One day, New Yorkers woke up and their city was lined with green lanes with bike emblems on them. Some acclimated immediately to the new system, but others, like a group of "Well-connected New Yorkers" in Park Slope, didn't. And now they're suing the city to get rid of the Prospect Park West bike lane.
The lawsuit, filed by a group with close ties to Iris Weinshall, the city's transportation commissioner from 2000 to 2007 and the wife of Senator Charles E. Schumer, accuses the Transportation Department of misleading residents about the benefits of the lane, cherry-picking statistics on safety improvements and collaborating with bicycle activists to quash community opposition.
Opponents, like Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, have said the bike lane reduces room for cars and makes it more difficult for drivers to see pedestrians.
The lawsuit also criticizes some of the Department of Transportation's major objectives, including creating pedestrian walkways in Midtown and over-saturating the city with bike lanes.
The transportation department announced last week that it would cancel plans to create a pedestrian plaza on 34th Street, after businesses and residents complained. Opponents worried that side-street traffic would significantly increase under the proposal.
DOT's walking-friendly initiatives, like installing curbs in pedestrian plazas, have also caused the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade route to be changed twice in the last two years.
In some ways the bike lawsuit's criticisms mirror those leveled against Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan.
An article in last Friday's Times described the DOT chief as being "notorious for a brusque, I-know-best style and a reluctance to compromise."
But the department's decision to cancel the 34th street pedestrian plaza last week would indicate that there is at least some open dialogue between the community and the DOT.
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