Kips Bay Condo Owners Don’t Want Bike Lane By Their Door, So They’re Suing

Apparently, having this bike lane in front of their building instead of parked cars is too much for condo residents at The Horizon. Image: DOT [PDF]
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.

  • Emmily_Litella

    They had their chance to oppose it through proper channels and blew it. Hope they spend lots of money on lawyers before they lose.

  • Jeff

    Haha, more rich people using the courts as a venue for their temper tantrums.

  • r

    The problem is the NBBL effect. While they will likely prevail, the DOT and CB6 might be wary of pursuing other necessary bike projects for fear of more NIMBY-generated controversy. DOT is already pretty bike-shy, so this needs to get shut down immediately.

  • Transpophile

    Oy vey. I was at the CB 6 Transportation Committee Meeting when this was discussed, and the hostility from the condo owners towards other members of the public was simply breathtaking. It’s amazing how hard some people will work to make streets worse off for everyone.

  • Brad Aaron

    Can the People of NYC file an Article 78 suit against the city for allocating 99.9% of street space to automobiles?

  • Bluewndrpwrmlk96

    Don’t these people have anything better to do?

    Like riding a bike or something….

  • Eric McClure

    Shameless morons.

  • J

    “It seems that people were generally pleased with all the work that went into it… It was not a heavily disputed matter.”

    And yet, DOT remains incredibly shy about actually pushing these projects forward. The communities are now begging for them, but DOT is dragging its feet in actually implementing them, and that doesn’t appear to be changing any time soon..

  • The Horizon was constructed in 1989. We wouldn’t want to mess with such “olde Nieuw Amsterdam” history, at least not on the north side of 37th Street.

  • Tyson White

    Can we get the names of the grinches who filed this suit? Would really do a lot for their legacy in generations to come when people Google their names.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “The city expressed confidence that it will prevail in court.”

    A a cost of X in taxpayer dollars. This would be a good test case. Cost of planners and lawyers and public meetings and judges and court officers, vs. cost of bike lanes.

    “Hope they spend lots of money on lawyers before they lose.”

    They’ll be spending our dollars as well.

  • Albert

    And perhaps now there’s an explanation for why there were exactly zero complaints from those same condo owners at the full board meeting two days later: they were already planning the lawsuit, so why should they expend the energy to show up again?

  • SteveVaccaro

    Can’t wait to see the papers! They’ll be a fun read.

  • jooltman

    The lawsuit reads thusly: “We think we own the street.” Sorry folks, all you own is a few square feet in an architecturally undistinguished 80’s high-rise. The streets belong to all of us, and our government has determined that this is the best use of our public space.

  • YIMBY

    Not just the government. Actual members of the community who showed up to meetings that were open to all, including these NIMBYs.

  • Max Power

    Oh, good, 2-way bike traffic across extended garage entrance/exits. That should be exciting for cyclists who use it.

  • Bluewndrpwrmlk96

    1989? They should’ve filed for preservation status. They don’t make it like that anymore.

  • Daphna

    The Horizon residents were hostile to other members of the community. There were some residents from another building just one block over on 37th Street and the Horizon residents discounted them, and also discounted anyone who uses the street but doesn’t live on it as unimportant.

  • Daphna

    I wonder how many Horizon residents realize what their Board of Directors is doing on their behalf with their common charge money?? Many Horizon residents are probably in favor of this street improvement; many are also probably neutral about it. Most Horizon residents are likely not keeping track of what their Board of Directors is doing, and not even aware that some of the money they have paid for upkeep of the building’s common areas will now go to a lawyer to fight a street enhancement outside their front door.

  • Kevin Love

    Thank God!

  • Mathew Smithburger

    Actually those are mostly fixed costs to the city so we have already paid for the legal infrastructure to fight this on behalf of the will of the people. The marginal costs above that are de minimis in comparison.

  • James Eaton

    Shouldn’t the courts have some sort of rule — a complaintant must actually show up to the community engagement meetings before suing over a lack of community engagement? (Of course, the lawsuit could very well be that several residents are allergic to green paint and it would be unconstitutional to expect them not to lick the street and rub their butts on the paint. That lawsuit would be just as valid.)

  • qrt145

    There may be rules, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t file a lawsuit anyway, and then appeal after it is dismissed due to the rule violation. For example, see the PPW lawsuit which was dismissed because it was filed too late, and nevertheless is now in appeal…

  • nocklebeast

    Will right-turning motorists be able to see the cyclists through the line of parked cars, or does NYC DOT expect the motorist to right-hook the cyclists?

  • Bolwerk

    I really wish there would be a concerted effort to fight stupid rules. Who the fuck is injured by a bike lane? Quite literally nobody ever. They don’t take much space and the vehicles don’t honk or pollute.

    It’s the same with subways. There is an injurious construction process, but no meaningful permanent harm.

  • sammy davis jr jr

    There’s only one way to find out:
    Do it.
    Get sued.
    Fight back.
    Win.
    Let the court rulings serve as precedent for future NIMBY suits.

  • NYCARCH

    The comments here show that this crowd must be the ones we see speeding thru those red lights on their bikes, or perhaps going the opposite direction.

    (yes, I do ride a bike ) The comments below show how little people know about the community board process, when meeting agendas are posted and how CB6 (especially) has its own personal/political agenda and NEVER represents community interests. Not involved in this particular issue, I still, none the less, can see how one sided and ill mannered your readers are. Does anyone know how a Title 78 suit works and why this is the particular path was put forward? No ? not surprised.

    DOT is not bike lane scared. The new commissioner is a more well rounded, educated and professional bike advocate than Sadik Khan (yes, I know you all idolized her- another huge mistake) but she she did not understand and really did not care about what a good bike lane or a complete street is, or is planned and certainly is constructed. 37th street – this one has some real problems of safety for the elderly. but I forgot – this crowd doesn’t care about anything or anyone other than bikes.

  • NYCARCH

    PS – this is not Kips Bay, it is East Midtown

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