Activist Honored at 10th Anniversary of ‘Eric McClure Bikeway on Prospect Park West’

A cyclist enjoys the Prospect Park West bike lane — not noticing its subtle renaming (inset). Photo: Gersh Kuntzman
A cyclist enjoys the Prospect Park West bike lane — not noticing its subtle renaming (inset). Photo: Gersh Kuntzman

It’s unofficial!

Activists marked the 10th anniversary of the Prospect Park West protected bike lane by hanging two seemingly legit wayfinder signs “renaming” the lane for Eric McClure, the Park Slope Neighbors co-founder and StreetsPAC executive director who did more than any one person to bring about the creation of, and fight to retain, the Prospect Park West cycle path.

At a rally along the lane on Sunday, McClure was presented with an extra green DOT-style sign by fellow activists Doug Gordon, former Streetsblog editor Aaron Naparstek and Council Member Brad Lander. Lander praised McClure and Naparstek for having the vision to see that a protected bike lane on Prospect Park would literally change the conversation in New York City that “streets are for people, not just cars.” Lander admitted that he wasn’t sure such a shift in public perception was possible back in 2010, before there were any “meaningful protected bike lanes in New York City. (Full disclosure: neither did this reporter, then an editor of a Brooklyn newspaper whose coverage of the controversial issue was marred by … insistence that the lane was “controversial.”)

Sunday’s rally was 10 years — and four days — after McClure led hundreds of cyclists on a “family ride” on the then four-month-old two-way bike path in an effort to overwhelm a few dozen opponents, who had planned to picket that day.

McClure before and after
Eric McClure in Grand Army Plaza in October, 2010 (left) and on Sunday at the other end of Prospect Park. Photos (left) Paul Martinka and (right) Gersh Kuntzman

Opponents ended up suing a few months later, but eventually dropped the suit in 2016, as Streetsblog reported in a seminal retrospective piece by then-editor Ben Fried, whose dogged reporting was also praised at Sunday’s rally.

“The battle to build and keep that bike lane was off the charts,” McClure said, referring to bike lane opponents that included former DOT Commissioner Iris Weinshall. “Let’s hope we never have to do that again to make our roads safer for everyone in the city. It is an equity issue.”

“We still have a looooong way to go,” added Lander, who may have even used more “o”s in his pronunciation of “long.”

The opponents’ lawsuit was heating up in May, 2011, when Streetfilms covered another family ride on the path:

Also on hand was mayoral candidate Scott Stringer — the only Gracie Mansion aspirant to show up. Stringer, currently city comptroller, said that all mayoral candidates should present a plan for “a comprehensive bike network” and safer streets, as he has repeatedly done.

Streetsblog did not reach out to the Department of Transportation on Sunday for comment on the unobtrusive green wayfinder signs put up in McClure’s honor. But we will follow up if the agency removes the signs.