CB 12 Squabbling Delays Upper Manhattan Bike Lane Discussion

Upper Manhattan needs more bike infrastructure, including a safe connection between the Hudson and Harlem River Greenways.
Upper Manhattan needs more bike infrastructure, including a safe connection between the Hudson and Harlem River Greenways.

Build bike lanes? Manhattan’s Community Board 12 doesn’t even want to talk about bike lanes.

When members of the Inwood-Washington Heights Livable Streets Group showed up with local bike lane supporters to what was supposed to be a public hearing on the issue Monday night, the transportation committee chair informed them that there wasn’t any space on the agenda for the group to make their presentation, much less hear public testimony, according to a report on DNAInfo. That public hearing has now been pushed forward indefinitely.

The procedural controversy stems from a petition started by the Livable Streets group to improve the bike infrastructure of Upper Manhattan. They’re asking for designs like a protected lane along Dyckman Street, connecting the greenways on the west and east sides of Manhattan, and bike lanes over the area’s bridges. You can add your name to the current 826 signatories here.

The livable streets activists were first invited to present their petition to the community board last month. “It was a long discussion that first time, and a very hostile reaction,” recalled Brad Conover. Three of the four members of the Transportation Committee in attendance came out against bike infrastructure, arguing that cyclists don’t deserve new lanes because they don’t follow the rules of the road, and that any lane that took away parking was a non-starter.

At that point, the Community Board decided that it needed to hear from the community, said Conover, and scheduled a public hearing on the issue for this past Monday, November 1. That was confirmed by DNAinfo as recently as last week.

Cycling in Upper Manhattan never was discussed on Monday, however. When Conover and other activists showed up, they asked to make a ten-minute PowerPoint presentation explaining their proposal. The committee said there wasn’t time, setting off a lengthy argument over whether or not to allow the presentation. “At the end of half an hour, they said no,” said Conover.

The public never got a chance to speak either. It was a “miscommunication” that there would be a public hearing on Monday, said the committee; rather, there would only be a discussion of when to hold a public hearing.

Conover said that he thinks the public hearing was cancelled because the anti-bike lane members of the committee felt outnumbered. “The fear in the room was palpable,” he said. “They keep adjourning and delaying until somebody shows up who will speak in opposition.”

The public hearing may take place at November’s meeting of the full community board, or may be put off until the January transportation committee meeting, said Conover.

  • paco

    ask to hear from the community… then when it shows up, tell them they can’t speak? despicable.

  • by the way… is anyone else having troubles trying to sign the petition? it won’t accept my signature but i am in full support of a safer connection.

  • Keep us informed. MORE people should show up for the next meeting. These stalling tactics are shameful!

  • The online petition should work – if it doesn’t, contact me directly and we’ll make sure you can sign a hard copy. Between the hard copies and online petition, we now have 1200+ signatures.

    roughacres@me.com

  • I’m not surprised of this reaction. It’s Upper Manhattan aka Car Country. They want to be the last Manhattan neighborhood that prioritizes the car over the bike and the pedestrian. They’re the same ones who oppose Harlem River bridge tolls and most likely the 181st Street traffic changes.

  • In case any of the Livable Streets group read this, it would probably make sense to check in with the CB12 community liaison in BP Scott Stringer’s office. They could be very helpful resolving procedural issues with the board or a committee, such as getting agenda items scheduled properly. Find out who the community liaison is by calling the BP’s office: 212-669-8300

    And this is a great reminder of how important it is to have people exposed to the livable streets perspective serving on the community boards. Scott Stringer has made great strides in reforming Manhattan’s CB’s. More info on the Manhattan BP’s CB FAQ: http://mbpo.org/free_details.asp?id=166

  • Edith Prentiss

    All community residents should have an opportunity to express their opinion, not just this group.

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