CPW Gets Protected Bike Lane (Yay!) And Loses 400 Parking Spaces (Yay!)

Key committee votes to forward DOT's plan.

The city is being sued to block a protected bike lane on Central Park West — where Madison Lyden was killed last year. Photo: David Meyer
The city is being sued to block a protected bike lane on Central Park West — where Madison Lyden was killed last year. Photo: David Meyer

It’s another battle won in the war against cars.

Central Park West is set to gain a protected bike lane — and to lose 400 parking spaces — after a key community-board committee voted Tuesday night to approve a controversial Department of Transportation proposal.

At a packed meeting on the Upper West Side, Community Board 7’s Transportation Committee voted unanimously to accept the DOT plan, which would put a northbound bike lane protected by flexible bollards on the east side of the two-and-a-half mile, two-way corridor — removing hundreds of spaces in the public right of way that are typically filled with private cars.

Community Board 7 had asked DOT for a protected lane after the death last August of young Australian cyclist Madison Lyden, who was killed by a truck driver after a cab forced her to veer out of the roadway’s current painted bike lane into traffic.

The fatality galvanized board members, who pushed back fiercely at the dozen or so West Side residents who came to the meeting to oppose the protected lane because they would lose free car storage.

“When it comes to a tradeoff between parking and human life, there isn’t one,” said Transportation Chair Howard Yaruss.

The board had asked DOT to come up a two-way, north-south protected bike lane, but it appeared placated by the DOT proposal.

“This plan is substantial,” said board member Elizabeth Caputo. “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”

Council Member Helen Rosenthal also spoke up for the plan, which she called “thoughtful” and “important.”

Manhattan Transportation Commissioner Ed Pincar told members that a two-way lane was not feasible or safe now because of the heavy volume of traffic on CPW and in the 65-66th Street, 79th Street, and 96th Street transverses through Central Park.

“A two-way bike lane creates almost another lane of traffic moving at 15 mph,” he said. Conflicts arise at turns and bus stops, he said, where some cyclists would be facing traffic “head on.”

But board member Ken Coughlin, who supports the proposal, asked DOT to revisit its plan after congestion pricing is instituted in 2021. With the promise of reduced car traffic, he said, it might be feasible to make CPW a one-way, northbound street, enabling a bike lane in both directions.

The committee liked that idea: Its resolution injected the idea of revisiting bi-directionality after a year of the lane’s operation and then a year after congestion pricing.

Chelsea Yamada, a Transportation Alternatives staffer, said she was “not surprised” that DOT had only come up with a one-way plan. “We can see the shortcomings of citywide leadership that wants to preserve car travel,” she said.

On the opposite side, a number of people who identified themselves as residents rose to condemn the proposal and demand more police enforcement against cyclists, who they said ride the wrong way in lanes, do not obey traffic lights, and commit other infractions.

But Deputy Inspector Timothy Malin, commander of the 20th Precinct, strongly suggested that bicyclists are not the problem. There have been 693 collisions year-to-date in the precinct, he said, and 97 percent of them involved automobiles. Only 3.3 percent involved bikes, and his officers had written 3.07 percent of their summonses to cyclists.

“I’m very comfortable where our enforcement is now,” he said.

He added that, while it was not his role to advocate for a protected bike lane, more safety is needed on CPW. With so many cabs on the thoroughfare, “It’s so unsafe. It’s not a matter of if there’s going to be another Madison Lyden. It’s a matter of when.”

DOT’s plan, presented to the board by Pincar and Bike Program Director Ted Wright, envisions a northbound protected lane and other measures for improving safety, including:

  • Right- or left-turn lanes at cross streets along the corridor;
  • A leading pedestrian interval of 10 seconds at crosswalks;
  • A ban on left turns at 96th Street; and
  • Buffers around bus stops so that cyclists can get around them comfortably.

DOT said it could begin constructing the lane is this summer, and the project likely would not conclude until 2021. The full board will vote on the proposal on July 2.

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    Only 3.3 percent involved bikes, and his officers had written 3.07 percent of their summonses to cyclists.

    Great job by the NYPD, using data to match the percentage of summonses to the percentage of… victims of traffic violence? ?_?

