Last night, the transportation committee of Manhattan Community Board 4 voted 8-2 in support of extending the protected bike lane on Eighth Avenue, now under construction below W. 14th Street, north to 23rd. Wiley Norvell of Transportation Alternatives sends this account.
The meeting turnout was high, with roughly 40 people speaking 2-1 in favor of the proposed protected bike lane. There were a lot of cyclists, most of them Chelsea residents. Joshua David of Friends of the Highline, Mike Epstein representing Google, as well as Ian Dutton and Shirley Secunda from CB2 all helped set a good, supportive tone early on. The issue of gay (or-anti) gay street design, which got some mention in the press last month, was dismissed early one by one speaker as a "lavender herring" and never came up again.
Of the 10-15 people speaking against the project, about five spoke as if this was a referendum on cycling, railing against bikers as public enemy #1 (thank you Hunter College). There were a few speaking on process, and criticizing the DOT for inadequate public outreach in drafting the design. And several spoke about specific needs, like loading zones on particular blocks and banning left turns on some west-bound streets to preserve metered parking for businesses.
The overall tone of the meeting was respectful and upbeat, and hopefully it carries over to the full board meeting, where we’ll need everyone who spoke last night (and more) to come out again and speak for the project.
The recommendation came with conditions, including education and outreach to cyclists and businesses and consideration for commercial parking and loading zone needs. The committee also wants all signals to be accessible to street users with physical impairments.
The plan will go to the full board — where the project was previously rejected, based, at least in part, on the anti-gay argument — on December 3.
Image: NYC DOT