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Bicycle Infrastructure

City to Begin Finishing Central Park West Bike Lane in Mere Weeks

2:16 PM EDT on July 9, 2020

Crews have started blocking off space for the Central Park West bike lane. Photo: Ken Coughlin

Cyclists should be able to take advantage of the completed Central Park West protected bike lane while the weather is still good, as the Department of Transportation confirmed this week that it has already begun the process of finishing the Columbus Circle-to-Frederick Douglass Circle lane.

"The lane markings and crosswalks are being installed this week where the roadway was resurfaced," a DOT official told members of Community Board 7 this week. "Additionally, we plan to begin installing the protected bike lane in the coming weeks."

Last year, the agency completed the first stretch of the bike lane, from the bottom of Central Park to W. 77th Street before the cold weather ended work for the year. The bike lane was expected to be completed earlier this year, but Department of Transportation has been struggling due to workforce issues related to the coronavirus.

Madison Lyden was killed on Central Park West on Aug. 10, 2018. Her mother is blasting residents of the Upper West Side who are trying to block a protected bike lane.
Madison Lyden was killed on Central Park West on Aug. 10, 2018.
Madison Lyden was killed on Central Park West on Aug. 10, 2018. Her mother is blasting residents of the Upper West Side who are trying to block a protected bike lane.

The project should not have been controversial, given that its design — a one-way, parking-protected bike lane on the edge of a park — has been used other times across the city. Nonetheless, residents of one Central Park West condo tower sued the city on the grounds that the city does not have the right to make such minor changes to roadways without a full environmental impact statement — a similar legal strategy that was used unsuccessfully by other resident groups, including those who fought the 14th St. busway, as well as those who fought a road diet plan on Morris Park Avenue in the Bronx.

Some residents of the building made their objection to the bike lane less high-minded, objecting to the fact that the lane will take back hundreds of curbside spaces that car owners believe belong to them for the storage of their privately owned vehicles.

The Central Park West lawsuit was thrown out of court last October, when a judge ruled that the city was completely within its right to reconfigure the roadway for safety.

The entire legal drama was soaked in tragedy. First, the lawsuit itself was filed in the middle of one of the bloodiest years on record for cyclist, when 28 bike riders were killed on city streets. In addition, the city only moved to create the protected bike lane after the 2018 killing of Australian tourist and cyclist Madison Lyden, who was struck by a garbage truck after she had to veer around and illegally parked taxi.

Lyden's still-grieving mother told Streetsblog last year that the Central Park West litigators should be ashamed of themselves.

Update: An earlier version of this story mischaracterized the design of the bike lane. This version is correct.

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