CB 11 Transpo Committee Votes 7-0 for East Harlem Protected Bike Lanes

The transportation committee of CB 11 voted again to bring the complete street design for First Avenue, shown here in the East Village, to East Harlem. Photo: NYC DOT

Protected bike lanes once again won big support in East Harlem. After Community Board 11 first endorsed protected lanes for First Avenue and Second Avenue by a vote of 47-3, then rescinded that support in the face of business opposition, the board’s transportation committee has put the complete street redesign back on the path to construction with a 7-0 vote of support, with one abstention.

“We’re certainly much more confident now with the project that we were in the past,” said committee chair Peggy Morales.

Two committee members who had been skeptical of the protected bike lanes said they’d been persuaded by two meetings of a working group convened at the suggestion of Borough President Scott Stringer. Supporters and opponents of the lanes sat down together with seven different city agencies to walk through exactly what protected bike lanes will mean for the neighborhood.

Frances Mastrota said that she’d been worried that the bike lanes would eliminate parking spaces and hurt local businesses, but was persuaded by Department of Health officials explaining that promoting walking, through pedestrian refuge islands, and cycling, would improve public health in a neighborhood that struggles with asthma and diabetes. Judith Febrarro, who still had a few concerns, voted for the lanes, reassured by the Fire Department that its trucks could use the lanes in an emergency and by the Sanitation Department that snow plowing would work with a floating parking lane.

In addition to helping foster some consensus, the bike lane working group also proposed some small modifications to the project. DNAinfo reports that the changes may include shortening some “mixing zones,” where cyclists share space with left-turning cars, to make room for parking.

The full board will vote on the bike lanes on March 20. If it votes for the lanes then, East Harlem — perhaps the neighborhood with the greatest gap between high cycling levels and poor cycling infrastructure — will finally get the protected lanes it has fought for so hard.

  • Ben from Bed Stuy

    My only question for this project – why doesn’t it include left turn signals/bike signals like the lanes on 9th and 8th avenues? Cost?
    I guess once the protected lanes are installed, improvements such as adding turn signals in the future is always possible. But I’ll be happy to see these protected lanes go in, even if they aren’t the “best possible” design. They are still a lot better than nothing!

  • J

    Awesome. I really like the idea of the working group, where both sides can be educated together. There has been a lot of misinformation out there, especially regarding this project. By clarifying exactly what is proposed and what the experts and research have shown to be the effects, people can make better informed decisions and are much less susceptible to fear-mongering. Kudos to Stringer for his help pushing this concept forward.

  • J

    @96f349e8b6a15ade91901dc135acc313:disqus I think you are exactly right about cost being the reason for not installing bike signals at every intersection. A complete new signal for an intersection can cost over $200,000. If you can make a design that’s only slightly less effective, but for a fraction of the cost, then it makes sense to do it. That appears to be precisely the logic behind what has been done. Also, adding the signals requires removing more parking, which is more difficult politically. You can always go back and add signals later, but it may be another fight.

    Amsterdam, which is regarded as top of the line, has separate signal phases for cyclists as the standard.

  • This is definitely a good thing because the Government are always trying to get people to be more economic and reduce fuel consumption so why shouldn’t those choosing this option get to have their own lane? It’s also much safer for the riders and drivers because as we all know, there can be some nasty accidents on high-traffic roads.

  • Eric McClure

    Great news!  Well done, CB11 Transportation Committee!  Does anyone know if the city will implement this in the spring after the full board votes its support on March 20th?

  • Anonymous

    It’s a shame they can’t have the bike lane on the left because bus doors are on the right, because, at least based on my experience with the 1st ave bike lane down town, y’all get cut-off like whoa by cars and trucks turning left.  Sure, they have massive CARS TURNING LEFT YIELD TO BIKESsigns every block, but, of course, they never yield.  And I’ve seen many a close calls where big as- trucks make sharp turns right in front of you. 

  • Morris Zapp

    Committee members were also assured that stepping on a crack will not, in fact, break anyone’s back.

  • Anonymous

    Ben and JarekAF:
    Don’t hug the curb and expect cars to yield-merge in with turning traffic in the mixing zone.

  • Norman Carsline

    I’m sick of Emperor Bloomberg and his Grand Transportation Inquisitor Janette Sadist-Khan shoving these bike lanes down the throats of communities that don’t want… Wait… You’re saying the Community Board vote was unanimously in favor of protected bike lanes? Well, then, I’m just going to call my lawyer.

  • Such great news!

    Unless DoT changed their projected installation at last night’s meeting, by the end of this year we should have First Avenue installed 60th to 125 and Second Avenue 100th to 125th by the end of this year.

  • Foodie

    Biking from downtown to East Harlem is going to make me pretty hungry. Anybody know if there are any pizza places or burger joints in the neighborhood?

  • J

    @twitter-22824076:disqus DOT appears to have only committed to the 60th – 72nd portion, which they initially slated for last fall or this Spring. The 72nd – 96th portion date is still TBD as far as I can see. The sections above 96th continue to be described as happening this spring, so we’ll see. They both are approved or will hopefully soon be approved, so it’s now mainly a matter of implementation.
    This project is very exciting, and will transform what is currently one of the worst places to bike into one of the city’s best. When completed, 1st Ave will be one of the longest stretch of continuous (except for the 11 block gap) protected bike lanes in the city, apart from greenways. The only thing that is possibly more exciting is what’s happening on 8th Ave, 9th Ave, and Hudson Street, which are better connected to other bike lanes and destinations, and will provide both north and south connectivity from the start. By year end, we could very well have protected bike lanes from Canal north to 59th St, and from 58th down to Bleecker. 

  • moocow

    Jarek, left hooks by cars are much much less common than right hooks. I find it loads safer to ride on the left side of a one way street and feel much safer in a left side bike lane.

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