On Wednesday night, Manhattan Community Board 10 voted not to approve a buffered bike lane along Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Boulevard but left the door open for a second vote and a different outcome. The decision followed a unanimous vote by the board’s transportation committee in favor of the new lane. For the time being, at least, a major addition to Harlem’s bike network is on hold.
Shin-pei Tsay of Transportation Alternatives attended the meeting and views the vote as a request for more information, not a rejection of the proposal. She writes:
My impression is that it was primarily because the majority of the board was unfamiliar with the specifics of the project. The board didn’t have a full set of facts to work with — confusion about the configuration, where it started and ended, or even why the Transportation Committee voted unanimously to support the bike lane (only one member of the Transportation Committee was present).
I actually thought the tide was turning during the public comment period — people said they thought there could be more cycling and the community would benefit. When the issue turned to the board (and closed to public comment), the majority of the board didn’t know the details of the plan, what was up for discussion, or what a yes or no vote would really mean on this project. The DOT said that if it didn’t pass this time, the agency would work with the community and come back with the proposal again. That basically allowed the board members to make up their mind about the plan — vote no this time and have the DOT come back.
Given the history of the board, this is a very odd vote — they voted unanimously in support of Safer Streets and Sidewalks [PDF] a couple of months ago. They voted in support of the Harlem River Park Task Force’s work to provide safer access to the Harlem River Park. They voted to remove parking in front of an assisted living senior center. This board supports safer streets.