UPDATE: The New York Times reported in a Page 1 article March 8 that a group of well-connected New Yorkers has "taken the unusual step of suing the city to remove a controversial bicycle lane in a wealthy neighborhood of Brooklyn, the most potent sign yet of opposition to the Bloomberg administration’s marquee campaign to remake the city’s streets."
The suit, in State Supreme Court, seeks only the removal of a bike lane on Prospect Park West, but "incorporates criticisms of the administration’s overall approach in carrying out the high-profile initiatives of its transportation commissioner, Janette Sadik-Khan, including placing pedestrian plazas in Times and Herald Squares and rededicating dozens of miles of traffic lanes for bicycle use," according to The Times.
One of the debaters, Caroline Samponaro, director of bicycle advocacy for Transportation Alternatives, argues: "Bike lanes insert order on streets that were once governed by chaos. Before bike lanes came to Brooklyn’s Prospect Park West, 75 percent of cars were speeding. With the lanes installed, fewer than one in four cars break the speed limit. On Manhattan’s Ninth Avenue, sidewalk cycling fell 84 percent after the bike lanes went in. According to the Department of Transportation, streets with the lanes see 40 percent fewer fatal or injurious crashes than streets without them."
Here is New Urban Network's March 6 report on the backlash against Sadik-Khan:
Last week Janette Sadik-Khan, New York City's transportation commissioner, withdrew a plan to ban car traffic on 34th Street between Herald Square and the Empire State Building after complaints from businesses, residents, and the New York Post.
Now The New York Times is portraying Sadik-Khan as a public figure who has accomplished much but who has antagonized many people across the city. A long article on the front of the Metropolitan section includes these passages:
"In four years as commissioner, Ms. Sadik-Khan has earned international fame for transforming the car-clogged streetsof New York. She has directed the installation of more than 250 miles of bicycle lanes, turned parts of Broadway into pedestrian plazas and eliminated hundreds of parking spots across the city. Even some of her critics concede they are impressed with the scope and the speed of her achievements.
"But among the city’s political class, Ms. Sadik-Khan has also become notorious for a brusque, I-know-best style and a reluctance to compromise."
“'Even if one appreciates some of Janette’s goals, it’s clear the approach has been very alienating all over the city,' said Bill de Blasio, the city’s public advocate. 'There is a needless level of conflict.'"
"In Brooklyn, where a group has threatened to sue the Transportation Department in hopes of removing a new bike lane along Prospect Park West, Marty Markowitz, the borough president, recently delighted an audience by entering an auditorium riding a tricycle and announcing, 'I’ve taken advantage of the D.O.T.’s newest bike lane.'”
"DEVOTEES refer to her as 'J. S. K.' and lionize her as the brave and forward-thinking city planner who ushered in a golden age for bicyclists, pedestrians and environmentalists. Two-wheeled ridership has doubled during her tenure; European-style rapid-transit buses now ply exclusive, camera-enforced lanes; and fewer people have been killed in traffic accidents on New York’s streets than at any time in the past century, according to city records."
“'She takes her agency’s mission of improving safety very, very seriously,' said Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives, an advocacy group that has been a close ally of Ms. Sadik-Khan’s. 'It’s why she does things quickly, and it’s why she does things sometimes too aggressively for people, but ultimately it’s to save lives and to achieve a better balance on our streets.'”
"Persuading the mayor to ban cars from that and other parts of Midtown Manhattan, a dream of New York planners for decades, catapulted Ms. Sadik-Khan to celebrity."
"Several politicians have recently started to see changes in the commissioner: courtesy phone calls that would not have been placed before; a receptive tone rather than a skeptical one. Scott M. Stringer, the Manhattan borough president, was surprised last month when Ms. Sadik-Khan pledged to accept some of his suggestions about a bicycle lane on the Upper West Side."