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Adriano Espaillat

EXCLUSIVE: City Will Restore Protected Lanes on Dyckman Street

12:01 AM EDT on July 25, 2019

There used to be a protected bike lane here — and there will be again! Photo: Eve Kessler

Happy anniversary, Inwood — and for a gift, you get your bike lane back!

The city will restore a protected bike route on Dyckman Street in Upper Manhattan — almost one year after the Department of Transportation hastily removed the vital life-saving roadway design under fire from Rep. Adriano Espaillat and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, who spend all of their travel time in cars.

A new two-way protected bike lane will be installed on the north side of the key east-west strip in Inwood within weeks, City Hall told Streetsblog — ending (or perhaps renewing) a bitter battle between cyclists and the two politicians, who both claimed that protected bike lanes on Dyckman were causing congestion for drivers.

“You are not going to get rid of double-parking on Dyckman Street,” Brewer had said at the time. “Cars need to be able to stop and get their coffee." Espaillat made his opposition to the protected bike lane public in a much-mocked video shot from the seat of his car.

How Streetsblog covered the debacle.
How Streetsblog covered the debacle.

But the political calculus has changed since Brewer and Espaillat convinced the de Blasio administration that drivers needed all the space in that public right of way. Since Brewer's "cars need their coffee" comment in early September, 16 cyclists and 111 pedestrians have been killed on New York City streets, a triple-digit increase in cyclists deaths over the same period a year earlier, and pressure has been mounting on Mayor de Blasio to turn back the blood tide on city streets.

The mayor initially insisted that Vision Zero was working — indeed, overall deaths were at an all-time low in 2018 — but after three cyclists were killed in a single seven-day period in late June, de Blasio announced that the NYPD would undertake a three-week enforcement blitz to clear bike lanes of parked cars and to punish drivers who fail to yield to pedestrians and cyclists or fail to exercise due care. The DOT was also ordered to come up with a comprehensive bicycle safety plan.

That multi-agency initiative — which will include this Dyckman Street announcement and other goodies — will be announced either today or Friday.

The Dyckman Street plan, which was proposed by Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, would restore a critical protected link between Fort Tryon Park and Harlem River Park in Upper Manhattan. But instead of paired protected bike lanes on both sides of the roadway, the city will install a two-way protected lane on the north side of the super-wide street, plus provide bays in the center of the street to prevent traffic from backing up as drivers wait to make left turns.

City Hall spokesman Seth Stein called it "a new, improved design" that would keep protection for cyclists, but also restore some parking for customers of area businesses. Mayor de Blasio said the restored lanes constitute "safety improvements that will benefit everyone along one of northern Manhattan’s most vital streets.”

Photo: DOT
Photo: DOT

DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said the .3-mile stretch of Dyckman had proven challenging from the start because it was "the very first merchant corridor in New York City with protected lanes in both directions.

“We are pleased to be moving forward with a new design this year that can help us keep cyclists safe and also meet the needs of local businesses," said Trottenberg, who admitted "it took some time for us to get it right.”

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