Will the Dyckman Street Redesign Survive the CB 12 Gauntlet?

Community Board 12 has scheduled a series of meetings on Dyckman “traffic calming issues.” According to the board, DOT will participate.

The redesigned Dyckman has made crossing the street safer. Photo: Brad Aaron
The redesigned Dyckman has made crossing the street safer. Photo: Brad Aaron

With Ydanis Rodriguez, Gale Brewer, and Adriano Espaillat ganging up on a safer Dyckman Street, Manhattan Community Board 12 has scheduled a series of May meetings on Dyckman “traffic calming issues.” According to the board, DOT will participate.

To recap: Last December DOT installed curbside parking-protected bike lanes on Dyckman. The culmination of nine years of advocacy by local residents, the bike lanes give cyclists much-needed separation from motor vehicles, while sidewalk extensions shorten pedestrian crossing distances and slow driver turns.

For decades, people on bikes had no designated space on Dyckman, one of Inwood’s major commercial corridors. Double-parking was ubiquitous and unchecked. Between 2009 and 2017, traffic crashes on Dyckman caused more than 300 injuries. In a neighborhood where roughly three-fourths of households don’t own a car, prioritizing people on the street was long overdue.

But a few weeks after the bike lanes went in, Brewer and Espaillat called on DOT to rip them out. They’ve offered up loads of excuses to explain their position, but what it comes down to is this: Motorists can’t illegally double-park on Dyckman as easily as they used to, business owners don’t like it, and Brewer and Espaillat are ready to undo a major street safety project to score political points.

Joining them is Rodriguez, who wants DOT to replace the existing bike lanes with a two-way bikeway on Dyckman’s north side — a design that would create more conflicts between bikes and motor vehicles than the current layout.

Will CB 12 pressure DOT to return Dyckman to the bad old days? Photo: NYC DOT
Will CB 12 pressure DOT to return Dyckman to the bad old days? Photo: NYC DOT

It’s normal for merchants to complain about bike lanes at first, but objections typically taper off as people get used to the new design. The fear that bike lanes and other improvements are harmful to commerce is not supported by empirical before-and-after data collected on commercial streets with bike lanes.

What Dyckman needs is higher meter rates for curbside parking when demand is heaviest, which reduces traffic and double-parking on commercial streets. Bike lanes are not responsible for Dyckman parking dysfunction, and tearing them out will make the street more dangerous.

Earlier this week CB 12 announced a Dyckman “fact finding” meeting on May 1, followed a week later by a DOT presentation, with a vote on a resolution later in the month. It’s unclear what the community board and Rodriguez have in mind, but with local officials ready to give up on the bike lanes, the board could amp up the pressure on DOT.

DOT hasn’t responded to multiple Streetsblog queries concerning Dyckman Street.

We’ll have more on the community board meetings in future posts. In the meantime, Transportation Alternatives has posted a petition in support of a safer Dyckman, to deliver to electeds and CB 12. You can add your name here.

  • Vooch

    Advocates can argue that PBL makes it easier for emergency vehicles to pass through.

    They simply drive in PBL

  • JarekFA

    How many people live within a 5 minute bike ride of Dyckman? 100,000 people?

    Imagine if Ydanis pushed for public bike storage facilities near dense residential areas for residents. These pols are so bad and I sincerely mean it when I say that Ydanis is in the top 5 percentile of decency for politicians.

  • Reader

    DOT shouldn’t participate. They did their due diligence and the street is working better now. This is all just a shameful circus of political pandering by Gale Brewer, Ydanis Rodriguez, and Adriano Espaillat.

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    That’s obviously not possible with this design. London this ain’t:

  • redbike

    This past Sunday was that rarity this year: a beautiful Spring day. I hopped on my bike and headed north to check out Dyckman Street’s new bike lanes. Herewith, a few anecdotal comments – not data – but this is what I observed.

    Sunday was beautiful day, and lots of folks were out enjoying it. Heading west (actually northwest) from the Harlem River pedpath, there wasn’t much activity between 10th and Nagle Aves, which I recall as typical. Even with low activity, I see a benefit from including the protected bike lanes on both sides of this block: consistency with what’s farther to the west.

    Continuing (north)west from Nagle Av, it was unclear to me whether the protected bike lane actually extends to the corner. A car was parked at the corner next to the curb, and I couldn’t see how the pavement underneath the car was marked. West of the car, there actually seemed to be a designated entrance to the bike lane.

    Unlike failed parking-protected bike lanes elsewhere in NYC, I encountered no pedestrians using the bike lane as a sidewalk extension. What I did encounter: other folks on bicycles riding contra-flow. Go figure.

    I’ve biked this route before. What I also observed last Sunday: motor traffic on Dyckman St moved slowly, but consistent with this being anecdotal, I’d estimate it was moving no less briskly than it did with the old configuration. Contrasting / comparing with 207th St (which I also visited), motor traffic on 207th St was slowed because of double-parked cars on both sides, sometimes resulting in only one travel lane that had to be alternately shared by motor traffic traveling on what was supposedly a 2-way street. This is sort of the way Dyckman St used to work.

    Related to the suggestion that Dyckman Street’s new bike lanes could be used by emergency vehicles: I didn’t bring along a tape measure and I’m working from memory, but I’d say that while the new lanes might accommodate a police car or perhaps an ambulance, the lanes are too narrow for a full-width fire truck. It’s easy enough to determine this. Just sayin’.

    Worth adding: merchants complain about lost business because customers can’t double-park. If Dyckman Street is consistent with other commercial corridors, many of the parking spaces are occupied long-term by the merchants themselves or their employees. Adjust the current parking rates to encourage drivers to park, pay, shop, and leave. And enforce it.

  • Vooch

    that’s a rather illuminating video

    thanks

  • eastphilliamsburg
  • redbike

    I’m unsure what’s accomplished if DOT stays away. I agree: opponents of the new configuration are asking for a do-over, but DOT is the controlling public agency, and the requests for its participation include local electeds.

  • J

    DOT set this up to fail when they didn’t properly address glaring curb management issues. As an agency they have repeatedly shown ridiculous cowardice on this front, even going so far as to design incorporate double parking space in their designs. Why did they honestly expect would happen?

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