Next Thursday: A Neighborly Rally for the Traffic-Calming PPW Bike Lane

PPW_scene
Bike lane supporters will need to turn out and respectfully make their presence felt next Thursday. A few well-connected opponents ##http://www.streetsblog.org/2009/12/01/dot-sandblasts-14-blocks-of-bike-lane-off-bedford-avenue/##can make these projects disappear##. Photo of the PPW bike lane: Jeff Prant

Mark next Thursday on your calendars. It’s a critical day for one of the city’s most innovative livable streets projects. If you care about safer streets, it’s going to be an excellent time to respectfully show your support in public.

That morning, at 8:30, opponents of the Prospect Park West bike lane are holding an event at the corner of Carroll Street and PPW to call for its removal. They’re posting flyers around Park Slope and inviting the press to turn up and get the whole thing on camera. Here’s a look at how the bike lane opponents are advertising their event:

Flyer
Bike lane opponents are pasting this flyer around Park Slope.

To coincide with the anti-bike lane demonstration, Park Slope Neighbors, the Park Slope Civic Council, and Transportation Alternatives’ Brooklyn Committee are putting together a show of support for the bike lane and its traffic-calming effect on the street. They’ll be gathering at 8:00 a.m. at Grand Army Plaza.

Neighborhood groups collected more than a thousand signatures in support of this project before DOT implemented it, and more than 1,700 people now belong to the pro-bike lane Facebook group. Next Thursday you can come out and show the press how many people support this traffic-calming improvement to the neighborhood.

The PPW bike path has tamed traffic and made the street safer for everyone. Average speeds are down 25 percent and compliance with the speed limit is up 400 percent since the lane went in, according to data collected by Park Slope Neighbors. Kids and families can bike on PPW now. Older Park Slopers can ride the lane and walk to the park without having to cross three lanes of racing traffic.

But if we’ve learned anything from the recent rash of bike coverage, it’s that a lot of reporters will jump at any opportunity to slag bike lanes or portray cyclists as reckless social misfits. We’ve received word that CBS2’s Marcia Kramer will be there, and there’s every reason to believe that reporters would be more than happy to focus on angry, rude cyclists and conflict. So let’s keep it positive and don’t give them the chance.

Bring your friends, your kids, and your parents. Bring your bike if you want to ride in the lane, or just bring your shoes and stand in support of safer streets. Bring tolerance and mercy for the other side, too. If everyone who uses the new Prospect Park West and wants to see it stay safe shows up, the opponents are sure to be vastly outnumbered.

  • If we can’t get at least — at LEAST — 50 livable streets advocates out to defend the PPW redesign, then we deserve whatever happens to us.

    I’m coming and I’m bringing my kids and my mother-in-law. Not kidding.

  • From what I can gather about the bike lane opponents, attendance of their protest will be limited by the availability of on-street parking.

  • Jr

    I’ll be there with my german shepherd, and she hates bikes, Aaron.

  • I’ll be there.

    The fight over protected bike paths is now citywide. A setback on PPW could mean a halt to further extension of protected paths on First, Second, Broadway, Eight, Ninth and Columbus. To protect and build on what we’ve got, cyclists have to demonstrate that we are an active, organized constituency that is larger and more effective than our opponents.

  • Glenn

    Danger, Congestion and Noise – from a bike lane? Really? Lack of parking? Really? Afraid to swing your door out without looking you selfish bastard? I know motorheads are a little myopic in their worldview, but this doesn’t even come close to the mark.

    This flyer should be submitted to the George Orwell 1984 Doublethink and Newspeak Hall of Shame.

  • Car Free Nation

    I’ve been thinking of good banners for those opposed:
    F**k global warming – I need to park near my house.
    My car is more important than 20 lives saved.
    I drive, and I fund Marty. Marty, it’s payback time.
    I’m important. Don’t let safe streets slow me down.

  • Bring your kids and your old people. Seriously! We need to remind the anti-bike lane crowd that the PPW redesign was done out of a need to calm traffic; the bike lane was a residual benefit of that purpose. We also need to show that being in favor of traffic calming measures is not the exclusive domain of the more stereotypical bikers, at least as they are portrayed on CBS and on other local news programs.

