Reason Prevails at the End of Upper East Side Bike Lane Meeting

UES-map
The committee ultimately voted in support of bike lane pairs on 70th/71st, 77th/78th, and 84th/85th. Image: DOT

Bringing some resolution to one of the more absurd bike lane stories in recent memory, last night the Manhattan Community Board 8 transportation committee voted 9-2 in favor of a DOT plan to add three pairs of crosstown bike lanes on the Upper East Side.

First came many protestations about how these bike lane stripes have no place on the neighborhood’s streets. But supporters came out to the sanctuary of Holy Trinity Episcopal Church too, and their comments buoyed the committee.

DOT’s plan removes no parking or car lanes, it just adds some thermoplast to create a bit more order and designate some street space for cycling. Nevertheless, this was the third CB 8 meeting devoted to the project. Given the drawn-out process and histrionics about plain old bike lane stripes, you have to wonder if it would have been any more difficult to advance a more ambitious project, like a 72nd Street protected bike lane.

As with previous meetings, many speakers insisted that specific streets could not possibly accommodate a striped bike lane — the presence of a school, a hospital, a religious institution, or fire station supposedly disqualified these streets. Lenox Hill Hospital on 77th Street, Wagner Middle School on 76th Street, a Citi Bike station on 84th Street — the list was endless.

“It will be an awful story if we have to come back and say a bike rider hit one of our young children,” said one woman, who identified herself as an administrator at St. Ignatius Loyola School. “You really need to think about the children.”

Early in the meeting, DOT Manhattan Borough Commissioner Margaret Forgione highlighted the number of bike lanes next to schools, police precincts, fire stations, and hospitals. “We have dozens and dozens and hundreds of them, actually, and we have never found a safety concern, a response time concern, or any other issue related to having bike lanes in various other [areas],” she said.

In March, the transportation committee called opponents on their bluff by asking DOT to study bike lanes on as many crosstown streets as possible. The full board rejected that resolution in favor of a simpler request for three alternative pairings, which is what DOT presented last night.

It was a big crowd (even Woody Allen was in the house — he did not share his cranky bike lane thoughts at the mic), but it wasn’t all anti-bike silliness last night. The committee also heard a number of supportive comments before voting in favor of bike lanes on 70th/71st, 77th/78th, and 84th/85th.

The 70th/71st pair was one of DOT’s new options — the other two pairs had been proposed before. Unlike DOT’s original proposal of 67th/68th, the 70th/71st pair includes one direct connection to the East River Esplanade.

“People are going to be riding bikes, whether we have these bike lanes or not,” committee co-chair Chuck Warren said. “Even if there weren’t these painted lanes, you’re still going to see bicycles on some of these streets that we’re all talking [about] here.”

The full board will take up the committee’s resolution at its May 18 meeting at 6:30 p.m. at New York Blood Center at 310 East 67th Street.

  • BBnet3000

    Why 71st and not 73rd? Are we supposed to salmon up 5th Ave to get to the Terrace Drive?

  • Vooch

    the benefit of 71st is it connects to East River Greenway. these are just painted lines on side streets, do not get too bent outa shape over them.

    the victory last night was purely poltical in the sense it further painted the anti-bike cranks into a corner. their ranks are shrinking. The remaining anti’s actually hurt their cause by being so crazy sounding.

    10,000 to 15,000 cycling trips every day on UES.
    Bigger UES battles are starting in the fall. 1) Closing the 2nd avenue gap, 2) Crosstown Protected Lane,

    The Fall battles will then set the stage for the ultimate next big strategic objective on the UES; namely which Avenue pair should next get PBL ?
    Fifth/Madison ?
    Lex/3rd ?
    ParkN/ParkS ?

    By the time the Avenue question arises, the few remaining anti’s should be reduced to ineffectual wailing.

  • Bluewndrpwrmlk96

    One thing is true, people are going to be riding bikes, lanes or not. Regardless a bike lane still helps. Increases visibility and aids in direction.

  • BBnet3000

    Yeah but York is 2-way, so it’s not as difficult to get to the Greenway on that end as it is to get to the Terrace Drive on the western end.

    Yes, I’m aware that it’s just painted lines. Hopefully there’s enough room to stay clear of Woody Allen’s car door while riding within them.

  • Vooch

    I ride past Woody Allen’s home every day and usually I own the lane on 70th

  • ahwr

    Are you pushing for a two way lane on 5th?

