Tonight: DOT Talks Protected Bike Lanes With Upper West Side’s CB 7

In the wake of last week’s setback for efforts to bring more bike racks to the Upper West Side, Manhattan Community Board 7’s transportation committee will hold a key meeting tonight about an issue on which its chairs have failed to take action: protected bike lanes and complete streets.

The Columbus Avenue protected bike lane is currently only 19 blocks long. Photo: DOT

DOT is scheduled to provide an update on the existing Columbus Avenue lane, which runs between 96th and 77th Streets, and discuss plans for bringing more protected bike lanes to the neighborhood.

Council Member Gale Brewer will be at tonight’s meeting. “I’m a supporter of bike lanes, especially protected ones,” she said. The Columbus Avenue lane “isn’t used as much as I would like,” she noted, because “it doesn’t connect to anything.”

Although the neighborhood could use a stronger network of protected bike lanes, Brewer likes what she sees so far. The number of cyclists riding on the sidewalk has gone down, she said, adding that her office has received fewer complaints about the behavior of commercial cyclists.

Brewer, who worked to adjust the bike lane in response to community requests, was disappointed in DOT’s level of outreach when the lane was first installed, but is more satisfied with how the agency is addressing the concerns of businesses this time around.

“I think in this case they’re doing a lot more of that door-to-door,” Brewer said. Asked if she thinks others will be similarly pleased, Brewer was circumspect. “We’ll find out,” she said.

Key people to watch at tonight’s meeting include long-time committee co-chairs Andrew Albert and Dan Zweig, who have used their positions to slow down street safety progress in the neighborhood. The meeting is open to the public and heavy attendance is expected. It begins at 7:00 p.m. at Congregation Rodeph Sholom, 7 West 83rd Street.

  • A critical issue at tonight’s meeting will be the design of any extension south of the Columbus Ave. lane.  “Sharrowed” or perhaps unprotected curbside lanes will likely be called for by some.  Any proposal to water down the design at the cost of safety has to rigorously justified and supported with empirical data that takes into account safety benefits forborne, and the elasticity of demand (i.e., that a calmer roadway with less speeding will be chosen by fewer motorists).  Protecting curbside parking is no justification to compromise on design.

  • W 83rd Streeter

    I disagree with Councilwoman Brewer.  The Columbus Avenue bike lane is used by thousands upon thousand of people every day. Some are cyclists, but the majority are the people, especially kids and the elderly, who benefit from the pedestrian islands that make it safer to cross the street and that slow down turning vehicles.  Don’t allow the other side to frame this as cyclists versus everybody when it’s really two individual community board members versus safety.

  • Harlemite

    This extension is critical to commuters from Harlem. This is not just about the Upper West Side, but Harlem biking commuters are dependent on this extension to increase safety during their commute to midtown. We need to position this proposal as benefiting many more than the immediate neighborhood. Especially, since the MTA fares are going up more and more Harlemites are choosing biking as an alternative method to commute. This extension is critical to Harlem’s biking safety. 

  • Anonymous

    There’s a time for localism and a time for citywide planning when it comes to these projects. When CB 7 first approved the Columbus Ave lane, it might have been a purely neighborhood issue — it was primarily their cyclists, their pedestrians, their drivers and their businesses. But with protected bike lanes on Eighth and Ninth Avenue now, along with the Central Park crosstown paths, it’s a different story. Extending the Columbus Ave lane is about a citywide bicycle network that CB 7 needs a damn good reason to be allowed to nullify. Needless to say, they don’t have one. 

  • Comments (at least the first four….) are enlightened… thinking like Dutch cycle development people… makes me optimistic 🙂

  • Lance

    Just came from the meeting.  Standing room only.  Inept would be a good description.
    We need to hear out the other side.  The remainder
    should not be built and the existing lane should be decommissioned.  Nice try, but good
    riddance.  Return the curb. Allow the buses to run on time. If you want bike lanes for going
    to work, use traffic cones for the AM hours.  Listen to those who live and work on the
    Avenue.  They are the ones most affected by this experiment. 

  • Mr. Transit

    New York City Community Boards would benefit greatly from term limits.  12 years would be quite resonable.   Borough Presidents have the power to do this now.

  • Andrew

    Ugh.

  • Safe Streets Now

    IMPEACH THEM NOW! Despite OVERWHELMING community support (over 150 people in the room), the transportation committee voted, once again, AGAINST safety. This committee needs new leadership. As an UWSer and NYC resident, I’m disgusted. 

  • krstrois

    Is the broader CB expected to override Zweig et al, as they did with the bike racks? 

  • Anonymous

    We can only hope that the DOT will decide to go ahead despite the wishes of the CB.

  • jrab

    Todd Edelman, please don’t damn Steve Vaccaro and the other commenters here with faint praise. The Netherlands is a nice place to visit and a great place to ride a bike, but I suspect that those “Dutch cycle planners” envy the safety and ridership gains our New York advocates have made in the last 10 years in face of strident opposition.

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