    It’s now much easier for those with children and anyone young or old who needs a little extra time to cross the street to do so. Bikes are off of the sidewalk, which is a huge benefit on crowded weekends, and walking on PPW is far more pleasant now that the cars are farther away by about ten feet.

    Maybe we should ask the opponents of the traffic calming measures why they are against kids and the elderly.

  • vnm

    I can’t tell is Jr #3 above is opposed to the bike lane and is trying to intimidate Aaron from attending the rally, or is in favor of the bike lane and is simply illustrating the depth of his or her support.

  • matt

    8:30am? don’t these anti bike lane people have jobs?!?! I would love to go show my support for the PPW bike lane but the sad fact is I do not have a trust fund to keep me afloat. Maybe these anti bike lane folks should go out and get jobs and see what the real world is really like, then they might have some sympathy for folks like me that ride my bike to WORK every day not only because I enjoy it, but also because I cannot afford car/mass transit at their current rates.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “8:30am? don’t these anti bike lane people have jobs?”

    Really. Good thing the pro-bike lane rally is at 8 am. I can stop by, but won’t be able to stay long.

  • Geck

    While we are at it, the two City Council members for Park Slope are looking for feedback on the lane. Let’s get our voices heard.
    http://surveymonkey.com/ppwsurvey

  • Noise in the bike lane? If you could just get those kids to stop putting playing cards in their spokes that problem could be solved.

  • Matt

    Just spotted the infamous Park Slope Flyer Ripper Down Guy taking down every single flyer on 8th 🙂

  • m to the i

    Its so funny, I was just thinking to myself this weekend how nice Prospect Park West is now with the bike lane and that the opponents must have gotten over all their doomsday predictions and given up the fight. Well, I guess not.

  • ryan

    i think people on both sides of this debate have been pretty obnoxious

    i’ll be at work

  • Paul

    It SHOULD be difficult to operate an automobile in a crowded city. It makes no sense to make anything easier for the most dangerous, noisiest and polluting form of transportation.

  • Scott

    Serious question for bike lane supporters – show up for the counter-protest on foot, or on bike?

  • Brooklyn

    I’ll be at the rally, by bike

  • Adam

    I agree — holding a rally on weekday morning at 8:30 when most working stiffs with kids are on their way to work or taking kids to school makes it hard to compete against the grumpy, selfish and well-off retirees who obviously don’t have a lot going on in their lives aside from worrying about their precious tax payer subsidized parking privileges.

  • JK

    Let’s go folks! If you can’t be bothered and the bad guys can — you lose. As if nobody has ever asked their boss if they can come in 30 minutes late and make up the time, or has dropped their kid off early at school — most NYC public and private schools have early breakfast drop-off, try it. This is not the time to get meek and shy. If I lived in your neighborhood, I’d be there, and I would get some friends to stop in that damned Henry Street lane on Sunday AM and defend that lane. And to everyone who says or implies that it is a mistake to stand up for yourself in public — you are wrong and phenomenally ignorant. Positive social change has come because people have showed up and spoken out. Cyclists have nothing to apologize for or hang their head about. They are doing the right thing by riding and the city is doing the right thing by encouraging them.

  • mike

    Thanks for the words of encouragement JK.

    Come on folks, this is important!

  • Adam

    Word JK, thanks for putting it into perspective!

  • Whatever happened to Fake Marcia Kramer? Bring her back–we miss her!

  • Is 8 AM the real start time or the stand around and wait for late people time?

  • Two things:

    1. Why are people complaining about this protest being on a workday at 8:00 AM? It’s only happening because it’s in RESPONSE to the other protest. I’m sure if TA or Streetsblog organized something in a vacuum, it would be at a more convenient time or on a Saturday when PPW is really active.

    2. Maybe it would make sense for some of us on the pro side to actually ride the bike lane between 8 and 9 AM. One of the common tropes against bike lanes all over the city is that they are underused, and it’s a frequent comment on the Times’ City Room blog when the subject of bike lanes come up. So, if we actually use the bike lanes that morning, riding slowly and civilly, we may deny them the photo op they’re looking for.

    I know I’ll be there with my bike on Thursday. May even bring the baby seat and the baby.

