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Upper West Side Panel Joins Push For Crosstown Bike Lanes Amid Bike Boom

W. 72nd Street between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue. Photo: Google Maps

An influential Manhattan panel voted Tuesday night to support a protected bike lane on 72nd Street — joining a growing push for safe routes for cyclists to traverse upper Manhattan amid the city’s COVID-19 bike boom.

Community Board 7’s Transportation Committee voted unanimously during its virtual meeting for a resolution calling for a two-way protected bike lane on 72nd Street from Central Park West to Riverside Drive — a wide street with two lanes for cars in each direction, where a total of 169 crashes, causing 36 injuries, including to eight cyclists and 17 pedestrians, have happened since June 2018, according to Crash Mapper

The support comes after Transportation Alternatives mounted a campaign for crosstown bike lanes, including on 72nd Street. An informal poll from local street-safety advocacy group, Streetopia UWS, found that the most popular crosstown path is 72nd Street, despite its lack of a protected bike lane.

"Respondents named 72nd Street as the most popular crosstown connecting street in the district for cyclists, a finding that buttresses the campaigns of Transportation Alternatives and Streetopia UWS for protected bike lanes along that street from Riverside Drive to York Avenue," Streetopia UWS's Lisa Orman wrote in a Streetsblog op-ed back in May.

The need for safe crosstown routes is growing every day as more people are choosing to bike — weekend bike trips across the East River rose by more than 60 percent last month, compared to June 2019, according to the Department of Transportation. And especially on 72nd Street, which connects two popular green spaces, including one of the world's busiest bike lanes, the Hudson River Greenway. 

"We need crosstown protected bike lanes on many streets of the UWS and 72nd Street is a great place to start. 72nd Street connects us to our two glorious parks, to the East Side, the Hudson River Greenway, and to all of the businesses along West 72nd Street. This will be especially important as people start commuting to schools and work," Orman said.

The resolution also comes as several upper Manhattan community boards are urging the city to create safe routes for bike riders through Central Park, following the death of a doctor who was killed by a school-bus driver while riding a Citi Bike last year, and a surge in ridership near the park throughout the pandemic.

Orman says she now hopes the board's neighboring civic panel to the east will take up the call for completing the bike lane along East 72nd from river to river.

The DOT did not immediately respond to a request comment.

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