Feeling Safe

The great Prospect Park West bike lane wars are even greater than the great Kent Avenue bike lane wars of ’09. Unlike Kent Avenue, PPW has lawsuits, studies, polls and the attention of the entire city.

In the latest development, Assemblyman Jim Brennan has commissioned a poll to see what his constituents think about the bike lane. It turns out that more people are for it (44%) than against it (28%), but that a lot of people don’t feel safer with the bike in place.

Pedestrians may FEEL less safe with the new bike lane/traffic pattern, but ARE they less safe? Do they FEEL less safe because of the bike lanes or because of the unfamiliar traffic patterns (of which the bike lane is only one part)?

One thing that makes me feel less safe – as a driver or ped – is crossing a two-way bike lane next to a one-way street, with a line of parked cars in between. This is essentially the setup on PPW, the same as it is on Kent Avenue. The only difference is that on Kent, cars also have cross the flow of bike and ped traffic. The result, for drivers, bikers and pedestrians alike, is that you now have to a) look both ways for bike traffic; b) look one way for car traffic; and c) hopefully look for pedestrians too. Oh, and a) and b) are blocked by a line of parked cars, so can’t actually see from one to another.

Like I said, it makes me feel less safe, even though it probably is safer.