Helen Rosenthal Calls for Two-Way Protected Bike Lane on Central Park West

Rosenthal said a crash like the one that killed Madison Lyden "should never happen again.” Her support for a Central Park West bikeway should empower DOT to act swiftly.

Potential Central Park West bikeway design by @BrandonWC
Potential Central Park West bikeway design by @BrandonWC

City Council Member Helen Rosenthal is calling on the city to install a two-way protected bike lane on Central Park West after a garbage truck driver struck and killed 23-year-old Australian tourist Madison Lyden.

“Madison Jane Lyden’s death is a profound tragedy, even more so because it was preventable,” Rosenthal, who represents the Upper West Side, wrote on Twitter. “In many areas of our city, painted bike lanes are simply not enough to protect cyclists. We need a two-way protected bike lane on Central Park West. This should never happen again.”

Lyden was hit near 66th Street when she was forced out of the northbound painted bike lane to avoid a livery driver who cut in front of her. The garbage truck driver, 44-year-old Felipe Chairez, was charged with an infraction for allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol. The livery car operator was not charged or ticketed.

The unprotected bike lane on Central Park West at 66th Street, via Google Maps
The unprotected bike lane on Central Park West at 66th Street, via Google Maps

Parks are prime locations for protected bike lanes. The city’s green spaces are biking destinations, and curbs that border parks tend to be interrupted by relatively few intersections. In recent years, DOT has laid down two-way protected bike lanes along Prospect Park West, Astoria Park, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, and Alley Pond Park, among other locations.

Central Park West’s single northbound painted lane is the only space allocated to bikes on streets that border the city’s premier park. If Lyden had had a proper bikeway to ride on, she likely would not have been killed.

In response to Rosenthal’s tweet, Brooklyn bike advocate Brandon Chamberlin shared a potential design. Chamberlin suggested converting the street from two motor vehicle through-lanes in either direction to one, with left turn bays and concrete along the median.

DOT took swift action after Dorothy Bruns killed two children and injured their mothers and a fifth victim in Brooklyn last March, announcing plans to redesign Ninth Street days after the collision. A DOT spokesperson told Streetsblog the agency is “studying the area” where Lyden was killed “for potential enhancements.”

  • redbike

    Good!

    Typically, I’m unenthusiastic about protected bike lanes, but CPW, like PPW, is a great site for this: little or no reason for random pedestrian incursions.

    Any details as to how northbound bus stops on the bike lane side of CPW will be accommodated? More generally, how permeable will the proposed gap between the northbound parking lane and the bike lanes actually be? In my dreams: why is this parking lane retained? Okay, I’m dreaming….

  • JK

    Both CPW and Fifth should have protected bike lanes adjacent to Central Park. Fifth and CPW should have metered commercial parking only for the now double parked service and delivery vehicles. This is about putting smart, safe, street design before stupid, backwards curbside parking practices that put parking a few hundred private cars before public safety or traffic flow.

  • This isn’t enough. In addition to a protected bike lane on CPW, there ought to be protected east-west bike lanes to and from CPW, so that people can safely access the park. Same goes for all other parks in the city.

    We have to stop doing these piecemeal interventions AFTER someone is killed. We need the city to build out a comprehensive protected bicycle lane network to that people can get where they want to go. There’s no part of this city that isn’t a tourist destination or commuting route, so build out the network! What we have now is merely an actuarial-minded risk analysis that looks at KSI stats to determine where bike lanes should go. It’s obscene.

  • HamTech87

    Don’t forget Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx.

  • Maggie

    All this, plus protected bike lanes to and from Central Park on Sixth and Seventh Avenues in Midtown are badly needed before someone dies here too.

  • MatthewEH

    Sounds fine to me. I do feel like CPW tends to get backed up during rush-hour even with two lanes in each direction right now, but hey, maybe less through asphalt will un-induce demand…

    If the bi-di bike lane happens, treatment at the transverse entrances will have to be very careful. The more I think about it, the more I think a general right-hand-turn prohibition on CPW would make sense. And allow left turns to southbound traffic only on green arrows. Need to get to a transverse from the south? Use Amsterdam to begin with, or just go past your transverse and around again on Columbus.

    “Central Park West’s single northbound painted lane is the only space allocated to bikes on streets that border the city’s premier park.”

    Not true, narrowly speaking. There’s actually a few blocks worth of unprotected bike lane on the eastbound side of 110th Street nowadays, adjacent to the park-side parking.

    It seems to be part of the work that was done to make 110th & 111th street in east & central Harlem a bike-lane pair. (That also includes the contraflow eastbound lane from Ellington Circle/5th Avenue to Madison Avenue; that one block is otherwise randomly westbound instead of eastbound.)

    And don’t get me started about the idjits at 91st Street who will blow the red light facing northbound CPW traffic (and all other CPW motor traffic) in order to bang a left turn through. Never mind that the pedestrian light is now green in all goddamned directions.

  • William Lawson

    You take your life into your hands on 5th adjacent to the park. I can’t think of any other stretch of road that I most frequently fantasize about throttling taxi drivers on. They treat it as a race track and they will speed past you at 50mph with an inch to spare. And of course NO enforcement from the NYPD.

  • BrandonWC

    4-3 conversions can improve traffic flow even when decreasing asphalt dedicated to cars by removing turning traffic from through lanes. Would need more data on vehicle/turn volumes to know for sure if that would be the case on CPW.

  • kevd

    Flatbush Ave, Ocean Ave, and Parkside Ave, too please.

