Prospect Park West bike lane challenge dismissed

Two community groups filed challenge eight months after DOT constructed bike lane. Beginning in April 2009, the Department of Transportation held a series of meetings with Brooklyn Community Board 6 regarding the proposed construction of a bike lane along a portion of Prospect Park West in Park Slope, Brooklyn. DOT planned to reduce the traffic lanes along Prospect Park West from three to two in order to install the two-way bike lane. CB 6 conditionally approved the bike lane proposal in July 2009. DOT constructed the bike lane during June and July of 2010.

After its installation, DOT made minor modifications to the bike lane and announced that it would monitor the bike lane and review traffic and safety issues over a six-month study period. In January 2011, DOT released the results of its traffic and safety study and found the bike lane to be a “resounding success.”

In March 2011, a group including Seniors for Safety and the Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes, filed an article 78 petition challenging DOT’s construction and implementation of the bike lane. The group claimed that DOT characterized the bike lane as a trial project and only intended to make it permanent after the completion of the traffic and safety study. In support, the group submitted an affidavit from Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz claiming that during a meeting with DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, the commissioner stated that the bike lane would be installed on a trial basis and finalized based on data collected during a trial phase. The group also claimed that DOT’s study actually demonstrated that the bike lane was a failure because it created dangerous conditions for pedestrians and vehicles. In addition, the group claimed that DOT did not provide a complete response to a request for documents under the City’s freedom of information law. 

Supreme Court Justice Bert A. Bunyan dismissed the bike lane challenge finding that the group filed its lawsuit too late. According to Justice Bunyan, the article 78 challenged DOT’s determination to build the bike lane which was installed in June/July of 2010. Because the statute of limitations on an article 78 petition challenging an agency’s decision is four months, the group had, at the latest, until November 2010 to file its lawsuit. Justice Bunyan ruled that the court could not review DOT’s purported failure to remove the bike lane after the release of the traffic and safety study. As Bunyan explained, prior to filing its challenge, the group had not exhausted their administrative remedies by first demanding that DOT remove the bike lane based on the results of the study.

Bunyan did find that DOT did not fully comply with the group’s FOIL request and directed the agency to either provide responsive documents or a detailed exemption log explaining why the documents have been withheld or redacted.

Seniors for Safety and Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes v. NYC DOT, Index No. 5210/11 (Kings Cty.Sup.Ct. Aug. 15, 2011) (Bunyan, J.).

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