Update 4: Second caller is Michael Freedman-Schnapp from Brad Lander’s office, and the third caller is a mother of three, Megan, who feels safer crossing PPW now that it’s not a three-lane speedway. And that’s it for the callers.
Lehrer pops a “pro bono” question. Walden says he took the case pro bono because it’s “good government” work, and he wants to “hold the Bloomberg administration accountable.” So there you have it: Jim Walden is holding New York City government accountable for listening to neighborhood requests to calm speeding traffic, acting to make streets safer, and not backing down when powerful people try to circumvent the public process. Think twice before you try that again, Bloomberg administration.
Up tomorrow: Howard Wolfson.
Update 3: First caller is plaintiff Lois Carswell. Lois says there’s no good reason to have a parking-protected bike lane, and mistakenly says that the city took away B69 bus service on PPW. The MTA did that, in large part because the state legislature stole $143 million from transit, and three people now under federal indictment — and Ruben Diaz, Sr. — wouldn’t put a price on driving across NYC’s free bridges. Imagine if Lois’s friends in 9 Prospect Park West, the Schumers, put all their political muscle into overturning those decisions.
The WNYC switchboard seems to be jammed.
Update 2: Walden is up next and they’re taking phone calls — 212 443 9692.
Update: It’s 11:35. If Walden is going on today, it’ll have to be soon.
Jim Walden, the corporate litigator at white-shoe law firm Gibson Dunn who is representing the well-connected opponents of the Prospect Park West bike lane “pro bono,” is going to be on the Brian Lehrer show this morning. It looks like Walden is scheduled to appear on the second half of the broadcast, sometime after 11 a.m.
Expect Walden to hit his main talking points from the plaintiffs’ complaint. If there’s an opportunity to call in, here’s some previous Streetsblog coverage of the lawsuit’s core allegations that you may find helpful:
- Selective use of safety data: The plaintiffs say the PPW project evaluation “deviated from DOT’s usual approach in reporting its crash statistics,” but this is not true. Gary Toth, a 34-year veteran of the New Jersey Department of Transportation, told Streetsblog: “It is the opponents’ lawyers who are grasping at aberrations and doing the very thing they accuse the DOT of — selectively picking data to stack the deck in their favor.”
- Public process: The plaintiffs allege that the Prospect Park West bike lane was a DOT experiment foisted on the neighborhood, but in fact local civic groups had been asking DOT to calm speeding traffic on PPW for years, the community board asked DOT to study a two-way protected bike lane on the street in 2007, and the board later approved the project in 2009. Local support for the redesign continues to overwhelm opposition.
- Strictly legal substance of the lawsuit: An NYU Law School professor says the complaint is “largely public relations, with no more law behind it than is minimally necessary to avoid sanctions for frivolity.”