  • Bill Amstutz

    How many tourists need to die before we make it safe getting to and from Central Park? Every entrance and exit is dangerous for cyclists. We need protected bike lanes on Columbus Circle, CPW, Sixth Ave above 33rd Street, Seventh Ave above Times Square, Fifth Avenue, and 110th Street.

  • pfrishauf

    Central Park should be ringed by a bi-directional protected lane. And really, the only way to do it right — to accommodate bus stops, and loading zones on the west side of the street — is to remove car parking. If the city is serious about VisionZero it must do what all other cities around the world have done to create safe routes for bicycling — provide a protected space for them, free of traffic. That simply can’t happen without removing accommodations for private cars. In the absence of doing this, the carnage will continue. And sadly, our current administration seems to have little appetite for taking this on, as it continues to placate the notion that car storage on our congested streets is ok. The freshest evidence of how far we need to go may be see on the brand new unprotected horror show of a bike lane on the the northern border of the park — 110th Street. It’s the same, awful design that killed Madison Jane Lyden. I tweeted a video showing this pitiful new installation here: https://twitter.com/pfrishauf/status/1029423975389122563?s=12

  • Jeff

    Don’t forget 59th St! Hell, there should be a protected bike lane along 59th St all the way to the bridge!

  • MatthewEH

    My suspicion is this could hurt traffic flow in the southbound direction, where other than the streets with transverse entrance there aren’t other left turns. IANATE, though. (TE = traffic engineer)

  • I find that the cabbies behave much worse down in the 30s and 20s on Lexington Avenue than they do up in the 90s and 80s on Fifth.

  • Nawc77

    Marine Park in Brooklyn does not even have a bike lane leading to it.

  • J

    Do people literally need to die in order for politicians to muster the nerve to support specific safer street interventions?

  • Simon Phearson

    Yes.

    We shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that it’s part of the “incremental” strategy adopted by the advocacy community, either. Every time one of these painted door-zone lanes goes in, you can chime in and say, “This is crazy! This won’t protect anyone and it’s just a death waiting to happen, when some inexperienced cyclist thinks that they can safely use the lane.”

    But the flak you’ll get! The advocate stateth: “Ah, but you must realize that the goal here is not perfection; the goal is to increase modeshare. For it is in numbers that cyclists are truly safe. So, aye, we must encourage cyclists (including in particular women and children) to come out in greater numbers, and once they are numerous, once it is proven that the painted faux-lanes do not inhibit traffic flow – then, my friend, we shall have the consensus necessary to push for truly protected cycling infrastructure.”

    We have seen a handful of deaths and injuries in the past several weeks that have realized, in gruesome fashion, this complaint, that I have long made. Advocates celebrate these quick, cheap rollouts of inadequate infrastructure, knowing – because they must know! – that the “increment” between infrastructure that entices “safe but concerned” cyclists to ride and infrastructure that actually protects those cyclists is composed entirely of dead and injured cyclists. And I always get pilloried for putting the perfect ahead of the good, or promoting the (gasp) VC agenda, or not understanding the historical success of cycling advocacy, or whatever. Well, here it is. This is what you get when you half-ass it. Dead cyclists.

  • Dr. Bones

    Will the powers that be in NYC step up to show the world that their “world-class” city is not actually suffering from corrupt crapification, cruimbling infrastructure, 3rd-world-ization, and a lack of civic heart, and do something to make their newly car-free world-renowned crown jewel of a park accessible to (and crossable by) bicycles? Or will they NIMBYly look down on the park from their picture windows, sighing at all the beauty of the trees and hills, recall their dog-walkers complaining that crazy bike riders sometimes come within feet of their precious pooches, and instead choose to favor the status quo and much more vital flow of the cab stream that needs to be uninterrupted so their doormen can get them where they need to go pronto?

    Hope so, but not holding my breath.

  • Geck

    And Prospect Park South West.

  • kevd

    oh yeah.

  • bicyclist #22

    This is seriously a very poor design. what are those flower pots doing in the middle of the roadway, protecting cars from each other?????? are you kidding me. Those flower pots should be used to protect the bike lane, and prevent cars from entering it.

    buffer lines painted on the roadway are NOT protection. and putting a gigantic median to give pedestrians a crosswalk island is great, but it’s not needed at CPW because it’s not a wide street like broadway.

  • William Lawson

    Try the stretch between 79th and 59th of 5th. There’s this perception among cabbies that it’s their last opportunity to blaze before hitting the gridlock of midtown. Anytime 5th by the park is uncongested enough to facilitate high speeds, the cabbies take full advantage of it.

  • Reed Rubey

    I agree. Ring Central Park with a bi-directional bike lanes. Eliminate parking as needed to do this. Provide for safe bus loading raised platforms and well marked crosswalks. Save lives.

  • Daphna

    It’s wonderful that City Councilmember Helen Rosenthal proposed a bi-directional parking protected bike lane on Central Park West made possible by a 4 to 3 lane road conversion. Will the community board, Manhattan CB7, which she appoints half the members of, approve this plan? Will they push for it? Will they ask DOT repeatedly for implementation? Or will they instead show no leadership and stay quiet? Will they even try to cause delays or water down the plan? Will Helen Rosenthal stop re-appointing existing CB7 members who do not support safer street designs and who seek to undermine those designs through their community board position and power?

    Proposing this plan is excellent. Helen Rosenthal also needs to shape her community board with members who understand and will work towards street improvements. For too long community boards citywide have held back progress on street re-designs.

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