DOT Doesn’t Plan to Rip Out the Dyckman Street Protected Bike Lanes — For Now

Project supporters outnumbered critics at last night's CB 12 hearing, but Gale Brewer, Adriano Espaillat, and Marisol Alcantara sent surrogates to attack Dyckman's new design and call for its removal.

Inwood resident Phil Betheil takes the mic to speak up for the Dyckman Street bikeway. Photo: Laura Shepard
Inwood resident Phil Betheil takes the mic to speak up for the Dyckman Street bikeway. Photo: Laura Shepard

Inwood residents and Upper Manhattan bike commuters turned out last night to defend Dyckman Street’s new protected bike lanes from attacks by elected officials.

The big news from the hearing, which was convened by Manhattan Community Board 12, is that DOT left the door open for more changes to Dyckman in the future, but for now is planning only minor tweaks to address complaints.

The Dyckman Street bikeway began with a 2008 citizen proposal for protected bike lanes connecting the east- and west-side greenways. After a nine-year public process, the current design received CB 12’s near-unanimous approval last summer.

Implemented last December, the project is too new for DOT to have substantive safety data. But unlike before, cyclists have designated space on the street, pedestrians have shorter crossing distances, and drivers are forced to take slower turns.

DOT staff noted last night that protected bike lanes have enhanced safety all over the city, especially for people walking.

More than 300 people were injured in crashes on Dyckman between 2009 and 2017, according to city data.

DOT undercut anecdotes that gridlock on Dyckman is worse than before the bike lanes went in. After a brief spike in morning commute times, DOT said, travel times gradually improved and are now faster than they were prior to the new design.

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Congressman Adriano Espaillat, who are leading the charge for the lanes to be ripped out, have repeatedly claimed that the Dyckman bikeway slows FDNY response times. That’s a go-to bikelash canard, and it was shot down too. An FDNY battalion chief attributed “problems with the new traffic patterns” to double-parked drivers. FDNY presented no data showing that Dyckman’s new design has had any impact on firefighters’ ability to do their jobs.

The redesigned Dyckman has made crossing the street safer. Electeds are ready to give it up to make it easier for drivers to double-park. Photo: Brad Aaron
The redesigned Dyckman has made crossing the street safer. Electeds are ready to give it up to make it easier for drivers to double-park. Photo: Brad Aaron

Regardless, electeds still want the bike lanes gone. In response, DOT has agreed to study the long-term possibility of a two-way protected bike lane on Dyckman’s north side — a concept favored by local Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez. However, DOT said, that idea has serious drawbacks because it would create more conflicts between bikes and cars than the current design.

Rodriguez again called for the removal of the bike lane on the south side of Dyckman. “I don’t know if I can satisfy everyone, but I believe that we can reach a solution,” he said, framing a bi-directional bikeway as a benefit to street users and business owners, who want drivers to have more room to double-park.

Espaillat and Brewer weren’t there, but sent representatives to again ask that DOT erase the bike lanes. Electeds’ staffers made a show of discounting the effort of locals who worked nearly a decade to see the project to fruition.

“Who is this for?” asked Espaillat community liaison Laurie Tobias-Cohen.

“Whose needs were considered?” wondered Angel Vasquez, who chimed in on behalf of State Senator Marisol Alcantara.

“You asked who uses the bike lane,” said Maria Ryden during the public input session. “Me, an Inwood resident.” Ryden called for more double-parking enforcement.

Identifying himself as a cyclist and pedestrian, Phil Betheil was greeted by a heckler: “Where do you live?”

“I live in Inwood,” Betheil said. “We walk, we bike, three-quarters of Inwood residents don’t own cars. We walk, we take the subway, or we take the bus. This is a pedestrian safety project, this is a cyclist safety project. Everybody benefits.”

“If my elected officials won’t protect these lives, then they’ve lost my vote,” said Betheil.

H. Michael Jalili said he now bikes up and down the greenways with his nine-year-old son, thanks to the Dyckman bikeway.

“The bike lanes are a true asset,” said Jalili. “They connect one bike lane to another. Prior to that, the only way I could do that was to bike on the sidewalk. There was no way I was going to let my nine-year-old child bike on any avenue, without a bike lane.”

All told, 16 people expressed support for the new design, and 11 were opposed to it.

DOT reps outlined some near-term adjustments, including changes to signal timing, narrowing parking lanes, adding loading zones, adding right turn markings at Nagle Avenue,  and extending meter hours from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. to improve parking turnover for restaurants and clubs.

At another recent CB 12 hearing, DOT reps said they would consider adjusting meter rates — which are currently $1 an hour — to make it easier to park on Dyckman. But that doesn’t seem to be on the agenda.

CB 12 took no action yesterday, but plans to consider a resolution based on public comments at the next meeting of the full board, scheduled for May 22.

