’t get why people are confused about how snow will be handled. the lane is wide enough to accommodate garbage trucks with snow plows and salters. The lane will be plowed and salted, like the similar lanes on Eighth and Ninth Avenue in Chelsea were last year.

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