Alan Gerson Wants Greater “Review” of DOT Bike Safety Plans

In 2006, Alan Gerson helmeted-up and rallied for a protected bike lane on Houston St.

On a day when you’d hope City Council members would be focused on the Bikes in Buildings bill, Manhattan City Councilman Alan Gerson is planning to introduce a new piece of legislation aimed at giving someone — presumably City Council — greater opportunity to "review" DOT bike infrastructure plans before they are implemented.

Details are sketchy at this point. All we’ve got is the sub-title of his proposed law so it’s probably unfair to jump to conclusions, but let’s go ahead and do just that. I think we can pretty well assume that Gerson is looking to set up a process that gives City Council members greater control over DOT’s bike network build-out, particularly, critical bike safety projects like the ones that have been popping up in his district recently.

By Council Member Gerson:
A Local Law to amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to review of bicycle lanes.
Transportation Committee

We’ll be putting in a call to Gerson’s office. If you live in Lower Manhattan, you can too.

  • k. geis

    Shouldn’t we let the representative finish publishing the bill before we light up his switchboard about it?

  • Marty Barfowitz

    No. We should not wait. Gerson’s constituents and people who are making good use of DOT’s new separated bike lane facilities should rain fire down on him starting now. This bill is very likely the response to a couple of phone calls from cranky Little Italy canoli shop owners who think the Grand St. bike lane has somehow hurt their business. Those guys aren’t waiting around to call Gerson. If you care about better bike facilities being built in NYC, you shouldn’t wait around either. Let Gerson know he’ll pay a price for this idiocy.

    He represents Lower Manhattan for chrissake. Probably something like 15% of the households in his district even own a car. Probably something like 5% of the retail business in his district is done by people traveling in cars. Who does he think he represents?

  • J. Mork

    Good guess, Marty. It’s actually 20.8%. See:

    (The index for these fact sheets is at

  • Walking CITIZEN



    Bike Lanes serve ONLY the FEW and NOT the masses.

    What we need is BETTER MASS TRANSIT !!!

    In addition:

    – bike lanes, barriers, dividers, etc. are a waste of money and space.
    – the problem is bikers want to have their cake and eat it too.
    – they want bike lanes, but they also want to ride with traffic.
    – they also want to be FREE from obeying traffic regulations.



    Buses / Streetcars / SUBWAYS / elevated Magna-Mono-Rail


    Bikes are the past. Bikes are the past. Bikes are the past.
    Bikes are the past. Bikes are the past. Bikes are the past.


    Don’t bend to special interest groups (bike riders).

    “IF” bike lanes are FORCED upon the good citizens of NYC –
    – and “IF” the bicyclists want OUR respect ….
    then the bicyclists MUST follow the rules of the road.
    Until they do … they DO NOT deserve a bike lane!

    1) Bicyclists MUST stop at redlights.
    2) Bicyclists MUST yield to pedestrians.
    3) Bicyclists MUST obey oneway streets.
    4, 5, 6, ) Etc., Etc., Etc.


    Bicyclists must also:

    11) Have a BELL but use ONLY in an EMERGENCY
    13,14,15) ETC ETC ETC


    In addition:

    16) Bicyclists MUST signal when turning and stopping
    17) Bicyclists MUST ride with both hands on the wheel
    ….. (unless they are signaling a turn)
    18) Bicyclists MUST NOT read or talk on their cells while moving
    19, 20, 21) ETC, ETC, ETC


    Check out the latest Bike Lane Folly in Little Italy, Chinatown and SoHo:


    Transportation priority in the city should be:

    1. Essential Services (garbage/sweepers/emergencey vehicles)
    2. Pedestrians (safe sidewalks free of bikes and dog leashes)
    3. Buses and/or Streetcars (dedicated lanes)
    4. Commercial Vehicles (dedicated parking and NO double parking)
    5. Bikes (Messenger ONLY)
    6. Pedi-Cabs
    7. Yellow Cabs (Taxi’s)
    8. Medians (for Greenstreets projects)
    9. Personal vehicles (with VERY HIGH PARKING FEES)
    10. Pedestrians (they deserve another mention before bikes)
    11. Bikes (for personal transportation)
    12. Bikes (for recreation)
    13. Pedestrians (they deserve another [3rd] mention)

  • J

    Yes, 20.8% own cars, and 5% commute with them. However, that isn’t what the argument is about. The Little Italy Store owner probably drives to the store and some of his customers drive too. The question is how many, and what effect the bike lanes have on those customers.

    A big problem I’ve been seeing is that the new bike lanes are being installed, first during a spike in gas prices and now during a recession. Business is down, but rather than blame the economy, retailers blame the new bike lane outside. If bike lanes are installed when the economy is booming and gas is cheap, will businesses cite the lanes as the cause of their success?

  • First he rallies for a protected bike lane on Houston Street and then he attempts to block the development of new bike lanes? What a hypocrite!

  • DaDude
  • somebody

    ah, when it comes to the various downtown bike lanes, who has not been a hypocrite or downright turncoat??!!


  • LN

    Will that law finally actually put a protected bike lane ON Houston Street? Cause I don’t see those politicians standing there protecting me when I ride across it.

  • Gerson should go lay down on the Brooklyn Bridge with Marty Markowitz to prevent the installation of E-Z Pass readers and license-plate cameras. Viva the automobile. Pray for your SUV!

