Columbus Avenue BID Leader: Protected Bike Lane Great for Business

barbara_adler.jpgBarbara Adler

Earlier this week, the transportation committee of Manhattan Community Board 7 issued a split decision on the protected bike lane proposed for a 20-block stretch of Columbus Avenue. One of the committee chairs who voted against it, Andrew Albert, told the room full of bike lane supporters that he couldn’t endorse the project because of potential difficulties with commercial deliveries. According to Columbus Avenue BID director Barbara Adler, opposing the proposal on those grounds is, basically, a whole lot of nonsense.

Adler wasn’t able to attend the Tuesday CB meeting, but in a phone call she told Streetsblog that she’s "extremely supportive of the project" and isn’t worried about how it will affect deliveries for the 185 businesses the BID represents between 67th and 82nd Streets. A few weeks ago, she explained, DOT held an information session for local merchants. "A few of them expressed concern
about what they would do with deliveries," she said, "and DOT said that provisions
would be made to address those concerns."

As for Albert’s contention that delivery issues are insurmountable? "It’s a false argument," she said. "He’s really grasping at straws."

Albert has not returned calls to the West Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, where he serves as executive director.

zweig_albert.jpgDan Zweig and Andrew Albert, co-chairs of the CB 7 transportation committee, both voted against a protected bike lane on Columbus Avenue. Photo: Ben Fried

For Adler, the protected bike lane proposal has been a long time coming. "We started lobbying for this about five years ago, before the city started growing out bike lanes everywhere," she said. "We were hopeful that we were going to be the first [street to receive a protected bike lane], but we encountered a surprising issue where the Lincoln Square BID was against it. So DOT took it elsewhere."

The Columbus Avenue BID sees the bike lane and pedestrian improvements in DOT’s plan as part of a broader effort to make the corridor more welcoming for people. The group commissioned a report from non-profit Project for Public Spaces in 2007 [PDF] recommending bike and pedestrian improvements to help make Columbus Avenue "a street for the 21st century."

"We developed a plan to become more pedestrian-friendly," Adler said. "One of the ways to make an area pedestrian-friendly is to provide a space for bikes. It makes a neighborhood more habitable. It was our hope to provide more seating and more amenities, and just to make it safer in every respect. Having a dedicated bike lane is part of that."

Now that protected bike lanes have proven to work on other Manhattan avenues, Adler’s getting impatient with the calls for delay and further study coming from Albert and his fellow CB7 transportation committee chair, Dan Zweig. "It’s not like they’re reinventing the wheel," she said of DOT’s plan. "This has been done other places, and quite successfully."

  • It’s great to see a forward thinking mindset from the BID, similar to Times Square, Herald Square and other areas of the city that recognize the value of pedestrian & bike friendly streetscapes that make city streets less noisy & chaotic and more calm & organized.

    I think community board people that own cars hide behind small business owners (many of whom don’t live in the community board and feed meters all day in front of their shops) to justify keeping streets auto-centric. They want to keep as much free or cheap parking as possible for their own selfish interests.

    I think it would be eye-opening for the Borough President’s office to survey Community Board members on their car ownership rates. I’d put the over/under at 2-3x the rate of the general public.

  • Larry Littlefield

    If by that you mean the general public in their own community board (as opposed to citywide), I’d say double or triple the percent may be the norm in close in areas. Of course you can’t be double 100%, so that wouldn’t apply to Staten Island.

  • We were hopeful that we were going to be the first [street to receive a protected bike lane], but we encountered a surprising issue where the Lincoln Square BID was against it. So DOT took it elsewhere.

    Any more information on this? Are they still against it?

    Albert has not returned calls to the West Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, where he serves as executive director.

    MTA board member, community board committee co-chair, Chamber of Commerce executive director…

  • Shemp

    It’s always important to check and see whether BID staff like this are way out in front of their members.

  • Here’s a clip of what Andrew Alberts thinks families who bike on the Upper West Side should have to go through every morning. I took this this morning on West 91st Street, just west of Columbus Avenue, as my son and I passed Trinity on our way to his school which lies to the south and west.

    This is how motoring parents treat kids riding in the bike lane–and it only gets worse on Columbus Avenue. We need protected bike paths on the Upper West Side now!

  • The U.S. Census estimates that in 2000, 18% of S.I. households had no motor vehicle available.

    http://www.rightofway.org/research/2000_5boro_cars_revised.html

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    I’m as disappointed as you guys and support your long civic battle for this important improvement in the street space I’m afraid I have to defend Mr. Albert on one count. He doesn’t own a car. Though, knowing that, his position here actually becomes more indefensible.

  • Fwaldman22

    Bike lane, smike lane…it would be great if bicylce riders actually used it…they don’t, so stores can’t get deliveries and parking gets a bit more confused. 

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