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Upper East Side Community Board Votes for Crosstown Bike Lanes

12:01 AM EDT on September 22, 2022

Carling Mott, a vibrant Upper East Side woman, was killed by a truck driver on 85th Street — a street where the local Community Board 8 had voted down a bike lane in 2016. On Wednesday night CB voted in favor of protected lanes on 85th Street and others on the UES. Photo: Upper East Site (main); Instagram (inset)

Carling Mott did not die in vain.

Manhattan Community Board 8, which represents the Upper East Side, on Wednesday supported a raft of protected crosstown bike lanes, including on E. 85th Street, where the 28-year-old cyclist was killed by a truck driver in July, in what many speakers called "a preventable tragedy."

By a vote of 38 to 3, the board backed a resolution that requests "fully protected crosstown bike lanes approximately every 10 blocks between 60th and 110th streets on both sides of [Central] park, and a two-way protected bikeway around Central Park." The measure earlier passed the Transportation Committee 12-2 but, even so, one activist described it as a "shockingly big result" from a community board that had balked on supporting such complete infrastructure.

Bike lanes in the area have faced pronounced opposition. In 2016 Rep. Carolyn Maloney and Madeline Cuomo, the sister of the then-governor, used political pressure to quash plans for bike lanes on E. 84th/85th streets, where Mott died, claiming that the safety infrastructure was a "security challenge" because of the presence of three schools in the area. Disgraced director Woody Allen also protested, arguing at a community board meeting that "every street has a good argument why it shouldn't have a lane," Gothamist reported. More recently, politicians including Borough President Mark Levine and local Council Members Julie Menin and Keith Powers have registered strong support for the lanes.

The vote is the result of years of advocacy by those seeking safe crosstown routes for cyclists through Central Park and between the Hudson River Greenway and the East River Esplanades amid a mounting death toll. Mott was not the first cyclist killed while heading crosstown. In 2019, beloved local pediatrician Daniel Cammerman died after being hit by a bus driver as he headed eastbound on Central Park's 96th Street transverse. (There is only one "safe" route for cyclists through the park, the "loop," which is shared with pedestrians, horse carriages, pedicabs and maintenance vehicles. A cyclist died on it after a collision with a pedestrian in 2019.)

Mott's grieving boyfriend, Nick Ross, added his support for the bike lane.

"Carling Mott was on her way to work on a beautiful day," he said. "These kinds of accidents could happen to anyone any day." He hoped for a day when he could have a family and let his kids bike on protected lanes.

Andrew Rosenthal said that Mott "was killed because of the inaction of this community board."

Hindy Schacter lamented the "piecemeal approach" that had led to a "bike lane here, a bike lane there," which she noted "kills!"

A number of speakers noted that student cyclists would benefit from safer streets. "I have two kids, and we are frequently going to Central Park," said Peter Chowla. "It's dangerous every time we go. We really do need protected bike lanes, fully east-west bike lanes."

In perhaps a sign of the times, only one board member, Marco Tamayo, spoke out against the resolution.

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