Community Board 6 Gives Thumbs Up to Midtown Bike Lanes

Image: NYC DOT

Manhattan Community Board 6 last night approved a DOT proposal for four new pairs of crosstown bike lanes from 39th to 55th Streets.

Three pairs of lanes will run from First to Eighth Avenue, while a fourth set will be installed between Eighth Avenue and Grand Central Terminal. The lanes, planned ahead of this summer’s bike-share launch, will be interspersed with sharrows.

A “clear majority” of board members voted to recommend that DOT move forward with the plan, according to Midtown bike commuter Detta Ahl. However, Ahl said, some on the board had to be assured that the lanes would not be protected or separated from auto traffic. Public input also weighed in favor of the lanes.

  • Anonymous

    One guy made a bunch of outlandish, angry, and general anti-bike statements, but I don’t think anyone took him too seriously.

    More substantively, a Steven Newmark read a prepared statement against the two bike share stations that are planned to go next to Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, that will total 74 bikes.  He predicted that the two stations would draw excessive crowds of tourists to the plaza.  Clearly didn’t understand or believe the fact that the system is designed to not make great financial sense for tourists.  I missed his other objections because his friend spoke to me during his speech and she told me that bike share will turn the plaza into “a runway.”  I guessed she meant that people would be speeding on their bikes on the actual grounds of the plaza, but I think that will be at least somewhat prevented by the fact that the planned stations are planned for on-street siting, not in the actual grounds of the plaza.  Comments can still be emailed to Bikeshare [at[ cbsix [dot[ org.

  • Jeff

    @ddartley:disqus Was this the same guy who’s worried about bicycle-mounted terrorists?

  • Ben Kintisch

    This is terriffic news. As I’ve said before, a rapid expansion of the bike network through an area generally short of cross-town connections is a good thing. Even if these could be better, let’s see them painted, then heavily used, and plan to ask for an upgrade and a west-ward expansion soon. Change happens by making things better all the time. And with this vote, midtown biking will be changing for the better.

  • @ddartley:disqus I think the guy you are referring to is the one who emphasized the risk of bike terrorism wherein people hide explosives in bikes and then detonate them remotely, not a particularly good anti-bike argument as it applies to literally any physical object in our city.

  • Adam Pirani

    I was surprised with the levels at which the extreme anti-bike speaker was taking his argument (cyclo-terrorism?). I think going well over the 3 minute time limit certainly didn’t help his cause.

    I don’t know if Mr. Newmark provided much more argument against the plaza stations than tourism issues and safety issues. His statement did provide a lot of general support for the bike share program, but was clearly against those specific locations.
    There was one other speaker who was against the bike share, a traffic cop that felt the program was rushed upon the city and felt that in his experience, too many cyclists break traffic laws. He was very reasonable with his arguments, doing a good job of saying “from what I observed”, “in my experience” etc… I talked to him privately about the concept of “Bike Friendly Businesses” and mentioned the proposed(?) delivery driver law that would hold companies liable for the delivery driver infractions. 

    I think Detta Ahl’s words about how bike lanes create more order were very well received, and likely had an impact on this being a “clear majority” approval.

  • Adam Pirani

    I just remembered that the issue of having big Citi Bank advertisements was a concern, but don’t remember if it was Mr. Newmark who said it or not.

  • Anonymous

    @ddartley:disqus 

    Did they give any indications on if/when they’d be able to extend to the HRG?  

  • @JarekAF:disqus excuse my ignorance, what’s the HRG?

  • Anonymous

    @facebook-712642248:disqus 

    The Hudson River Greenway – the bike path that runs along the Hudson.  Right now my gf and I live in Battery Park City and she works in Midtown (45th and 6th ave).   If the bike lanes extended all the way to the HRG, then she’d be willing to bike almost every day.  But with that gap, she’d still be scared of traffic.

