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Overall, it was a case of the means justifying the end.
Democratic mayoral candidates agree: the city failed to do enough outreach before installing the controversial Prospect Park West bike lane — but making a section of the street for cyclists only was probably a good idea anyway.
The consensus of true-blue hizzoner hopefuls at a May 6 forum in Park Slope was that the city should have gone further in getting neighborhood feedback before converting a lane of the thoroughfare into a two-way route for bikes. The change bred bitter hostility among many residents and provoked several lawsuits.
City Comptroller John Liu claimed that the Department of Transportation falsely boasted of having gotten community backing for the lane — despite moderator Andrea Bernstein’s points that the agency got the approval of the local community board and that polling indicated most neighborhood residents backed the plan. Still, Liu admitted he might have installed the pedal path himself if he were mayor.
“Maybe I would have done it if I had determined it was something the community wanted,” said Liu.
Former Comptroller Bill Thompson also condemned the city’s process without condemning the lane itself.
“You need an inclusive process where you talk to the community boards and talk to the merchants,” the Bedford-Stuyvesant native said.
Council Speaker Christine Quinn blasted the outreach effort while praising the Bloomberg Administration’s pro-cyclist stances.
“Those communities that said there wasn’t enough community input, they were right,” said Quinn. “But the expansion of bike lanes throughout the city has been a good thing.”
Public Advocate — and Park Slope resident — Bill DeBlasio said he felt left out of the community approval process and disliked the bike lane at first, but had since decided it was ultimately an improvement.
“I think it worked in the end. It’s better than bikes on the sidewalk.”
Former Bay Ridge councilman Sal Albanese was the only unqualified supporter of the pedal path — and vowed that there would be plenty more like it under his administration.
“Bikes are the way to go,” said Albanese.Reach reporter Will Bredderman at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow him at twitter.com/WillBredderman.
©2013 Community Newspaper Group
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