Brits Get the Clearest View of Park Slope Bike Lane Fight

If you just landed in the city or you’ve been off the grid for the past eight months, you might be wondering what the heck is going on on Prospect Park West. To catch yourself up, dive into this exquisite piece from the Guardian’s Matt Seaton.

Seaton’s blow-by-blow masterfully sets the scene: the controversial, effective transportation chief, her wealthy, well-connected detractors and their high-profile corporate lawyers, all engaged in a battle over a few hundred feet of asphalt in a drama playing out on the front page of the “world’s finest newspaper.”

But unlike local media, Seaton puts all the pieces in one place:

Two days before the lawsuit was launched, the Sunday edition of the New York Times’s Metro section led with a feature about how much Sadik-Khan had upset people with her highhanded approach to policy-making. Putting aside the implicit sexism of the piece, there was no attempt to report the facts — the booming commerce in the newly pedestrianised Times and Herald Squares, the improvements in road safety, particularly pedestrian casualty numbers, from the traffic-calming effect of installing bike lanes, and the increase in cycle use itself.

“What is more,” Seaton writes, “the article made occasional use of an interview with Sadik-Khan evidently recorded some weeks earlier; so clearly, this feature had sat on the stocks until an editor decided the moment was ripe. And that moment just happened to be the Sunday before the Monday when the lawsuit was filed.”

Media conspiracy theories aside, Seaton, like Rob Hoell before him, illustrates how outsiders have a better grip on the politics at play than our own media. And he certainly shows a keener understanding of what’s at stake.

New York City justly sees itself as the world’s greatest city: here, in some sense, people live the way everyone would live if they had the chance. How New York — the city that still has a uniquely low level of car ownership and use — manages its transport planning in the 21st century matters for the whole world: it is the template. If cycling is pushed back into the margins of that future, rather than promoted, along with efficient mass public transit and safe, pleasant pedestrianism, as a key part of that future, the consequences will be grave and grim.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

New Yorkers Gather in Park Slope to Talk Street Safety

|
Park Slope resident David Alquist sent us a summary of last night’s traffic safety meeting. Here are his notes, edited for style and clarity. Approximately 30 people gathered at Congregation Beth Elohim for a meeting to address community street safety in Park Slope. The meeting was convened by Daniel Hurewitz, a Park Slope parent who […]

This Week: Park Slope Safety Forum, Amsterdam Avenue Vote

|
There are some major items on the Streeetsblog calendar this week: an important street safety forum in Park Slope, a crucial vote for the effort to bring a complete street redesign to Amsterdam Avenue on the Upper West Side, and a City Council transportation committee hearing on NYPD’s hit-and-run investigations. Be sure to check the full […]

Hundreds Gather to Launch the Park Slope Street Safety Partnership

|
Last night, nearly 200 neighborhood residents gathered for over two hours in the Park Slope United Methodist Church for the launch of the Park Slope Street Safety Partnership, a consortium of civic groups, elected officials, and private citizens created to advance traffic calming efforts in the neighborhood. Framing the partnership’s goals in terms of Vision […]

This Week: Lincoln Square, UES Intersection, Park Slope Safety

|
The first full week of 2014 is full of public meetings about Select Bus Service, traffic enforcement, street safety and more. Be sure to check the full calendar for a complete listing of events. Here are the highlights: Monday: Community board transportation committees take on street design near a busy uptown hospital (Manhattan CB 12), signage on Flatbush […]

Anonymous Bike Lane Opponent Scores Media Coup on NY1

|
Will we ever see the headline "Bike Lane Opponent Resorts to Misinformation and Lies"? Image: NY1 This report on the proposed Prospect Park West bike lane from NY1’s Jeanine Ramirez doesn’t quite stoop to Marcia Kramer levels of fabrication, but that might make it even more insidious. Slap together a few shots of ill-informed people […]