  • Vooch

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/190bb38ae3a552d403c02dd7353a9defc90893f026774e23a31f139139feafe8.png Nice – DOT growing some cajones.

    Good to see FDNY addressing real problem – entitled drivers

  • Reader

    “All told, 16 people expressed support for the new design, and 11 were opposed to it.”

    Glad that DOT is standing firm here, but boy does the sentence above alone show how absurd the whole thing is. A massive street improvement project that benefits thousands upon thousands of people and increases mobility and decreases safety and injury comes down to meetings where *27 people* weigh in. The whole charade needs to end.

  • eastphilliamsburg

    Which Brewer campaign donor is complaining loudly to her, and has the juice that she’s actually listening, and willing to throw her reputation as a safe streets supporter down the toilet?

  • redbike

    DOT reps said they would consider adjusting meter rates — which are currently $1 an hour

    Confessing my ignorance: I’ve walked and biked on Dyckman, but I’ve never driven a car on Dyckman / never parked there. Does the current arrangement allow someone to park, pay $1 / hour, and stay long-term? If “yes”, that’s the core of the “parking problem”. Perhaps the hourly rate should be higher, but at a minimum enforce turnover.

  • Reader

    Shoulda said “increases safety and decreases injury.”

  • gneiss

    Again, we see the insanity of using a public comment process to dominate the implementation of a safety project that saves lives. It should be a given that every place where people walking and riding bikes are dying and getting injured get safety upgrades proven to work. The only thing that should be left up to debate are details around implementation, such as adjusting meter rates to manage parking demand, and making sure there are enough loading zones for business deliveries.

  • Reader

    100%. Community input should NEVER be about whether a project is “needed” but instead about the granular details that DOT engineers and planners may not know firsthand. “Most of the businesses unload at that end of the street, so put the loading zone there instead of at the other end as in your rendering.” Or “If you put a bike signal on that corner, it will be blocked by the tree that blooms every spring but probably wasn’t there when you did your site visit.” Or “There’s a dry cleaner right around the corner, so put in another meter on that block.”

    That the city has allowed community boards to have up-or-down votes on safety projects instead of just coming to them for this kind of input is just insane and no way to tackle modern transportation planning. It must change.

  • BrandonWC

    Meter parking currently has a 1 hour limit.

  • gneiss

    The people who are asking their politicians to change the street design back to have wider lanes are literally requesting to have more of their fellow citizens that aren’t even in cars killed to satisfy their own convenience to illegally double park. This should be called out for the sociopathology that it actually is.

  • redbike

    Thanks. Is the 1-hour limit enforced?

  • J

    Indeed. A good process is something like this:
    1) Develop citywide vision for the future (e.g. fewer traffic injuries & deaths)
    2) Develop metrics and target for monitoring progress (e.g. traffic deaths)
    3) Develop policies to achieve vision (e.g. bike network & ped improvements)
    4) Ask locally HOW to best implement policies at local level (not whether to do so)

  • J

    Also, any design tweak that is intended to enable illegal behavior should be a non-starter.

  • JarekFA

    A fucking U.S. congressman sends his liaison to remove a bike lane exclaiming, “who is this for!”. WTF

    Oh, and Gale Brewer, she’s the biggest snake in the grass.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/82c47c3e290d086553fe98ec6fc087ea9a49b5d9baad632cb3b1548afa40a204.png

  • RoughAcres RL McKee

    Double parking is a problem throughout Inwood. I have yet to see ANY enforcement action against it. Side streets, main thoroughfares – all day, every day, double parking is ignored and traffic flow suffers. Ticket these cars. Keep Inwood safe for ALL forms of mobility: pedestrians, cyclists, drivers.

  • J

    Remember this when she comes up for re-election.

  • NYCBK123

    The disingenuous comments from the elected officials’ staffers are really something. If they’re complaining about lack of community engagement, where were they to…represent their communities?

  • Geck

    Not typically. People just come back and buy more time.

  • Jeff

    This graphic is pretty funny, but unfortunately it’s only accurate for autonomous cars: Human-driven cars in motion require much more spacing between them (I guess what I’m saying is, it’s worse than this graphic implies).

  • JarekFA

    It’s just awful policy. This part of Manhattan is incredibly densely populated and it and the surrounding neighborhoods all have car ownership rates at less than 25%. You have massive congestion. It cannot handle the cars.

    So, instead of embracing a form of transportation that collectively enhances residents mobility — they just talk shit and bring up fake BS reasons to maintain the awful status quo.

    Just once — ONCE — I’d love to have a politician actually try to assist people in traveling via bike in a meaningful way aside from bike lanes.

