Brooklyn Paper on PPW: Double-Parking Takes Precedence Over Safety

The self-hating cyclists at the Brooklyn Paper are at it again. A year after siding with a handful of merchants who wanted to erase the Fifth Avenue bike lane, Gersh Kuntzman and the editors of Brooklyn’s flagship media property say they don’t want to see a protected, two-way bike path on Prospect Park West:

gersh.jpgGersh Kuntzman: cyclist? Photo: Brooklyn Paper

The city says that such a configuration, which already exists along
Kent Avenue in Williamsburg, would make Prospect Park West safer for
everyone. But we’re not convinced. Unlike Kent Avenue, Prospect Park
West has significant pedestrian traffic that will have to cross that
bike lane. Now, instead of merely looking out for speeding car traffic
from the north, pedestrians will have to be alert for bike traffic
zipping from the south.

If the issue was simply traffic-calming along Prospect Park West,
the city already has many old-fashioned tools at its disposal: altering
traffic light timing, enforcing speed limits better, narrowing car
lanes, or even making Prospect Park West two-way.

Instead, the agency is using an elephant gun to take down a mouse —
and, in doing so, ignored some of the realities about life on
Brooklyn’s version of Central Park West.

Trucks making deliveries and soccer moms and dads dropping off their
charges for sporting events often double-park on the stretch. With
three full lanes, drivers can easily get around the blockage. But
eliminating one lane for cars will cause congestion — and inflame,
rather than calm, traffic.

And there’s something else that has been lost in this whole debate:
Prospect Park West already has a great bike lane. It’s called Prospect
Park.

So the Brooklyn Paper isn’t convinced that narrowing a roadway, shortening crossing distances for pedestrians, and adding physical protection for cyclists will make the street safer. That’s insane.

The main basis for the claim seems to be that pedestrians will have to be more aware of cyclists. As the editors surely know, pedestrians are already on the lookout for cyclists drawn to the safe haven of PPW’s extra-wide sidewalks. Reducing bike-ped conflict is one of this plan’s many safety enhancements, although it’s a minor one compared to calming traffic traveling at deadly speeds. (Also, guys, where’s the internal consistency? Two-way traffic on PPW is a nice idea, but then all that sacrosanct double-parking will — gasp! — "create blockages" and force motorists to weave into oncoming traffic.)

Let’s get real. This isn’t a call to try other traffic-calming methods. The Brooklyn Paper editors — like Marty Markowitz, Marcia Kramer, and the anonymous NIMBYs spreading misinformation about the PPW bike lane — would rather see the street just stay the way it is: a three-lane urban speedway where cars take precedence over pedestrians and cyclists.

I know Gersh rides to work and he likes the Kent Avenue bike lane, but how much longer can the Brooklyn Paper get away with the "we’re cyclists, but…" shtick? Once you start calling the one-way Prospect Park loop — where rush hour traffic still whizzes by — "a great bike lane," I think you may have forfeited any legitimate claim to call yourself a cyclist.

  • I do not understand why I keep hearing people say that crossing bike lanes are dangerous for pedestrians! It is easy to cross a bike lane. and once you have crossed you can wait safely behind the row of parked cars to cross the far more dangerous two lanes of vehicular traffic. I really don’t understand that thought. If someone could explain that thought process where you come to the conclusion that crossing bike lanes is harder than cross car traffic I would love to see that.

    Madness I tell you!

  • Anon

    While I don’t think it is a valid reason to oppose the bike lane, I think the fear of crossing bike lanes (versus crossing traffic lanes) is due to the following:
    – bikes are silent, while you can hear a car coming
    – bikers have a reputation (like it or not) of going recklessly fast, going through red lights, and being unwilling to stop
    – if the bike is going against the historic and continued direction of motor vehicle traffic (like southbound on PPW), it can be hard for a walker to remember to look both directions when crossing

  • Larry Littlefield

    Closing the park and installing two-way circulation for bicycles there is a red herring, because it will not happen. No one who is in opposed to the two-way bike path on Prospect Park West will be in favor of that, except perhaps the author of that article, and that’s if he was being sincere rather than sneaky.

