Bike Lane Opponents File Appeal in Prospect Park West Lawsuit

They’re back.

Opponents of the Prospect Park West bike lane filed an appeal in their unsuccessful lawsuit against the city yesterday, hoping for a second chance to rip out the safety-enhancing redesign or, perhaps more likely, attract a few more months of headlines. As Streetsblog previously reported, the bike lane opponents will have even lower odds of winning at the appellate level than they did with their initial lawsuit, which never had much of a shot of victory in the first place.

The motion from pro bono attorney Jim Walden, who despite representing a group called “Neighbors For Better Bike Lanes” is giving quotes to Reuters about why bike lanes aren’t ever practical in big cities, focuses on the legal argument why his clients have a right to appeal and can be read above.

Said city attorney Mark Muschenheim in a statement, “This development isn’t surprising. We are confident that our win will be upheld on appeal. The lawsuit was untimely to begin with, which the Court clearly recognized in dismissing it. The bike path’s installation was an entirely proper, thoroughly considered project that continues to enhance the safety of PPW and remains widely enjoyed by the community.”

We’ll have continuing coverage of the lawsuit as it again winds its way through the court system.

  • Mike

    What complete asses.

  • Mike

    What complete asses.

  • Andy

    How do you appeal when it was shut down for not acting soon enough the first time?

  • Andy

    How do you appeal when it was shut down for not acting soon enough the first time?

  • car free nation

    I took my 6 year old daughter on the ppw bike lane on Sunday. The fact that a 6 year old can get off the sidewalk and ride her own bike on the street is a game changer. Getting to the bike lane using traditional bike lanes is incredibly challenging. Either we both ride on the sidewalk and piss people off, or I ride on the street and she rides on the sidewalk, which means I have to pay attention to traffic as well as her, which endangers both of us, or I don’t know, we take a car service to the beginning of the bike lane.

    In any case, once we get to the bike lane, it’s wonderful. She can ride fast. There are virtually no pedestrians. It’s safe. I can relax a bit.

    This is how we’ll be going to school, soon enough. I just wish they’d add some more lanes like ppw.

  • moocow

    It’s worth saying again:
    What complete asses.

    Repulsive asocial neighbors!!!!

  • Matt C

    Quotes like “right now what people need are jobs and ways to make their lives easier.”  Here’s a way to satisfy both:
    1) JOBS: Put people to work building Complete Streets.  These blue-collar jobs cannot be outsourced.  Complete Streets allows more people of all income and skill levels find and hold jobs. 
    2) EASIER LIVES: It’s easier to survive the act of crossing the street when traffic calming measures lower the speed of passing cars, when bike ways are protected, and when pedestrian islands shorten the distance across the road. 

    These are what PPW needs.  Oh right, that’s what PPW has.  Maybe city attorney can quote Mr. Walden? 

  • Is the goal really to force the city to spend more on defending the lane than installing it?

  • Big Bicycle

    Marcus: Weinshall, Steisel, Hainline, Walden, Mastro and friends have a few goals and agendas here:

    – Continue to generate negative headlines regarding bike lanes, biking, DOT and Janette Sadik-Khan. Keep that negative press going. Increase the political cost of doing any livable streets project in NYC. And most important, perhaps, from Weinshall’s perspective: Make JSK’s life as miserable as possible. This is all about Iris’s honor and legacy and ego.

    – Keep this case alive through spring of 2012 so a judge can issue an injunction when it’s time to install granite curbs, plantings and the Community Board’s final set of changes and requests. Make sure that the bike lane stays ugly and temporary so they can continue to complain about how ugly and temporary it is. 

    – After that, keep this issue alive past January 2013 in the hopes that they can buy off the next mayor to go against the community’s will and eliminate this project. I can already see the news story: February 7, 2013: “Mayor John Liu Says City Can’t Afford to Continue to Defend Bike Lane Against NBBL’s Legal Onslaught.”

    – Also keep in mind that for Randy Mastro, Jim Walden and Norman Steisel this is all just political theater. It’s an opportunity to pile on and beat the crap out of the Bloomberg Administration. It has nothing to do with bike lanes or transportation policy. Steisel summed it up best in that Observer article a while back: “This is about how the Bloomberg administration operates, not who likes the bike lanes.”

    – Finally: For a lot of these elderly bike lane opponents, NBBL has become a social club. It’s a cause that gives meaning to life. It’s a reason to get up in the morning. It’s a court date where you’ll see your friends. Basically, NBBL is shuffleboard.

    – And, P.S., don’t forget: This is all a favor for Chuck! One can hardly imagine what Sen. Schumer owes Republican operative Randy Mastro when this is all said and done.

  • Big Bicycle

    BTW… Mark Muschenheim is a hero. Fight on, Mark. Please keep calling bullshit on these guys. Don’t forget that this is much more of a trial-by-tabloid than a legitimate court case.

