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Markowitz: Advocacy Groups Distorted Bike Lane Data

NEW YORK (CBS 2) — Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz reacted angrily Friday after a study by a Park Slope neighborhood group found a huge numbers discrepancy on the usage of controversial bike lanes in Prospect Park West.

A study by Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes calculated that on an average weekday, 523 people used the two-way bike lane from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. That is in comparison to the 1,087 figure compiled by the Department of Transportation.

“I don’t believe a word coming out of that department. Not a word,” Markowitz, a noted opponent of the lanes, told CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer.

“The Department of Transportation will use any way to justify their action, distort and manipulate anything they have to justify their action,” he said.

Markowitz charged that the DOT got higher numbers because bike advocacy groups somehow knew the days they were counting and showed up to pad the numbers.

“It’s amazing that suddenly they knew when to use the bicycle path in line with when they took the count,” Markowitz said.

The DOT refused to make Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan available for an interview with CBS 2. Her spokesman issued a statement, saying the counts by Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes were “taken from one extreme end of the bike path.”

“As you may understand, you can’t measure the number of riders on a subway line by how many are still on the train at the last stop,” spokesman Seth Solomonow said.

The DOT argued that removing the bike lane would cost three times the amount it did to install.

On Friday, the bike path was not shoveled, leaving some Park West bikers to use the road or sidewalk.

“I walk in the park quite frequently and I rarely see people in the bike lane. Maybe one or two now and then,” Park Slope resident Elaine Basinger said.

But others said they loved the bike lanes.

“It’s great to have a safe, convenient way to get around by bike so we appreciate it. We also feel like there’s a lot less speeding,” Aaron Naparstek said.

More from Marcia Kramer
  • stevef

    Marty, If you prefer, I will go back to riding my bike on the PPW sidewalk.
    In 1982 I used the sidewalk to bring my son to day care near GAP via the child seat on my bike, then continued on to work. There still is no safe street to ride between central Park Slope and GAP – particularly with a child. If the bike path goes, I would be riding my grandson on the PPW sidewalk, just like I did with my son 30 years ago.

    Marty and Marcia want cyclists to give up their safety for a bit of motorists convenience. It’s not going to happen.

  • oliver

    Capacity induces demand.

    It’s kind of funny that people expect that bike lanes should be full the day they open. As if there were a line of cars stacked 3 deep in a dirt lot the day the first road was built.

    Besides, I’ve lived in New York, Manhattan actually. Owning a car there is crazy, I know, I DID. I’ll not go into the price I paid for the garage spot, because it’s irrelevant (insanely irrelevant, but nonetheless)

    There is simply nothing that can be done to accommodate more cars no matter how much whining people do about the bike lanes.

  • diehipsters

    I knew these spoiled yuppies and hipsters would pull something like this to beef up the numbers. This city never used bike lanes and still doesn’t need to. I can’t stand these nasally yups.

    • Chris

      I concur with Mike — your issues seem to have nothing to do with bike lanes and more to do your perception of those advocating for better biking solutions. As if only yuppies and hipsters ride bikes. C’mon – really?

      • Rich T

        Yeah, like the bike lanes are going to get a lot of use 1/2 of every year. This isn’t San Diego where it’s warm and sunny all the time. How about the very young, the old and the handicapped who have to get around? How about Moms with strollers? How does a Mom with 2 kids and a stroller get on a crowded bus? These people should struggle more or not use private vehicles so that healthy people of a certain demographic have a nice place to ride when the weather permits?

        I still see 1/2 the bike riders in the traffic lanes anyway. They go where they want and don’t follow stop signs, traffic lights, etc. So what did we go to all of this expense and trouble for?

    • mike

      They are totally false accusations.

      Bike lanes are indeed necessary and beneficial.

      As for your personal issues and your anger problem, no comment.

  • Russell D.

