NBBL Lawyer Jim Walden on Brian Lehrer This Morning

Update 4: Second caller is Michael Freedman-Schnapp from Brad Lander’s office, and the third caller is a mother of three, Megan, who feels safer crossing PPW now that it’s not a three-lane speedway. And that’s it for the callers.

Lehrer pops a “pro bono” question. Walden says he took the case pro bono because it’s “good government” work, and he wants to “hold the Bloomberg administration accountable.” So there you have it: Jim Walden is holding New York City government accountable for listening to neighborhood requests to calm speeding traffic, acting to make streets safer, and not backing down when powerful people try to circumvent the public process. Think twice before you try that again, Bloomberg administration.

Up tomorrow: Howard Wolfson.

Update 3: First caller is plaintiff Lois Carswell. Lois says there’s no good reason to have a parking-protected bike lane, and mistakenly says that the city took away B69 bus service on PPW. The MTA did that, in large part because the state legislature stole $143 million from transit, and three people now under federal indictment — and Ruben Diaz, Sr. — wouldn’t put a price on driving across NYC’s free bridges. Imagine if Lois’s friends in 9 Prospect Park West, the Schumers, put all their political muscle into overturning those decisions.

The WNYC switchboard seems to be jammed.

Update 2: Walden is up next and they’re taking phone calls — 212 443 9692.

Update: It’s 11:35. If Walden is going on today, it’ll have to be soon.

Jim Walden, the corporate litigator at white-shoe law firm Gibson Dunn who is representing the well-connected opponents of the Prospect Park West bike lane “pro bono,” is going to be on the Brian Lehrer show this morning. It looks like Walden is scheduled to appear on the second half of the broadcast, sometime after 11 a.m.

Expect Walden to hit his main talking points from the plaintiffs’ complaint. If there’s an opportunity to call in, here’s some previous Streetsblog coverage of the lawsuit’s core allegations that you may find helpful:

  1. Selective use of safety data: The plaintiffs say the PPW project evaluation “deviated from DOT’s usual approach in reporting its crash statistics,” but this is not true. Gary Toth, a 34-year veteran of the New Jersey Department of Transportation, told Streetsblog: “It is the opponents’ lawyers who are grasping at aberrations and doing the very thing they accuse the DOT of — selectively picking data to stack the deck in their favor.”
  2. Public process: The plaintiffs allege that the Prospect Park West bike lane was a DOT experiment foisted on the neighborhood, but in fact local civic groups had been asking DOT to calm speeding traffic on PPW for years, the community board asked DOT to study a two-way protected bike lane on the street in 2007, and the board later approved the project in 2009. Local support for the redesign continues to overwhelm opposition.
  3. Strictly legal substance of the lawsuit: An NYU Law School professor says the complaint is “largely public relations, with no more law behind it than is minimally necessary to avoid sanctions for frivolity.”
  • Suzanne

    WHAT. THE. EF!!!

    WHY? WHY is this jerk getting air time from Lehrer??? With NO opposing opinions??? I would have expected better from WNYC.

    …I’m still going to listen to Radio Lab, tho.

  • Suzanne

    You know, I expect this kind of stuff from The Post and CBS but WNYC? This feels like I’ve been stabbed in the back by someone I always thought was a friend and ally.

  • tom

    Suzanne: Chill out. Brian Lehrer rides a bike in NYC, is fair to all his guests, and overly fair to callers. Perhaps he invited Mr. Walden but intends to batter him. Let’s all listen in.

  • Marty Barfowitz


    How do you address Walden’s claim that FOIL’d emails show that DOT personnel and “the bike lobby” have an inappropriate relationship?

  • mark davis

    212 433 WNYC
    to call in

  • jbk


  • jbk

    Would be nice if someone asked him why all of their alternatives require a third lane of traffic being returned.

  • Moocow

    Jim Walden makes me want to tear my hair out.
    Finally Pro Bono questions!!

  • Moser

    In WNYC’s defense, their website says Wolfson will be on tomorrow.

  • Jooltman

    Really?!? The first caller just happened to be Lois Carswell? Why not just invite her on as Distinguished Guest #2? I hate faux journalism.

  • Glenn

    I would really like to hear Walden answer how Sen. Schumer or Iris Weinshall are involved in NBBL? Has there been any contact between the Senator and Gibson Dunn on anything related to this or other legal matters? How did he first get contacted by NBBL? Did the Senator facilitate that? and so on…

  • There you have it. Lois Carswell does not want to have to look both ways before crossing the street, at least not on her street.

  • Chris

    It’s about the right to double park, and well, the protected bike lane makes that hard(er) to do. That’s why they’re suggesting a Class II bike lane as a “compromise”

  • P

    Will anyone bother to tell NBBL that you can’t fit a Class 2 bike lane and 3 moving lanes on PPW without shrinking the parking lanes and the moving lanes to a width narrower than the existing or what they were before the bike path?

