A new poll finds a large plurality of people living near Prospect Park, Brooklyn, support keeping a two-way, protected bike lane as is along Prospect Park West.
By a 44 to 28 percent margin, residents said the lane should remain as is, according to the poll commissioned by Assembly member Jim Brennan.
Another quarter said the bike lane should not be removed but should be altered to respond to pedestrian and driver concerns, though the poll did not ask what those alterations should be.
Brennan said he conducted the poll "because I thought it would be helpful to get an accurate read on public opinion about the bike lane from a professional pollster using standard statistical sampling techniques."
The lane is currently the subject of a lawsuit by some residents of Prospect Park West.
The poll was only of residents in certain zip codes living near Prospect Park, most of whom live in Brennan’s assembly district.
The results were immediately hailed by New York City Hall, which has been under fire from some quarters for its policy of pushing New Yorkers toward more green modes of transportation.
"This is only the most recent proof that bike lanes and this particular bike lanes are and is popular," said Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson in a telephone interview. "Sixteen points is a pretty overwhelming margin. If you have a 16-point electoral victory they call it a landslide."
Wolfson has some experience with polls – he was a top aide during now-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign. But results were immediately disputed by Jim Walden, the lawyer for the group of residents opposing the bike lane: "Safety is not a popularity contest," Walden said.
But he also cited poll numbers, which found that 38 percent of pedestrians who responded said there had been no change in how safe they felt, 33 percent who felt less safe and 22 percent who felt safer: "Pedestrians feel less safe crossing Prospect Park West, as this poll decisively shows," he said. "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."
Wolfson responded by saying the group was entitled to file a lawsuit, but: "They are not the majority. They are in the minority we have seen poll after poll confirm this."
A recent Quinnipiac poll found that by a 54 to 38 percent margin, New Yorkers believe bike lanes are "a good thing." An earlier survey of 3,000 residents by City Councilmember Brad Lander obtained results similar to the Brennan poll: three quarters of respondents in that survey wanted to keep the bike lane as is, or keep it with changes.
The anti-Prospect Park West bike lane lawsuit charges the city manipulated data to show the bike lane made for a safer street. But the DOT said the lane, by providing room for bicyclists, has reduced cycling on the sidewalk to almost nothing, and has slowed car speeds from where a vast majority were speeding, to less than a quarter. Statistics show that a pedestrian hit by a car has an 80 percent chance of death if a car is driving 40 mph, but less than a quarter that chance of death if the car is driving 30 mph.
Brennan hired the Boston-based national polling firm Kiley & Company to conduct the poll of residents in zip code 11215 and the northern half of zip code 11218, including Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, and Kensington. The firm compiled responses from a random sample of 500 residents from among 25,000 telephone numbers, including both landlines (83%) and cell phones (17%).