    There really should not be so much discussion about this. The reason bike lanes in NYC are a problem is because they have been implemented poorly with little or no practical thought to how they are used. For example, the newest bike lane on 1st Ave is basically a death trap. 1st Ave runs up the east side of Manhattan so 90% of the cars who turn off of 1st Ave have to turn left (west). The city installed the bike lane on the left side of the road so all the cars turn INTO you to make their lefts. Most bikers now avoid 1st Ave and go up 3rd instead.

    There is also little-to-no enforcement in the bike lanes. They are right next to the sidewalk and the street vendors, tourists, and deliverymen all use it as their own personal corridor. Whomever thought it was a cute idea to put a bike lane straight through Time Square is a moron. If someone wanted to use it as it should be used, they would be riding their bike straight into a shoulder-to-shoulder crowd of 500 people. When there IS enforcement in the bike lanes, it is almost always the cyclist who is ticketed. It is as if the cops want to make cyclists pay for the privileged of having the bike lanes installed.

    • Wilson Sheffler

      Russel, I take it you are someone who rides. The PPW bike lane is perhaps the best thought-out bike lane in the entire city, and the DOT has done numerous studies on how to best implement it. The latest included suggestions for tweaks and design changes to improve it.

      The issues have everything to do with enforcement and, in some cases, design. But bike lanes are necessary, and so are traffic calming projects. Sometimes they’re the same thing.

    • D.J.

      Russell, the DOT clearly put more thought into the lane than you did into your comment. The protected bike lanes that run on 1st and 2nd Ave were, for the most part, put in at the same time the new SBS bus service was also added to the street. As we all know, NYC buses have their passenger doors on the right; therefore, the bus lanes are required to be on the right side of the street.

      With the bus lanes on the right side of the street, the only side left for the bike lane is the left side, regardless of whether that is north, south, east or west. Otherwise, the bike lane would be filled with buses pulling over and stopping. That’s why on 1st Ave the bike lane is on the west side of the street (the left side because it is a one way street going north), and on 2nd Ave the bike lane is on the east side of the street (again the left side because it is a one way street going south).

      It makes sense.

  • James Donohue

    All roads need Bicycle Lanes. When more side-streets and connecting roads have bike lanes, more people will ride bicycles. There should be a network of connected bike lanes. Right now, the bike lanes are just here-and-there, but they don’t connect with each other.
    Cars are too big, they pollute and go to fast. They best way to travel is by bicycle.
    FYI-A person on a bicycle can travel five time the distance he or she could walk.

  • Chris

    I’m a Park Slope resident who bikes occasionally, mostly in warm weather. I am by no means a bike activitst, but Marty Markowitz’s strong advocancy against the bike lanes and outrageous use of his bully pulpit are pushing me to get involved. How can I get more active in supporting the bike lanes and opposing Markowitz and his strong-arm tactics? I’m ready to get active!

    As Boro President, Markowitz should represent ALL Brooklynites and diplomatically bridge disparate groups, not inflame the discussion. He’s failed miserably in his role and should step aside for a more worthy leader.

  • Dylan

    It’s pretty shocking that Aaron Naparstek and others featured riding on the sidewalk seem to be so cavalier about it. When roads were unsafe to drive on, did drivers just take to the sidewalks? Of course not. Cyclists are the most selfish and blindered road users we have in the city. Who else would use the excuse of unplowed roads to ride on pedestrian pathways? Only cyclists. Crazy that they don’t recognize the danger and inconvenience they pose.

    • Wilson Sheffler

      Dylan, cars double park, run red lights, and do all kinds of illegal things in every type of weather. I won’t excuse sidewalk riding like Marty Markowitz does – I bike and I’m against it – but I think the plague of sidewalk riding cyclists is a tad less pervasive as cars running red lights. Let’s focus on the real dangers that have actually killed children, the elderly, and just about every demographic in this city. Cars. I’m sure everyone in NBBL never double-parks.

