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Citizens Propose Cycle Track Greenway Connector in Inwood

3:30 PM EST on February 15, 2008

Broadway at Dyckman/200th Street and Riverside Drive: a confusing, foreboding free-for-all

Livable streets advocates in Northern Manhattan are proposing a cycle track, similar to the one on Ninth Avenue in Chelsea, to link the Hudson River and Harlem River Greenways at 200th/Dyckman Street in Inwood.

Dyckman currently has bike lanes at its east and west ends, but the stretch between Broadway and Nagle Avenue is four lanes of auto traffic with parallel parking on both sides. When an item showed up on Community Board 12's Traffic and Transportation Committee agenda suggesting DOT might be poised to add bike lanes from Broadway to Nagle, Maggie Clarke got to work.

Clarke, who has a Ph.D. in environmental science, has been an active Inwood organizer since the 1970s. She was a key player in establishing the RING Garden, transforming the Lt. William Tighe Triangle at the intersection of Dyckman and Broadway into a community-supported treasure and making Inwood home to Manhattan's second Greenstreets site. Clarke has not seen the city's plans, if any, for Dyckman Street (neither has Streetsblog -- we have a message in to DOT as of this writing), but says that, because of harrowing traffic, a simple restriping would be a "waste of paint, unless it was a prelude to something bigger."

One idea for "something bigger" was presented by Clarke and other Inwood residents at the CB 12 T&T committee meeting earlier this month. Modeled on the Ninth Avenue cycle track, Clarke and a small group of neighbors proposed a two-way separated bike lane on the north sides of Riverside Drive and Dyckman Street, buffered by a narrow green median, connecting the Henry Hudson and Harlem River Bike Paths.

The Tread Bike Shop, across the street from Dyckman's sidewalk cafés

Clarke, herself a cyclist who has for years led rides originating at the RING, sees such a facility as a natural fit for Dyckman and Riverside. In addition to the obvious benefit of connecting the east and west side Greenways in such a way, Upper Manhattan is already a destination -- or at least a pit stop -- for cyclists who come from as far away as central New Jersey, Clarke says. Inwood Hill and Ft. Tryon Parks flank Dyckman Street, and the RING is adjacent to the proposed cycle track route, on a more serene stretch of Dyckman to the west of Broadway, where cafés set up outdoor seating in the summer. Dyckman even has its own thriving bike shop. Then there's the community benefit of turning a hazardous, unsightly strip of asphalt into a calmer, greener neighborhood asset.

At issue, however, is parking. Community board members are concerned about a loss of spaces, though DOT is now studying a proposal to add more (free) parking on Dyckman's west end, where there are already bike lanes, near the Dyckman Marina. Clarke is hoping that this, as well as her group's proposal to replace parallel parking with angled spots, would minimize or eliminate a net parking loss, and therefore might appease the board and others who would surely howl at the prospect. If not, her group's "Plan B" is to three-lane Dyckman, trading one traffic lane for parking, which could of course rile opposition as well.

DOT Deputy Borough Commissioner Maurice Bruet, who attended the CB 12 Traffic and Transpo meeting, was reportedly impressed to see such a citizen-driven proposal -- and the three-lane plan in particular, as it would allow for wider lane widths -- but said that any work resulting in a net parking loss would require community board approval. Committee Chair Mark Levine described board members as "interested but cautious."

Dyckman east of Nagle Ave has asphalt to spare

Clarke has also been in touch with the offices of Council Member Robert Jackson and Borough President Scott Stringer, both of which expressed interest. She was told by the T&T committee that the project would require "stakeholder" input and cost estimates from DOT to move forward, but she isn't sure when, or if, she can expect to hear from the CB or DOT again. She says Bruet told her the neighborhood should come forth with more design suggestions.

"If DOT wanted a separated bikeway connector, they'd design it," says Clarke. "If there was a beautiful, green, state of the art bike facility up here, it would be a magnet for even more bikes."

Photos by Brad Aaron

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