    As for the one-way design… how do the traffic and turning volumes here compare to Christie Street, which has a two-way bike lane?

  • Bluewndrpwrmlk

    It’s a step in the right direction, but obviously not the end all, be all solution. The curbside bike lane is long overdue and sorely needed, no question. But this almost highlights the shortcomings of the ambitions of this admin’s NYCDOT. Why the zero-sum game?

    Was going by the image here: https://www.westsiderag.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/52E44DCC-C59C-411E-8E4A-F8646CCA8376-e1560337278456.jpeg

    I thought it would be more along the lines of this: https://streetmix.net/-/928477

    I did a quick doodle, and if the roadway is 63′ (from curb to curb) there would be space for a two-way bike lane, solid protection (w. MTA approval), parking, and room to spare. No need to keep two southbound travel lanes. And there isn’t much of a reason not to implement a two-way bike lane, or at the very least, parking-protected or some form of physical protection (those plastic leaning sticks barely suffice).

    I understand that this can be revisited once congestion pricing is implemented, but there’s no need to wait until then to implement what I’ve proposed. That can be done with temporary materials, and more permanent materials at a later date.

  • you beat me to it: what percent of that 3.3 percent is cyclists getting injured or being in accidents because of others’ bad behavior (for instance, a pedestrian stepping in front of a cyclist while looking at his/her phone)?

  • AMH

    What kind of DOT looks at a heavily trafficked corridor and concludes that a protected bicycle facility would not be safe? Do they actually think that people are safer riding in mixed traffic, or are they hoping that the absence of a facility will discourage riding?

  • AMH

    Why do cars need two southbound lanes on CPW when they have THREE one block west on Columbus Avenue?

  • UWS rider

    Why not make this two-way with real curb separation and floating bus stops? As it stands now, it’s just going to be plastic sticks. So if it’s anything like the crosstown Manhattan lanes the sticks will be placed far enough apart that drivers will be able to block this lane. Plus the lane totally disappears at the bus stops. I agree that this is a step forward from the more or less nothing that’s there now and the willingness to take so much parking is encouraging but DOT had a chance to push a really innovative design and either chickened out or just didn’t even think to do it from the beginning. This is the problem with Bill de Blasio and Polly Trottenberg having no vision or plan to reduce the amount of cars in this city – it leads to subpar designs and incrementalism at a time when New York City should be pushing forward, full steam ahead.

  • “It’s another battle won in the war against cars.”

    Is this necessary?

  • It sure is. Corey Johnson articulated the need to break car culture. This process entails making appropriate corrections to the apportionment of street space, and also countering drivers’ presumed entitlement to use our public space for the storage of their private property.

  • com63

    Agreed. The bus stop designs are a disaster and will create the exact same kind of conditions that got Madison Lyden killed. Inevitably, some buses will angle into the stops and cyclists will be forced into traffic to get around the back of them.

    Should have a floating island where the bus stops in the travel lane. The protected bike lane should continue through between the island and the curb.

  • Maybe the street should be one-way going north, with a two-way bike lane on the left side. This way there would be no conflict with the buses.

    Or, if the street is going to remain two-way, then maybe we should have a two-way bike lane in the centre, such as on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington between the White House and the Capitol (one of the best bike lanes I have ever experienced).

    https://www.google.com/maps/@38.8934439,-77.022611,3a,75y,66.26h,79.66t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1saWFnNYWwyvaX4YKxryt04g!2e0!7i16384!8i8192!5m1!1e3?hl=en

  • Zach Katz

    Exactly. This is the CPW New York deserves: https://streetmix.net/-/928672

  • Joe R.

    If I were to design this I would have the curbside lane as a bus lane, then a buffer, then a two-way bike lane, and finally a barrier between the bike lane and motor traffic lanes (preferably jersey barriers or a fence, with openings only at crosswalks. With this design there are no conflicts between cyclists and pedestrians at bus stops. A bus can use the buffer/bike lane to pass another bus, although with proper scheduling that should rarely happen. And buses get an exclusive bus lane which cars can never intrude into. Best of all worlds.

