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Three CB8 Committees Approve Two-Way 72nd Street Central Park Bike Lane

In Central Park, 72nd Street is going to have more space for bicycles and less for cars come June.

A plan to transfer one lane of 72nd Street from motor vehicles to bicycles in Central Park earned a thumbs up from three committees of Manhattan Community Board 8 last night, a strong show of approval from a board with a mixed record on bike infrastructure. The total vote was 13-1, with one abstention, according to transportation committee co-chair A. Scott Falk.

The two-way buffered bike lane was proposed last month and would be the second path for cyclists trying to cross Central Park. It will run continuously from Central Park West to Fifth Avenue, unlike the current cross-park path near 96th Street, which includes dismount zones, and should be striped by June.

The near-unanimous support from Community Board 8's transportation, parks and landmarks committees was far from preordained. The board opposed the creation of the 96th Street path through Central Park by a 31-13 vote last year. That route allows cyclists to share what was formerly a pedestrian-only path through the park. The 72nd Street proposal, in contrast, takes space away from cars and met with a warmer reception from the board.

Many board members were also persuaded by the argument that without a legal way to cross the park between 96th Street and 59th Street, cyclists would just cross the park illegally, and with more potential for conflict with pedestrians.

"While two of the CB members seemed to have an ideological problem with the project because it provided a benefit to cyclists, all of the other board members but those two voted for the project without voicing any serious reservations, with several voicing strong support," said Transportation Alternatives East Side Committee chair Steve Vaccaro. "It may be that CB8, under its more recent leadership, is finally turning the corner and joining the rest of the city in welcoming livable streets."

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