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Bike Lanes


12:01 AM EDT on May 9, 2019

Madison Lyden’s ghost bike, commemorating where she was killed by a driver in 2018. Photo: David Meyer

It only took an internationally covered cyclist death — and months of delay — but the city says it is finally ready to present a protected bike lane for Central Park West, Streetsblog has learned.

The Department of Transportation says its reps will head to Community Board 7's transportation committee's June meeting to present a protected bike lane plan for the roadway where Madison Lyden was killed on Aug. 10, 2018. The agency said previously it would present something in January, which became May and now, apparently, is June.

It is unclear what kind of bike lane will be presented. DOT declined to comment.

The issue is not controversial. One month after Lyden's death, the CB7 panel passed a resolution pushed by Council Member Helen Rosenthal calling for a protected bike lane along the city's celebrated park and tourist site — a similar design as the one that Prospect Park area residents have enjoyed for almost a decade. The attraction of the park partly led to Lyden's death; the Australian tourist was cycling in the area as part of her once-in-a-lifetime trip to New York when a taxi driver pulled in front of her and blocked the painted bike lane, sending her into traffic, where a drunk truck driver killed her, police say.

(Or maybe it is controversial: In Upper Manhattan, a pedestrian was killed earlier this year on Amsterdam Avenue — and days later, the local community board reiterated its opposition to a city plan to calm traffic there that had been stalled for two years.)

On Central Park West, DOT had balked at previous requests from CB7 for a protected bike lane, no doubt knowing that a small, but vocal, minority of car owners would object if any on-street car storage is removed. With Lyden’s death, however, the agency moved forward with safety improvements.

In the months since Lyden's death, there have been 321 crashes on Central Park West, resulting in injuries to 24 cyclists, 13 pedestrians and 29 motorists. That's more than one crash per day on a short stretch of a neighborhood that should be an idyll.

Transportation Committee Co-Chairman Howard Yaruss remains frustrated at how long it has taken the city to draft a plan.

"They have no credibility on this, none," he told Streetsblog. "They said to my face they'd show me a plan in January. They have been putting this off and putting this off, so them saying June doesn't mean anything. They never give a reason why they are delayed. They're playing games."

Yaruss has long been critical of the city for seeming to wait for a death before it takes action to make a roadway safer. Indeed, CB7 had sought a protected bike lane years before Lyden was run down.

“It would’ve saved this woman’s life,” Yaruss told Streetsblog last year. “It’s been over two years since I first raised it. They [DOT] haven’t looked at it.”

Updated: An earlier version of this story suggested that DOT will present a two-way protected bike lane plan. That is not clear.

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