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Adriano Espaillat

Ydanis Rodriguez Caves to Bike Haters on Dyckman Street

2:58 PM EDT on April 17, 2018

Bowing to pressure from business people and Congressman Adriano Espaillat, Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez wants DOT to redo protected bike lanes on Dyckman Street, weeks after they were installed. Photo: Brad Aaron

Count City Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez among electeds pressuring DOT to undo progress and revisit the new protected bike lanes on Dyckman Street.

The Dyckman Street bikeway, which runs from Broadway to 10th Avenue, was nine years in the making. It involved countless public meetings. But soon after DOT installed the lanes in December, business owners along the commercial strip began complaining.

As we reported last week, Congressman Adriano Espaillat and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer have responded by calling on DOT to rip out the bike lanes. Under pressure to join them, Rodriguez -- Inwood's council rep and chair of the transportation committee -- tweeted yesterday that he now wants a two-way bikeway on Dyckman's north side to replace parking-protected lanes on both sides of the street.

A two-way protected bike lane on the north side of Dyckman isn't a good substitute for the current design. Intersections are more frequent on the north side of the street, and there would be too many conflicts between people using the bikeway and drivers turning across it.

Nor would shifting the bikeway solve the problems on Dyckman, which don't stem from the bike lane, but from poor curb management and parking policy.

Traffic crashes on Dyckman caused more than 300 injuries between 2009 and 2017. By separating people on bikes from motor vehicles and shortening pedestrian crossing distances, the new design is safer.

Under the old design, motorists were free to illegally double park on Dyckman, gumming up the street and putting people at risk. Merchants are unhappy now because it's harder for drivers to double-park.

As you can see in this video, the curb is saturated with vehicles and motorists feel no compunction about parking in the bike lane:

Parking on Dyckman was just as dysfunctional before the redesign, but now there's a bike lane to blame for it. The solution is to raise parking meter rates during peak hours so turnover increases, legal spaces open up more frequently, and double-parking declines. Right now it's just $1 an hour to park on Dyckman. Unless DOT steps up to manage the curb, illegal parking will remain a problem regardless of the bike lane configuration.

It's not at all uncommon for a new street design to anger local merchants at first, and Dyckman is hardly the first commercial street in Manhattan where a new bike lane gets blamed for long-standing parking problems. Brewer was the council member on the Upper West Side when very similar complaints surfaced after the installation of the Columbus Avenue bike lane. Eventually, the neighborhood acclimated to the new design and the uproar subsided.

On Dyckman, it's unclear what happens next, but Rodriguez and Brewer should know better. If they won't give the redesign a chance to succeed, it's up to DOT to be the bulwark against the reactionary opposition to this long-anticipated street safety project.

We've asked DOT what the agency plans to do and will update this post if we get answers. In the meantime, Rodriguez says his position is open to discussion. To speak up for the Dyckman Street bikeway, you can reach him on Twitter and at 212-788-7053.

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