    My view — put the two way bike lane on PPW. Wait a year. Subsequently, if the opponents manage to close the park to cars and implement a two-way bike path in the park, they can remove it.

    Good luck to them.

  • Clarence Eckerson Jr.

    We were up there today scouting for a shoot. It was so ridiculous how few cars we saw while on P’Park West. I mean could have been a dozen in 10 minutes! Don’t these people realize every time they choose to fight an easy, sensible project that makes people safer, they are using up political capital that they can never recover?

    Admittedly, I am sure there are far more controversial “bike” projects in the future that Marty and the gang might have more support from the community. But after he loses this one, he is actually hurting his chances in the future. But hey, his choice not mine.

  • Where’s the obligatory reference to hipsters?

  • J:Lai

    These are the same kind of people who will leave a car idling in a bike line when there is a space at the curb right next to them, but they are just too lazy to pull to the curb.

  • Gary

    The Brooklyn Paper editorial board also wrote an up-is-down, black-is-white, completely factually wrong opinion against F Express service.

    http://www.brooklynpaper.com/stories/30/36/30_36editorial.html

    I don’t understand how they can churn out editorials based on demonstrably false premises . . . but then again, it is a Murdoch paper.

    I’m baffled, but not surprised.

  • Doug

    You know what’s not safe for pedestrians? Bikes riding on the sidewalk because there aren’t a lot of ways for cyclists to enter the park between 3rd Street and Bartel Pritchard Square at the end of PPW.

    Given how busy PPW is, conditions are such that bikes don’t have much choice but to ride on the sidewalk if they want to get into the park. It doesn’t make it okay, only understandable.

    Installing a bike lane would make it far safer for everyone involved. It would give cyclists a protected way to access the park – rather than riding against traffic to get to 3rd Street or GAP – and it would mean that pedestrians could have the sidewalks to themselves.

    People win, cars lose. Only the Brooklyn Paper and Marty Markowitz have a problem with that.

  • On PPW, it’s inappropriate to complain about yuppies too much. It’s as tacky as someone living on Fifth Avenue complaining about having too many white people around.

  • Westchesterite

    To Anon’s point about “silent” bikes, hybrid cars running on electric power are also silent.

  • Jym Dyer

    =v= I predict that Gersh will get away with his “we’re cyclists, but …” schtick about as long as Randal O’Toole does.

    BTW, is that a cardboard cutout of Marty “Marky Mark” Markowitz? Way more functional than the real thing.

  • Brooklyn Paper seems to assume that northbound cyclists are not capable of avoiding pedestrians even though southbound cyclists are. Makes sense to me!

  • “Where’s the obligatory reference to hipsters?”

    Invoking “soccer moms” satisfied the vapid stereotype clause of the bicycle story contract.

  • And there’s something else that has been lost in this whole debate: Prospect Park West already has a great bike lane. It’s called Prospect Park.

    That idiotic argument has not been lost in the whole debate. It’s been invoked by every single person who’s written against the bike lane, you #$#%$^%$&.

  • Calm Traffic with bikes and music in Prospect Park at 6pm Friday, Grand Army Plaza!

  • Scott

    The right solution is a dedicated, separate 2 way bike lane in Prospect Park preferably with motorized traffic banned at all times. The bike lane on 5th Ave is just plain dumb– and dangerous to boot. I tried riding on it yesterday– a bike lane on a busy 2-way commercial strip is a recipe for disaster. It should be moved to 6th Ave.

  • Ken

    Scott, people riding bikes don’t have a right to safety on a “busy 2-way commercial strip”? Seems to me that’s all the more reason for accommodations for bikes, the more protected the better. Or perhaps you think cyclists should be banned from such streets because they only get in the way of the “busyness”?

  • Anon

    I love these guys who think they’re being terribly clever when they say prospect park is a bike lane.

    Two can play at that game:

    “And there’s something else that has been lost in this whole debate: Prospect Park West already has a great car lane. It’s called FIRST THROUGH EIGHTH AVENUES.”

    PPW is horrible. It’s a ridiculous speed alley of death right in front of a park. It’s a no-brainer we need to get rid of some lanes and slow it down. And of course add a bike lane while we’re at it. Bikes need a lane just like cars need a lane. Duh.

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