  • Matt C

    Thanks for the insight, Big Bicycle. 
    This will sound sarcastic, but it’s meant in earnest: Related to this excerpt “For a lot of these elderly bike lane opponents, NBBL has become a social club.”  I can see that being the case.  What about local PPW bike lane cyclists (slowly, quietly, over time) join the NBBL, infiltrate the organization, and start to soften their stance from the inside? 

    (I would be tempted to do so myself, but I’m not a local.  I’m just a StreetsBlog sympathizer). 

  • Enough is Enough

    This is a classic case of people with an axe to grind (Weinshall, Steisel, etc.) but who don’t want to get their hands dirty finding their soul mates in ignorant NIMBY dupes with too much time on their hands (Carswell, Hainline) willing to do the heavy lifting.

    Perhaps this appeal was prompted by the Rockefeller Foundation awarding Sadik-Khan a Jane Jacobs Medal for her innovation and life-saving street designs.  Iris Weinshall’s biggest innovation was Thru-Streets for cars and avoiding too much blame when she was at the helm of the DOT when the Staten Island Ferry crash occurred.  JSK’s legacy is everywhere while Iris pushes pencils at CUNY.

    No wonder Iris thinks the PPW bike lane is dangerous.  She has to close her eyes when she crosses the street to her car to avoid looking at it every day.

  • Anonymous

    “This is about how the Bloomberg administration operates, not who likes the bike lanes.”

    Translation: “DOT responded to a request from the community and a transparent citizen-driven process instead of responding us, the rightful ruling clique of NYC.  Allowing government to operate this way undermines the very power we hold so dear, and it must be stopped at all costs lest we become irrelevant, no more important than filthy common citizens.  There can be no tolerance of those who would question our authority.  Those who assume we care what anybody thinks of us are sorely mistaken: our legacy will not be some fond memory of “good deeds” served to the ungrateful, ignorant masses; our legacy will be respect, fear and our rightful rule!”

    Come to think of it, they should think about getting Mel Gibson and a spokesman–I bet he’d do it pro bono!

  • dporpentine

    I hate these people. I really do.

    Not going to win History’s Most Awesome Blog Comment with that, but it really encompasses my entire response to this news: a dull, immutable sense of hatred for their slobbering, small-minded desire to make other people’s lives needlessly dangerous.

  • Dave Holland

    I hope they never give up, they deserve a day in court. And, so does Sadik-Khan, the engineers who signed off on the design and everyone else involved.
    Better to see them in court than the person that doors the mother and child riding in the door-zone in your link to Streetsblog. People have been led to believe this is an extension of the park and you can dump your kids out to play safely in the street there.
    Using kids and cyclists as street calming isn’t a good idea.

  • Dave Holland
  • Party Boss

    If there’s any good news, @e96771e23141c10599cc2b4d590fac81:disqus , it’s that the next mayoral election isn’t until November 2013, so there won’t be a new administration until January 2014. And Mayor Stringer will likely defend PPW against the trogs.

  • Get Real

    @e510bf9638c5b925cb7fae57dcab1c63:disqus , you don’t seem to understand how parking-protected bike infrastructure works.  And that Mom who’s riding barely touching the buffer stripe is likely riding so slowly next to her small child with training wheels that she could stop on a dime.

    And the NIMBY cranks had their day in court — and lost.

  • Larry Littlefield

    If this comment goes through I can comment at home on a Mac but not at work on a PC.

    Big Bicycle understands what’s going on.  These lawsuits, whether you agree with them or not, are never about prevailing in court, because there is no chance of that.  The fact that the lower court rejected their case was celebrated here, but probably barely even noticed by NBBL.  Their big defeat was that the initial court case couldn’t be extended for a longer period of time.

  • Anonymous

    “Even lower odds”. No, higher odds, lower chances. 🙂

  • Dave Holland

    Get Real, I have a thorough understanding of how “parking-protected bike infrastructure” works, how cycling works, and I also have a thorough understanding of photographic imaging.
    The photo shows the mom in the the door zone on a collision course with the kid on training wheels. To compound those problems, mom and the training wheeler are holding hands and mom has another kid on the back of the bike. If they don’t pile up on each other or get doored there is a pedestrian in the buffer zone ahead. So, I hope you are right about her being able to stop on a dime (excluding as the result of a collision or just falling down). The likelihood of your scenario is somewhat narrowed by mom’s demonstrated inability to control the situation up to the point of the photo being taken. Regardless of what happens, what has happened is bad enough.
    Clues: training wheeler has one foot on the pedals, their wheels are aligned straight with the angle of the photo and headed into the door zone, mom’s wheels show her clearly inside the door zone and not aligned – the rear wheel is aligned with the photo, but the front is not indicating a change of direction as the photo was taken. I can also see the arms of a kid in the child seat, and -as clear as mom being in the door zone- she has a nice full head of hair too pretty to mess up with a helmet. Is all this happening going downhill? Yes.
    So, it’s entirely possible gray haired cyclist with the toddler is out for a ride with his Copenhagen trophy bride and their three kids. I hope they get control of the situation and manage to maneuver the hazards associated with the intersections safely.

