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Print First, Ask Questions Later

January 25, 2011

Sunday’s New York Times Metropolitan Section featured assessments of various neighborhood blocks by local residents, a kind of grass-roots State of the City report.  Here’s one report on a stretch of Dekalb Avenue in Clinton Hill by area resident Catherine Kunicki.  Wouldn’t you know it?  Everything was fine until those darned bike lanes were put in.

Since the bike lanes were enabled, there has been a marked increase in traffic. This might be coincidence, but traffic changes designed for the ease of all the new downtown Brooklyn co-op and condo construction has resulted in our mainly residential street turning into a speedway. Other commercial streets nearby aren’t nearly as busy. The bike lanes, while welcome, have narrowed the increasing heavy traffic stream, resulting in a dangerous situation for pedestrians and bikers alike.

Yes, it might be a coincidence.  Perhaps the fact that there are is all those “new downtown Brooklyn co-op and condo” buildings has something to do with an uptick in traffic.  It may also be a coincidence, but since a bike lane opened across from the new dog run, there has been a marked increase in dogs.

There have already been many pedestrian casualties, including the death of a young woman riding a motor scooter.

As sad as any death is, a “young woman riding a motor scooter” is not a pedestrian.

On our corner, at times, there has been an accident a week because a cross street has no traffic signal.

Has there really been an accident a week?  Could the Times verify this claim before allowing it to be printed?

I don’t believe that the random observations of one Brooklyn resident are all that important, since no one can be reasonably expected to control for all of the illogical and irrational thinking that exists in this world.  Even this article is not such a big deal, but it does make me wonder why the Times continues to give voice to unsubstantiated claims that bike lanes are even tangentially causing a neighborhood’s traffic and safety woes.  That’s not to say that mentioning bike lanes in a negative context is verboten, but that the Times, even in minor neighborhood reports like this, has a responsibility to verify some claims before printing them.

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