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Upper East Side Panel Supports Crosstown Bike Lanes — Again

Cyclists in Central Park have to use pedestrian paths because (inset) there are no crosstown routes. File photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.

An Upper East Side panel last week demanded protected bike lanes on every 10 cross streets along Central Park, following the death of 28-year-old cyclist Carling Mott, who was killed by a truck driver on E. 85th Street renewing a push to bring safe bike routes to the neighborhood that was squashed more than half a decade ago amid political pressure.

By a 12-2 vote, Manhattan Community Board 8’s Transportation Committee backed a resolution on Sept. 7 that asks the Department of Transportation to install the crosstown bike lanes, along with a two-way protected bike lane around the entirety of the green space.

“If we could get this it would transform the lives of tens of thousands of people who live in New York, people who ride a bike, from one end of the city to another, people who commute crosstown — and not just transform, but stop them from being killed,” said advocate Paul Krikler during a CB8 virtual meeting

But it’s not the first time bike lanes have been proposed, and even supported, on those streets. In 2016, the city first brought to the same community board plans for three pairs of new crosstown bike routes on E. 84th/85th streets, E. 77th/78th streets, and E. 67th/68th streets.

But one of those pairs — E. 84th/85th streets, where Mott was killed on July 28 — was shelved amid opposition from Rep. Carolyn Maloney and Madeline Cuomo, the sister of the disgraced former governor, Streetsblog reported

“It’s a security breach,” Maloney said in a call to the community board's then Transportation Committee co-chair, specifically naming St. Ignatius Loyola Parochial, St. Regis, and the Ramaz School. “[It’s] a security challenge. There’s just a lot of community activities taking place and many believe it is a security challenge for the young people on that street.” (Maloney did not mention the other pairs of bike lanes in the same city plan.)

Now, six years later, Krikler and others are hoping to revive the city’s plans and get bike lanes not only on those two blocks, but circling the entire park.

“I really wish the DOT had implemented them. We could have avoided this tragedy if they had done that,” said Devin Gould, a former public member of the committee the first time it was brought to the board more than six years ago. 

But this time, they’re not willing to take no for an answer. 

“We have a small army of young New Yorkers that want to be active on this issue after losing a friend,” said Yorkville resident Anne Jacobs, a friend of Mott’s. “I certainly don't want this happening to any other friend, neighbor, or daughter. A protected lane on 85th is a great start, but it definitely has to expand. Protected bike lanes are key.”

The committee’s resolution, which will now go to the full board for a vote, comes after the Upper East Side's two Council member asked DOT to make good on its promise for crosstown bike lanes and reevaluate the area’s truck routes. 

“We all have a shared goal of ensuring that every New Yorker is safe. In the wake of the incident, we respectfully request that the Department of Transportation take measures to improve safety at this intersection, including revisiting the proposed bike lane on 85th Street, evaluating the utilization of trucks along this route, and installing other safety infrastructure that can prevent another death. We have to act with urgency to prevent another death from occurring on our city streets,” pols Keith Powers and Julie Menin wrote on Sept. 6. 

A spokesperson for DOT told Streetsblog that the agency is continuing to “review the location for possible safety upgrades,” and will review the resolution from the full board once it receives it. 

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