  • • Jim Walden isn’t really pro bono; that’s intended for those who can’t afford lawyers. #BikeNYC

  • I didn’t like how the Reuters article, written by former transportation writer at Chicago Sun Times, Mary Wisniewski, included a quote from that crock, Lawyer Jim Walden. I was hoping we could keep the bile he spews from reaching the Midwest. 

    Oh, it looks like he shares the same first name with Chicago-based Lawyer Jim Freeman, also quoted in the article. The same citizen cyclist who donates money for free bike light distribution, sponsors my blog, Grid Chicago, and writes his own blog about a cyclist’s rights.

  • MIT Researcher

    Dave Holland: I know that mom. Her kid went to school with my kid last year. I actually saw her the day after that photo was published and showed it to her. We talked about the bike lane. She loves the bike lane. I can assure you that your utterly hysterical prediction of bike lane catastrophe didn’t come to fruition in this case.

    This may come as a shock to you but human beings on foot and on bike don’t just travel in straight lines at high speed and crash into each other. Humans have sensory organs and brains that enable them to sense each others presence, communicate with and avoid each other if necessary. Even small children are capable of this astounding feat, particularly small children traveling on training wheels at a rate of 3 mph like the one you’re freaking out about.

    You should come on up to the PPW bike lane and see how it works. It’s incredible — human beings on bike and foot function even better than Google’s robot car technology.

  • wkgreen

    MIT Researcher:We should simply dismiss the ravings of a crank whose imagination has run wild over blurry images in a photograph. He gives himself away when he claims that the subjects are all going downhill and makes clear that he has never actually been there. If he had he would know that PPW is practically dead flat along its entire length!

  • Dave Holland

    MIT Researcher, do you typically inject fallacy into your
    research or was this just a perceived personal attachment to the topic that led
    you astray? You should do some research on that, and on the difference between
    prediction and possibility. While you’re at it learn something about how
    crashes occur and how children’s abilities develop. Using your research technique
    I would have to assume everything I said in my last post was true since you
    have personal knowledge of the events and didn’t refute any of what I actually
    said. If you are an MIT researcher it must be as an intern, or there is a more
    serious problem.

    Maybe you and wkgreen could research practically dead flatness

  • MIT Researcher

    Dave Holland: I’m doing my PhD work on the cognitive and social deficiencies responsible for Bike Lane Hysteria Syndrome. You exhibit symptoms of acute BLHS. If you are available, I am interested in interviewing you to learn more about how it possible for someone to look at a still photograph depicting parents using a bike lane with their children and jump to hyper-ventilating conclusions of imminent danger and “collision course.” My research technique will involve subjecting you to repeated intense electric shocks as you view photographs of Northern European bike infrastructure. Please let me know of your availability.

  • wkgreen

    I agree that the word “practically” is a relative term and nothing is ever actually “dead flat”. So Dave Holland would be correct to say that there is a slope, however slight it may be. I probably have better things to do today, but what the heck, let’s DO analyze the photo.

    It shows that the scene is occurring as the subjects are traveling south from 13th St. to 14th St. You can tell where they are by the flag and a blurry image of the marquis that marks the Pavilion theater. The USGS map of that location indicates that 13th St. is at an elevation of 145′ and 14th St. is at 147′. At approx. 240′ per block this works out to a slope of about 1/10″ per foot.  Not much of a slope, but it’s there.

    But I’ll be!!! 14th Street is the higher point. The subjects are actually going UPHILL, not down!!

  • Dave Holland

    MIT Researcher, I’m sure you will never realize how ironic
    your “Bike Lane Hysteria Syndrome”
    and reference to “Northern European bike infrastructure” is. I’m sure
    you, like other bike lane advocate researchers before you, already have the
    conclusion drawn up before mimicking actual research. Don’t count on me
    volunteering to help, I refuse to be Copenhagenized and forced off of existing

  • Dave Holland

    wkgreen, excellent research there! I guess you left off the part about the buildings appearing vertical in the photo was due to the recent earthquake on the east coast.

    Exelent reasearch and the topic is very interesting……. Keep it on…

  • wkgreen

    Dave, the research is real. There is no significant hill anywhere on PPW and it is especially flat at that location. But don’t rely on a photograph or your or my or anyone’s “research”. Go rent, borrow, or (God forbid!) buy a bike and take a spin on it. See for yourself. It’s a thing of beauty that keeps all modes of travel separated. Who knows?  You might actually enjoy it and find yourself making forays into the park or trips to the store or to a friend’s house or on short errands by bike, maybe even to work. Cycling is a great way to help make the city a more livable place while catching a little fresh air and exercise that could be made even better. It’s a win-win. You might even find yourself as an advocate for more protected lanes like it.
    My apologies to innocent bystanders subjected to this. I’m done.

