Schumer-Linked Group Wrongly Assumes That Council Backs Bike Lane Delay

The group of politically-connected Prospect Park West bike lane opponents linked to Senator Chuck Schumer wants the city to take a break from making streets safer for cyclists and pedestrians.

U.S. Senator and Prospect Park West resident Chuck Schumer. Photo: Noah Kazis

They call themselves “Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes,” but in a press release sent out yesterday, opponents of the Prospect Park West redesign make it pretty clear that, in a world where things are called what they actually are, NBBL would stand for “Never Build Bike Lanes.” The group, which is closely affiliated with Schumer’s spouse, former DOT Commissioner Iris Weinshall, wants to see a citywide moratorium on bike lane construction while the city puts into effect new bills that open up data on traffic crashes to the public. In behind the scenes conversations with members of the City Council, Schumer himself has lobbied against bike lanes, the Post reported last month.

NBBL’s press release mistakenly assumes that Council Speaker Christine Quinn and transportation committee chair James Vacca also back the idea of a bike lane moratorium. But Andrea Bernstein at Transportation Nation reports that Quinn and Vacca don’t support such a policy.

In addition to putting words in the mouths of City Council members, the NBBL press release perpetuates the myth that data on the Prospect Park West redesign has been lacking.

In fact, data on the Prospect Park West bike lane has been exhaustively collected and promptly made available to the public. The numbers show that injuries caused by traffic are down since the redesign was implemented last summer. The NYPD has reported no injuries caused by bike-ped collisions. DOT has presented information on travel times, traffic volumes, speeding, bike volumes, and sidewalk cycling in multiple installments, and the raw numbers are all available online for anyone to see [PDF].

Robust statistical analysis indicates that NBBL’s moratorium would delay progress on making NYC streets safer for pedestrians as well as cyclists. Citywide, DOT’s 2010 study of 7,000 pedestrian fatalities and serious injuries found that crashes on streets with bike lanes are 40 percent less deadly for pedestrians than crashes on streets without bike lanes.

The city’s data is solid. NBBL, on the other hand, has a history of inflating their own support and using worthless apples-to-oranges comparisons to argue for undoing an effective street redesign.

Despite their lack of credibility, NBBL was able to get themselves some press in the Brooklyn Paper after sending out their latest piece of propaganda. So, it may be instructive to appreciate how they pulled it off. The steps seem to go something like this:

  1. Make stuff up
  2. Send out press release, including your fabricated, erroneous claims
  3. Wait for the phone to ring
  4. Get quoted in the press as if you were a credible authority on street safety
  • Larry Littlefield

    “The steps seem to go something like this:

    Make stuff up

    Send out press release, including your fabricated, erroneous claims

    Wait for the phone to ring

    Get quoted in the press as if you were a credible authority on street safety.”

    The steps in writing an MSM story are:

    Get a press release from some organization.

    Round up one of the usual suspects that can be expected to provide an opposing quote.

    Don’t bother collecting or evaluating information yourself, particularly quantative information.

    Write a “he-said she-said” article that can be described as “balanced” while doing almost no work.

    The steps elected officials do in public policy research are:

    Hold a fundraiser attended by lobbyists.

    That’s pretty much it.

  • You are being too kind. NBBL didn’t “mistakenly assume” anything about Quinn and Vacca’s position. We lied.

  • Chris

    The question is whether or not Vacca and Quinn will publicly refute NBBL’s lies?

    I’d wager not.

  • This level of corruption and stifling democratic governance is horrific in the face of accelerating climate disruption causing severe hardship for many now and to come.

    The honorable thing for this husband and wife team — one elected and the other appointed — would be to resign.

    Of course, that guy who caused the four billion dollar war didn’t either.

    We’ve gotten way too used to governance that is not reality-based.

  • Glenn

    I wish it was only $4 billion. I thought it was more like a trillion $.

    Anyway, it’s clear that a sideshows like NBBL have their run, but when they don’t get what they want, they will eventually walk away in a huff.

  • Andrew

    Umm, can everyone click on Lois Carsbad’s name? It’s pretty magical.

  • Suzanne

    If Schumer and “the little woman” get their way, I say they, their buddies at that high power law firm and every one on the NBBL pays for every single accident – all the property damage and all the medical expenses – caused by delaying bike/ped safety infrastructure.

    This is absolutely unconscionable! People should die because these elitist monsters don’t like a bike lane in front of their pricey Park Slope apartment??? Of course, that won’t happen. If this whole saga has shown anything it’s the democracy is dead and unwell in this city.

  • Marcia Kramer: Bought & Paid For

    Of course we read the DOT data here at Channel 2. We’re trained journalist. And they can cite all the touchy-feely stuff they want, but DOT is victimizing innocent old ladies. Senator Schmucky Chucky told me so himself (oops, did I let that slip?)

    Anyway, the van’s pulling up on PPW. Now get out of my way, you turds. I’ve got a breaking story to cover here!

  • #5 Glenn, thanks . . .

    #4 gecko correction should read: “four trillion dollar war”;

    Stiglitz recently updated it from $3 trillion to $4 trillion.

  • #5 Glenn, “they will eventually walk away in a huff”

    Not necessarily. Now they seem to be angling for concessions for a one-way cycle track with no authority or good reason to do this; kind of the old Soviet way of lying, acting crazy, and stupid to bargain for unwarranted concessions and compromise.

    Let’s hope DoT & Sadik-Khan don’t cave on this one — just for the sake of making peace — like they did on Flushing Avenue along the Brooklyn Navy Yard where the two-way cycle track would have been much better.

    This city has a long way to go making the streets safe and two-way cycle tracks are a big advance limiting the local monopolies effectively secured by the dangers of transportation systems based on cars. Quick and extensive deployment the 20-mph speed limit will also help a lot.

    A New Take on the Prospect Park West Bike Lanes: Compromise
    http://parkslope.patch.com/articles/a-new-take-on-the-prospect-park-west-bike-lanes-compromise

  • Marty Barfowitz

    NBBL’s lawyer isn’t angling for concessions. What he’s doing is offering a bogus “compromise” via press release to create the appearance that he and his clients did everything they could to resolve the PPW bike lane issue in good faith before having to resort to their law suit.

  • Mike

    And their proposed “compromise” isn’t a one-way cycle track. It’s a regular one-way bike lane. aka a double-parking lane. This is all about enabling double-parking. Sad.

    http://brooklynspoke.wordpress.com/2011/02/22/all-we-wanted-was-what-we-had/

  • Joe R.

    This quote from one of the comments in the article gecko linked in post #10 was priceless:

    “A grand thoroughfare has been turned into the latest in urban blight. Here we live in this marvelous, beautiful historic district and one of its main roads has been turned into a scene from a Mad Max movie.”

    I nearly fell off my chair laughing! This people are living charactertures, starting with Marty Markowitz.

  • Perhaps friendly cyclists could post up outside 9 Prospect Park West and offer to help the little old ladies who live there cross the street. You know, in a non-condescending way.

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