Compared to downtown Manhattan, the bike network in Harlem is on the patchy side, with only a few on-street lanes. Safer streets are on the way, however. Last week, DOT presented plans for a buffered bike path on Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Boulevard to a neighborhood forum put on by Community Board 10. The new lane would run from 153rd Street to 118th Street, connecting to an existing route that feeds into Central Park.
No vote was held at the meeting, where about half a dozen people spoke about the bike lane.
Perspectives on the proposal tended to hinge on this question: Are bike lanes scarcer uptown because Harlemites prefer it that way, or is the area overdue for some critical safety improvements?
Oye Carr, owner of Mod Squad Cycles on Frederick Douglass Boulevard, spoke in favor of the new lane. "Folks don’t want to feel like people from outside the community are dictating what goes on in the community," he told Streetsblog. "But this impetus for bike lanes isn’t just coming from outside of Harlem."
While some speakers associated the lane with re-zoning and development that they view as symptoms of City Hall’s heavy-handedness, others welcomed the added safety and called on DOT to go further. Gwen Kash of Community Pride — a program of the non-profit Harlem Children’s Zone — asked DOT to couple
the bike improvements with pedestrian safety measures like LPIs and
longer crossing times. (In January, CB10 passed a resolution calling for such
improvements at dangerous intersections throughout the district.)
Carr, who opened his shop last November and says sales have been good so far, hopes his testimony helps people see the bike lane as a family-oriented amenity and a boon for locally-owned business. "The parents who come to my shop are concerned about the traffic," he said, noting that it’s common to see kids biking in Morningside Park, but rare to see them riding in the street. "We’re talking about being able to take their 8-year-old and ride with them. The idea that I could see Harlem on a safe and dedicated area is great."