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Whose Streets? Eric Duke’s Streets

NY1's Ruschell Boone has the story from Manhattan Community Board 5 last night, where the transportation committee postponed a vote on protected bike lanes for 26th Street and 29th Street.

The crowd who showed up was about evenly split between supporters of the project and opponents, Boone reports.

To be more specific, some people showed up to tell the board that something has to be done to create safe crosstown bike routes. Last June, in separate crashes, charter bus drivers ran over and killed two people who were biking on crosstown streets in this area. The victims, Dan Hanegby and Michael Mamoukakis, were following all the rules. The DOT redesign will give people on bikes a separate right-of-way, where impatient people operating lethal motorized machines won't end their lives [PDF].

Then there were people like Eric Duke, the owner of Chelsea Television Studios on 26th Street, between Seventh and Eighth. He appears to be very upset about what will happen to on-street motor vehicle storage.

"Maybe I just won't pay our property taxes if my street is taken away from me," Duke told Boone. "I think that's a very fair compromise if it goes that way."

What is a poor beleaguered businessman like Duke, who owns a chunk of the most valuable real estate on Earth, going to do if a sliver of public street space is set aside for cycling? Just look at this:

Image: NYC DOT
Image: NYC DOT
Image: NYC DOT

We can mock Duke all day, but he's participating in a system that's been known to justify his tone-deaf sense of entitlement on more than one occasion. If property owners shout loudly enough, they can dictate what happens on public streets.

It's up to DOT to ensure that doesn't happen here. A CB 4 committee has already endorsed the project, and the city plans to present it to CB 6 as well. DOT has said implementation is on track for spring or summer.

Fine-tuning delivery zones, parking regulations, and intersection treatments makes sense at this stage, but the city can't sit back and watch more people get hurt while the Eric Dukes of New York delay public safety measures.

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