    • Tom Rorb


      From the horse’s mouth (Marty Markowitz) being inteviewed by Andrea Bernstein last year – commenting on cyclists not able to legally ride the opposite way on PP: “I must tell you, the sidewalks are enormous. They are. Enormous. There is almost zero usage of pedestrians on Flatbush Avenue. Zero. There’s hardly any pedestrians that walk up and down Flatbush Avenue on the park, there’s no question about it. The sidewalks are wide enough for bicycle use and they pose no threat to the few people that walk up the street and I just believe we have the condition for those that want to use bicycles to be able to enjoy the park.”

      So essentially Marty said even in non-snowy conditions riding the wrong way on the sidewalk isn’t a big deal.

    • Aaron Naparstek


      I pretty much agree with you. One of the main reasons why Park Slope Neighbors, the Park Slope Civic Council, Transportation Alternatives, the Grand Army Plaza Coalition and other individuals and organizations have spent the last five years working to get this redesign of Prospect Park West done is because we were all sick of having bikes on the sidewalk on PPW.

      So, it was pretty disappointing on Friday to ride up to PPW after picking up my 3-yo son from school and find that PPW’s roadway was plowed and clear and it’s sidewalk was plowed and clear, yet the bike lane was inexplicably still full of snow.

      If you find it outrageous for cyclists to use sidewalks (even big, wide, empty ones like PPW on Friday), you should be aware that Marty Markowitz has proposed biking on the sidewalk as his alternative to the PPW bike path.

      My family owns a car. We are not just “cyclists.” If bike lanes are going to go unplowed, I’ll probably end up doing the Friday school pick-up in my car. My question for you is this: Do you really think that having one more car on the road in Park Slope, driving around, looking for parking in front of a school (where there are, inevitably, five cars double-parked and blocking hydrants), is safer and more convenient for everyone? I don’t. I think it’s a lot more convenient for everyone else if I can leave the car at home and use my bike to do the school pick-up.

      The bottom line is that me and my 3-year-old son did not endanger or inconvenience anyone on Friday on our bike ride home from school.

  • mike

    Once again, Marty proves that he’s unfit for office, and Marcia Kramer is unfit to call herself a journalist. This is not journalism, it’s trash. She and WCBS should be ashamed of themselves.

  • Aaron Naparstek

    Though… I will also say that Marcia Kramer does New York City a major service by simply letting Marty talk and talk and talk and hang himself with his own rope. In this interview he comes across as unfit to hold public office.

  • Aaron Naparstek

    I don’t understand how Marcia Kramer could allow Marty Markowitz to level this absurd accusation against the local advocacy groups who have worked so hard to make Prospect Park West a safer street and then not bother to give a phone call to any of those local advocacy groups and allow them to respond to the accusation.

    Park Slope Neighbors, Transportation Alternatives, the Park Slope Civic Council, the Grand Army Plaza Coalition are advocacy groups that have all been involved over the last five years in the grassroots, community-driven effort to redesign Prospect Park West. Why not give one of those groups a call and ask for comment about Marty’s accusation? This is Journalism 101. This is basic fairness and professionalism.

  • tombovo

    The bike lanes are part of Bloomberg’s idea of turning New York into a giant european city. The bike lanes are under utilized, and its becoming far too difficult to drive in parts of Brooklyn.

    The DOT has distorted the reasons for building the bike lanes–yes, I am accusing them of lying. Now the DOT is saying to forget changing it back because it will cost too much.

    • Aaron Naparstek

      No, Tom. The DOT is not changing Prospect Park West back into a three-lane expressway because the data shows that the redesign has made the street safer for everyone and isn’t hurting motorists. And Councilmember Brad Lander and Steve Levin’s survey showed that the project is extremely popular and well-liked by a majority of the community — even a majority of PPW residents.

    • Wilson Sheffler

      No, the DOT is saying that it should not be changed back because it’s a success. Car speeds are lower, pedestrians are safer.

      If you had attended the meeting you would know that the DOT only mentioned the cost because an opponent asked how much it cost to install these lanes in a time of budget crisis. The answer was that the PPW bike lane cost about $300,000, with 80% of that money kicked in by the Federal Government. Removing it and repaving the street would cost about $1,000,000 and none of that money would be reimbursed by the Feds. Those are facts, not lies or opinions.