  • This is your chance to teach your children a really good lesson in civics – “I want to ride my bike safely and I can say something about it.” Bring them and have them ride the bike lane. It is one of the few places in Brooklyn where you can just let your kid go on their bikes without too much stress. If you are like me and get your kid to school on time every single day – one day with a “sorry I was late, but I was putting in my vote for a cleaner, healthier, greener New York” note will probably be just fine. Hell, it will definitely be the best real world lesson they will have all week.

  • Jay

    They’re having a protest on my corner at 8:30 in the morning and they’re complaining about noise? It better be a silent vigil.

    I’ll definitely be there for the counter-protest with as many of my neighbor friends as I can get.

  • Jay

    I want to put up a banner on the front of my building which is just off that corner. Any ideas for what it should say?

  • I’ll be there. Once the haters have been vanquished we can mass-commute to the city.

  • Peter Engel

    Pray or do a chant for better weather than right now.

    Be there, aloha.

  • EW

    come on car drivers, what do we do to you; us bicyclists are just bicycling just right outside the park and you are driving around polluting the earth with nasty chemicals and whatever you are saying is what you were doing so really you should be not driving the car and you should change your sign — EW, 6

  • Herzog

    @Jr:

    I’ll bring my dog spray!

  • Doug, I’m not sure who you’re referring to but I can’t complain about the plan until I know the plan. I am certain more of the community will participate if given a bit of information on what is supposed to happen, and even, some input to the process.

    I like your idea about simply using the lane. It’s always a pleasure to ride and I’m sure that casually riding through a hostile media event would be amusing. I wonder of one of our counter-protest planners, whoever they are, would care to comment?

  • BicyclesOnly

    Doug,

    As a general matter, I think it’s best for participants to do whatever the event organizers think is most effective.

    But I do wonder whether the anti-bike people plan on occupying the bike path with their demo, and if so, how NYPD will react. (We know how NYPD reacts when cyclists occupy the roadway as a form of political protest.)

  • Peter Engel

    I think they’ll do whatever Marcia Kramer, Marty, Iris and the camera people want them to do.

  • BicyclesOnly, I hope you’re planning to introduce yourself to me so that we can finally discuss how the act of “salmoning” is as offensive to all good people as the word itself is to the English language. Perhaps between 8:00 and 8:30, unless the mysterious event organizers have something more effective in mind.

  • Emily Litella

    Wow, Mrs. Senator must have a real chip on her shoulder about getting the well deserved boot. Hope to be up in time to make it down there for the demo. Its not really about transportation is it? Egos, taking sides, winning some fight. They lost the fight and have nothing but some whining about inconvenience. Shame on the likes of Marty M and other ‘leaders’.

  • Gargamel Tralfaz

    When Marcia Kramer shows up and tilts the story towards the anti-bike lane crowd no matter how many people show, please someone hold a sign behind everyone she interviews that says “CBS: Crummy Bike Stories”

  • dporpentine

    I’ll be there, on my bike, in my work clothes, armed with facts, hoping to talk to every reporter possible.

    I’ve worried from the get-go that this was too good an idea to last and that the people opposed to it were simply too used to having political power to concern themselves with the whole democracy business.

    And Nathan H.: it’s a shame I have no desire to come out from behind my online ID, or I’d gladly explain to you in person why salmoning is “offensive to all good people” and why the word itself is evidence of English at its best.

  • BicyclesOnly

    Nathan H:

    Let’s hook up. I’ll be dressed in drag as Marcia Kramer, doing sarcastic mock interviews of oppressed local residents (I hear Veronica Moss may be there!).

    In all seriousness, I don’t think there’s anything nefarious or mysterious about the nature of the pro-lane demo; I just think the organizers (which seem to include Transportation Alternatives and probably Park Slope Neighbors) are still working it out.

    Looking at it from the organizers’ perspective, if you’re pulling people out at an inconvenient time from a wide area, the whole point is to demonstrate the cycling community’s capability for concerted action. That can be undercut if the folks who show split up and “do their own thing.” (I know I sound like an Old Left hack, but even they were right some of the time).

    That’s not to say it couldn’t be effective for pro-lane folks to demonstrate by riding, but that could raises potential permit and other issues associated with political group rides, that the organizers may wish to avoid.

