Landmark Lawsuit Alleges NYC Worked With ‘Radical’ Bike Lane Lobbyists
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Irate Brooklyn residents have filed a first of its kind lawsuit demanding that a controversial bike lane be removed immediately.
The suit includes explosive emails claiming city officials worked with “radical” bike lobbyists to suppress criticism. CBS 2’s political reporter Marcia Kramer has exclusive details.
Brooklyn residents tell 1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria what they think of the bike lane
“They have fudged their data entirely, both in terms of speed and safety. It’s actually … it’s quite horrifying,” Park Slope resident Lois Carswell said.
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Angry residents are suing City Hall, and in a first of its kind action, are demanding that a judge order the controversial Prospect Park West bike lane ripped out. They claim the Department of Transportation falsified its information.
“I find it really reprehensible and I think that somebody should be made to answer for that,” resident Don Mattesson said.
Residents, who include former DOT commissioner Iris Weinshall, also claim the agency is in cahoots with pro-bike lobbyists to go after lane opponents.
Through a Freedom of Information Act suit they obtained what they call “stunning” e-mail communications between Ryan Russo, the DOT’s director of street management, and a bike lobbyist.
On June 21, 2010, Russo told the lobbyist: “There are enough important people talking to other important people for me to worry and to require neutralizing.”
The lobbyist offers a proposed counter-flyer and directs Russo to a blog in which the lobbyist called bike lane opponents: “shameless, selfish pigs” and “complete [expletive] troglodytes.”
And he also writes on the blog: “If they won’t shut up and they can’t be ignored, then they need to be publicly disgraced every time they pop their heads up.”
Russo called the comments “very enjoyable.”
The DOT later said: “We always talk to both supporters and opponents to get the facts out on an issue and to advocate for policies we believe can best serve the city.”
“The solution they came up with is one that only solves a very narrow issue, which is how to do more bikes lanes and different bike lanes and big bike lanes and not deal with needs of Park Slope,” resident Bob Linn said.
Members of the community said they’re not satisfied with the information the DOT has turned over they want the judge to force the agency to turn over everything having to do with the bike lanes in Park Slope.
The residents are also asking the judge for an expedited proceeding so the case can be resolved as soon as possible.
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