Kips Bay Condo Owners Don’t Want Bike Lane By Their Door, So They’re Suing
Lawsuits against bike lanes and bike-share stations have all gone down in flames in New York City courts, but that’s not stopping Kips Bay condo owners from suing NYC DOT over a short, very useful connection linking the East Side Greenway and the First Avenue bike lane.
The bike lane has the backing of local City Council Member Dan Garodnick, and Manhattan Community Board 6 recently voted in favor of it. Even though the plan was modified in response to condo owners’ demands, they are taking it to court. (They are not, however, getting pro bono assistance from Gibson Dunn and Jim Walden.)
The two-way bike lane would run next to the Horizon condominium tower on 37th Street between First Avenue and the East River Greenway. It was first proposed by DOT in May and received support from Manhattan Community Board 6 last month.
Horizon condo owners came out against the bike lane at previous community board meetings in the spring and fall, calling for it to be placed on the south side of the street, where it would be next to — this is important — a different apartment building.
DOT studied that option but concluded it would be more dangerous for people on bikes, who would be exposed to additional conflicts with turning traffic at intersections. Instead, the agency proposed a modified version of the north-side lane that preserves loading zones near the condo entrance. People going to the building’s entrance would exit a vehicle in the drop-off zone and cross the bike lane before getting to the sidewalk.
Condo owners did not come out to the meeting last month when CB 6 overwhelmingly passed a resolution in support of the modified plan. At that meeting, a Garodnick staffer said the council member backed the plan. According to draft meeting minutes [PDF], the board voted 35-3, with three abstentions, in support of the bike lane.
“It seems that people were generally pleased with all the work that went into it,” CB 6 district manager Dan Miner said after the meeting. “It was not a heavily disputed matter.”
Apparently the no-show condo owners weren’t happy. Their complaint was filed yesterday in Manhattan Supreme Court. The plaintiffs are suing under Article 78, a statute that provides a catch-all basis to fight the actions of city agencies. (Prospect Park West bike lane opponents filed an Article 78 lawsuit too — it was rejected in Kings County Supreme Court, but the appeal has yet to be settled.)
Although the 37th Street lawsuit is listed online, filings in the case are not yet available and court offices are closed on election day. The Horizon board has not responded to a request for comment made through its attorney, Stacie Feldman of Kossoff, PLLC.
DOT’s Colleen Chattergoon told the CB 6 transportation committee last night that the agency has begun installing in the bike lane and continues to move ahead with installation, according to a board member who was present. Update: DOT says new markings on 37th Street will be complete this week, and the entire bike lane project will be completed by the end of next week.
The city expressed confidence that it will prevail in court. “The Department of Transportation’s actions in designating this bike lane were appropriate,” said Nicholas Ciappetta, senior counsel at the New York City Law Department’s administrative law division, “and we believe the court will agree.”
A hearing on the case is scheduled before New York County Supreme Court Justice Paul Wooten on November 13 at 2:30 p.m.