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DOT Should Bypass CB 12 and Build Out the Dyckman Bike Lane Project

1:45 PM EDT on March 30, 2017

Dyckman Street at Broadway, looking east: 2007 (above) and 2016. Some storefronts have changed, but the street is as hostile and dysfunctional as ever. Images: Google Maps

A lot has changed since 2008. Cell phones became appendages. The Cubs won the World Series. America elected its first black president, and its first reality TV huckster president.

But with its two lanes for through-traffic and two lanes for double-parking, Dyckman Street in Inwood remains essentially the same traffic mess it was in 2008, the year neighborhood residents proposed adding a protected bike lane

Dyckman Street is a natural location for first-class bike infrastructure in a neighborhood that doesn't have much of it. Of Inwood's three major commercial corridors -- Broadway and 207th Street being the other two -- only on Dyckman is the presence of people on bikes acknowledged, with painted lanes at both ends of the street. These lanes connect to the east side and west side greenways but disappear on the commercial blocks in between, where motor vehicle traffic is heaviest.

Community Board 12 asked DOT for a Dyckman bikeway study in 2008, after multiple attempts by locals to get the board to act. The board requested Dyckman improvements in 2011 and in 2012. It took eight years of back-and-forth between DOT and CB 12 to produce a plan to equip the street with bike lanes end to end.

When that plan finally made it to CB 12 last June, the board said more meetings were needed. Then in December, the CB 12 transportation committee split the project in two, endorsing a two-way protected lane between Nagle and 10th Avenue and tabling a road diet and painted bike lanes between Nagle and Broadway, the heart of Dyckman's commercial zone.

CB 12 endorsed a protected bikeway segment for Dyckman Street (below). It should not be allowed to further delay a road diet for the street’s commercial zone. Image: DOT
CB 12 endorsed a protected bikeway segment for Dyckman Street (below). It should not be allowed to further delay a road diet for the street’s commercial zone. Image: DOT

This week, according to Patchthe full board signed off on the protected segment, which will upgrade existing lanes next to Highbridge Park on Dyckman's east end.

As for the rest of the project, Patch reported: "Community Board 12 assistant chair Wanda Garcia said that the board hopes to schedule a community workshop this summer to discuss the concerns regarding Dyckman Street improvements between Broadway and Nagle Avenue."

DOT should bypass CB 12 and build out the project as proposed, from Broadway to 10th Avenue.

As Wanda Garcia knows, or should know, DOT tried to convene a Dyckman workshop last year, at CB 12’s request, but the board failed to reserve a meeting space. In lieu of the workshop, DOT scheduled project walk-throughs for board members, but had difficulty getting them to show up.

The original Dyckman Street bikeway proposal was citizen-generated. The current DOT plan, though a step down from a protected bike lane, would designate space for people on bikes and impose some order on a chaotic street. It has the backing of local City Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez. When members of the public raised their hands in support of the project at last December’s CB 12 transportation committee meeting, they constituted a clear majority.

Committee chair Yahaira Alonzo refused to consider those votes, however, because according to her they were not "representative of the community." CB 12 has now let nine months go by without holding a workshop, and may or may not schedule one this summer, pushing a board vote into the fall or beyond.

Enough is enough. At least 313 people have been injured in traffic crashes on Dyckman Street since 2009. De Blasio did the right thing by directing DOT to move forward with its 111th Street project in Corona, ending a Queens CB 4 campaign to derail it. The mayor should do the same for Inwood, which has waited much longer for CB 12 to get out of the way of a safer Dyckman.

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