Marty Markowitz Tipped Off Motorists, or, Why We’re Winning
Remember when Marty Markowitz claimed that DOT had secretly tipped off cyclists to ride the Prospect Park West bike lane and inflate DOT’s cycling counts? Well, if you live on Plaza Street, Marty tipped you off to last night’s Community Board meeting about the Plaza Street bike lanes. Granted, the letter isn’t specifically targeted to motorists, nor does it explicitly call for them to speak out against the plan, but the tone is pretty clear.
I’ve joked before that any claim a bike lane opponent makes about the powerful and radical bike lane lobby is likely to be little more than the equivalent of “I’m rubber and you’re glue,” and there’s no better evidence than this letter. When’s the last time Marty used the influence of his office–and our taxpayer dollars–to alert people to the significant changes coming to the area that didn’t involve bikes?
That being said, I’m glad everyone, opponents included, had the chance to weigh in on Plaza Street last night. That’s democracy in action and it was on full display. While I’m disappointed that we were unable to push Class 1 bike lane through both transportation committees, I do think this plan is a baby step in the right direction towards full protection. If anything, it creates a “greenprint” on Plaza Street that further legitimizes cycling as a valid transportation choice and sets a precedent that contra-flow bike lanes are accepted practice.
I’m especially proud of the way complete street activists and supporters behaved themselves at the meeting. I’m sure the “other side” might say the opposite, but everyone who spoke in favor of full protection and improvements for cyclists and pedestrians was respectful and considerate. The hissing, booing, and wild exclamations from angry motorists–at one point someone yelled at a nervous 8-year-old bike lane supporter–included a tired list of complaints that were so selfish (“Now I have to look both ways!”) and laughable (“Bikes cause pollution!”) that it actually gave me hope. When the best arguments opponents can come up with are the same ones that were dismissed the last time around you know we’re winning.
Evidence of that came from the parts of the meeting that most people did not see. Our committee approved Park Slope’s first on-street bike parking, to be located in front of Gorilla Coffee at 5th and Park Place, and a set of bike lanes for 3rd Street in Gowanus. More on both later.