  • Vooch

    The conversation of Fifth Avenue from 60th to the Arch at Washington Square to roughly;

    40′ increased sidewalk width
    plus
    (2) 10′ bus lanes & (1) 10′ Bus drop off Lane
    plus
    (1) 9′ Bike Lane

    would certainly enhance mobility as well as dramatically increase Commerce & property values

    it’s not a Full pedestrian zone, but given the bus routes running through Fifth. Retaining the bus Lanes is vital. Increasing the Human space by only 40′ width along the entire Length of Fifth is a reasinable compromise solution.

  • thomas040

    Why that short little one block protected part on E91st street, or rather, why not all of it?

  • thomas040

    Where will the crosstown protected lane go? What are the options in play?

  • JK

    For your UES list, how about one block long, two-way, protected lane on 110th between 5th and Madison to allow river to river East bound bike travel? 110th is East Bound except for that one block, which presumably was reversed to reduce through traffic. Problem is that cyclists going East on 110th/Central Park North have to detour two blocks out of their way to 108th to keep going East. (And 108th terminates just four blocks East of there at 3rd Ave.) That very low traffic block of 110th/Tito Puente is plenty wide.

  • Vooch

    CB8 voted in Nov on a 2 phase plan:

    Phase One – quickly add painted lanes in Spring 2016

    Phase Two – study and implement a ‘safe’ ( presumably protected ) crisstown route ( presumed to be 72nd but very up in air ) with implied install in 2017.

    suggestions on protected lanes access to 59th bridge on 61st (?) are part of a different discussion.

  • Jason

    Does anyone consider 110th UES? I’m not trying to be a dick, I’m sincerely asking–I know neighborhood definitions can have a bit of fluidity depending on whom you ask but 110th just seems too far uptown to have any sort of mainstream consensus on being considered UES.

    I mean on the West Side that’s the southern edge of Morningside Heights.

  • BBnet3000

    Because the street is closed for that block except to bikes (see Streetview).

    In the Streetview it looks like bikes have to go onto the sidewalk to get around the barriers though…

  • Vooch

    true, but you are applying rational thought again to a irrational process

  • AMH

    Exactly. I hope someone called those cranky nutjobs on their crap. Not painting a bike lane is not going to keep a cyclist (or far more likely, a motorist) from hitting a child. Don’t any of them care about the children enough to want them to have safe streets to bike on? Clearly not, since that would mean slowing down car traffic.

  • Shinsccr8

    Realtors might.

  • Shinsccr8

    As BBnet mentioned, it’s a closed off pedestrian heaven(I live right by there). There’s a marked spot on the southside of that block on the road where bikes are supposed to go up and down, but not on the sidewalk.

  • asmoedeous

    I recently got a citibike and began cycling in NYC. Hoo boy, I fear for my life every second that I’m not on the Hudson River Greenway. In any narrow, one-lane East-West street, Taxis will honk at you and dangerously veer by to pass you even if you’ll both be soon at the same red light 10 seconds later. Then you have your fellow cyclers salmoning North up Columbus(9th) and South down 2nd with no shame. The worst part by far though are cars illegally parked on the protected bike lanes and people opening doors without looking. Considering how hellish of an experience I had cycling on greenways from 60th to 40th today (literally every block had a car door waiting for me, a salmoning cyclist, or someone hailing a cab while standing in the bike path) I’m not convinced more infrastructure alone is going to make biking in NYC safer. Their really needs to be enforcement to curb illegal behavior by drivers, pedestrians and cyclist alike regarding bike lanes. Also if they are publicly open to residents, I’m totalling going to the next one of these UES transportation board meetings and voicing my 20-something opinion in support of more bike lanes.

  • Vooch

    you do not sound as if you really are a cyvlist. Something fishy

  • asmoedeous

    I wouldn’t identify as a cyclist. Just a guy who decided to start biking to work 2 weeks ago and has been struggling 🙂

    Might not even be a cyclist for long if I can’t figure out how to get cars to stay more than 2 feet away from me (specifically on 73rd from central park to west end entrance to Hudson Greenway & and by taxis weaving on and off the bus lane on 5th avenue southbound).

    Also pretty sure I’m legally supposed to ride in the center of the road if its too narrow for both me and a car to fit, but I always get honked at every time I do it.

  • Vooch

    here to help

    72nd on west side might be better choice than 73rd – own the lane on 72nd. If they honk that’s good, they can see you

    fifth ave is rather difficult , I gather you are going from 72nd south.

    what’s your destination on fifth ?

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