DOT Should Bypass CB 12 and Build Out the Dyckman Bike Lane Project

More than 300 people have been injured on Dyckman in the nine years since Inwood residents asked CB 12 and DOT for a street redesign.

Dyckman Street at Broadway, looking east: 2007 (above) and 2016. Some storefronts have changed, but the street is as hostile and dysfunctional as ever. Images: Google Maps
Dyckman Street at Broadway, looking east: 2007 (above) and 2016. Some storefronts have changed, but the street is as hostile and dysfunctional as ever. Images: Google Maps

A lot has changed since 2008. Cell phones became appendages. The Cubs won the World Series. America elected its first black president, and its first reality TV huckster president.

But with its two lanes for through-traffic and two lanes for double-parking, Dyckman Street in Inwood remains essentially the same traffic mess it was in 2008, the year neighborhood residents proposed adding a protected bike lane

Dyckman Street is a natural location for first-class bike infrastructure in a neighborhood that doesn’t have much of it. Of Inwood’s three major commercial corridors — Broadway and 207th Street being the other two — only on Dyckman is the presence of people on bikes acknowledged, with painted lanes at both ends of the street. These lanes connect to the east side and west side greenways but disappear on the commercial blocks in between, where motor vehicle traffic is heaviest.

Community Board 12 asked DOT for a Dyckman bikeway study in 2008, after multiple attempts by locals to get the board to act. The board requested Dyckman improvements in 2011 and in 2012. It took eight years of back-and-forth between DOT and CB 12 to produce a plan to equip the street with bike lanes end to end.

When that plan finally made it to CB 12 last June, the board said more meetings were needed. Then in December, the CB 12 transportation committee split the project in two, endorsing a two-way protected lane between Nagle and 10th Avenue and tabling a road diet and painted bike lanes between Nagle and Broadway, the heart of Dyckman’s commercial zone.

CB 12 endorsed a protected bikeway segment for Dyckman Street (below). It should not be allowed to further delay a road diet for the street’s commercial zone. Image: DOT
CB 12 endorsed a protected bikeway segment for Dyckman Street (below). It should not be allowed to further delay a road diet for the street’s commercial zone. Image: DOT

This week, according to Patchthe full board signed off on the protected segment, which will upgrade existing lanes next to Highbridge Park on Dyckman’s east end.

As for the rest of the project, Patch reported: “Community Board 12 assistant chair Wanda Garcia said that the board hopes to schedule a community workshop this summer to discuss the concerns regarding Dyckman Street improvements between Broadway and Nagle Avenue.”

DOT should bypass CB 12 and build out the project as proposed, from Broadway to 10th Avenue.

As Wanda Garcia knows, or should know, DOT tried to convene a Dyckman workshop last year, at CB 12’s request, but the board failed to reserve a meeting space. In lieu of the workshop, DOT scheduled project walk-throughs for board members, but had difficulty getting them to show up.

The original Dyckman Street bikeway proposal was citizen-generated. The current DOT plan, though a step down from a protected bike lane, would designate space for people on bikes and impose some order on a chaotic street. It has the backing of local City Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez. When members of the public raised their hands in support of the project at last December’s CB 12 transportation committee meeting, they constituted a clear majority.

Committee chair Yahaira Alonzo refused to consider those votes, however, because according to her they were not “representative of the community.” CB 12 has now let nine months go by without holding a workshop, and may or may not schedule one this summer, pushing a board vote into the fall or beyond.

Enough is enough. At least 313 people have been injured in traffic crashes on Dyckman Street since 2009. De Blasio did the right thing by directing DOT to move forward with its 111th Street project in Corona, ending a Queens CB 4 campaign to derail it. The mayor should do the same for Inwood, which has waited much longer for CB 12 to get out of the way of a safer Dyckman.

  • Perhaps there’s something to be learned from the fact that nearly all of the recent Streetsblog stories in the past few days — apart from “Today’s Headlines” — have to do with long, drawn-out community board processes for improving the health and safety of New Yorkers. The city might want to consider changing something.

  • This is a perfect example of a case of overwhelming evidence that a community board is employing stalling tactics. DOT’s policy to hold plans until clear approvals are given (without any deadlines associated with the proposals) is a mistake. They should strongly consider instituting a “public feedback period” of 45-60 days instead, which would give all boards plenty of time to air out concerns & condemnations of proposals if they felt it was proper to do so.

    Ydanis’ backing should be all they need to proceed at this point.

  • J

    I’m not sure I agree here. Yes, the city took ages to propose something, but the design is least effective in the places where good design and protection are needed the most. Rather than rush to build a bad unprotected design, and then wait 8 more years for a protected redesign (see Christie st), why not spend a few more months getting this right the first time.

  • Can you reference the source of the “few more months” figure you are using? When DOT hasn’t proposed a protected design, it could take years for such a design to get through their planning process.

  • Thanks for writing about this Brad. I was one who co-authored the original Feb. 2008 separated bike path plan for central Dyckman St, presenting at CB12’s T&T committee. I’ve since presented a powerpoint of https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a7ef4971864ee96e2ed354280adab4d14e027779259e499901aa1b34201b96f8.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/546232746fcb456e21ce826463f63d83f88011b80f5dfe48ca737456f7bb40bd.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d82f4b5f2014cd87810143383f7926785bf5446e4ec2f4fdf42e01858fa59b56.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7f9c07bdfb430125b50d61c340c8016aefed6fea35d64eb9e1447dc24d7073d6.jpg even more traffic calming, park-like features used in Denver and Boulder’s major downtown streets to both this committee and Ydanis Rodriguez. The latter appreciated and understood what expanded pedestrianization, trees, plantings, benches, play areas, separated bike paths, and reduced parking and cars on central Dyckman would mean for expanding business. The former didn’t seem to grasp what traffic calming measures are or how they can benefit the community. Ydanis says the community board needs to approve such improvements, but that won’t happen unless someone they trust will show them what is possible for Dyckman, what has been done elsewhere and the benefits. I wonder how this can be achieved.

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