Jim Brennan Poll Finds 3-2 Margin of Support for PPW Redesign

Assembly Member Jim Brennan’s office released the results of a telephone survey on the Prospect Park West redesign this afternoon [PDF], and the topline numbers echo the results of the web survey conducted last year by Council Members Brad Lander and Steve Levin and Community Board 6.

Brennan's poll adds to the public opinion research showing a clear preference for the Prospect Park West redesign over the old configuration.

By an overall margin of 48 percent to 32 percent, more people feel the redesign has improved the street than made it worse. A similar margin prefer to keep the redesign than to get rid of it — 44 percent to 28 percent, with 25 percent choosing the option of “altering it to respond to pedestrian and driver concerns.” (In response to concerns, DOT has proposed narrowing the bike buffer near Grand Army Plaza and installing raised pedestrian refuges and bike “rumble strips” at intersections, a plan that cleared two CB 6 committees unanimously last month.)

Last fall’s Lander/Levin/CB 6 survey found very similar results among a non-random sample of 1,800 Park Slope residents, with 49 percent saying the redesign should be kept as is, 29 percent preferring to revert to the old design, and 22 percent saying the new configuration should be kept with changes.

Brennan’s poll, conducted by the firm Kiley & Company, surveyed 500 voters in Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, and Kensington. The sample was collected by randomly calling from a list of 25,000 voters. Compared to the overall population of Brennan’s district, however, the sample seems to favor car owners — 66 percent of the respondents said they own or have use of a car that they drive regularly in Brooklyn, but only 49 percent of households in Brennan’s district own cars, according to Census data gathered from 2005 to 2009.

The difference is significant, because among regular car users in Brennan’s poll, 40 percent said the redesign has made the street worse, compared to 32 percent of the overall sample. The overall support for the redesign would probably have been higher than 48 percent if the sample had accurately reflected the area’s car ownership rates.

Despite the positive topline numbers, Brennan is still not taking a position on the redesign. Citing a few specific survey results, like the 42 percent of older respondents who reported feeling less safe crossing the bike lane, the Assembly member said in a statement that he is “reluctant to endorse the bike lane as is.”

The poll appears to be the same survey that Streetsblog readers reported receiving earlier this week. Kiley & Company may have used Quantel Research, the firm surveyors identified themselves as working for, as a sub-vendor.

  • Brooklynite

    So, this survey skews toward older, landline-using car owners and it still shows a substantial majority supporting the PPW redesign and the bike path.

    It’s lovely that Jim Brennan never bothered to ask whether bike riders feel safer on the street. Thanks, Jim.

  • Brooklynite

    So, this survey skews toward older, landline-using car owners and it still shows a substantial majority supporting the PPW redesign and the bike path.

    It’s lovely that Jim Brennan never bothered to ask whether bike riders feel safer on the street. Thanks, Jim.

  • Brooklynite

    So, this survey skews toward older, landline-using car owners and it still shows a substantial majority supporting the PPW redesign and the bike path.

    It’s lovely that Jim Brennan never bothered to ask whether bike riders feel safer on the street. Thanks, Jim.

  • Mike

    The inclusion of a substantial portion of 11218 — which doesn’t go anywhere near PPW — reads as if it were intended to have biased this poll towards drivers.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Has to bother NBBL and Seniors for Whatever. Several months of propaganda and they barely moved the dial. It seems they have mostly created a negative opinion of bike lanes and bicycles among those who aren’t near them and thus are not in a position to make up their own minds.

  • 30% of the sample “rides a bicycle on a regular basis in Brooklyn;” 26% of it has ridden in the new PPW lane. Even before you read anything else, the idea of bike riders as some sort of tiny minority lunatic fringe is totally out the window.

  • Larry Littlefield

    A couple of things about the sample frame. The survey specifically says it is a survey of voters. And 2/3 of the voters own cars. And most of the non-voters do not.

    How were the voters measured? My guess is by Board of Elections records. Voters in 2008 or in 2010. My guess it is 2010, the state elections.

    This explains the views of the state and local pols. They don’t care as much about the young, because they only get fired up to vote for President. Those on the buses and subway trains, particularly if they are poor or immigrants, don’t matter at all.

  • Larry Littlefield

    A couple of things about the sample frame. The survey specifically says it is a survey of voters. And 2/3 of the voters own cars. And most of the non-voters do not.

    How were the voters measured? My guess is by Board of Elections records. Voters in 2008 or in 2010. My guess it is 2010, the state elections.

    This explains the views of the state and local pols. They don’t care as much about the young, because they only get fired up to vote for President. Those on the buses and subway trains, particularly if they are poor or immigrants, don’t matter at all.

  • Glenn

    Surveys are my profession so I always feel a particular need to weigh in on stuff like this.

    First the skew toward older folks and drivers can be corrected by renormalizing the numbers to the proportions in the population. For instance if a major polling outfit does a survey with all registered voters in a geography where they know the proportion of registered voters is 40% dem, 40% repub and 20% Indy but their survey gets a different proportion, they use the numbers Within each party group to factor the final tally.

    Second, while surveys are great when it come to public safety unpopular things that save lives are more the norm than not (speeding limits, smoking bans, etc). You can’t survey the dead.

  • Glenn

    Surveys are my profession so I always feel a particular need to weigh in on stuff like this.

    First the skew toward older folks and drivers can be corrected by renormalizing the numbers to the proportions in the population. For instance if a major polling outfit does a survey with all registered voters in a geography where they know the proportion of registered voters is 40% dem, 40% repub and 20% Indy but their survey gets a different proportion, they use the numbers Within each party group to factor the final tally.

