A shocking cellphone pic of New York's senior Senator has transportation circles abuzz across the Internet today. While not so much a scandal as a beautiful bike ride in the park, Senator Chuck Schumer was photographed pedaling down a contested bike path in Brooklyn on Sunday by Paul Steely White, director of Transportation Alternatives. Given his close ties to a group fighting the bike lane—his wife and former NYC DOT commissioner Iris Weinshall was among the most outspoken opponents to the path—a hypothetical snapshot of the senator biking had previously been called the Holy Grail of livable streets activism and been the punch line of April Fool's jokes, but Schumer, who had never taken a public stance on the protected lane, sure appears to be enjoying himself in New York's unseasonably warm weather. The Orwellian-named Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes had actually been fighting the protected bike lane since it opened in 2010, but a judge threw out the case last year, citing a lapse of statute of limitations. The group has since appealed the decision. Steely White told WNYC's Transportation Nation, "I saw what looked like Senator Charles Schumer riding on the Prospect Park West Bike lane. I whipped out my cell phone and snapped the shot, and as I was taking the photograph he looked at me and smiled and said, 'I ride all the time.'"
Posts tagged with "Prospect Park West":
That thin ribbon of green paint along Brooklyn's Prospect Park West sure is a touchy subject for residents of the Park Slope neighborhood, and beyond--they're even talking about it in London. Many love the new separated bike lane installed in June 2010--the "pro-laners"--but a vocal group packing some political power would rather see the lane removed--the "anti-laners." We're not kidding when we say the anti-laners are up in arms, either. According to a Gothamist report, one resident wielding a bullhorn shouted to bystanders that the new bike path "mutilated" the broad boulevard. After threatening legal action for a month, two area organizations, Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes and Seniors for Safety, have now filed a lawsuit requesting the lane's removal, which should make CB6's public hearing on Thursday night more lively than usual. StreetsBlog summarizes the complaint:
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.Among the anti-laners are Iris Weinshall, a former NYC DOT commissioner who just happens to be married to U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, and former Sanitation Commissioner Norman Steisel. Anti-laners have also argued that the Prospect Park bike lane has remade crossing the street as a pedestrian into an urban adventure. Local resident and Huffington Post blogger Paul LaRosa wrote that Prospect Park West "now resembles that old video game Frogger where you need to keep looking and back and forth to avoid getting splattered by a car or a bike." Opposing the lawsuit, Councilman Brad Lander, who represents Park Slope, said a survey of the neighborhood shows the majority of residents support for the bike lane. The Park Slope Civic Association also falls in the pro-laner camp. Association president Michael Cairl told Transportation Nation, "Prospect Park West before the reconfiguration had been a speedway. It was unsafe to cross, it was unsafe to cycle on, it wasn’t all that safe to drive on." The anti-laners submitted a Freedom of Information Act request for the DOT's raw data, finding flaws with the results. Their sentiments are echoed by Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz who also questioned the validity of the DOT data. He suggested that the original study to determine the feasibility of the bike lane should have been done by an outside agency to make it more impartial. As different parts of the city create new bike-car combinations, it's inevitable that there will be some clashes. We'll keep an eye out for the implications for our built environment as cases like these plays out in court and on the street.
[ Quick Clicks: A regular guided tour of interesting links from around the web. ] What a view. Curbed uncovered a few renderings of the planned restaurant at Brooklyn Bridge Park including the view from its rooftop terrace (Hey, where'd the Beekman 8 Spruce Tower run off to?). There's currently an RFP out until January 25 for a restaurant operator to fill the already partially-built concrete and wood structure. Fix don't nix. There are a couple days left to get in on the conversation going on at The Glass House led by New York Magazine architecture critic Justin Davidson. This week's question asks how architects and designers can fix our pervasive car culture without outlawing cars outright. There's already quite a discussion going on. Crashing. A public safety campaign in Melbourne hopes to catch the eye of a few Aussie drivers. PSFK shows how a normal car has been wrapped with decals portraying the wreckage of a car after a high-speed collision to raise awareness of the dangers of speeding. Hopefully drivers will remember to keep their eyes on the road as they slow down to take in the view. Not crashing. Naysayers have been questioning the merits of a dedicated bike lane along Brooklyn's Prospect Park West ever since it was installed last year, but now a report released by the NYC DOT confirms the road diet has increased safety without major impact on drivers. StreetsBlog has full details, but crashes have been reduced 16% and injury crashes are down by 62.5%. Several new improvements are suggested to increase pedestrian safety even further, but no word if the Third Street boulders will get funding.