Want Safer Connections to the East Side Greenway? Tell CB 6 on Monday

Condo owners in Murray Hill could derail a protected bike path connecting to the East River Greenway. Image: DOT
A short protected bikeway on 37th Street would connect on-street bike lanes to the East River Greenway. Residents of a Murray Hill condo are trying to block it because they want direct curb access right in front of their building. Image: DOT

On Monday, the Manhattan Community Board 6 transportation committee is set to reconsider a plan to install a two-way protected bike lane on a block of East 37th Street, connecting First Avenue with the East River Greenway. The plan has run up against stiff opposition from residents of an adjacent condominium tower who don’t want a bike lane on the same side of the street as their building.

The proposal is key to a larger set of changes [PDF] that would create safer, more intuitive bike connections between on-street bike lanes and the East River Greenway. In June, the committee signed off of those changes, 7-3 with one abstention [PDF]. When the plan came to the full board later that month, opposition from condo residents nearly derailed the entire project, until the board approved a resolution supporting a bike path on the other side of 37th Street. That resolution passed 34-4, with one abstention [PDF].

But putting a path on the south side of the street would be a more dangerous configuration. Drivers coming off the southbound FDR Drive and proceeding onto 37th Street often make wide right turns, potentially putting cyclists at risk. Another issue is that the tunnel beneath the FDR connecting to Glick Park and the greenway is on the north side of the intersection. If cyclists use the south side of 37th Street, they would then have to cross two legs of the busy intersection, in conflict with turning cars, instead of just one leg without that type of conflict.

DOT expressed these reservations about a south side alignment to the community board and encouraged it to support routing the bike path on the north side of the street. Given the dangers of a south side bike lane, the agency is coming back to CB 6 to make the case for its plan on the north side.

“DOT will update CB 6 on a revision to implement a two-way path on the north side of 37th Street,” said a DOT spokesperson.

What do residents of The Horizon condominium tower have against the safer north side configuration? They’re focused on the ease of curbside pick-up and drop-off in front of their building, and they’re expected to attend the committee meeting and the following full board meeting in force, as they did in June.

The transportation committee meets on Monday, October 6, at 7 p.m. at NYU Langone Medical Center in room Coles 101, 550 First Avenue. The full board meeting is scheduled for October 8 at 7 p.m. at the same address, in Alumni Hall B.

  • HamTech87

    The side streets on the east side are really unbike-able. There is no room for bikes to squeeze through when cars and parked cars are blocking the entire roadway.

    Then I realized that most of the cars along the curb had diplomatic plates, and there were special on-street parking areas designated for foreign diplomats. And a leverage point occurred to me:

    Until NYC parking and other traffic fines are paid, like when hell freezes over, all those curb-side parking spots are going to be converted to separated, concrete- and metal-bollard buffered Class I bike lanes.

    http://online.wsj.com/articles/diplomats-dodge-old-debt-1411438396

  • Clarke
  • HamTech87

    Wow. Didn’t no. London should do the same thing. Build more protected bike lanes.

  • BBnet3000

    Properly designing bicycle infrastructure is a traffic engineering problem, with standards and best practices already available for a solution.

    I still don’t understand why we have put improving transportation in this city not only at the mercy of bumbling old blowhards (non-elected to boot), but often hugely in their hands including altering basic aspects of the design.

    As for The Horizon tenants: If you want direct automobile access to your building no matter what, you should not live in a city, anywhere in the United States and certainly not anywhere else in the world. Its that simple. We simply do not have the room in this city, and especially not in Manhattan. Try riding a bicycle, any able-bodied person can. Oh, what? Its not safe or comfortable to ride a bicycle in New York? Yes, I know that, and its because of you. Stop preventing us from making it better for everyone.

  • Daphna

    Since a protected two-way bike lane was approved for the south side of the street last June, I had been wondering why it was not installed yet. This article answers that question.
    A problem is that Fred Arcarro, the chair of CB6 transportation committee, is an owner of a condo at the Horizon; he is somewhat anti-bike and is against the bike lane on the north side of the street.
    The transportation committee members did a lengthy site visit and considered the change from the north side to the south side of the street to satisfy Horizon condo residents and concluded it would be unsafe on the south side. So the transportation committee approved it as a lane on the north side. At the full board level, CB6 amended the resolution and approved it to be on the south side, but they had not done the site visit as the transportation committee members had, and did not understand why it would not work transposed.
    This street improvement would be great. A 34 to 4 vote shows strong support. Without a lower quality compromise alternative that satisfies the Horizon owners, I hope the board will still approve it.

  • BBnet3000

    Why is this only going to 1st Avenue? Why would anyone not comfortable riding outside protected infrastructure use this north-bound if they have no way to go back downtown?

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