Landmark Lawsuit Alleges NYC Worked With ‘Radical’ Bike Lane Lobbyists

Park Slope Residents Demand Lanes Be Removed Immediately

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.

Think bike lanes are being forced down residents’ throats? Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below.

More from Marcia Kramer
Comments

One Comment

  1. Stan says:

    Isn’t it curious that the city is able to fund bike lanes but cannot pay teachers’ salaries?

  2. local resident says:

    Typical response from a bike zealot with a political agenda. You don’t have the brain power to respond with rational argument and instead resort to personal attacks. No SUV, no kids, jog 3 miles a day, avid cyclist, own a car, and resident for 26 years. In those years, I’ve never had a problem riding my bike anywhere in the neighborhood or around Brooklyn generally. I like bike lanes. I like the one on 3rd St. I like the one on 2nd St. The lanes in Prospect Park is great. I like the lanes along the Belt Parkway, on the Brooklyn Bridge and on the West Side Highway. The lane on PPW is ridiculous for the reasons mentioned below. I’ve been riding my bike up and down the former PPW for years without a problem. It was wide, with a wide shoulder and rarely had traffic in all three lanes at the same time. What did you do before bike lanes, quake in your boots? Perhaps you should hire a personal valet to escort you around town.

  3. local resident says:

    Valerie, Typical response from a bike zealot with a political agenda. You don’t have the brain power to respond with rational argument and instead resort to personal attacks and bigotry. No SUV, no kids, jog 3 miles a day, avid cyclist, own a car, and resident for 26 years. In those years, I’ve never had a problem riding my bike anywhere in the neighborhood or around Brooklyn generally. I like bike lanes. I like the one on 3rd St. I like the one on 2nd St. The lanes in Prospect Park is great. I like the lanes along the Belt Parkway, on the Brooklyn Bridge and on the West Side Highway. The lane on PPW is ridiculous for the reasons mentioned below. I’ve been riding my bike up and down the former PPW for years without a problem. It was wide, with a wide shoulder and rarely had traffic in all three lanes at the same time. What did you do before bike lanes, quake in your boots? Maybe you shoud hire a valet to escort you around town.

  4. Linda Marcus says:

    How were the bike lanes funded?

  5. Valerie says:

    Eliminating the bike lane is just going to make PPW more dangerous for both cars and bikes, not eliminate bicycle traffic. This sounds like the bellyaching of chubby residential Brooklynites checking in with the local political climate for the first time since they’ve had the kids and bought the SUV. Bikes have a right to the road, belong on the road, and are the best personal vehicles for the road, especially in urban environments.

    1. local resident says:

      Typical response from a bike zealot with a broader political agenda. You can’t respond rationally and instead resort to personal attacks and bigotry. No kids, no SUV, jog 3 miles a day, avid cyclist, own a car, living in Park Slope for 26 years and have spent those years cycling anywhere I want in and around Park Slope without difficulty. I like the bike lane on 3rd St. I like the bike lane on 2nd St. The lanes in the park are great. The lane on PPW is ridiculous for the reasons mentioned in my prior post. I’ve been riding my bike on PPW for years and never found the need for a bike liane. The shoulder was wide and traffic rarely filled all three lanes at the same time. What did you do before bike lanes, shake in your boots?

    2. local resident says:

      Typical response from a bike zealot with a political agenda. You don’t have the brain power to respond with rational argument and instead resort to personal attacks and bigotry. No SUV, no kids, jog 3 miles a day, avid cyclist, own a car, and resident for 26 years. In those years, I’ve never had a problem riding my bike anywhere in the neighborhood or around Brooklyn generally. I like bike lanes. I like the one on 3rd St. I like the one on 2nd St. The lanes in Prospect Park is great. I like the lanes along the Belt Parkway, on the Brooklyn Bridge and on the West Side Highway. The lane on PPW is ridiculous for the reasons mentioned below. I’ve been riding my bike up and down the former PPW for years without a problem. It was wide, with a wide shoulder and rarely had traffic in all three lanes at the same time. What did you do before bike lanes, quake in your boots?

  6. local resident says:

    This article confirms what many residents have long felt. The process of approving, installing and defending the PPW bike lane has been corrupt from the beginning. While I’m an advocate of a greener NYC and greater bike lane availability, the PPW bike lane was ill conceived. Among other things, it is redundant with the adjacent lane in Prospect Park, has increased traffic and related air/noise pollution, is dangerous to pedestrians and drivers attempting to park or exit vehicles on PPW, severely impairs emergency vehicle passage during stress periods (recent snow storms) and adds little relative benefit to any cyclist commuting in/through Park Slope. The corrupt link between the DOT and bike lobby clarifies a lot of things for me. I was mystified as to why our community board members and local elected officials were dismissive of rational arguments against the lane by local residents. It also explains why the belligerent and irrational behavior of the bike lobby was allowed to carry any weight in the decisions making process. In addition to investigating DOT/bike lobby email, I’d also be interested in the extent of complicity among community board members advocating/defending the lane.

    1. ringrunner says:

      Wow,. local resident. Have you actually seen PPW in the last 10 years?

    2. local resident says:

      live right next to it. walk it twice a day every day. and you?

  7. Prospect Park West resident says:

    Put the bike lanes in Prospect Park where they belong. Don’t a) ruin a wide boulevard on a landmark block, b) increase traffic as a method of traffic calming rather than adding and timing traffic lights, c) narrow an emergency evacuation route as well as one used by the Fire Dept. and ambulances, and d) increase noise from honking and emissions from cars that become gridlocked when one person double parks in order to unload groceries or to unload a crowd of people for the park. And especially don’t eliminate over 20 parking spots in a parking starved neighborhood–because when crowds come to the park in good weather, everyone suffers. The fact is that it’s cheaper to drive a family of four to Prospect Park from anywhere in NYC than to take the subway. Four subway fares, round trip=$18. That will still buy you 5 gallons of gas, which can drive you anywhere from 100 to 200 miles depending on the mileage your car gets. Say you have to drive 5 miles–so you use, what, 70 cents worth of gas. Would you rather spend 70 cents or $18. And its simply not practical to ride a bike five miles to the park, especially with small children. Wake up hard core cyclists–you are a small minority in this city and the greater good is served by making it better for the motorists–who far outnumber you, and yes, who vote. Whether or not this lawsuit works, the next mayor will tears these lanes out.

  8. Dan says:

    When are people going to wake up and smell the petrolium. We need to move away from an oil based economy and bike lanes are at the root of this process. As usual the Europeans are decades ahead (like with trains) and we sit around arguing why are we doing this. I am so fed up with the car centric attitude that permeates this city. Long live the Bike lanes!!

  9. M to the I says:

    The bike lane rules! CBS sucks!

  10. Charlie says:

    It’s totally outrageous that people would sue over improvements that have made a street safer and more accommodating for everyone. Do they really have nothing better to do?

  11. ringrunner says:

    Would someone please tell me what problem Marcia Kramer and a few politically connected people have with the traffic calming devises and bike lane that has been installed on PPW. The road is safer for everyone now.

  12. Rich Scorce says:

    RIP THEM ALL UP. THE DOT AND SADIK KHAN HAVE BEEN OUT OF CONTROL. SEE THE NY TIMES METRO SECTION 3/6

  13. MMR says:

    Doing the same thing with LIFO I am sure!

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