By Jessica Dye
NEW YORK, Dec 21 (Reuters) - 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
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
"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
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.
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