East Harlem CB Approves Protected Bike Lanes for First and Second Avenues

East Harlem’s Community Board 11 last night approved, again, plans to build protected bike lanes and pedestrian refuge islands on First and Second Avenues. The vote comes after a lengthy public debate in which the community fought for the lanes and the board approved them, only to take back its support after local businesses protested.

First Avenue at 117th St. in 2010. Photo: James Garcia

The final vote was 21-14 in favor, with two abstentions, according to board member Brodie Enoch. That total makes opposition to the bike lanes appear slightly larger than it was in practice, he said.

“Some of the people who voted against the bike lanes aren’t against bike lanes per se,” Enoch explained. “Some people voiced their displeasure that there isn’t preferential treatment in the community for the jobs that will be given to people who work on the bike lanes.”

The Department of Transportation does not hire those workers on a project-by-project basis, making local hiring unfeasible.

The board’s support for cycling in general was evidenced by a resolution amendment that passed unanimously. It requests that East Harlem, and especially the neighborhood’s transit stops, be the first areas for any expansion of the city’s bike-share system. “We don’t want to get left out of that,” said Enoch.

Construction on the protected bike lanes was supposed to start on Second Avenue this spring, but the fight over the lanes has likely pushed back the installation date.

  • J

    Fantastic news. Surely, this vote (the 3rd in favor of the project) settles the matter once and for all. Any word on when construction will actually start?

    Also, voting against bike lanes because DOT doesn’t hire on a case-by-case basis seems a bit misguided to me. I guess it gets the message out there that East Harlem wants DOT to hire more local residents, but it does so at the potential expense of safety improvements for the neighborhood. Oh well, I’m thinking about a bike trip up to Patsy’s once the lanes are in.

  • Ben from Bed Stuy

    Buena Honda! Y felicidades!
    (Cool! and Congratulations!)
    I’m so happy for East Harlem, and for all of the East Side activists who have worked so hard to extend the lanes up to Harlem. How do we now pressure DOT to get these installed ASAP?

  • Anonymous

    Ironically, the first thing I thought about was taking Bike Share this summer up to Patsy’s.  And for what its worth, I haven’t been to Patsy’s in 20 years.

  • J

    On further thought, I find it rather fascinating that members of the community are making the connection between bicycle facility expansion and new jobs. Hopefully, this will lead to more support for bike facilities in the future.


  • Bronxite

    Any information on the route? Termination at E 125th with connections to the Bronx? Randall’s Island? East River Greenway? How far south will this extend? Will it join the already designated protected lanes? This could be huge for bikers along the East side of Manhattan and the Bronx.

  • Michael

    Congratulations to all of the advocates and CB 11 members who support this needed community resource. It will be great for kids and adults and adds to the progress in taking the streets for people.


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