    I’d just love one politician, to have the ganas, to say, we should repurpose 4 car parking spots per block, to be public covered bike parking. Although WaHi actually has a lot of midrise buildings with elevators — apartment space is still probably one of the biggest limiting factors. Make it easier to store a bike on the street (albeit you’ll need a good lock), would go a long way towards making it easier to get around on bike. The demand is through the roof. It’s just that people don’t feel safe. Bikes are a hell of a lot cheaper than cars and as anyone who’s actually travelled by bike can attest — there’s a huge population of “hiding in the shadows” workers who travel via bike, on POS bikes, because they’re literally too poor to afford the subway.

  • AnoNYC

    Ripping up the bike lanes is also fiscally irresponsible. That money, and time, could be used for other safety projects at another location.

  • AnoNYC

    This is a citywide issue with obvious mitigation strategies. Raise the cost of and expand the total number of meters, and create substantial loading zones in front of places where double parking is commonplace.

    These things would greatly enhance traffic flow.

  • AnoNYC

    Autonomous cars aren’t even there yet either, and if it ever happens in our lifetime, it will be a long time from now before we get that kind of proximity.

  • Joe R.

    For a time I was in that group who traveled by bike because I literally couldn’t afford to take the subway regularly.

    It’s awful policy not just because fewer than 25% own cars. Look at why they want to remove the bike lane. Basically, it seems to be so they can facilitate double parking. Redesigning a street to enable illegal behavior which only a minority benefits from leaves me speechless. If this is the caliber of elected officials we have, I wonder if a dictatorship (obviously with the right person in charge) might not be better. Or perhaps someone like Robert Moses, but with a pro-bike, pro-transit agenda, who would just ram his policy through.

  • Joe R.

    Ripping them out to facilitate double-parking is sheer insanity. That’s what Gale Brewer et al want to happen.

  • Andrew

    Obviously, all the double-parkers are going to the doctor, or maybe church.

  • Joe R.

    You’ll only ever get that proximity on limited access highways. On surface streets with unexpected obstacles there’s no way a line of closely spaced cars will remain cohesive.

  • Vooch
  • Ian Turner

    Is the whole project really at risk because a dozen people complained about it?

  • iSkyscraper

    The quotes in this article are, well, read for yourself:

    https://patch.com/new-york/washington-heights-inwood/dyckman-street-bike-lanes-spared-amid-backlash-dot-says

    _________

    Many elected officials’ representatives read statements implying that the bike lanes were not built to serve Inwood’s existing community.

    “One has to wonder who DOT had in mind with this project,” Laurie Tobias-Cohen a community liaison for Espaillat said Tuesday night. “The Dominican community that makes its home east of Broadway is not actually a cycling community.”

    Angel Vasquez, the chief of staff for State Senator Marisol Alcantara, also said “The Upper Manhattan community is one that takes the subway, rides the buses and uses their cars. Quite frankly we do not bicycle.”

  • Sounds like an enforcement blitz for a month is what they really need to do.

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    “Dominicans don’t ride bikes” is one hell of a hot take.

  • AMH

    I was at a pedestrian safety workshop where Brewer sent a staffer to say “we oppose anything that eliminates parking” (including double/triple parking). I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I was incredulous. The community members who showed up were actually concerned about safety.

  • Ishamgirl

    Those bike lanes on Dyckman are moronic. I was there (well, I grew up in the area so I’m very familiar with it) in Dec. and couldn’t believe that some idiot thought this would be a great idea.

  • Ishamgirl

    I lived in Inwood the first 18 years of my life (74-92). I’ll tell you this much – NOTHING has changed in the 26 years I’ve been gone. Double parking, triple parking, parking on sidewalks….hell they used to drive into Inwood Hill Park on Sundays and NOTHING was done about it. Then again, nothing was done about much in that area for a long time when it came to quality of life issues.

    I remember – and this is going back to 1996 – I was picking my friend up on 215th and Indian Rd. on a Sunday. Park was packed. Double parked cars up 215th St. Traffic agent rightfully starts handing out parking tickets. Dominican guy comes over and calls the agent the n word.

    No wonder nothing is enforced.

  • Really well-written article. I was very proud of my fellow Inwoodites in managing to keep ahead of the community board’s three times announcing different venues for the hearing. I wonder if there’s a way to find out what the community board is thinking now. What is the process to communicate what went down in the hearing and how do I address it in their resolution. The business community was very well disciplined not to say anything about their desire for the double parking. We will see the degree to which the community board pays attention to substantiated fact and to community residents.

  • DoctorMemory

    There were a number of people in the audience who I assume are owners of businesses on Dyckman street and who every pol in the room made a point of glad-handing. That’d be the place to start looking.

  • DoctorMemory

    For real. And one that’s trivially disproven by walking into Tread on any weekend, but why bring facts into this?

    (Seriously though, where are Tread’s owners/employees on this? They should be there en bloc at every meeting about this nonsense.)

