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DOT Has Ruled Out a Crosstown Bike Lane on 72nd Street [Updated]

DOT is studying routes for crosstown bike lanes on the Upper East Side, but it looks like 72nd Street, which could provide a seamless route across Central Park, won't be one of them.

With the arrival of Citi Bike, neighborhood advocates have been pressing DOT to add more crosstown bike connections on the Upper East Side, which currently has only a single east-west pair on 90th Street and 91st Street. During a recent "street scan" to assess potential bike routes, 72nd Street was one of three options that volunteers with TA and Bike New York considered.

The transportation committee chairs of Manhattan Community Board 8 revealed at a meeting last night that DOT has ruled out 72nd Street as an option, according to a resident who attended. (Streetsblog has asked DOT to confirm.) They delivered the news to about two dozen people who had just testified against the specter of making 72nd Street safe for biking. A change.org petition had been circulating before the meeting in opposition to "the 72nd Street bike path."

Neighborhood resident Joe Enoch was among the smaller group of people who testified in favor of a bikeway on 72nd Street. "When I tried to explain that 72nd Street might make sense because it's a natural connection to Central Park and the West Side, there was literally a chorus of boos and then my time was up," he told Streetsblog via email. "I was literally booed off the stage at a community board meeting." One woman shouted "Boloney!" at him, he said, and later apologized.

Putting good bike infrastructure on 72nd Street, which is also a bus route, would be more of a challenge than smaller side streets, but the payoff would also be more substantial. It would link up to the only direct two-way bikeway that crosses the interior of Central Park, and it would reduce injuries on a dangerous street.

From the beginning of 2012 through the middle of this month, there have been 128 traffic injuries on East 72nd Street -- 40 pedestrians, 25 cyclists, and 63 car occupants, according to Transportation Alternatives organizer Tom DeVito. "Residents that we've talked to want to highlight the fact that precluding a dangerous street from even being studied for safety improvements deprives them and their neighbors of the basic information they need to make life-or-death decisions about their neighborhood," he said.

Update: DOT says it does not "have plans for 72nd Street bike route at this time, but we will be presenting to CB 8 several proposals for east-west, crosstown lanes, and the expansion of the protected path on Second Avenue early next year."

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