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Tonight: Upper Manhattanites Finally Get to Talk About Bike Lanes

Dyckman at Broadway and Riverside Dr. Photo: Brad Aaron

After years of delays, a citizen-generated plan for a separated bike path in Upper Manhattan will get an audience tonight.

The Dyckman Greenway Connector would, as the name suggests, link the east- and west-side Greenways a short distance from the northern tip of Manhattan, in Inwood, completing an uptown circuit for commuters and recreational riders. It would also help bring order to what is now a chaotic environment for area cyclists and pedestrians.

The bike path concept was first proposed to Community Board 12 in early 2008, and for the last three years has languished. At various times, advocates were told by CB 12 and DOT that each was waiting on action by the other. Proponents were repeatedly assured the connector would be addressed in a long-awaited neighborhood traffic study, but after the study was released with no mention of bike facilities, DOT told Streetsblog that CB 12 had asked that the project be excluded. Last winter, the CB 12 transportation committee turned away residents who had come out to endorse the proposal, and refused to reschedule discussion until the spring on the grounds that cold weather would keep seniors from attending.

Nevertheless, CB 12 has formally asked DOT for a feasibility study, and tonight's "Bike Lane Forum" will ostensibly be dedicated at least in part to the Greenway connector concept. Along with residents of Inwood and Washington Heights, representatives from DOT and Transportation Alternatives are scheduled to attend.

If I might break character for a minute: July will mark my fifth year living in Inwood, and based strictly on personal observations, this spring has already brought a noticeable uptick in the number of cyclists on the streets, despite the fact that bike facilities -- lanes and racks -- are virtually non-existent here. I don't bike myself, but as a pedestrian I would spend a lot more time and money on Dyckman, along with Broadway and other streets for that matter, if they were more pleasant places to walk. It's entirely conceivable that, combined with changes in the works for the intersection of Dyckman at Broadway and Riverside Drive, a Greenway connector could supplant the summertime hordes of cruising motorists and motorcyclists with activity that's more conducive to a livable neighborhood.

Tonight's forum will be held at ARC XVI Ft. Washington Senior Center, 4111 Broadway, at 6:30 p.m.

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