BY ROXANNA ASGARIAN
First published in The Brooklyn Paper, August 3, 2010
Drivers are much more likely to adhere to posted speed limits on Prospect Park West, thanks to the controversial bike lane that reduced the roadway to two lanes from three, a new study has found.
Park Slope Neighbors — which supported the construction of the bike lane between Grand Army Plaza and Bartel Pritchard Circle on the grounds that it would reduce Prospect Park West’s speedway-like conditions — said that its readings reveal a five-fold increase in adherence to the speed limit and a 95-percent reduction in drivers traveling above 40 miles per hour.
“Going from three lanes to two has had a surprising effect,” said Eric McClure, who took readings near Garfield Place both before and after the bike lane was installed. “New York is not an easy place to cycle. With lanes like this being put in place, it’s getting easier.”
Not everyone was heralding the group’s findings. Indeed, Borough President Markowitz questioned the validity of the Park Slope Neighbors report.
“This group is not impartial; in fact, it has supported the installation of the bike lane since day one without regard for anyone who would be adversely affected,” said Markowitz, whose initial opposition to the bike lane last year led to a substantial delay in its implementation.
Markowitz said the “traffic-calming” plan has done no such thing for drivers.
“Double-parking is still commonplace and the result is more noise from car-honking, more pollution from traffic jams and more frustration to residents and visitors alike,” Markowitz said.
Cyclists, though, believe that the report validates what they’ve been saying since the lane was finished last month: it is working.
“The lane is much safer for the cyclists,” said Omar Baltadano, who uses it every morning.
The rhetoric about the bike lane has certainly been heated, but it is unclear which group is in the majority. One indication, however, is the online world, where the anti-bike lane Facebook group, “Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes,” has 320 members, while its counterpart in favor of the lane has 1,500 members