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Prize Fighter

March 7, 2011

While everyone was foaming at the mouth over Michael Grynbaum’s Janette Sadik-Khan story in the Times, you might have missed the latest salvo from Post columnist Michael Goodwin on Sunday.  This is Goodwin’s second pot-shot at the DOT in about a week, and it’s filled with the typical derisive nicknames and freedom from reality one can expect from the Post.

It’s not just that the Bicycle Zealot is hostile to anything on four wheels. It’s that her determination to chop up streets for her pet cause is wasting millions of dollars, creating congestion and damaging credibility — hers and, increasingly, the mayor’s.

Sadik-Khan has a wide reputation for massaging data and for moving the goalposts on things like traffic speed if results don’t match her promises. A Brooklyn group is fed up and plans to file suit this week, accusing her of peddling false stats on bike use and accidents on Prospect Park West.

So, the best a Pulitzer Prize winning columnist can do is recycle insults from Marty Markowitz.  Plus, he repeats the meme that the city’s bike lane infrastructure is costing “millions of dollars,” which probably stirs images of Sadik-Khan burning the ink off of hundred-dollar bills to make green paint.  In fact, the entire bike lane network has cost $8.8 million dollars, with 80% of that coming from Washington, meaning the actual cost to NYC is less than $2 million.  That’s almost millions, but not actually millions.  As Streetsblog, Gothamist, and others have pointed out, that’s also less than what DOT has spent to repair pot holes this winter, and the department is not even done yet.  (It’s also a drop in the bucket compared with the $190.4 million DOT paving budget.)

Whether or not bike lanes have caused congestion has actually been studied, in case Goodwin cares to prove how he earned that Pulitzer.  One example is that the new PPW moves the same amount of cars in the same amount of time as it did before it had a bike lane.  Travel times near Times Square have actually improved since pedestrian plazas were installed.  It’s convenient, however, to push the fantasy that traffic in New York City was more tolerable before Sadik-Khan was appointed in 2007.  Remember how no one ever got stuck in traffic ever, anywhere and you could always find a parking space?  Those were the good ole days.

Speaking of moving the goal posts, Goodwin writes that Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes, the “Brooklyn group,” is planning to file their law suit this week.  But Transportation Nation reported on February 4 that NBBL was then “expected to come next week.”  I know these things can take time, but one month later there’s still no lawsuit, only rumors.

Give Goodwin credit however.  His article is the rare example of the Post choosing correctly between pedaling and peddling.

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