  • m to the i

    P, you can tell NBBL anything you want but it will not get through. Reality is not something that NBBL deals in. You can show them video or pictures of sightlines from the pedestrian refuge up and down the bike lane for hundreds of feet, but the view is still obscured and the bike lane is still unsafe to cross. You can show them 1000 cyclists using the bicycle lane on a sunny spring day but they will only see the 0 cyclists on a winter day when the lane is blocked by snow. Etc.

    The proposals that they thought up the week before filing their lawsuit are just a farce. They do not believe in consensus or democracy. NBBL wants it to be their way or no way.

  • Larry Littlefield

    You can’t fit a safe bike lane on 8th Avenue at all. The “compromise” is a red herring. Remove the existing lane, and “study” alternatives. If someone gets killed rising on 8th Avenue, ban bikes in Park Slope.

  • StevenF

    Larry, I beg to differ about placing a “safe” bike lane on 8th Avenue given it’s “generous” 38 foot width. There are two very simple approaches, neither of which will be ultimately be acceptable.

    First, one can take one of the motor traffic lanes and mark it as a painted buffered bike lane. This retains car parking on both sides of 8th Ave, but looses one motor lane. There will still be bike conflicts as drivers park cars, and serious conflicts when cars stop to make pickups and dropoffs on either side of the roadway. There will be no protection from rogue drivers speeding through the painted bike lane. Further, there will still be right turn conflicts every other block.

    Second, one can remove one parking lane entirely and replaces it with a buffered bike lane. Since there is no parking here, bollards can be installed. This would keep two motor lanes, but cuts out 1/2 the free parking along 8th Ave. There will be less conflict from stopped cars since there are the same two lanes that have to merge to one every time someone stops. There are the same turn conflicts as with the above plan.

    So, yes, some form of bike lane can actually be installed on 8th Ave, and in much lower traffic volume situations either might work. But, really, you are correct, there is no way that taking a full motor lane or taking a full parking lane would be allowed to happen on this street.

    Back up the hill to PPW and keep riding….

  • StevenF

    P – you asked a good question, but what galls me even more about the NBBL LOL’s is their utter failure to understand the concept of the Door Zone.

    These Little Old Ladies (though a few are not that shriveled or all that old – at least some are younger than me) always assume that cyclists should be riding right up against the parked cars, and “Not in the middle of the road!”

    These same LOL’s fear for their asses being hit while getting out of their cars on the traffic sides of PPW. This they understand, that the moving cars don’t leave any room alongside the parked cars. But they cannot grasp that;
    first, cyclists are not even being given this much space next to the cars either; and
    second, that cyclists have to be riding outside of the Door Zone, for their own protection, which places the outer side of the bike about 6 feet out from the parked cars. This really is riding in the middle of the outside lane. To the LOL’s and too many other drivers, this looks like the cyclists are riding in the “middle of the road.”

    For safe cycling on PPW, even in only one direction with traffic, there would have to be a buffered bike lane as wide as those on 9th Street – in other words, there would still have to be one motor lane removed to be replaced by the buffered bike lane. Net change – negative – they loose one lane, and cyclists loose a safer two way path. No win here.

    If the LOL’s are unable to or refuse to recognize the dangerous nature of the Door Zone, then there is no hope for a compromise. The only thing they will accept would be an appeasement by cyclists at best, and total capitulation of bike safety at worst. (Appeasement – see Neville Chamberlain returning from Munich in 1938, for a full appreciation of the term.)

    P, if our LOL’s cannot grasp that an 8-1/2 foot bus cannot fit in a 6 foot motor lane, and that a 24 inch bicycle cannot and should not ride through an opening car door, then we are in a take-no-prisoners battle.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Wwhat galls me even more about the NBBL LOL’s is their utter failure to understand the concept of the Door Zone.”

    No excuse for those who drive motor vehicles. You don’t do that in the “Door Zone” either. Or at least I don’t, unless I’m creeping by a double-parked truck. The safe speed limit in the “Door Zone” is less than 5 mph whether you are driving, cycling or running.

  • Suzanne

    “These same LOL’s fear for their asses being hit while getting out of their cars on the traffic sides of PPW. This they understand, that the moving cars don’t leave any room alongside the parked cars. But they cannot grasp that;
    first, cyclists are not even being given this much space next to the cars either…”

    This is the argument that pisses me off the most. “I don’t want a protected bike lane because it puts *me* out into traffic!”

    Ok, I know this is me being petty and small minded but *I* don’t drive. *I* don’t park. *I* don’t fill up the city with stinking 3 ton hunks of metal that careen around at lethal speeds. Why in the hell am *I* the one expected to risk my life??? And people complain that bikes are the problem???

    And to top things off? The PPW bike lane, and bike lanes in general, make it safer for *everyone*. Drivers included. I really hate, hate, HATE these people. Everything they do is just nauseating – their lies; their selfishness; their sneaky, unethical, underhanded tactics – everything. Yuck.

    … Also, great acronym. I’m going to start using that.


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