  • Barnard

    You can look up Gerson’s number here:

    Don’t just post here. Let him know you don’t like his legislation (and you love the Grand Street protected bike lane and he should fight for similar bike lanes on Houston and Delancey and…)

  • Streetsman

    First there was the 1997 Bicycle Mater Plan, laying out where the bicycle network would go. Then there was the 2006 commitment by DOT to install 200 miles of bike lanes in three years, based on that plan. Then there was PlaNYC transportation initiative #9, called “Promote Cycling,” with the bullet point of completing the 1,800-mile bicycle master plan. Then the DOT released their 2008 Strategic Plan promising to do just that, and also to install 15 miles of protected bike lanes in two years and to double the percentage of commuting by bicycle in 7 years. And unless I’m mistaken every bike lane installed has been reviewed by the affected community board at least once, though generally two or three times.

    My point is if you’re a local politician and you feel like you haven’t had a chance to “review” DOT’s bike infrastructure plans, then you obviously just haven’t been paying enough attention the last 11 years.

  • Ian Turner

    Streetsman, I think it would be worthwhile to put this text into a letter to the councilman. The letter would be best sent from someone resident in Gerson’s own district, (see map). Anyone care to volunteer?

    Mr. Gerson’s district includes one of the parts of Manhattan best suited to bicycling, namely the area East of Clinton and South of Delancey.

  • Paul Nagle

    I am Gerson’s Director of Communications. First – Gerson is an avid supporter of the Bikes in Buildings Bill and will vote for it tomorrow. Second – there will not be a DOT “bike lane” bill introduced by Gerson tomorrow. Gerson is working on a bill with lawyers to create a better process of review for both Council and Community input into street reconfigurations, which can, but don’t necessarily, include bike lanes. In our district alone this bill would refer to the “bus bumps” on Lower Broadway, the “stripes” on Rutgers Street, the Grand Street traffic islands and the Chatham Square reconfiguration. This last fiasco has the community up in arms, as DOT came to the CB3 hearing last week and basically announced no major changes to the plan could be made no matter what the community said at the hearing.

  • This sounds to me like an attempt to prevent a progressive DOT from implementing livable streets improvements by bogging them down in a “review process” by more conservative (read car-centric) bodies. Witness the fiasco in SF with environmental impact statements used to thwart new bicycle infrastructure.

  • Bus bumps? Sniff. They’re called bus bulbs and are kind of buffer, like this obstructionist bill you’re trying to write with your lawyers, for the auto traffic that mows down two New Yorkers a week.

  • Streetsman

    Thanks for responding Paul – clearly we took the liberty of jumping to conclusions. I’ll just say I think we’d all agree that the current Community Board process is broken, but exactly what to do with it is a different story.

  • J

    Paul, thanks for your input, and I definitely appreciate Councilman Gerson’s vote for Bikes in the Buildings. I would also like to see what kind of review Councilman Gerson is asking for. I guess my concern is that it took so long to get these types of measures installed in the first place. When the sidewalks were narrowed and streets widened there was no review process. Why is there suddenly one now, that the streets are being used more equitably?

    If there is a new review process, it better be VERY comprehensive. Naturally, the people who shout the loudest are those opposed to a project, not those in favor. I would like to know how your review plan accounts for this very very wide discrepancy, without unnecessarily delaying these long overdue projects. Thanks.

  • I’ll just say I think we’d all agree that the current Community Board process is broken, but exactly what to do with it is a different story.

    Let’s hear some suggestions! London has elected borough councils; Paris has elected borough councils and mayors; Montreal has elected borough mayors who also function as city councilmembers.

    The borough president elections tend not to be very democratic: how long was Howard Golden BP of Brooklyn before term limits? Has there been any turnover in BPs since the 2001 term limit? Are there any competitive races for BP expected next year? Therefore, community board members appointed by BPs are doubly undemocratic. There’s gotta be a better way.

  • Ian Turner

    Capn, a great start would be to make community boards elected rather than appointed. There’s no real reason for them to be appointed positions in the first place.


Gerson Looks to Rein In Runaway Safety Improvements

Not long ago, Alan Gerson spoke in favor of giving pedestrians more space at Petrosino Square. Alan Gerson’s office has more on what we suspected was a bill intended to give the Lower Manhattan City Council member and his colleagues more power over DOT implementation of new bike infrastructure. Judging by this comment from Gerson […]

Gerson on Grand Street Safety: Never Mind the Facts

City Council member Alan Gerson didn’t have much new to say at his sidewalk protest of the Grand Street bike lane. But a handful of reporters and a few cyclists pressed him to defend the idea that projects designed to improve street safety should be subject to greater City Council review. Gerson’s assertion of "dangerous […]

Gerson Bill Mandating Review of Transpo Projects Is Now Law

In one of his final acts as a City Council member, Alan Gerson won passage for a bill that may slow down major street projects. New York City’s 2009 legislative session didn’t end without a parting gift from outgoing Lower Manhattan rep Alan Gerson. A new law that passed City Council unanimously before the end […]

Safer Streets Under Fire at Gerson “Town Hall”

It’s safer to cross Grand Street. The arrogance! Lower Manhattan City Council rep Alan Gerson held a "transportation town hall" Monday night, following up on his pledge last year to closely monitor creeping safety enhancements to New York streets. Fellow City Council member John Liu, a candidate for comptroller, also made an appearance at the […]

Make That 21 Council Members in Favor of Pricing

Council Member Alan Gerson bikes in support of safer cross-town cycling route for Lower Manhattan, Sept. 2006. Villager photo by Jefferson Siegel Following the Gotham Gazette’s surprising report that he was the only Manhattan City Council Member firmly against Mayor Bloomberg’s congestion pricing plan, Lower Manhattan City Council member Alan Gerson has issued a statement […]