  • Will

    I haven’t been to a protest since college but the PPW bike lane is what inspired me to start commuting to work by bike and, in that way, really changed my daily life. Now, every time the weather is nice, I ride over the Brooklyn Bridge and up the West Side bike path and arrive at my office in a better mood than I ever did when I took the subway. It seriously never even occurred to me that I could do that until the PPW bike lane went in, but once it was there, it suddenly hit me that that would be a great way to get to work. Such a fantastic and simple thing for the city to do.

  • BicyclesOnly,

    Great point about the permit. I only brought up the suggestion to find out if it could be part of this, but we should definitely respect the organizers and, of course, the law.

    Looking forward to meeting people on Thursday!

  • Larry Littlefield

    “I haven’t been to a protest since college but the PPW bike lane is what inspired me to start commuting to work by bike and, in that way, really changed my daily life…It seriously never even occurred to me that I could do that until the PPW bike lane went in, but once it was there, it suddenly hit me that that would be a great way to get to work.”

    It has occured to me that this is the most important effect of the bicycle infrastructure network. Not safety. No traffic control.

    Outdoor advertising.

    The bike lanes are a message that counters all those car ads. And it seems these opponents really don’t like the message, because their objections make no sense.

    I only wish I had started traveling by bicycle when I was 22 instead of 46. Or rather continued, because that’s how I got around as a kid. The only reason I didn’t was because I didn’t think of it because no one did it. The bike lanes with bikes in them are a message — you can do this.

  • J. Mork

    “[I]t seems these opponents really don’t like the message, because their objections make no sense.”

    This really nails it, Larry. The bike lanes are evidence that the half-century of Happy Motoring has come to an end and people who have lot invested in it are resistant to change, even in one of the great urban neighborhoods in the world.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Evidence that the half-century of Happy Motoring has come to an end.”

    That half century for the affluent came to an end in 1950, when the middle and working classes became able to afford their own automobiles. It’s been road rage in traffic every since. On on Prospect Park West, parking rage. They ended up with more spaces due to a service cut for bus riders, and they are still raging.

    We need to go back to the pre-1950 situation, but with more people being able to afford automobiles. The automobile would be an occasionally used (and thanks to Zipcar not owned) recreational toy. Real transportation would be by transit, foot and bike.

  • Folks, we’re still working out details, but here’s a basic outline. Gather at Grand Army Plaza at 8 a.m. Make our way over near the anti-traffic calming protest, which is supposed to take place at PPW and Carroll Street, by 8:30. Feel free to bring signs, but please keep everything civil. We’re hoping to have kids there, and we don’t want the non-Marcia Krameresque media to be able to dismiss this as more “bike lane wars.” Feel free, of course, to ride up and down the PPW path to demonstrate its popularity, but by all means, please yield to pedestrians — even opponents. And come on foot or on bike or even in your car — we want to demonstrate that the new PPW is for everyone.

    Also, if you would be kind enough, let us know you’re coming by sending an email to rsvp@parkslopeneighbors.org. We’d like to be able to estimate a rough head count.

    Thanks!

    Eric McClure
    Park Slope Neighbors

  • Mr. Speaker

    Bike riders are as inconsiderate, pompous jerkwads as some drivers. You are no better then anyone else. The fact that some of you jackasses truly believe anyone that drives a car is a conservative proves you need to go back to whereever the hell it is you came from. The street was built for cars not your non law abiding bike riding ass. NO JUSTICE NO PEACE NO JUSTICE NO PEACE NO JUSTICE NO PEACE NO JUSTICE NO PEACE NO JUSTICE NO PEACE.

  • Tralfaz

    Yeah remember the anti-bike lane media will be out there with cameras trying to catch riders not yielding to peds and all, so everyone remember while you are riding to ride responsibly and courteously. Of course, I mean I do all the time, but keep it at the front of your mind.

  • dporpentine

    Dear Mr. Speaker:
    Please come speak on behalf of the anti-bike lane people. If anyone tries to stop you, just keep talking. You are very articulate. Believe in yourself.
    Sincerely,
    Dporpentine

  • Don’t feed the trolls.

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