    That area from about 8th ave to the Hudson tends to be significantly less congested then the rest of midtown.  I really don’t see why they don’t extend all the way, unless they’re DoT is just naturally gunshy and fear grand plans and prefer incremental changes as a tactic. 

    And because that area from around 8th ave to the Hudson, tends to have excess capacity for cars, the cars that do take that route, tend to fly and be less patient for bikes in the way (whereas, the rest of midtown, cars don’t move, so you’re passing them as they’re stopped in congestion.)

  • It was fun when a speaker got up, introduced himself as a city judge, and then went on a diatribe about how he’s observed that cyclists have become “more arrogant” and lawless since bike lanes have expanded. Where do I begin with that one?

    Detta did a good job. CB6 is mostly reasonable, it’s just that the Tudor City-area enclave is full of crazed NIMBYs. Call it NIMBY City. One furious woman railed on for minutes about how they were going to “destroy” the neighborhood… with a cafe.

  • Anonymous

    @JarekAF:disqus, the lanes are not going to go all the way to the Hudson River Greenway, as I understand.  Sounds like you need to tell the story you’ve posted here to CB4!

  • Jacob

    Why dont they extend past 8th ave??? They should context directly to the west side bike path!!!

  • Jeff

    @77dbf58c847287ba1935b1acaf883a30:disqus  I would guess it has something to do with the community board boundaries.  I mean, even if there were additional logistical challenges to going to the Greenway, the 9th Ave protected lane is one block away, and the CB boundary is 8th Ave.

  • Anonymous

    I seem to rember reading that DOT just wanted to get cross-town lanes down quickly in midtown and extend westward later-that the routes were picked with westward expansion in mind.

  • Tim B, concerned commuter

    I’m happy that NYCDOT and CB6 are working together to put in cross-town bike routes. I think they’re definitely needed. I do not however support the design of the routes with their heavy use of sharrows and their alternating between striped lanes on one block and sharrows across the street. For one, the sharrows create merging issues with cars. Secondly, while sharrows are useful for putting already existent riders in better positions on the road, I think they do little to encourage new riders and make people *feel* safe. Thirdly, I think they are unnecessary. The sharrows are supposedly being used on roads that are 30 feet in width but 30ft allows for two 8ft parking lanes (the width already planned for these roads), a 9ft travel lane and a standard 5ft bike lane. Yes the 9ft travel lane would be narrower than AASHTO’s 10ft recommended lane widths, but on one lane streets where no car should ever be traveling faster than 30mph (the city’s speed limit), there is no need for 10ft lanes. Fourth, if Ahl’s statement about board members having to be assured that the lanes would not be protected or separated from traffic is true, then that is ridiculous. CB6 should be pushing for the highest caliber bicycle infrastructure it can get not clamoring for the lowest quality bike infrastructure around. Creating cross-town bicycle boulevards in Midtown would be really ideal….

  • Anonymous

    why would they want them NOT to be protected or separated from traffic?

  • Ian Turner

    Anonymous: So as not to impede double parking.

  • Gonzalezalex

    No now on a serious note, I think they should charge $20 to $50 dollars to enter the city in a private car. That will really Scare off people who are just coming in to drive around and waste time. Mass transit should be excluded from the a massive toll like that since they bring in the mass of pedestrians and keep cars off the NYC streets. I’ll be dancing the day PABT proposes a massive toll hike

  • guest

    Ok people. Explain to me how this is good for anyone?! Midtown one of the most busy areas of the city does not need bike lanes. An extremely stupid and dangerous idea. Have any of you been over to this part of the city and observed it. There will be clashes with pedestrians, taxis and motorist as lanes are narrowed. Enough is enough. In all seriousness how do you see this as a benefit for anyone? The 5 of you that will utilize this preposterous lane from April to October is not worth the increased casualty rate this will bring about. The madness needs to be stopped.

  • Two words, guest: Bike share.

  • Driver

    guest, if you really think there are 5 people waiting to use midtown bike lanes, I suggest you check out the First Ave bike lane during the AM rush hour.  

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