      The street is safer with or without a bike lane, and even if no one is riding a bike. Two lanes of traffic versus three speeding lanes. What’s wrong with that?

  • Wilson Sheffler

    Marcia Kramer is hands down the worst TV reporter on any of the major stations in New York. This is not reporting. If she’s allowing a subject to charge that bike advocates (ie, a lot of people in Brooklyn) jimmied the numbers by showing up with the DOT told them to, then as a journalist Marcia owes it to her audience and her profession to allow those bike advocates to respond. She doesn’t. That’s not journalism. That’s the real advocacy here: parroting words from Marty Markowitz and a handful of wealthy patrons on PPW and passing it off as journalism.

    Shame on Marcia Kramer, shame on CBS2. The street is safer now, with or without bikes riding the bike lane. Turn it into a very wide sidewalk, for all I care, just don’t let PPW go back to three lanes of speeding traffic, which is what Marty, Louise Hainline, Norman Steisel, Iris Weinshall, and I guess Marcia Kramer want.

  • hat trick

    did they take this study 3 weeks ago when there were 22 inches of snow on the ground? i have to give credit to bloomberg for giving us so many bike lanes during his administration. as a biker and brooklynite i am so thankful there has been such a huge leap in consideration on the road with the bike lanes in the last decade. it almost makes me cry. bikers want to share the road…not steal it cars are dangerous and deadly for all of us.

    nyc is is one of the most bike-able cities in this nation, even in winter. this country doesn’t just need to get off it’s reliance on oil, we need to get off our reliance on cars. it is a better lifestyle, healthier, environmental and just happier. i hate hate hate being stuck in a car…it is awful. it is like prison sometimes. i’m thankful when i really need to use one on a rare occasion and drive responsibly and respectfully. and i really thank the people in transportation and urban planning who give us bikers the lanes that tell drivers that we get a piece of this paved road too.

    • Rich T

      Your comment about this city being “one of the most bike-able cities in this nation, even in winter” is ridiculous. I drive around all 5 boroughs for my job and in the last 6 weeks have seen less than 100 hardy, very young people riding around on bikes – and 90% of those biking were delivery people, who were riding in the traffic lanes or on sidewalks. You call that efficient use of limited space?

      This is a thriving, bustling rough-and-tumble city. The roads here are not personal bike-paths for the healthy only, when they feel like it and if the weather permits.

      “Bike-able, even in the winter.” My rear-end.

  • Robert Pagen

    why is this guy so proud of looking like a schmuck and acting like a schmuck? And why has he been in that job so long? So essentially he wants to rip out a bike lane because some affluent park slopers want easier free streetside parking. That’s it. Marty is a putz as you can see in the foto.

  • TheKid

    I’m a biker and I hate bike lanes. Let me bike in the GD street so I can actually get where I need to go relatively quickly and not have to deal with tourists tooling around at .5 mph

    • Mike

      Wow, good for you. Most bicyclists aren’t supermen like you. And many more potential bicyclists are trying bicycling because they now have safer places to ride than 45 mph streets filled with crazy drivers. When you’re older and can’t ride like you used to, or if you have kids who want to ride, I think you’ll be changing your tune.

  • James

    Janette Sadik-Khan has been completely co-opted by the cycling lobby in NYC. She has simply become anti-pedestrian in her singular pro-bike focus, and should not be trusted to be considering the needs of all parties in decisions by her office. It’s a shame.

    • Wilson Sheffler

      Yes, those Times Square pedestrian plazas, which accommodate thousands of pedestrians every day, sure seem anti-pedestrian to me.

      • Thomask

        Well, if you’d use the TS ped plazas you’d know how dysfunctional they are. Sorry I can’t drink the cool-aid with you, but I have to walk there all the time. For tourists to hang out, they’re fine. But if you’re interested in having a better walking experience you’re out of luck. The ped plazas don’t connect from block to block so you’re forced back on to the same grotesquely crowded sidewalks with many pinch points. Walking in TS, as opposed to recreating there, has never been so unpleasant.