  • DoctorMemory

    Amen. And it’s gotten infinitely worse since Dyckman west of B’way turned into a nightlife destination. (Which, for the record, I like, but we should be doing our utmost to discourage people from driving to it when there’s a subway entrance literally 5 minutes walk away from La Marina.)

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    How would you design them differently?

  • DoctorMemory

    Amen. And three of those 16 were because one of my neighbors guilted me and her husband into going. Which, like, happy to help do the right thing but it’s completely insane that this should come down to whether a handful of busy adults can take time away from their work/families to spend the evening in an elementary school gymnasium.

  • DoctorMemory

    Even if a fleet of 60 AVs could maintain <12" spacing all traveling together, they're going to have to deal with human drivers in the mix and the laws of physics are brutally unforgiving here: you'll definitely see average follow distances of at least a car length, because you need that much space to stop even if you’ve made the decision to stop in a millisecond.

  • DoctorMemory

    A second thought: there’s actually an easy solution to the double-parking problem, but it would involve oh my god losing precious parking spaces. Double-parking is endemic because there are basically no short-term standing/loading zones, so if you want to, say, drop off a load of groceries from Costco at your building, you’re just going to double-park in front of the entrance, run in your bags as fast as you can and hope for the best.

    Taking 1-3 spaces per block (depending on block length) for dedicated 10-minute loading zones would solve it, but that would mean giving up permanent parking spots so I figure that’s got a snowball’s chance in hell. 🙁

  • BruceWillisThrowsACar@You

    “Or perhaps someone like Robert Moses, but with a pro-bike, pro-transit agenda, who would just ram his policy through.”

    Perhaps these people that oppose bikeways would be happy to have a Robert Moses style dictator — “LOOK THIS GUY SUPPORTS CARS AND ROADS LETS ELECT HIM — proceeds to ram a highway through their tenements with a protected bikeway.

    The irony of such.

  • Andrew

    A lot of car owners find parking to be their single greatest concern. And some of them don’t realize that, to people who don’t own cars, not only isn’t parking a major concern, it isn’t a concern at all.

    I don’t know if Brewer owns a car, but if not, she’s pandering to those who do.

  • This is a direct quote from the congressman Espaillat who is opposed to Dyckman street bike lanes. His representative claims Dyckman is not a community of bikers, and yet the only mountain bike park in Manhattan is on the eastern part of Dyckman Street. Please read his statement about biking and communities. The retail store are blaming bike lanes for lack of insight that no mater what they do, if they do not change, they will fail. Ask Sears, Toy-R-Us and 1,000’s of other retailers. Amazon is killing them. Bikers means commerce. Make money buy catering to them or take on Amazon and die on the vine.

    Congressman Adriano Espaillat said, “I commend Governor Cuomo on today’s announcement to invest and modernize New York’s infrastructure with clean alternative transportation projects that will benefit communities throughout the state. Innovative strategies that help expand infrastructure through projects such as pedestrian walkways, bike lanes, recreational trails, and safe sidewalks for area schools, as well as lessen congestion and gas emissions throughout our cities, are projects that will continue to promote health and wellness that benefits each of us and our communities, today and for years to come.”

  • Check out this statement! Doesn’t this sound like a politician?

    Congressman Adriano Espaillat said, “I commend Governor Cuomo on today’s announcement to invest and modernize New York’s infrastructure with clean alternative transportation projects that will benefit communities throughout the state. Innovative strategies that help expand infrastructure through projects such as pedestrian walkways, bike lanes, recreational trails, and safe sidewalks for area schools, as well as lessen congestion and gas emissions throughout our cities, are projects that will continue to promote health and wellness that benefits each of us and our communities, today and for years to come.”

  • I, Mark Kabbash, will be outspoken at the next meeting. I will be front and center and plan on fighting the removal of any bike lane.

    This is a direct quote from Congressman Adriano Espaillat said, “I commend Governor Cuomo on today’s announcement to invest and modernize New York’s infrastructure with clean alternative transportation projects that will benefit communities throughout the state. Innovative strategies that help expand infrastructure through projects such as pedestrian walkways, bike lanes, recreational trails, and safe sidewalks for area schools, as well as lessen congestion and gas emissions throughout our cities, are projects that will continue to promote health and wellness that benefits each of us and our communities, today and for years to come.”

  • This quote speak to what the Community representative says to the Governor’s bike agrenda which seems to be the opposite what he told his staff. And I quote!
    Congressman Adriano Espaillat said, “I commend Governor Cuomo on today’s announcement to invest and modernize New York’s infrastructure with clean alternative transportation projects that will benefit communities throughout the state. Innovative strategies that help expand infrastructure through projects such as pedestrian walkways, bike lanes, recreational trails, and safe sidewalks for area schools, as well as lessen congestion and gas emissions throughout our cities, are projects that will continue to promote health and wellness that benefits each of us and our communities, today and for years to come.”

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