Manhattan Community Board 7 voted last night in favor of converting 240 parking meters to bike racks on 40 blocks of the Upper West Side. The 23-12 vote (with one abstention) was the CB’s closest of the evening, but the outcome was never really in doubt. Debate focused on board control over the placement of individual racks more than the broader merits of bike racks. Thanks in part to the strong support of the Columbus Avenue BID, momentum for bicycle infrastructure continues to grow on the Upper West Side.
The vote was an important step in advancing DOT’s plan to recycle defunct parking meters into bike racks. As CB 7 member Ken Coughlin put it during the meeting, the Upper West Side will be "greening a piece of infrastructure designed for the automobile, and without doing almost anything to it, giving it to bicyclists."
Last night’s vote got a big boost from the Columbus Avenue BID. The BID, which has worked closely with Project for Public Spaces to develop a vision of the avenue as a livable boulevard, went block by block to determine the ideal placement of bike racks in the neighborhood. On average, they proposed (and the CB approved) converting three parking meters to bike racks per block face on Amsterdam and Columbus Avenues between 67th and 86th Streets.
George Beane, the secretary of the Columbus Avenue BID’s executive committee, captured the importance of bike parking for the neighborhood, noting the purchasing power of New York City’s daily cyclists: "We on the Columbus Avenue BID would like those 185,000 bikers to shop in our stores and eat in our restaurants."
Not every CB 7 member was so enthusiastic about bike racks. Member Richard Asche spoke most forcefully against the proposal, saying he didn’t want to cede control of bike rack placement to DOT. Asche claimed after the vote, "I’m not an opponent of bike racks; I was an opponent of this resolution."
The vote on bike parking follows CB 7’s October vote requesting plans for protected bike lanes on Amsterdam and Columbus from DOT.
The full text of the bike rack resolution reads:
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT Community Board 7/Manhattan approves an average of six racks per block (three per block front), with the understanding that some blocks will not accommodate three, and some may require more than three, depending on street obstructions, merchant objections, and other placement issues, on Amsterdam Avenue between West 67th and 86th Streets and on Columbus Avenue between 67th and 86th Streets.