Schumer-Linked Group Wrongly Assumes That Council Backs Bike Lane Delay

The group of politically-connected Prospect Park West bike lane opponents linked to Senator Chuck Schumer wants the city to take a break from making streets safer for cyclists and pedestrians.

U.S. Senator and Prospect Park West resident Chuck Schumer. Photo: Noah Kazis

They call themselves “Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes,” but in a press release sent out yesterday, opponents of the Prospect Park West redesign make it pretty clear that, in a world where things are called what they actually are, NBBL would stand for “Never Build Bike Lanes.” The group, which is closely affiliated with Schumer’s spouse, former DOT Commissioner Iris Weinshall, wants to see a citywide moratorium on bike lane construction while the city puts into effect new bills that open up data on traffic crashes to the public. In behind the scenes conversations with members of the City Council, Schumer himself has lobbied against bike lanes, the Post reported last month.

NBBL’s press release mistakenly assumes that Council Speaker Christine Quinn and transportation committee chair James Vacca also back the idea of a bike lane moratorium. But Andrea Bernstein at Transportation Nation reports that Quinn and Vacca don’t support such a policy.

In addition to putting words in the mouths of City Council members, the NBBL press release perpetuates the myth that data on the Prospect Park West redesign has been lacking.

In fact, data on the Prospect Park West bike lane has been exhaustively collected and promptly made available to the public. The numbers show that injuries caused by traffic are down since the redesign was implemented last summer. The NYPD has reported no injuries caused by bike-ped collisions. DOT has presented information on travel times, traffic volumes, speeding, bike volumes, and sidewalk cycling in multiple installments, and the raw numbers are all available online for anyone to see [PDF].

Robust statistical analysis indicates that NBBL’s moratorium would delay progress on making NYC streets safer for pedestrians as well as cyclists. Citywide, DOT’s 2010 study of 7,000 pedestrian fatalities and serious injuries found that crashes on streets with bike lanes are 40 percent less deadly for pedestrians than crashes on streets without bike lanes.

The city’s data is solid. NBBL, on the other hand, has a history of inflating their own support and using worthless apples-to-oranges comparisons to argue for undoing an effective street redesign.

Despite their lack of credibility, NBBL was able to get themselves some press in the Brooklyn Paper after sending out their latest piece of propaganda. So, it may be instructive to appreciate how they pulled it off. The steps seem to go something like this:

  1. Make stuff up
  2. Send out press release, including your fabricated, erroneous claims
  3. Wait for the phone to ring
  4. Get quoted in the press as if you were a credible authority on street safety