  • running_bond

    That’s a massive parking removal, surprised it is actually going through. Kudos to DOT. And yet somehow the same agency couldn’t handle losing only double-parking spaces in Inwood and left us with no bike lane (1 year and counting) on Dyckman…

  • qrt145

    I’m surprised, too. Not that I want to jinx it but note that this was a committee vote. There’s still the full board vote, and once word gets out that 400 parking spots are being taken away, don’t be surprised if the opposition comes out of the woodwork. People will be calling BdB on his radio show, which apparently is where he gets his policy ideas from. 🙂 There will be lawsuits, too, I bet.

  • BronxEE2000

    Well this sucks losing the parking spots.

  • thomas040

    Why only ‘flexible bollards’? Why not REAL protection? You know trucks are just gonna park there anyway, forcing bikes to swerve into traffic, which kind of defeats the entire purpose. Grow some balls, DOT.

  • walks bikes drives

    I agree with the floating bus stops. The M10 is not one of the busiest buses, and there are very few people at each stop. The turn issues at 66, 79, 86, and 96 with drivers crossing the path is no issue with split phase signals. Design the bike lane exactly like the one on PPW with blinking yellows for cyclists. Install pedestrian islands and floating bus stops. And we are all good. The number of salmoning riders in the painted lane as current is quite high. Shows a need for a bidirectional lane.

  • walks bikes drives

    One way avenues tend to lend themselves to even faster driving. I prefer keeping it two ways, with a bidirectional lane and floating bus stops. If you keep two lanes in each direction, when a bus stops in the travel lane, traffic can pass it in the other lane.

  • MatthewEH

    I’d love to see what the ticketing-rate versus collision-rate in the 24th precinct has been, as compared to the 20th precinct. (My pending, to-be-disputed tickets were doled out in the 24th.)

  • MatthewEH

    CPW isn’t a truck route, there are very few trucks on there to begin with.

    This is also one of the things that made Madison Lyden’s death extra-frustrating – the truck was off-route and shouldn’t have been there to begin with.

  • thomas040

    So about 50 blocks has about 400 parking spots on a single street. How many blocks are there in Manhattan, and how many square feet of wasted space is that? Think how amazing this city would be if you could bike every where, SAFELY. E-assist bikes should be everywhere, so should bike lanes, and free public parking shouldn’t. Not if we take climate change seriously.

  • Vooch

    I’ll argue that this represents a sea change in culture:

    “…But Deputy Inspector Timothy Malin, commander of the 20th Precinct, strongly suggested that bicyclists are not the problem. There have been 693 collisions year-to-date in the precinct, he said, and 97 percent of them involved automobiles. Only 3.3 percent involved bikes, and his officers had written 3.07 percent of their summonses to cyclists.

    “I’m very comfortable where our enforcement is now,” he said.

    He added that, while it was not his role to advocate for a protected bike lane, more safety is needed on CPW. With so many cabs on the thoroughfare, “It’s so unsafe. It’s not a matter of if there’s going to be another Madison Lyden. It’s a matter of when.”….”

    This is a good sign. Not perfect, but a step in the right direction.

  • Vooch

    Its interesting that CPW is assumed to need 50′ of width reserved for cars.

    I’m hoping DOT’s 2nd phase is making the 2 right lanes exclusive bus lanes or a PBL on southbound side.

    Finally, let’s note that Park Avenue north of GCT is also begging for PBLs in both directions. 🙂

  • Guy Ross

    America wages ‘war’ against anything identified as a problem.

    Although I’m not big on the nomenclature, using it as a rhetorical tool which leaders can legitimately get behind to amplifier the message is the right thing to do.

  • Vooch

    my version of the design

    https://streetmix.net/-/929190

    the 12′ wide tree medians are envisioned as including bus stops and

    The PBLs should be next to sidewalks as per best practice worldwide.

    Its amazing how much space one has once private car storage is removed. That was the law inNYC until the 1950s, no car could be parked overnight on Manhattan public property.

    awesome program BTW –

  • Vooch

    Streets are for people. Pedestrains should be able to wander all over the street completely randomly without fear of getting hit.

  • Zach Katz

    I like yours better. I’d just make the bike lanes wider to accommodate people cycling side-by-side, plus room for someone to pass them.

