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Residents Call for Better Crosstown Bike Routes on the Upper East Side

About 30 Upper East Side residents hit the streets last Saturday to evaluate potential routes for crosstown bike lanes in their neighborhood.

UES_Bikes
There's only one crosstown bike route on the Upper East Side. These volunteers want to change that. Photo: Tom DeVito/Transportation Alternatives

For the "street scan" organized by Transportation Alternatives and Bike New York, the volunteers split up evenly between people on foot and people on bikes. Both groups surveyed three possible east-west routes to document current conditions for biking.

Currently, the Upper East Side has only one crosstown bike route, painted lanes along E. 90th and E. 91st streets. "And that’s woefully insufficient," said Joe Enoch, a neighborhood resident who participated in the street scan. "We’re long overdue to get a second crosstown bike lane to keep pedestrians and bicyclists safe."

The three routes surveyed were E. 61st Street/E. 62nd Street, E. 67th Street/E. 68th Street, and E. 72nd Street, which is a two-way street.

All three routes have heavy motor vehicle traffic and potentially high demand for bike travel. E. 61st Street and E. 62nd Street, for instance, are local streets that connect to the Queensboro Bridge.

Since 2012, there have been 19 traffic fatalities and 2,129 injuries on the Upper East Side, according to city data compiled by Transportation Alternatives. Five of those deaths occurred on the streets leading to or from the bridge.

With Citi Bike expanding from 59th Street to 86th Street on the Upper East Side this year, and more growth planned for next year, the need for safer bike connections is growing more urgent. More people are biking on the neighborhood's streets, but there is scant infrastructure to protect them.

On Saturday, street scan participants flagged turning drivers failing to yield at intersections as a major problem on the east-west streets. Transportation Alternatives organizer Tom DeVito also noted that double-parked cars and the threat of dooring created poor conditions for cycling.

Transportation Alternatives and Bike New York are compiling the results of the street scan to send to local City Council members and DOT to get the city to move faster on installing bike lanes. TA plans to send the report to the city by the end of next month.

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