"City Hall has turned to its savviest political strategist, Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson, to lead a stepped-up public-relations blitz aimed at strengthening support for the lanes and minimizing political fallout for Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg," The New York Times reports.
The Times says:
"It is rare for a deputy mayor to step directly into a municipal dispute over street space. But aides to Mr. Bloomberg say they have been increasingly frustrated in recent weeks over a spate of negative publicity for the bicycle lanes, which have provoked a lawsuit accusing the city of misrepresenting traffic data and widespread criticism forJanette Sadik-Khan, the transportation commissioner.
"The city, the aides concluded, had not been aggressive enough in making its case. 'We allowed the other side to frame this debate,' Mr. Wolfson said in an interview. 'That’s really the bottom line: our voice was missing here.'”
"Opponents of the lanes are embarking on their own media offensive. Jim Walden, a lawyer representing the Brooklyn residents who sued the city over a bike lane on Prospect Park West, appeared on NY1 and 'The Brian Lehrer Show,' the popular WNYC program, to explain his clients’ allegations that the city fudged traffic data and tried to subvert the public review process. (Not to be outdone, Mr. Wolfson came on the next day to offer his side.)"
Walden asserted about bike lanes: “There are a huge number of people who don’t like them, don’t want them, or don’t feel safe.”
On the city's website, Wolfson posted a memo making the case that community boards have frequently been consulted on installation of bike lanes. Among its points:
• 255 miles of bike lanes have been added in the last four years. The City has 6,000 miles of streets.
• Bike lanes improve safety. Though cycling in the city has more than doubled in the last four years, the number of fatal cycling crashes and serious injuries has declined due to the safer bike network.
• When protected bike lanes are installed, injury crashes for all road users (drivers, pedestrians, cyclists), typically drop by 40 percent and by more than 50 percent in some locations.
• From 2001 through 2005, four pedestrians were killed in bike-pedestrian accidents. From 2006 through 2010, while cycling in the city doubled, three pedestrians were killed in bike-pedestrian accidents.
• 66 percent of the bike lanes installed have had no effects on parking or on the number of moving lanes.
• Projects are constantly being changed post-installation, after the community provides input and data about the conditions on the street.
"This month, Transportation Alternatives, New York City’s leading bike advocacy group, hired a professional public-relations firm for the first time in its 38-year history, citing in part the rising interest in the topic," The Times noted.