  • Yes. When we consider the police’s traditional disregard for cyclists’ safety, and when we consider that department’s habit of responding to cyclist deaths with enforcement crackdowns against us (I got ny only red-light ticket for walking my bike through the light where Mathieu Lefevre was killed, a week after), we have to say that any example of a representative of that agency making an appropriate comment about our safety is a welcome change.

  • Jacob

    Even DOT admits that one through lane per direction will suffice!! Why are they presenting such a weak proposal? 4-3 conversion would provide plenty of room for a 2-way protected bike lane and parking.
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d7cb6364e8df83dc09c480c48d6a6ae9fd82eb526041e6cd069a96a567779c0e.png

  • AMH

    The thing is, the park side of the street, without cars crossing it every 200 feet, is the perfect place for a protected lane.

  • Jacob
  • cjstephens

    Came here to say just that. I get that he “war” on cars is a little tongue-in-cheek, but framing this as a victory in the “war on subsidized parking” would win us far more allies.

  • Jacob
  • 10,000 – 400 = 9,600 to go to get in the league with Amsterdam’s announcement.

    (And Amsterdam has about 1/10th of our population!)

  • AlexisS

    A cyclist was killed because a vehicle was able to block the previous bike lane and was forced into moving traffic and got run over by a truck.

    By making the bike lane protected, the chances of getting killed is reduced significantly.

    If parking spots need to go, then so be it.

    There’s literally 2 transit lines along CPW, so it’s not like there’s no other options to get around.

  • I prefer the war on needless road deaths

  • While a two way protected bike lane would be much better, I would prefer the current design have a smaller buffer + space reallocated to a standard southbound bike lane

  • cjstephens

    I would politely suggest that “needless” is overkill.

  • david

    As a biker and a car owner I hate it when cyclists make poor choices when riding and get themselves killed. And then screw up parking.

  • Alex

    https://gothamist.com/2018/08/11/tourist_on_bicyclist_killed_by_truc.php

    “Madison Jane Lyden, a swim teacher from Geelong, was on a rented bicycle and biking north in the Central Park West bike lane just before 4:45 p.m. when a parked black Toyota livery car suddenly “pulled out into the bike lane,” police say. Lyden then swerved out of the bike lane around 66th Street and into regular traffic—and was then struck by the private sanitation truck driver, also going north.”

    Nope sure I would put the blame on her.

  • CJ

    Way to victim-blame. Hope you’re never put in the situation that Madison Lyden was.

  • Knut Torkelson

    shut the fuck up David

  • david

    That woman didn’t know how to ride a bike, one doesn’t dart into traffic without seriously looking. I’m sorry she died but you can’t baby everyone on the streets.

  • david

    Let’s hope not. My only point is some people on bikes make mistakes. Very deadly mistakes.

  • david

    OK, I get that… but an option is to stop and not go into the traffic. But she didn’t and that’s a sad fact. Neither are great options.

  • Vooch

    “…The thing is, the park side of the street, without cars crossing it every 200 feet, is the perfect place for a protected lane….

    Doh

    of course, I ride CPW all the time and didn’t even think of that

    You are most correct. Thank you for pointing that out. I agree with you

  • Andrew

    The turn issues at 66, 79, 86, and 96 with drivers crossing the path is no issue with split phase signals.

    https://www1.nyc.gov/html/dot/downloads/pdf/central-park-west-cb7-jun2019.pdf#page=10 : “Separate signal phase for southbound left turn would mitigate the issue, but would result in multiple block queuing and severe back ups”

  • walks bikes drives

    I dont buy a multi block backup. When would this backup be most likely to happen? During rush hour. Now a car going to make a left turn at rush hour, starting from the red light, might be able to make a quick left as soon as the light turns green. However, that is one car at most. Now any behind would have to wait for a break in traffic, which will not come often, and most will turn on the yellow or red. So that is 2 or 3 cars making a left turn per light cycle, max. Fix that with a ten second green turn arrow at the start or end of the light cycle and you have 4 cars making it through. I see these transverses with the morning and evening rush almost every single day. Truthfully they don’t even need the arrow. Split phase is enough.

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