Rich New Yorkers launch legal action over bike lane

Well-heeled Brooklynites object to cycling infrastructure in their midst

by Mark Appleton   March 10, 2011  

New York

It’s a legal battle that appears to encapsulate the worst of both anti-cycling and NIMBY attitudes.

Wealthy residents of New York’s Brooklyn borough are launching legal proceedings against civic authorities in a bid to have a cycle lane there removed, largely, it seems, on the grounds that the facility doesn’t really benefit them.

The lawsuit, which was filed on Monday in the State Supreme Court in Brooklyn, is the latest development in what has hitherto simply been an acrimonious debate over a bike path installed by the civic authorities last summer beside Prospect Park West.

The legal challenge is seeking the removal of the lane but also contains criticism of the city’s moves to make New York a more bike- and pedestrian-friendly environment. Those moves have included  the pedestrianisation of Times and Herald Squares and a change of use for dozens of miles of traffic lanes in favour of cyclists.

The lawsuit accuses New York’s Transportation Department of exaggerating the potential benefits of the Prospect Park lane, of selectively using statistics on safety improvements and of working in tandem with cycling activists to stifle community opposition to the project.

Opponents have claimed the two-way bike lane reduces space for cars and restricts pedestrians’ sightlines when crossing the street. New York state has a statute that allows citizens to challenge government actions considered arbitrary or unfair.

An official at the Transportation Department told the New York Times that civic authorities stood by the bike lane’s success. “This project has clearly delivered the benefits the community asked for. Speeding is down dramatically, crashes are down, injuries are down, and bike ridership has doubled on weekends and tripled on weekdays,” he said.

Opponents, however, disputed the department’s statistics and accuse transportation officials of ignoring statutory planning requirements.

At least one commentator has suggested that this case could be a forerunner to many similar legal actions not just in the US but around the world as it illustrates the fundamental problem between non-cyclists claiming to be inconvenienced by a cycle facility in their midst and cyclists from the wider community who feel they need the protection of cycling infrastructure in areas where they are not resident.

Others observers, however, suggest it is simply a local New York issue which has few ramifications for other cities around the world which are forging ahead with the cycling-led initiatives regardless of minority opposition.
 

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great story which could only happen in america of course!

posted by Karbon Kev [649 posts]
10th March 2011 - 16:53

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Quote:
There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning...

And that, I think, was the handle—that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting—on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave ....

So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark —that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.

That quote, from Hunter S Thompson's seminal Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, seems to be becoming more and more apt with regard to the push to return cycling to its rightful place as a respected form of transport, given a fair share of investment and land use.

posted by handlebarcam [527 posts]
10th March 2011 - 20:49

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the fundamental problem between non-cyclists claiming to be inconvenienced by a cycle facility in their midst and cyclists from the wider community who feel they need the protection of cycling infrastructure in areas where they are not resident.

Isn't it strange how people can feel the need to bring a lawsuit against the city just because they don't like something as unthreatening as a bike lane.

For the sake of New York's cyclists (and anyone else trying to reclaim urban spaces for people instead of cars) I hope they fail. Correction: I hope the cyclists WIN!

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posted by Simon E [1765 posts]
10th March 2011 - 23:23

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I am a cyclist - I am a driver - in fact, I am also a pedestrian - I have been wondering whether, in my pedestrian guise, I should take out a law suit to have roads removed, because they are not really of benefit to me. On the other hand, in my driver guise, I would like to remove all pavements and pedestrian crossings - in my cycling guise, I want all roads to go up (I like climbing) and have no potholes and no cars, lorries or other major vehicles whenever I want to ride ... oh, and to extend my multi-personality into the realms of the deluded, have all waterways removed because I cannot swim and they do nothing for me ! How ridiculous are these New Yorkers trying to ban ANYTHING they don't use/like ?

Cycling - not just a pastime or sport - free your soul on the open road.

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posted by timbola [200 posts]
11th March 2011 - 11:08

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Timbola has it right ! We all use facilities in a variety of ways and trying to impose our viewpoint on others by way of legal action is pathetic !
"Michael Moore says that 400 americans have more wealth than the poorer half segment of US Citizens ! One wonders if some of that 400 are involved in this frivolous action ?

Skippy(advocate for "Disabled / Para Sport")@skippydetour. blogging as skippi-cyclist.blogspot & Parrabuddy.blogspot currently on the road with ProTour Grand Tour Events .

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posted by skippy [372 posts]
12th March 2011 - 12:03

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