Morningside Ave. Road Diet Set for July After CB 10 Chair Urges Support

After nine months of foot-dragging, CB 10 is on track to support a traffic calming plan requested by community residents. Image: DOT

With new, clear marching orders from chair Henrietta Lyle after nine months of stalled deliberations, Community Board 10’s transportation committee voted unanimously last night to support a road diet plan [PDF] for a speeding-plagued stretch of Morningside Avenue. Pending expected support from the full board next month, DOT is scheduled to implement the safer street design in July.

Previously, the board’s transportation committee, which has been sitting on the plan since last September, had refused to support anything that included a reduction in the number of car lanes, because some members opposed other road diets on Mount Morris Park West and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard. The local residents who had requested the safety fixes gathered 1,000 petition signatures and the backing of neighborhood schools, churches, and community groups, and last night they finally had a breakthrough at the committee.

Board member Daniel Land Parcerisas introduced a resolution that expressed concern about road diets while supporting the plan for Morningside Avenue. “It’s really about time. We’ve dragged our feet way too long on this issue,” he said. Despite his plea, the committee’s discussions took a familiar turn as board members opposed to the road diet suggested non-starters like speed humps instead and raised questions that had been addressed months ago.

Frustration mounted among the plan’s supporters. “If you don’t pass this plan, you’re doing nothing,” said Jonathon Kahn, a steering committee member of the North Star Neighborhood Association, which requested safety fixes from the city. “DOT will not put in speed bumps across a four-lane road. So for anyone to continue to ask for something that DOT will not do and cannot do, is to do nothing.”

Soon afterwards, Lyle walked in and seated herself. “We really need this to pass tonight,” she told the committee. “The community wants this. We may not want this, but we are going to support the community.”

A short time later, the committee unanimously passed the resolution in a 7-0 vote. It now heads to the full board on June 4, the final meeting before its summer break. Lyle said last night she was confident that the full board would support the committee’s recommendation.

Despite securing support for the plan last year from West Harlem elected officials and CB 9, which also includes Morningside Avenue, DOT said in January that it would prepare a new plan that does not include lane reductions. “They are still working on an alternative plan,” said Karen Horry, acting chair of the committee. “We have been waiting on DOT to supply us with that information, and it just gets delayed.”

Lyle said that the board would be open to additional Morningside Avenue proposals from DOT, but that the resolution advanced last night gives the city a green light to move forward on implementing the road diet. DOT confirmed with Streetsblog today that, pending support from the full board, the agency intends to install the road diet in July.

  • BBnet3000

    No additions to the bike network besides the usual double-parking lanes I see.

  • R

    (En)vision zero bike lanes to avoid offfending pro-car community board members.

    Won’t get us to 6% mode share or zero fatalities for cyclists, that’s for sure.

  • JK

    Thank you North Star. My kids and I ride here a lot. Looking forward to this redesign, and glad that Ms Lyle had a change of heart. She may have saved somebodies life last night.

  • Jeff

    Motorists have very sensitive feelings.

  • J

    “The community wants this. We may not want this, but we are going to support the community.”

    Therefore it is clearer than ever that the CB’s interests are wildly out of sync with those of the community. Seems high time for new CB members/a better means of holding the CB members accountable to the community they represent.

  • FDB Resident

    What qualifications does Henrietta Lyle or any of the CB members have when it comes to urban planning, policy or street designs for safe streets?

  • Daphna

    Harlem Bespoke also covered this. http://harlembespoke.blogspot.com/2014/05/introducing-traffic-calming-on.html
    Community Board 10 has never supported traffic calming before. Adam Clayton Powell Blvd was re-designed in spite of their lack of support. But usually the DOT does not proceed without CB support. This CB10 support is a big positive change.
    At the meeting last night, there were 6 committee members present. The room was packed, but the rest were members of the public or CB10 board members who were not on the Parks/Transportation Committee. Of those 6 committee members, there was really only one person stridently against this plan: Barbara Nelson. However, she completely dominated this meeting and was given speaking time out of proportion to anyone else. She would have been out-voted had the committee voted, but it seemed the chair was just going to let discussion go on without ever voting.
    Then Henrietta Lyle came in and told them to stop trying to amend the resolution and to vote on it as is. Lyle was not supportive of this or any other traffic calming even as recently as of a week ago, but thankfully she had a change of heart.

  • Aby V

    Daniel Parcerisas is an urban planner with a master’s in urban planning

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