Release the Tapes!
This video isn’t news anymore, but it’s a real Rorschach test for anyone who watches it. Is all of that traffic a new and dangerous development caused by the bike lane or is the bike lane the only thing that allows the ambulance to get around the kind of traffic you see all over New York every day?
I first recall the subject of video coming up at the December CB6 meeting and then again at January’s DOT presentation, but it actually goes back to at least November 7, 2010, when, according to NBBL’s own report [PDF], they began a “verifiable 12-day video surveillance…from the window of a dwelling on PPW near Grand Army Plaza.” (14 Prospect Park West.) That means that they’ve been recording the activity on the street, sidewalk, and bike lane on this stretch of PPW for almost four months, sometimes for twelve hours a day. So how much video has NBBL released so far?
In their report the group claims that “pedestrian and vehicular safety has in fact decreased,” and that since the lane opened in June there’s been a slight uptick in bike and car accidents compared with rates for previous years. If accidents and traffic jams are happening with the frequency NBBL claims, why hasn’t the group released any more video?
There are two possibilities:
- NBBL is holding back the really damning stuff for a potential lawsuit or for another TV and newspaper story.
- This is all they have.
I’m inclined to think number 2 is the answer, but let’s say it’s not. If there is something really terrible on those tapes–a cyclist injuring a pedestrian, a driver swerving to avoid an open car door on the newly narrowed PPW, etc.–I think it would be in everyone’s best interest to release it publicly. If NBBL has video that could help remove what they believe is the true cause of danger in the neighborhood, and get that danger removed sooner rather than later, I believe they have a moral obligation to release whatever footage they have in order to make their case.
I don’t know when the next hearing on this subject will be, and lord knows we’ve had enough of them, but when it happens I hope everyone encourages NBBL to be the good neighbors they claim to be and release the videos for public viewing.