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Full Lander/Bashner Press Release

June 3, 2011

Press Release: Councilmember Brad Lander and Former CB 6 Chair Richard Bashner File Amicus Brief in Support of Prospect Park West Bike Path

Legal Brief Details an Inclusive, Democratic Process with Community Support

Brooklyn, NY – City Councilmember Brad Lander and former Brooklyn Community Board 6 Chairman Richard Bashner today filed an amicus curiae brief in support of the Prospect Park West two-way bike path and traffic reconfiguration. Lander and Bashner’s brief shows that the process that led to the path’s installation was inclusive and democratic, initiated by the community board to enhance safety, involved multiple community meetings that attracted hundreds of people, and is supported by the community board, civic institutions, and a majority community residents.

Opponents of the bike path sued the City of New York in an Article 78 proceeding, claiming that the NYC Department of Transportation’s decision to install the bike path was “arbitrary and capricious.” Lander and Bashner’s amicus brief shows that DOT acted at the request of the community, in full public view, in support of neighborhood goals for safety.

Bashner, a resident of Prospect Park West, served as chairperson of Community Board 6 from January 2007 to December 2010, during the time the path was requested, debated, approved by CB6, and installed (and has been a member of CB6 since 1999).  He has filed this brief in an individual capacity; no other CB6 board members or staff were involved in the preparation of the brief. Lander is the City Councilmember for the 39th District in Brooklyn, which includes much of Park Slope; he was also a member of CB6 from 2007 to 2009, prior to his election to the City Council. DLA Piper LLP (US) provided pro bono representation to Bashner and Lander in preparing this brief.

By filing this “friend of the court” brief, Councilmember Lander and Richard Bashner are helping inform the court of the facts regarding the long history of public participation in the creation of the Prospect Park West bike path. The Lander/Bashner brief recounts the democratic, inclusive, well-noticed, collaborative decision-making process around the Prospect Park West path, including many of the following:

  • March, 2007: At a Park Slope community meeting attended by hundreds, concerns about speeding and safety on Prospect Park West are raised, noting that cars exceed 60 MPH, and that many cars substantially exceed the speed limit.
  • June, 2007: CB6 sends a letter to DOT, requesting study of a protected, two-way bike path on Prospect Park West as a way to reduce speeding and improve safety.
  • April, 2009: DOT presents initial plan for parking-separated path to CB6 Transportation Committee, which unanimously voted to approve the plan.
  • May, 2009: The full CB6 board votes to approve the plan, 18 – 9, with suggested modifications.
  • April, 2010: CB6, Lander, DOT sponsor an open house, attended by hundreds, showing design plan for additional public comment.
  • April, 2010: DOT presents the modified design (addressing many issues raised by CB6 and community residents) to CB6.
  • June, 2010: Prospect Park West parking-protected, two-way bike path is installed.
  • Summer, 2010: Lander meets with bike path opponents and supporters.
  • July, 2010: Lander requests that DOT commit to provide data to community, after the path has been in operation for several months, on how the path is working.
  • August, 2010: DOT commits to provide data, and report back to the community in early 2011.
  • October, 2010: Lander, Councilmember Steve Levin, and CB6 conduct a detailed survey on the path, completed by over 3,000 Brooklynites, which reveals significant support for the path, and suggests some additional modifications.
  • October, 2010: DOT releases first round of data, showing dramatic reductions in speeding and sidewalk cycling, and significant increases in cycling.
  • January, 2011: DOT presents data to CB6 (at a meeting attended by hundreds) on the first six months of the path’s operation, showing speeding, accidents, and injuries are down, travel time remains constant, sidewalk riding is down, cycling is up.  DOT also proposes additional design modifications in response to community requests, including raised pedestrian islands and bike rumble-strips to improve bike/pedestrian interactions.
  • March, 2011: CB6 holds public hearing (attended by hundreds), at which the significant majority of community residents present favor the bike path.
  • April, 2011:  CB6 votes unanimously to approve the raised pedestrian islands, bike rumble strips, and other design modifications proposed by DOT (requesting that the design of the islands be contextual with Prospect Park West).

“The process surrounding the installation of the Prospect Park West bike path has been inclusive, transparent, collaborative, and democratic,” said Councilmember Brad Lander.  “The vast majority of Park Slope residents support the path, believe it makes the community safer, and want it to remain.”

“I am proud of the extensive democratic process that took place here,” said Richard Bashner.  “Community Board 6, heeding the calls of the community, requested traffic calming on Prospect Park West to eliminate dangerous speeding.  At our specific request, DOT studied the question of whether a two-way protected bicycle path could be installed on Prospect Park West, and developed a plan for implementation.  We approved the concept, provided extensive opportunities for residents to make their opinions heard at many public meetings, suggested changes to the design, and worked with DOT on modifications before and after its implementation.  DOT should be lauded for its collaborative community process, rather than being accused of making an ‘arbitrary and capricious’ decision. Thanks to this process, Prospect Park West – the street where I live – is much safer today.  Traffic is now much closer to the 30 mph legal speed limit, bicycles and cars are separated, and pedestrians have an easier time crossing the street because they now have to cross only two lanes of car traffic instead of three.”

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