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Ben Kallos

Manhattan CB 8 Votes Against Basic Striped Crosstown Bike Lanes

1:59 PM EDT on May 19, 2016

At CB 8's request, DOT proposed alternative pairings (in blue) to those in its original proposal (in purple). Image: DOT
At CB 8's request, DOT proposed a menu of six potential crosstown bike lane pairs. Image: DOT
In July, DOT will install painted bikes lanes on 70th, 71st, 77th, and 78th Streets. Image: DOT

Last night, by a vote of 25-19 with one abstention, Manhattan Community Board 8 voted against DOT's plan for three pairs of painted crosstown bike lanes on the Upper East Side. Despite four months of deliberations, bike lane opponents managed to achieve their desired outcome last night, sending a strong signal that no bike lane design is too mild to avoid their wrath.

The board was considering a resolution passed by the CB 8 transportation committee in favor of crosstown lanes on 70th/71st, 77th/78th, and 84th/85th. Multiple meetings and several months of absurd wrangling over thermoplastic stripes preceded that vote.

The Upper East Side plan does not remove any parking or car lanes -- it just puts lines on the ground to designate space for cycling.

To opponents, this basic safety measure is, for some reason, unsuitable for any street with a school, hospital, church, or other notable institution. Parents and administrators from schools on 84th and 85th Streets in particular have said the presence of bike lanes would, all evidence to the contrary, endanger their students.

Supporters of bike lanes way number the oppo at tonight's meeting, 21-15, but half the oppo is oppo only for their own street!

— Steve Vaccaro (@BicyclesOnly) May 18, 2016

People who attended last night's meeting said turnout was especially strong from opponents of the 84th/85th Street bike lanes.

CB 8 Chair Jim Clynes tried to engineer a vote that would allow just one of the bike lane pairs to be voted down, asking for separate resolutions on different bike lane pairs. Transportation committee co-chair A. Scott Falk insisted on a vote on the original resolution that favored all three bike lane pairs.

When board member Lorraine Brown called a vote on the original resolution, the board narrowly sided against it -- but only after Clynes attempted to take executive action and force separate votes.

Speaking to Streetsblog this morning, Falk said opponents just wanted to keep bike lanes off their own streets. "It was actually a classic illustration of NIMBYism at its best," he said. "Literally having people turn out to say, 'No no no don’t consider 80th, please put it where you decided to on 84th.'”

Unlike the other streets considered in the 80s, 84th and 85th connect to both Central Park and the East Side Esplanade. Moreover, had the committee gone with the 81st/82nd option, it would have bunched six crosstown bike lanes into a 13-block span. "That’s not a network, that’s just a little bracket," Falk said.

Moving forward, Falk said he expects the transportation committee to take up all six of DOT's proposed pairs once more, and vote on separate resolutions for each.

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