Opponents Sue City Over Prospect Park West Bike Lane

Opponents of the Prospect Park West bike lane have filed a lawsuit against the city in relation to the project, according to the New York City Law Department. The suit, which has been threatened for a month, was filed at the end of the day today in Brooklyn Supreme Court. Download it here.

The bulk of the legal complaint is dedicated to attacking the Prospect Park West bike lane and the behavior of the DOT, with section headings like “The Ultimate Oxymoron: DOT’s Campaign to Justify the EBL As A ‘Traffic Calming’ Measure.”

The complaint spends pages cataloguing disrespectful things said by bike lane supporters in online comment sections, including in Streetsblog’s comments section, and ominously noting that “at least one DOT official is registered as “friends” with pro-bike-lane lobbyists on social media sites.”

The more strictly legal argument shows up at the end of the complaint and takes three main tacks. It argues that DOT acted in an “arbitrary and capricious” manner, with conclusions made irrationally or in bad faith. It argues that the bike lane did not properly go through the necessary processes given the landmarked status of the Park Slope neighborhood and Prospect Park. And finally, it argues that an environmental review was necessary to assess the impact of the lane on the historic character of the area.

We’ll have more on the lawsuit tomorrow. Read it yourselves and let us know what you think in the comments.

  • @BicyclesOnly

    Re: Discovery in Article 78s. No, the discovery provisions simply don’t apply either for the petitioners or the government respondents.

    One reason for this is that essentially the reviewing courts act like appellate courts: they do not do an independent “from scratch” investigation and trial of facts. Rather, they review the administrative record before them: the agency determination and what it was based on. As long as the decision is rational and supported by the admin record, game over, petitioners. Perhaps in some extreme case there might be “new” facts (such as someone’s residency and the degree they are impacted, and so forth. But even then, there isn’t any opportunity for discovery: both sides have to put in whatever facts they have.

    One thing which is similar to discovery, though, is the normal “Freedom of Information Law” and “Open Meetings Law” requirements which can provide fodder for legal challenges. I believe the DOT emails which are floating around and cited by the petitioners came about through FOIL requests made by citizens. But typically, this is done during the four month challenge period, in aid of preparing the petition (or press release for the petition), not after the petition is filed.

    @Commentor 6: You can also file FOIL requests of CUNY just to make sure that the activities happened on the chancellors personal time and stationery and didn’t involve resources or the University or appear to be supported by or an official position of the (public) University. Just sayin’

  • yikes!

    “In February, 2002 the Brooklyn borough President Marty Markowitz awarded [Justice
    Bunyan] a citation for his outstanding contributions to the Brooklyn Community.”


  • @commentor 6: You might also just do a FOIL of DOT and look what’s in the record of their decision. They usually reproduce verbatim (i.e. photcopy) all the public comments that are considered to be part of the record. If this stuff is on (the wrong) letterhead, busted!

    @Larry Littlefield: You may be right about Article 78s being used to delay a decision, but here the bike lane has been installed and the status quo has already been altered. There is almost no chance that the court would grant some injunction that affirmatively requires the city to return to the status quo ante; a car lane, absent proof (1) they would win at trial almost certainly, (2) there was some immediate threat or harm to car users and (3) equity: what the public interest is.

    Moreover, when a citizen brings an Article 78 against government, the government action is **not** automatically stayed pending the outcome. So things generally move ahead with construction, and the Art 78 takes between three mos. and a year to decide, depending on the S.C. trial level Justice. And then maybe two more years for an appeal. But nothing stops the gov’t from bulldozing ahead (literally), so it becomes even more difficult to get an injunction as time goes on as a practical matter.

    In other words, petitioners such as these cannot delay government actions undertaken directly as here, that tactic only works where you are going after a developer’s permits where you might get an injunction while the developer is arranging financing (since the “no stay” rule is not applied so much with private parties vs. essential gov’t functions and decisions, for fairly obvious reasons…gadflys would paralyze government if they could just file these sorts of facially frivolous challenges and bring government to a screeching halt).

  • j

    Wow. If I had a high-power pro bono lawyer, I’d start going after real environmental harm, such as this police sidewalk parking. If you want to see a street that’s difficult to walk down, check this out: http://www.flickr.com/photos/7995989@N03/4053860317/

  • tom

    fdr: Clubhouse is a non-issue. Does he see himself as a federal judicial nominee at anytime before retiring?

  • Jooltman

    Is it just chance that one of the named lawsuit petitioners is Lois CarSwell? She sure is swell on cars.

  • Emily Litella

    Round and round we go as the forests die, the oceans acidify, nuclear waste piles up, glaciers melt, ancient aquifers deplete. We are lost as lost can be, aren’t we?


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