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Brooklyn Spoke

December 7, 2010

The results of city council member Brad Lander’s survey about the Prospect Park West bike lane are in and the result is not surprising to anyone who attended the rally in October: Brooklynites want the bike lane.

A few things to point out:

  1. Along PPW there is still overwhelming support for the bike lane.  57% of people on PPW and side streets are in favor of it.  Put another way, if a presidential candidate was elected with 57% of the vote that would be considered a mandate.
  2. Elsewhere in Park Slope, support soars to 81%.  Expanding outward to include more of Brooklyn brings support to an astronomical 90%.
  3. The survey is not scientific; it was online and open to anyone with the motivation to participate.  But if there really was greater opposition to the bike lane, the numbers might be in the sixty to seventy percent approval range, not eighty to ninety.

I can already hear opponents dismissing the survey out of hand because the survey is not scientific.  But there have already been scientific studies by both Park Slope Neighbors and the DOT and those results were clear: the bike lane has reduced speeding and made the street safer for pedestrians.  Never mind the facts, however:

James Bernard, a community board member and resident of Prospect Park West, said his opposition was undiminished.

Image via Streetsblog.orgHere’s a better version of Bernard’s statement: “Yes, the study shows that the bike lane has cured cancer, resulted in the surrender of Osama Bin Laden, stopped global warming, and God Himself has released His own scientific study, but such facts are of no consequence to me.”  Some people will be opposed to the bike lane or any measures to make PPW safer, and no amount of scientific studies will change their minds.  When such people dismiss facts and data, they, too, deserve to be dismissed.

The other side will claim that the survey was hijacked by a group of well-organized online activists.  But remember that the Internet is open to anyone; Streetsblog and web-savvy neighborhood activists do not have to play with a handicap just because those who live on PPW may not be on Twitter and Facebook in huge numbers.  Even with a lopsided online presence, you don’t get 90% approval on anything in Brooklyn if the support isn’t actually there.  (Credit must be given to Lander’s office, who “emailed, leafleted, and canvassed residents door-to-door to get a sampling of opinion” included in the survey.)

The anti side has tried over and over again to galvanize support to remove the bike lane.  Such support has failed.  Period.  It is time to start looking forward to a Prospect Park West where a bike lane is a permanent part of the streetscape.  Whether it was at the October bike lane rally at which the anti crowd was outnumbered four or five to one by the pro side or again in this survey, the message is loud and clear: Brooklyn wants its bike lane.

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