        Bike lane fanboys are apparently so insulated and myopic that issues like extreme overdevelopment in this city, a deteriorating quality of life for most, and increasing polarity between haves and have-nots don’t register in their pampered world. All this bile and anger directed at pet topic number one must seem mysterious and incomprehensible.

  • rob

    I just hope one day if this transportation head Khan needs an ambulance to take her to the hospital for an emergency it better be a two wheeler. And I bet you every cent you got it’ll take at least 4 hours to get to her. fI this wish comes true it’ll make my day.

  • Uri

    If you read these comments you can see how the public truly feels. Whether you ride a bike or not, it’s odd to think that the problem is bike lanes. How much city real estate is devoted to cars, considering the small % of car owners. The bike lanes serve multiple purposes: they slow down traffic closer to the speed limits, which is helpful to residents and pedestrians. They provide a safe alternate environmentally friendly means to get around and get exercise, and also for parents with their kids on the bike. They provide more parking, not less (bikes don’t take up car parking spaces). And if they reduce a few parking spots, then they reduce motivation for people to drive, which means less traffic and pollution, and fewer accidents, injuries, and fatalities.

    We need to grow this argument past bikes vs cars. This is really about the future of NY going the way of the future of the USA and the world. The automobile era is over, like it or not. Over the coming years there will be fewer cars, people will own fewer cars, cars will be smaller, and there will be less investment in road infrastructure. Why? Because the costs of car culture can no longer be justified in leaner times. Get used to it.

  • nyphonejacks

    whoever the next mayor is must remove all of these bike paths and pedestrian plazas that bloomberg has installed over the past few years… every day i find more and more streets that have become more congested or difficult to DRIVE A VEHICLE ON… which is still the main purpose of a ROAD, or to find parking – because lanes have been removed to install bike lanes, and / or traffic islands where lanes used to be..

  • Coney Island Talking

    Marty stop shoveling the –it and concentrate on the snow. There is enough room for the cars and bikers. Cops ticket you if you ride on the sidewalk and with specified lanes bikers can be in danger. God can’t believe how selfish everyone has become!

  • Tom Rorb

    Marcia Kramer is one of the worst, high-profile reporters on television. Marty is essentially calling a boatload of people LIARS! And yet she allows that to go completely unchallenged.

    She has two major facts incorrect in her story. Unlike her I was actually at the CB6 meeting and heard the words that NYC DOT reps said.

    #1 – The DOT did say that it would cost 3x the cost to rip up the lanes. However, they never gave that as a reason they weren’t removing them. The reason they are not is because they have been a success.

    #2 – Relying on Marty Markowitz’s lies and illogical rants – let us assume that advocacy groups did know the day the DOT was going to conduct their study (which I am sure they did not, but IF they did) there would be no way for bike riders to know about the secret camera the anti-bike group had set up. So why would riders deliberately avoid one part of the bike lane and then ride past where NYC DOT was counting. It is so preposterous.

    I though CBS was not FOX news. Apparently, they can lie as much as they like these days.

  • unreligious

    Like anyone is going to believe this group who, despite their name, is against bike lanes. If their figures are not outright lies probably counted on a day when it was pouring rain or 10 degrees outside.

  • Keith

    The people who liive in Park Slop aren’t Brooklyn. They are yuppies and a joke. They should go back to whatever city they came from they are the same people that didn’t want the new nets arena. All of Brooklyn I know wanted that. These people think they live in Paris. It’s disgusting. . There shouldn’t be any bike lanes. Parking is worse then ever in the slope because of this move by bloomberg.

    • Winston Smith

      Sorry, I lived in Brooklyn my entire life. The only way to make parking better is to have less cars. More bikes is one way to have less cars.

  • Bikedoc

    The last time Marty was on a bike they had to get a specialist to remove the seat from his ass. Although you should have heard him before the lobotomy.

  • Brooklyn Boy

    Is that Marty Markowitz or Howdy Doody on steroids?

