PPW Bike Lane Opponents Have PR Firm Spinning For Them

Wondering how the members of bike lane opposition group Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes manage to get quoted so much in the papers? It helps when you have a public relations firm working the press for you.

Linda Gross of LCG Communications confirmed to Streetsblog that the plaintiffs suing the city, the groups known as Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes and Seniors for Safety, are her clients. She said the groups had been paying for LCG’s services for about a month and a half.

LCG is just doing their job (their client list includes lots of good guys), but here’s a taste of what NBBL has been paying for. Today, soon after Assembly Member Jim Brennan released his PPW poll results, LCG sent out the following communique:

Jim Walden, pro bono attorney (from the law firm Gibson Dunn and Crutcher) for plaintiffs Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes and Seniors for Safety (who are suing the DOT and its Commissioner re: the Prospect Park West bike lane) said, “Pedestrians feel less safe crossing Prospect Park West, as this poll decisively shows. But DOT’s own data tell the same story, and the numbers don’t lie:  people feel less safe because they are less safe. In the end, safety is not a popularity contest. We thank Assemblymember Brennan for seeking the truth, and we call on him to thoroughly investigate DOT’s actions in trying to justify a dangerously designed lane based on bad data and the wrongful suppression of dissent from community members.”

I think we can all agree that safety is not a popularity contest. So here are some facts that Jim left out:

  • NYPD reported zero pedestrian injuries on Prospect Park West after the redesign.
  • According to engineers outside NYC DOT, the agency’s data on speeding is “tremendous and unequivocal” and “if speeds are reduced, injuries will come down.”
  • This poll, which seems to have oversampled car owners, “decisively shows” that 33 percent of respondents feel less safe crossing the bike lane, while 38 percent said it has had no effect and 22 percent said they feel safer.

Then there’s this claim about “wrongful suppression of dissent.” It’s easy to hear echoes of former Deputy Mayor Norman Steisel’s claim to the Wall Street Journal that DOT is trying to “alienate community activists like us.” You know, the community activists who used to run City Hall and the Department of Transportation, who disagree with the results of a multi-year public process involving several hearings and community board votes, and who have the cash to hire a PR firm to get their story out to the world.

They are being suppressed.