At yesterday’s day of action on Prospect Park West, one contention from the opposition especially didn’t sit well with everyone who turned out to support the redesigned, traffic-calmed street. With hundreds of bike lane supporters gathered on the sidewalk a few feet away, Borough President Marty Markowitz’s chief of staff, Carlo Scissura, told the assembled crowd that the new PPW is the vision of just “one person,” referring to transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan.
A Park Slope constituent contacted the BP’s office to set Marty straight, and received a response from a Markowitz staffer. Here is an excerpt:
In your email to the borough president, you referred to the 1000 or so people from the community that signed a petition in support of the bike lane. With this, I assume you are referring to the Park Slope Neighbor’s petition. The borough president’s position regarding this petition is simply this: he rejects the assertion that Park Slope Neighbors is in any way representative of this community. Though you may disagree, the borough president’s criticism is not unfair. Park Slope Neighbors has primarily focused itself on advocating for the kinds of transportation changes the DOT implemented on PPW. Having positioned itself as a transportation advocacy group, seeking traffic calming in Park Slope, they have sacrificed a claim to impartiality. This is not a critique of the merits of their case, simply a statement of fact that they can not have their cake and eat it too: they can not purport to being objective or representative if they are going to also take strong advocacy stands for the particular type of transit policy DOT is implementing. Consequently, the borough president is well within his right to challenge their findings and dispute the relevance of any survey they issue. Again, as an issue advocacy group they are inclined to find data supportive of their positions. Consider this: for every signature they obtained on that 1000-person petition, how are we to know how many people from the public did not sign on because they did not agree with its stated purpose. If I stood on a street corner and asked you to sign a petition to ban dogs completely in Prospect Park, you would likely not sign it (hopefully) though I’m sure I could get a plenty of people to do so. I could then cite the numbers of people who signed the petition as proof that the community agrees with my position.
People, just give up with the organizing, awareness building, and public assembling already. If you want to be active in your community and make change happen, that’s nice and all. But if you want Marty to listen, first you’ve got to agree with Marty.