  • Dave Holland

    wkgreen, you assume I am not a cyclist because I oppose the PPW sidepath. I’m an active cyclist and advocate of cycling. I believe in putting quality above quantity, with safety as the primary consideration. This can sometimes put me at odds with those who believe “bike lane” is the answer to most of our problems.

  • Mike

    And what higher quality, or safer, on-street bike path is there in the entire city than PPW? I certainly can’t think of any.  It’s incredibly safe and incredibly high-quality.

    Sure, some on-street bike lanes are unsafe: door zone, frequently blocked, etc.  But PPW certainly isn’t among them.

  • Joe R.

    Since the goal of these people is to drag things out as long as possible to ensure maximum continued press coverage, is there any way the city can fast track these appeals so they’re done in a matter of days?  Also, can’t this appeal be dismissed as frivolous?  The judge’s ruling to me made it sound like a pretty much open and shut case because it was filed after that stature of limitations expired.  I don’t see that there can be any legal basis at all to even allow an appeal. 

  • Joe R.

    @e510bf9638c5b925cb7fae57dcab1c63:disqus It’s obvious to me that the picture was taken with a telephoto lens of some sort sort due to the distorted perspective.  This greatly exaggerates the downgrade, which is in fact at most 1%.  A 1% grade is going to add at most 3 or 4 mph to a cyclist’s speed (more on that later).

    Second, the pedestrian in question is about 6 parking spots (~120′) past the woman and two children.  Assuming I was riding at a typical speed I might hit on a 1% downgrade, which is around 23-26 mph, I would still be about 3.5 seconds away from the pedestrian in question.  Even if he was walking at a slow pace, he will most likely be all the way across by the time I get there.  The bike path is about 10′ wide.  That means it takes an average walker under 3 seconds to cross.  Assuming he decided to stand there and do jumping jacks, I have a full 3.5 seconds (more if I slow down) to figure out how to avoid hitting him.  I’m sure the woman in the photo was going much slower, probably 10 mph tops.  That gives her a whole 8+ seconds before she’s on top of that pedestrian, by which time I’m sure he’ll be well out of her path.  In short, the pedestrian crossing is a complete nonissue.

    Third, who cares if she isn’t wearing a helmet?  The whole point of safe cycling infrastructure is to make people feel comfortable and just ride in whatever clothing they happen to be wearing.  Besides, based on my research helmets seem pretty useless except for the subcategory of cyclists likely to fall at speeds low enough where a helmet might be of some benefit (say <10 mph).  This is mainly children.  Most adult cyclists can control low speed falls, sometimes even end up on their feet, making helmets pointless there.  And helmets are pretty much worthless for higher speed falls, again making helmets pointless (although high-speed falls aren't necessarily that bad-I came out of a 37 mph crash with only road rash).  It goes without saying helmets aren't of much help in car-bike collisions either.  This is why you rarely see helmets being used in the great cycling countries-they're an unnecessary encumbrance of marginal benefit.

    Fourth, your estimate of the risk of getting doored is greatly exaggerated.  At the slow speeds that woman is going, she can easily avoid a door.  She also has a clue as to which cars are highly likely to have opening doors.  Generally, that would be those which just parked, or those which have a person crossing the bike path moving towards them.


    I am nearly 65 years old. I have always been active and biking has always been one of the ways that I stay fit.  I have advocated biking all of my life to many of the people in my town, but most people thought it was too difficult to ride anywhere.  So they didn’t. Now, I observe so many people in my age group crumbling and dieing.  They have trouble walking and functioning beyond what an old people would.  We all suffer with the high cost of gasoline and sit in our seats thinking how great it would be if we were healthier and wealthier.   I would love to see better ways for people to get out and bicycle. 
    We have so many young people on drugs, depressed and having  nothing to do with themselves other than TV and video games.   I think that family activities such as bike riding is a wonderful way to keep our families close.  As we all know, the teens are getting heavier and more unhealthy with heart issues at a younger and younger age. This would keep our young poeple healthier and happier.
    If our country maintains its unhealthy life style of drinking, ‘vegging”, over eating, not spending time with their kids and eventually drugging,  we don’t have a future as a nation. 
    I think that excercise is not a luxury, its a life style. Many people cannot afford the time and expense of fitness membership.  With a bike in the garage and a store within biking distance, one could jump on their bike and pick up a gallon of milk instead of firing up the car.
    Think of the happiness that would come from a row of bikers enjoying the sun, fresh air and their new found “fountain of youth”. 
    This is an urgent cry.  I want to Keep on living until I die.


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