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Back to The Drawing Board: DOT Reconsidering Its Dangerous 79th Street Rotunda Upgrade

1:21 PM EST on January 31, 2019

DOT’s redesign of the 79th Street rotunda omits protection for people attempting to access the country’s most popular bike path. Image: DOT

The city Department of Transportation is reportedly "reviewing" its much-criticized plans to rehabilitate the 79th Street boat basin and rotunda without bicycle improvements.

The $200-million renovation drew harsh criticism from local Community Board 7 last year due to the omission of bike safety upgrades and the agency's decision to close two nearby ballfields for contractor parking.

DOT will present its updated plan to CB 7 next month, Board Chair Roberta Siemer told the West Side Rag, which broke the story.

Currently, cyclists attempting to access Riverside Park and the West Side Greenway via 79th Street must navigate the rotunda's one-lane traffic circle, which doubles as an entrance and exit to the Henry Hudson Parkway.

"The first plan was so ridiculous," Manhattan Community Board 7 transportation committee chairman Howard Yaruss said. "To integrate cyclists with cars getting on and off a highway — I can't imagine anything less safe."

The plan presented in December maintains that arrangement, and makes things worse by narrowing the roadway so that cyclists, MTA buses, and highway-bound motorists — all vehicles that move at different speeds — must travel single-file.

It's not clear, however, what the agency actually plans to change in the project. In recent months, DOT has rebuffed CB 7's entreaties for safety upgrades on 110th Street and West End Avenue. In an email to Streetsblog, the agency declined to say whether bike lane upgrades were in the mix.

"We haven't had great success with them on protected bike lanes and safety in the past," Yaruss said.

Given the work already planned, constructing a bicycle path and connecting bike lane would be a relatively low-cost effort, as Streetsblog Publisher Mark Gorton opined last month.

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