New York Observer | February 13, 2012
By Matt Chaban
It may not be the best weather for cycling, but the Prospect Park West bikelash is heating up again.
On Friday, Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes, the cleverly named community group opposing the lane alongside Prospect Park, appealed an August decision in Brooklyn Supreme Court not to hear its legal challenge against the city. The group still contends that the bike lane was an experiment, a trial never completed with community consultation, one that persists without community support—despite widespread polling and surveys to the contrary.
Now add to that the issue that, in the appellants’ view, the court dismissed the prior claim by using the experimental timeline when Justice Burt Bunyan ruled that the case could not proceed because the community groups waited too long to file their claim after the lane was installed in the summer of 2011.
“We filed our suit well within the appropriate time frame,” attorney Georgia Winston said in a press release. “The lawsuit clock started running only after the Department of Transportation made a final decision to permanently install the lane, in January 2011. Before that—throughout the summer and fall of 2010—the lane was repeatedly described as a ‘trial,’ including by the lane’s most fervent supporters.”
The group still wants its day in court, and is hoping the Appellate Court will provide it, so that it might perform discovery—something Justice Bunyan forbade repeatedly during the prior case—and thus prove the apparent conspirings of the city, local elected officials and bike zealots. “We still want to have a full hearing on all the issues raised by the DOT’s failure to conduct a proper safety study and collusion with pro-lane advocates,” Ms. Winston said.
Update: Michael Murphy, communications director for Transportation Alternatives, points out the timing of the appeal, which coincides almost to the day with the initial suit a year ago, during the doldrums of winter, when local media is almost as slow as traffic on the bike lane.
“It’s like complaining about the cost of a school cafeteria in July,” Mr. Murphy said. “It’s clearly a well-oiled publicity machine they’ve got going on, but it’s become a sad joke at this point.:”
He said the group’s appeals has nothing new to it and is “the legal equivalent of ‘Nuh uh!’”
Meanwhile, one city official said the appeal had no merit, adding that “We’re confident the city will prevail. Again.”
Update 2: “We are confident that the trial court’s decision in our favor will be upheld on appeal,” Mark Muschenheim, a senior counsel in the city’s Law Department, said in a statement. “The popular bike path continues to enhance the safety of all who use Prospect Park West.”