Next Week: DOT to Re-Present Plans for East Side Bike Lanes Up to 125th

After over a year of protests from residents and electeds clamoring for safer streets, next week DOT will present its proposal for extending the First and Second Avenue bike lanes north to 125th Street. The presentations will mark the second time around the community board circuit for bike-ped safety plans on those streets, which were approved by local CBs in 2010 but put on hold soon after.

Last November, Council Member Melissa Mark Viverito, backed by State Senator Jose Serrano and Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh, helped deliver 2,500 handwritten letters to City Hall asking for protected bike lanes up to 125th Street. Photo: Noah Kazis

Presentations will be made on Tuesday the 6th and Wednesday the 7th to the transportation committees of Community Boards 11 and 8, respectively. If you walk or bike on the East Side, these will be can’t-miss meetings. Votes in favor of the project next week would lead to construction next year.

Between 1998 and 2008, nearly 4,900 pedestrians and cyclists were injured or killed on First and Second between Houston and 125th, according to the New York State Department of Transportation. Almost three-fourths of the incidents occurred between 34th and 125th streets.

Some background: In 2010 the city unveiled a comprehensive plan for improved bus, pedestrian and cyclist facilities on First and Second from Houston to 125th Street, including protected bike lanes on Second between 100th and 125th, and on First between 34th and 49th and between 57th and 125th, with a buffered lane in the gap. CB 6, CB 8, and CB 11 all voted for redesigns including protected bike lanes that spring.

Residents and officials — particularly in East Harlem, with its high cyclist count and hazardous conditions for walking and biking — were incensed when they later learned that work north of 34th Street would be delayed indefinitely. This April, progress was accompanied by further uncertainty when DOT announced plans to extend bike lanes on First and Second up to 57th Street in 2011.

Now that it looks like the rest of the project is moving forward, it’s crucial that supporters make their voices heard — particularly in District 8, where the concept of reallocating street space can always be contentious. Times and locations for the meetings are here and here. We’ll have more next week.

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