PPW Bike Lane Opponents Have PR Firm Spinning For Them

Wondering how the members of bike lane opposition group Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes manage to get quoted so much in the papers? It helps when you have a public relations firm working the press for you.

Linda Gross of LCG Communications confirmed to Streetsblog that the plaintiffs suing the city, the groups known as Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes and Seniors for Safety, are her clients. She said the groups had been paying for LCG’s services for about a month and a half.

LCG is just doing their job (their client list includes lots of good guys), but here’s a taste of what NBBL has been paying for. Today, soon after Assembly Member Jim Brennan released his PPW poll results, LCG sent out the following communique:

Jim Walden, pro bono attorney (from the law firm Gibson Dunn and Crutcher) for plaintiffs Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes and Seniors for Safety (who are suing the DOT and its Commissioner re: the Prospect Park West bike lane) said, “Pedestrians feel less safe crossing Prospect Park West, as this poll decisively shows. But DOT’s own data tell the same story, and the numbers don’t lie:  people feel less safe because they are less safe. In the end, safety is not a popularity contest. We thank Assemblymember Brennan for seeking the truth, and we call on him to thoroughly investigate DOT’s actions in trying to justify a dangerously designed lane based on bad data and the wrongful suppression of dissent from community members.”

I think we can all agree that safety is not a popularity contest. So here are some facts that Jim left out:

  • NYPD reported zero pedestrian injuries on Prospect Park West after the redesign.
  • According to engineers outside NYC DOT, the agency’s data on speeding is “tremendous and unequivocal” and “if speeds are reduced, injuries will come down.”
  • This poll, which seems to have oversampled car owners, “decisively shows” that 33 percent of respondents feel less safe crossing the bike lane, while 38 percent said it has had no effect and 22 percent said they feel safer.

Then there’s this claim about “wrongful suppression of dissent.” It’s easy to hear echoes of former Deputy Mayor Norman Steisel’s claim to the Wall Street Journal that DOT is trying to “alienate community activists like us.” You know, the community activists who used to run City Hall and the Department of Transportation, who disagree with the results of a multi-year public process involving several hearings and community board votes, and who have the cash to hire a PR firm to get their story out to the world.

They are being suppressed.

  • Mark Walker

    Speaking as both a non-cyclist and a non-driver, “zero pedestrian fatalities” sounds great to me. What can we do to bring “zero pedestrian fatalities” to the rest of the city? If it means more bike lanes, bring ’em on.

  • Citizen B

    Right. Norman Steisel. The “community activist” who was once referred to as Mayor Steisel, the man who ran New York City government: http://ow.ly/4rzxx.

    How Steisel keep a straight face talking about his dissent being stifled when he has former Deputy Mayor Randy Mastro’s attack dog, Jim Walden, making three media appearances a week on his behalf?

    How can Steisel and friends talk about their dissent being stifled when they had Chuck Schumer directly lobbying Mayor Bloomberg and City Council members last summer to get rid of the bike lane?

    This, by the way, is Norman Steisel, the guy who felt comfortable enough to directly lobby the Mayor of NYC and a host of Deputy Mayors and Commissioners when the PPW project started going in: http://ow.ly/4rzKj

    How can anyone talk about dissent being stifled when this PPW redesign process has been going on for five years via the Park Slope Civic Council, the Grand Army Plaza Coalition and Community Board 6 with DOT making numerous public appearances and with at least four separate CB6 votes having taken place — in every case approving the project.

    Here’s a nice timeline of the public process for any former Deputy Mayors, City Commissioners or $100,000 donors to Prospect Park who feel their dissent has been stifled: http://ow.ly/4rzPa

  • Lois Carsbad

    Steisel’s rights are absolutely being suppressed. When you jump the line at a City Council hearing and are allowed to speak for five times as long as the average citizen, you are not being treated the same as everyone else.

    In Steisel’s world, having more privilege than Joe Neighborhood is a form of suppression.

  • Jenkzy

    Umm..you might want to report all the facts…TA has a public relations firm too….so what??? Be honest at least. Who’s hiding the facts now?

    From a NYT article on March 30th: “This month, Transportation Alternatives, New York City’s leading bike advocacy group, hired a professional public-relations firm for the first time in its 38-year history, citing in part the rising interest in the topic,” The Times noted.

    The whole article:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/30/nyregion/30bike.html

  • TA is a citywide, member-based advocacy group that campaigns for legislative and policy change at the city and state level. They have always had paid communications people on staff.

    NBBL are a small group of wealthy and connected individuals who want to wipe out the bike lane in their front yards. They are not advocating for anyone besides themselves. The correct analogy would be if a neighborhood group like Park Slope Neighbors or the Park Slope Civic Council had hired a PR firm. They have not.

    You raise a good point though. The Times thought it was newsworthy that TA has hired a PR firm. Why didn’t they report the same about NBBL?

  • You’ve also violated your pledge to “never come back to this site,” apparently.

  • Ed Ooms

    Who paid for the Brennan poll? Is it common for assembly members to commission polls on issues this specific? Where on Brennan’s website is a comparable poll about a district issue? (http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/James-F-Brennan/postings/) Has Brennan ever done a poll like this? Ever? Who wrote the poll questions summarizing arguments of supporters and opponents? Did Brennan’s office make the poll results immediately available to Brad Landers, DOT, Park Slope Neighbors?

  • Jwalden

    Help, help, I’m being repressed!

  • your PR agency has to work along with your business. The agency will be vital in molding the public opinion about your business. It will devise strategies for everything ranging from tactical execution to partnership building to media relations.Thus, get to know a lot about the agency, about how well reputed and experienced it is before hiring it.

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