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Harlem CBs Dither on Pedestrian Safety While SI Board Begs for Bike Lanes

Two four-lane roads, two different community board approaches. Staten Island CB 1 voted to support a community request for protected bike lanes and traffic calming on Clove Road (left), while Manhattan CBs 9 and 10 delay another community road diet plan for pedestrian islands. Photos: Google Maps (##https://maps.google.com/?ll=40.619126,-74.106401&spn=0.009805,0.017016&t=h&z=16&layer=c&cbll=40.619126,-74.106401&panoid=DBIid4b-wVa4geEBA6orEg&cbp=12,295.08,,0,-4.65##left##, ##https://maps.google.com/?ll=40.807475,-73.957043&spn=0.019555,0.034032&t=m&z=15&layer=c&cbll=40.807568,-73.956978&panoid=9Q_KFNJj6uPHqs9hXwKZ1w&cbp=12,32.12,,0,-4.43##right##)

Last week, Staten Island Community Board 1 passed a resolution asking DOT to install bike lanes, while in Manhattan, a community-requested plan for a road diet and pedestrian islands continues to be delayed by two Harlem community boards.

After months of organizing by Transportation Alternatives -- resulting in more than 260 petition signatures and 22 partners signing onto a letter in support [PDF] -- as well as a supportive vote from the board's area committee, CB 1 passed a resolution Thursday asking DOT to bring bike lanes and traffic calming to 2.5 miles of Clove Road from Richmond Terrace to the Staten Island Expressway. This section Clove Road currently has two lanes in each direction for most of its length.

The advocates' letter recommends protected bike lanes, which would be a first for Staten Island. The text of the CB 1 resolution was not available, so it's unclear if the community board specifically asked DOT for protected lanes.

The board also requested that DOT investigate "smart traffic lights," which automatically adjust signal timing in real-time to respond to traffic volumes, and the district manager invited bike lane supporters to join the board for its next budget committee meeting on October 3.

Next, local advocates will try to win the support of Council Member Debi Rose and get a proposal from DOT. Update: "We have not yet received this resolution, but we will review any request we receive from the community," DOT spokesperson Nicholas Mosquera said in an e-mail.

Update:  "I am a strong proponent of safe streets and of reducing the city’s carbon footprint; this DOT study would be a good first step in seeing how we can achieve both goals," Rose said in a statement.

While CB 1 is taking action on Staten Island, it's a different story in Manhattan. On Thursday evening, Manhattan Community Board 9 failed to advance a resolution in support of a plan for pedestrian islands and a road diet on Morningside Avenue, which would cut down on speeding near Morningside Park.

The Morningside Avenue plan [PDF], requested by North Star Neighborhood Association, would convert a four-lane road known for speeding into an avenue with one lane in each direction, plus a painted center median with turn lanes and concrete pedestrian islands. The proposal had previously gone before CB 9's transportation committee, and the board's executive committee members were supportive of bringing it to the full board, according to CB 9 member Brad Taylor.

But at Thursday night's meeting, after a number of people spoke in favor of traffic calming during the public session earlier in the meeting, a few board members claimed that, despite the committee meetings, the proposal hadn't received a sufficient public airing. "The way it unfolded was very unfortunate," Taylor said. The board voted 18-15 to table the project, according to The Uptowner.

CB 9 has decided to host a public forum on Morningside Avenue, but a date has not yet been set. In addition to the public forum, the board's transportation committee meets on October 3, followed by the full board on October 17.

The project area also includes Community Board 10, which has a history of stalling and opposing livable streets projects. At its last transportation committee meeting, CB 10 asked DOT for more data about the plan's impact. Streetsblog has asked CB 10 if it will be hosting more meetings or a public forum on the Morningside Avenue proposal, but has not received a reply from the board's staff or chair, Henrietta Lyle. CB 10's full board is meeting on October 2, followed by a transportation committee meeting on October 9.

Update: "At this time, the Parks, Recreation and Transportation Committee is not organizing a community forum on NYC DOT's plan for calming traffic on Morningside Avenue. The committee requested that the New York City Department of Transportation return to the committee with additional information on the project, information that would be helpful in moving the project along," CB 10 chair Henrietta Lyle said in an e-mail.

Mark Levine, who recently won the Democratic primary to replace outgoing Council Member Robert Jackson, is urging the community boards to move forward. "It's gotten as much public airing as most resolutions," he said. "My sense was not that there were substantive objections to the plan. I haven't heard any." Levine, who spoke in favor of the plan at CB 9's meeting last week, is worried that further delay could jeopardize the project, as construction is unlikely to start during winter.

"I don't see any negative impact on parking in this plan, and I see a lot of positives around safety," Levine said. "To me, it should be pretty uncontroversial, frankly."

Streetsblog asked DOT if it would proceed on the traffic calming plan even if community boards fail to pass resolutions supporting it. "We continue to work with both community boards on this effort to improve safety on Morningside Avenue for all road users," agency spokesperson Nicholas Mosquera said in an e-mail.

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