Dueling protests Thurs. over Brooklyn bike lane

October 21, 2010 2:33:51 PM PDT
A new bike lane along Prospect Park West is sparking demonstrations and protests. The lines were drawn between the bikers who want to keep the new bike lanes and opponents who say the cyclist fareway is unsafe.

Supporters carried signs praising the DOT bike lane project saying the newly installed two way bike lanes are getting positive reviews.

"Older people, younger people who want to bike along Prospect Park West love this new facility. It helps them get were they want to go, enjoy the park in a whole new way," Steve Vaccaro of Transportation Alternatives said.

Bikers say speeding has decreased on Prospect Park West because the road has been reduced from three lanes down to two.

In addition, there are signs alerting pedestrians to look both ways before crossing the bike lane and bikers are required to yield to anyone in the cross walk.

"By having the bike lanes, everybody is in the bike lanes. They know the rules. There's enough of a density. People tend to go slower," cyclist Janet Liff said.

"There are more bikes out here today than there have ever been on any other day. They gotten them out in mass, but by and large it is unutilized," opponent Roz Kotchman said.

Opponents also say the bikers don't slow down for anyone walking cross the bike lanes and another danger comes for anyone existing vehicles on the passenger side because they are now parked in the middle of the block meaning you could step into traffic.

"It's frightening to open the door on the passenger side especially for someone who is elderly," Rae Petroccione said.

They also feel the bike lanes were forced on the community and should not border the park but be in the park.

"Where the bike lanes already exist giving them access to (sic) square, but all the way around the park and back again," Mary Catherine Roeloff said.

The competing protests came within a few feet of each other and were vocal. Police were on hand to keep thing organized and keep pedestrians and bike riders moving. In this brewing battle over bikes, there were no face-to-face confrontations.