  • Winston Smith

    Marty does not realized that all his constituents already went to Fort Lauderdale for the winter. He should save his breath till the Summer.

    Anyway, his view of the world is from the back window of the SUV that he gets driven around in. If you wanna know what it looks like just look for the one parked on the sidewalk next to Borough Hall.

  • Lendel

    Marty Markowitz is a bufoon who has no power whatsoeve. The bourough presidents office is an anachronism and should be eliminated. Markowits is not even a has been. He’s a never was.

  • Mike

    Oddly, my comment calling out Marcia Kramer’s biased reporting on streets issues never got posted.

  • Michael

    Forget the bike lane. Does Marty think that the DOT also tipped off drivers on the days they did their “after” speed comparisons, telling drivers to slow down? How far does Marty think this conspiracy goes? Is he that crazy to think people believe him?

  • jackson

    The city spent an inordinate amount of money installing these bike lanes BUT THEY DON’T REMOVE SNOW FROM THEM?

    Just classic.

    Add to this since bike lanes have been installed, the city now should be more actively enforcing traffic rules on bicyclists – there are still cyclists riding the wrong way in bike lanes, outside the bike lane or simply ignoring the rules of the road (yes people, just because you’ve built up a head of steam doesn’t give you the right not to have to stop for a light or a pedestrian).

    And the classic retort… well, they’re a boondoggle but they’ll cost three times as much if we remove them!

    Classic government dysfunction in action.

    • Rich T

      How they would cost 3 times as much to remove as they did to install is questionable. I’d like to see the cost estimates on that one. I’d like to see how it could cost 3 times as much to demolish something as it does to build it, especially since these were put in recently.

      A Igree with you, Jackson, they’re lying and probably under the orders of Bloomberg.

      • Rich T

        Good point. That may indeed be the case but the fact is the city would make the extra money back in less than a year from recovered, metered parking fees and all the damn tickets they write when someone’s 5 minutes late getting back to their car. After that they’d have double the meter revenue every day than they’re getting since they put in the bike lanes.

      • Chicken Underwear

        Because federal money was used to put it there. There will be no Federal money to remove. it.

  • Ruth

    Wait a sec…

    CBS and Marty Markowitz claim that the DOT tipped off those bikers in order to inflate their counts, but then those bikers didn’t ride the whole length of the bike lane to President Street where Louise Hainline, Norman Steisel, Iris Weinshall, Lois Carswell, and other members of the so-called “Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes” were also counting bikes? In fact, so many conveniently forgot to ride down there that the DOT’s numbers were off by double NBBL’s? Seems highly unlikely at best and a lie at worst.

    Wouldn’t you think that a whole bunch of riders would just ride that thing all day, up and down, back and forth, from one end to the other, if they had been tipped off by the DOT? Marty’s claim makes no sense. I hope he understands that he just slandered a city agency and department head.

  • boof


  • roy

    bike lanes are a joke! What is this, Amsterdam in the Netherlands?

  • Neighbors for Better Borough Presidents

    Markowitz is a joke.

    • Better

      Does this guy really look like this, or is this an inflatable caricature?

  • Dave

    Lets’ get this straight. Marty Markowitz would have us believe that the Dept. of Transportation is lying. And he wants us to believe that some half-assed data assembled by a half-dozen millionaire NIMBYs is legit?

    All while, as the commenter above pointed out, children and moms and elderly rabbis are getting mowed down by cars, and Marty is silent about all that. Shame on him.

  • Steve

    “I hope that the commissioner and the department is right. If they’re right, and in fact it causes no bottlenecks, no inconvenience, and if it works, I’ll be the first to say I was wrong. I would.” (Marty on WNYC, 4/12/10)

    Marty needs to go. Publicly accusing a city agency of lying? Shame on him. He’s an embarrassment to the borough. He is clearly in favor of faster, more dangerous traffic. Still no word from him on the mother, twins, child in Williamsburg, and rabbi in Midwood who were all injured or killed by cars in January alone.

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