Council Members Surprised to Hear CBs Approved Bike Lanes

With news swirling about possible cuts to New York’s bike network build-out and City Council oversight of street re-designs, we’d be remiss not to pass along this anecdote from the Bikes in Buildings hearing earlier this week. After DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan wrapped up her testimony to council members, she was peppered with questions about how her department goes about installing bike lanes, TA’s Wiley Norvell told us:

[There was] a pretty vigorous discussion of the overview process of bike lanes being put in. Many council members were proceeding under the assumption that bike lanes were being installed without community input. Rather pointedly, Commissioner Sadik-Khan explained that some of the more contested lanes that had been put in had all passed through the Community Board process with overwhelming approval.

I think it surprised these members to hear that these vocal voices among their constituents were in fact not the majority voices within their own communities. I think we’ll probably be hearing more on that in the next year, as more lanes are put in and existing ones are digested.

I think it’s the first time the DOT’s been able to come to City Hall and say, pointedly and honestly, that they have done extensive community outreach. I think, probably more than any other agency, and even within the DOT probably more than any other issue, they’ve done their homework with respect to the communities that they’ve installed bike lanes in. It was gratifying to see them able to defend the work they’ve done effectively.

The city’s installed 150 miles of bike lanes in the last two years. Of those 150 miles, maybe two miles have been contentious. And even in those cases, they’ve been installed with community board approval.

We’ve seen DOT garner community board support many times over for measures like protected bike lanes and on-street parking reform experiments. Meanwhile, saber-rattling CBs have apparently stymied progress on a car-free Prospect Park proposal backed by more than 10,000 signatures, and Brooklyn pols are bowing to pressure (from outside the local CB) to significantly roll back a bike lane that DOT presented multiple times to CB1. Remind me again, who’s doing the steamrolling here?

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