    Second, while surveys are great when it come to public safety unpopular things that save lives are more the norm than not (speeding limits, smoking bans, etc). You can’t survey the dead.

  • Albert

    Wow, that’s really something! A third of randomly chosen Brooklynites “ride a bicycle on a regular basis in Brooklyn”? I wish the poll had been specific about riding on the streets, as opposed to in the park. Or riding for transportation as opposed to for fun or exercise.

  • =v= All these people are suffering from confirmation bias, as diagnosed by a a real live psychologist (Lois Hainline). You’ll be getting her bill within a week.

    (Gee, I hope this comment doesn’t end up in some sort of lawsuit to show how bike lane advocates are mean, scheming people.)

  • The media and the politicians need to finally succumb and admit that not only is this new PPW design the right and safe call, but that it is popular as well. Popular even though there has been an active campaign to discredit the DOT. Popular even though the media has some kind of vendetta against cycling. And popular even though this poll was somewhat skewed to car owners (and by the way, one of the things that strikes me as so funny is how many Park Slope car owners and Zipcar users who are completely in favor of the new design.)

  • Larry Littlefield

    Well, I’m not Jim Brennan’s biggest fan, though I have to admit he’s not the worst in Albany.

    But you have to hand it to him for releasing the data. The typical move for the political species is only to release to results if they come up they way you want them. It’s rare to just put the numbers out there, unless your are doing it on Room Eight and no one is paying you to do otherwise.

    And as I found out at a recent party, the politically active who drive everywhere are all against the bike lane, bike lanes in general. I’ll bet that’s what he’d been hearing. There are all these other people outside that bubble. And outside that sampling frame, as the percent White and percent car owner shows.

  • Sloper

    Jim is actually pretty good by Albany standards. I am extraordinarily disappointed with him on the PPW issue, however. He has been working against the project behind the scenes since the beginning.

    One of the things that this poll shows is that Jim Brennan’s district has moved on and left him behind. Jim was first elected to the Assembly in 1984. How much has Park Slope and Windsor Terrace changed since then? A ton.

    It may very well be time for Jim Brennan to move on as well. I would be happy to vote for just about anyone who had the courage to run against him. Even Larry Littlefield.

  • J

    A few comments on the survey:
    1) Kudos to Brennan for releasing the full results, regardless of his personal views on the subject.
    2) The results shows on page 20 that 17% of people were surveyed via wireless and 83% surveyed via landline. I’m not sure what the landline/wireless percentage is overall, but it wasn’t solely landlines that were surveyed.
    3) While including 11218 does skew the results a bit, only 25% came from that district. Most people surveyed (75%) live in 11215.
    4) The results for feelings of safety for walking are not scaled very well. The survey only asks do you feel more safe, less safe, or the same. Someone could feel slightly less safe walking, but much safer biking and therefore support the project. There is no way to distinguish between slight safety concerns and major concerns.
    5) Among people who have walked on PPW, a full 46% want to keep it exactly the way it is right now. Only 27% want it returned to the way it was. This seems to support point #4, that many people might feel slightly less safe walking due to the bike lane, they still feel that the benefits outweigh the costs.
    6) Among all people who have used PPW, more people feel that the project has been a change for the better than for the worse. Specifically, those who walked on PPW were 49% “change for better” and only 31% “change for worse”. Even among those who drove on PPW, 46% for “change for better” and only 40% were “change for worse”.
    7) The modification to the bike lane question is really ambiguous. As written, it could include anything from Hainline’s suggestion for 3 lanes of traffic and a one-way class 2 bike lane to the DOT proposed modifications, which keeps everything pretty much as is.
    8) There was no question about bike safety, as others have mentioned, yet self-identified bike riders make up 30% of the survey. That said, not all of them had biked on PPW itself.

    On the whole, the survey does not suggest a widespread animosity towards the project. In fact over 68% of people surveyed either see the PPW project as a change for the better or they simply don’t care either way. It makes sense that this survey was buried in the Friday afternoon news cycle. While NBBL can pick and chose a few decent quotes from this, the overall story told by this survey hurts whatever case they may have had, and I don’t foresee them bringing it up much, as it’s definitely not in their interest to do so.

  • This is the problem right here.

    Whenever I grouse about the bike lane backlash amongst my friends it completely mystifies them: “who the the world doesn’t like bike lanes?” I think that’s a majority opinion for New Yorkers who, unfortunately, don’t vote.

    None of my friends know their reps in Albany, much less show up on primary day to vote.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Been there, and done that — back when I thought it wasn’t too late. My second campaign will come some time after your first, and many other people’s first.

    But if you want to do it, I’m for it. Steal my campaign statement — just about everything that got me pissed off enough to run has gotten worse.

    http://www.ipny.org/littlefield/civicunion2020.html

  • Sloper

    Easy on the kudos to Jim Brennan in point #1. I believe the law requires that he release the full results of this survey paid for, presumably, with public money.

  • J

    Sloper,
    I didn’t know that. Is he required to post the results on the internet?

  • ddartley

    I FEEL less safe in an airplane than a car, but that doesn’t mean I am less safe.

  • Larry Littlefield

    I feel less safe on 8th Avenue than I do in the PPW bike lane. But no one asked about that. And no one asked those who oppose the bike lane and have driven on 8th Avenue if they agreed with this statement:

    “You can promise that those traveling by bicycle, including those riding with young children and those with infants in car seats on the rear of their bicycle, would be perfectly safe riding up 8th Avenue in Park Slope if the Prospect Park West bike lane is no longer two-way or eliminated altogether.”

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