Not in our front yard!
That’s what a majority of Prospect Park West residents are saying about their boulevard’s controversial bike lane, according to a survey conducted by Park Slope’s two councilmen.
Just over 50 percent of residents of the formerly three-lane boulevard — which was cut down to two lanes to accommodate a two-way protected bike lane in June — said that the street should be returned to its original configuation.
Of the survey’s 3,150 respondants, 272 identified themselves as Prospect Park West residents. Only 31 percent favor retaining the new format and 18 percent favor doing so with “some changes.”
But Prospect Park West opponents were in the minority of respondants. In the full survey, only 22 percent said that the city should return the roadway to its original three-lane configuration, while 54 percent want to keep it the way it is and 24 percent want to retain the new configuration, albeit with “some changes.”
To Councilman Brad Lander (D–Park Slope), that’s a slam dunk.
“There are deep and passionate feelings, but this survey reveals strong overall support from community residents,” said Lander, who prepared the study with Councilman Steve Levin.
But bike lane opponent Mary Kathryn Roelofs questioned the validity of the survey.
“Anyone could have filled it out repeatedly,” she said. “I myself got two in the mail.”
Roelofs, who lives just off Prospect Park West, said she believes that “the vast majority of Park Slope residents — close to 80 percent — oppose this lane.” (A spokesman for Lander said that duplicate survey answers were thrown out.)
Overall, the majority of respondents reported that they feel safer walking and biking on Prospect Park West, which has long been described as a speedway for motorists, and a danger to pedestrians who were left to dodge cyclists on the wide sidewalk. Bikers said they feel safer now with their protected lane.
Indeed, 85 percent of survey respondents feel that the project has “very much” or “somewhat” met the goal of reducing speeding and 91 percent feel it has “very much” or “somewhat” met the goal of creating a safer space for biking.
A majority of respondents — 53 percent — did feel that it was harder for pedestrians to cross the bike lane because of its two-way configuration. And some complained that traffic had gotten worse on the strip.
“Taking away a lane of traffic has caused a lot of congestion,” Roelofs said. “If someone double-parks, Prospect Park West turns into a one-lane road.”
The 13-question survey was collected online and in-person from Oct. 15 to 30, a period that included dueling protests on the lane .
Both councilmembers cautioned that the study is not scientific and is not “intended as a referendum on the project.”
That said, the survey will provide the Department of Transportation with a powerful tool as it considers whether to make the changes permanent.
Modifications are also possible, including redesigning the pedestrian crossings, raising the pedestrian buffer at intersections, and improving loading and unloading zones, which tend to cause congestion during summer weekends when many drivers drop off their athletically minded offspring for games in the park.
The findings are available at http://www.bradlander.com/ppwsurvey.
©2010 Community Newspaper Group
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