Last night, the full board of Manhattan Community Board 8 voted in favor of building a protected bike lane on First Avenue between 60th Street and 96th Street.
Once construction is finished, the lane will be one segment of a complete street running from Houston to 125th with Select Bus Service, protected bike lanes and pedestrian refuge islands (though the cyclist protection and pedestrian islands disappear near the Queensboro Bridge). On the Upper East Side, the Second Avenue lane will be on hold until subway construction is complete, but the First Avenue lane could be in place as early as this fall. In East Harlem, construction will start on Second Avenue next spring.
CB 8 approved the project by a vote of 20-11-1. That total masks the closeness of the vote, however. According to community board member Scott Falk, with two people left to vote the total stood at 16-13-1. Since resolutions need more than half of all voters to support them to pass, had both those two people voted no, the resolution would have failed. Neither did, though, and once the resolution had passed, two nays switched their votes to join the winning side.
The biggest issue was how the bike lane would affect local businesses’ ability to make deliveries, said Falk. “This was going to force triple parking, as they put it.” That argument was ultimately defeated by an appeal to the life-saving effects of protected bike lanes. Said Falk, “This isn’t about bicycles. It’s about safety by design.”