Reappointed by Rosenthal, Dan Zweig Already Trashing Amsterdam Ave Plan

Bike lane opponent Dan Zweig is at it again. The longtime Manhattan Community Board 7 transportation committee co-chair was quoted in a Post article trashing the Amsterdam Avenue bike lane before DOT even presents its design, set to be released in September or October.

Dan Zweig is speaking out against a safer Amsterdam Avenue after Council Member Helen Rosenthal reappointed him to Manhattan Community Board 7.
Dan Zweig is speaking out against a safer Amsterdam Avenue after Council Member Helen Rosenthal reappointed him to Manhattan Community Board 7.

“There is very heavy traffic [on Amsterdam] and it is a truck route,” Zweig told the Post. “We don’t know if Amsterdam Avenue can accommodate a bike lane.”

Though Zweig preemptively denounced the Amsterdam Avenue bike lane, he voted for a resolution asking DOT to study it. Zweig voted for the resolution only after language was added urging DOT to consider alternative routes.

Zweig’s position contradicts that of Council Member Helen Rosenthal, who unambiguously supports a protected bike lane on Amsterdam Avenue. Yet shortly after coming out in favor of the bike lane last spring, Rosenthal reappointed Zweig, a longtime bike lane foe who lives outside her district, to CB 7.

With the reappointment, Rosenthal kept Zweig in a position to thwart safety projects on the Upper West Side. DOT almost always gives de facto veto power over its street safety projects to appointed community boards.

Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg says working with community board appointees is one of the highlights of her job. “Particularly as we’ve done our Vision Zero projects,” she said in April, “one thing that’s been really gratifying is… we’ve gotten a lot of support and very caring and well-educated people on the community boards that want to partner with us on these projects.”

While other CB 7 members have worked with DOT, even actual safety statistics don’t seem to sway Zweig from his anti-bike lane position. He refused to accept DOT numbers showing a decrease in crashes after the Columbus Avenue bike lane was installed because one of the “before” years had a high number of collisions. He asked DOT to throw out that year of data.

“We don’t invent new methodologies,” replied Josh Benson, who was then DOT’s bicycle and pedestrian director. “To just pick one year and eliminate it, that’s just not what we do.”

There is a key difference between the Amsterdam and Columbus plans. While the Columbus lane simply narrowed that avenue’s three car lanes, adding a protected bike lane to Amsterdam will require removing one of its four car lanes. This has the potential to impact DOT’s models of how quickly it can move car traffic on the uptown corridor.

The members of Community Board 7 have repeatedly voted in favor of adding protected bike lanes and pedestrian safety improvements to Columbus and Amsterdam avenues. But it looks like its leadership is gearing up to yet again oppose safer streets.

  • Zweig just reminds me of this these days.

  • DRDV

    Reposted from headlines comment thread:

    This is who Helen Rosenthal really is:

    “We all feel like we’ve been told to shut up and go away,” Kelly said. “When you’ve lost somebody, you’re not just going to go away. It means too much.”

    http://www.streetsblog.org/201

    Remember this quote on election day — should she have a primary opponent. People should be contacting Mel Wymore to run again against this public safety menace.

  • DRDV

    Zweig is much, much worse — yelling at clouds doesn’t actually kill people.

  • Jesse

    This needs to be said every single time. There is such an obvious generational divide on this issue.

  • Reader

    Zweig will be Zweig. There’s no changing him. If the bike lane on Amsterdam gets watered down or rejected, that needs to land squarely at the feet of Helen Rosenthal. She reappointed him.

  • Jesse

    Zweig is on the Community Board. What does “Community” mean in this context? Isn’t there overwhelming support for the bike lane in his community?
    Why is he advocating so hard for the appropriation of his community’s public space for the benefit of people who are not in his community — who are just driving through — when his community has made it clear that that is not what they want? He is doing the exact opposite of his duty as a member of the Community Board.

  • Reader

    I think the anger at Zweig is misplaced. It’s not like none of this stuff was known before he was reappointed or that members of the community didn’t lobby hard against his re-appointment. This is Rosenthal’s fault. Period.

  • I’ve been pushing this a bit more on Twitter. There is such an obvious generational divide on this issue, especially among CB members.

  • Alex 3speed

    Most CB members were appointed in a time when “making it” in NYC involved driving to commute to a much greater extent than today. Compared to when the CBs started (and some original members remain) we have 1.5 million more people in the city and the same formula does not hold. Streets are increasingly used by more pedestrians going to public transit, buses connecting to subways, tourists and their buses for better or worse, more cyclists, more delivery trucks, more sanitation trucks, more taxis, ever increasing numbers of under-regulated FHVs, more express buses, and yes overall more cars. So driving has gotten tougher in the city for a lot of CB members and when they see plans like the ones below, they do not represent the plurality of their communities and thus only care about drivers and free parking.
    It would be fascinating to investigate even just the Transportation committee heads for all 59, seeing date of appointment, and how they get to work. Agencies like the DOT have been responsive to shifting needs, whereas many CBs have not.

    http://www.streetsblog.org/2015/03/27/bus-driver-hits-woman-at-uws-intersection-where-cb-9-opposes-safety-fixes/
    http://www.streetsblog.org/2015/04/06/cb-4-members-pan-fix-for-coronas-111th-st-not-enough-traffic-lanes/

  • Mark Walker

    Struck by this: “Yet shortly after coming out in favor of the bike lane last spring, Rosenthal reappointed Zweig, a longtime bike lane foe who lives outside her district, to CB 7.” Who lives outside her district?!

  • FLYINGCHOPSTIK

    Does the DOT actually NEED these CBs permission at the end of the day? I thought that they were only supposed to be an advisory factor in streets design?

  • Jesse

    There is no economy of blame. We can be disappointed in both of them. My issue with Zweig is not so much his bias (although of course I don’t like it because it doesn’t align with my bias) but that he’s failing to perform the one task he’s been assigned. He has a forum to make his case in the community board meetings and he has his vote.
    He made his case and the community disagrees. Now it’s his job to shut up. It’s sleazy and dishonest of him to use the position entrusted to him to gain access to a public forum in an effort to subvert the will of the community whose voice he’s been appointed to represent.
    It doesn’t mean that I let Rosenthal off the hook. But to be honest I think her sin is more just negligence. I don’t think councilmembers really give that much thought to these appointments and it’s always less of a headache for them to let these incumbents coast. But this guy Zweig… It’s just so petty. He’s been given a really tiny amount of power and he’s determined to wring as much abuse as he can out of it.

  • Jesse

    I know that pointing out biased rhetoric in the Post is shooting fish in a barrel but I noticed this:

    “There has been opposition by residents who cite a number of problems that arose from the parallel Columbus Avenue bike lane.”
    versus
    Bike advocates say the Amsterdam lane is sorely needed.”

    In other words, if you’re against the bike lane you’re just an ordinary citizen but if you’re for it then you’re “bike advocate”, i.e., some kind of militant activist.

  • J

    By the Post’s logic, Dan Zweig and the 4 other CB members opposed to this project are “residents”, but the 34 CB members who voted in favor of it are “bicycle advocates”, who happen to reside in the neighborhood.

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