Next Tuesday, Manhattan Community Board 11 will take up the extension of protected bike lanes on First and Second Avenue up to 125th Street in East Harlem. This is the critical safety project that the owners of Patsy’s Pizzeria and Milk Burger tried to derail at a recent CB 11 meeting by claiming that it would make asthma rates worse.
The protected bike lane proposal has a long history at CB 11. After the city backed off its initial promise to extend the East Side bike lanes to 125th Street in 2010, residents came out to a community board meeting and demanded to know why DOT wasn’t giving them the same safety improvements that downtown neighborhoods received. Supporters of the project persisted, delivering thousands of handwritten letters to City Hall laying out why protected bike lanes and pedestrian refuges will benefit East Harlem. When DOT came back to the community board this year with plans to build the project next spring, the proposal passed 47-3.
Taming the dangerously wide avenues didn’t sit well with the owners of Patsy’s and Milk Burger — Frank Brija and Erik Mayor. Both men sit on the community board and were able to engineer a vote to rescind the earlier approval of the lane. Brija and Mayor claimed, among other things, that devoting more space to biking would lead to worse asthma rates in the neighborhood.
Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito strongly backs the project, as does CB 11 chair Matthew Washington, and residents who worked hard to bring safer streets to their neighborhood aren’t giving up.
If you would like to speak up about why reclaiming space from traffic on extra-wide streets is healthy for East Harlem, here’s where to go:
Tuesday, December 6 at 6 p.m.
Taino Towers, 240 E. 123rd Street (between 2nd and 3rd Avenues)
Red Carpet Theatre, 1st floor