Brooklyn Bike Lane Lawsuit Rages on After Ruling

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NEW YORK – New York City on Friday rejected a bid by Brooklyn residents to put on hold a closely watched lawsuit challenging the city’s approval of a bike lane in the neighborhood.

The Article 78 lawsuit was brought by two local community groups against the New York City Department of Transportation in 2011.

The groups have accused the city of fundamentally misleading the public about the safety of the lane, which runs along Prospect Park West. The lawsuit seeks to reverse the DOT’s decision approving the project and to remove the bike lane.

Transportation officials have said the 8-foot-wide, mile-long lane, which is protected from automobile traffic by a lane of parked cars, would improve safety for bikers, drivers and pedestrians. The community groups say that car crashes and resulting injuries have increased by 20 percent since the lane was installed in 2010.

In 2011, Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Bert Bunyan dismissed the groups’ lawsuit on statute of limitations grounds.

On Wednesday, a unanimous Second Department reinstated one of their claims, that the decision to make the lane permanent had been “arbitrary and capricious.”

In a letter sent to Corporation Counsel Michael Cardozo on Thursday, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, Jim Walden of Gibson Dunn& Crutcher, offered to temporarily stay the claim if the city agreed to hire an independent expert to analyze the project’s impact on safety and traffic.

If the study found that safety and traffic conditions had improved since the project was installed, plaintiffs said they would drop their lawsuit; if the study concluded otherwise, the city would have to agree to remove the lane, the letter said.

Cardozo rebuffed the offer in a statement on Friday, accusing the plaintiffs of “seeking to move the goal posts yet again.”

“We remain confident that, just as was the case with the three other claims in this lawsuit, the court will see through the petitioners’ one remaining claim and again dismiss the remnants of this lawsuit,” Cardozo said.

In response, Walden said the decision to reject the offer makes it “clear they’d rather spend your tax money on litigation than safety.”

Transportation officials have added more than 200 miles of bike lanes throughout New York City in recent years, nearly doubling the amount of available on-street paths. The city has set the goal of having 1,800 bike-lane miles on city streets, parks and paths by 2030.

The case is In the Matter of Seniors for Safety v. New York City Department of Transportation, New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Second Department, No. 2011-9557.

For the plaintiffs: Jim Walden, Georgia Winston and Randy Mastro of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher.

For the city: Francis Caputo, Mark Muschenheim and Susan Paulson of the New York City Law Department.

Source: Reuters

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