A group of well-to-do New Yorkers are threatening to put the brakes on the city's ever-expanding bike path plan.
The plan, which has yet to fully be executed here in Astoria but has already made strides in areas of Manhattan and Brooklyn, is being called a hazard in a lawsuit filed by the group, many members of which have close ties Senator Charles Schumer's wife, Iris Weinshall. They're being represented pro bono by lawyer Jim Walden, a contributor to the 2010 campaign of Mr. Schumer, who is filing the suit based on a state statute that allows challenges to government actions believed to be arbitrary or unfair.
The suit claims the city's Department of Transportation misled the public about the benefits of the lanes along Prospect Park West. They also say the department carefully selected stats that would put the lane proposal in a better light, avoided a public review of the project, ignored environmental reviews, and says the DOT was in cahoots with bike advocates to overwhelm community opposition. They add that the lanes create a danger, cutting down on the space for cars and blocking the line of sight of people crossing the street on foot.
If the suit is successful, it could inspire similar suits, which could bring the development of bike lanes here in Astoria and throughout New York City to a crashing halt.
Seth Solomonow, a spokesman for the DOT, told the New York Times that the department listened to both supporters and critics of the program, and they the bike lane program has been a success.
“This project has clearly delivered the benefits the community asked for,” Solomonow said in an email to the Times. “Speeding is down dramatically, crashes are down, injuries are down, and bike ridership has doubled on weekends and tripled on weekdays.”
The Times also says Brad Lander, a City Council member whose district overlaps part of the lane, conducted a survey last year that found that more than 70 percent of residents in Park Slope, Brooklyn, supported the lane. However, only about half of the residents on wealthy Prospect Park West were in favor.
What do you think? Are the bike lanes a help or a hazard? Do you want to see more of them here in Astoria?