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Upper West Side Panel Backs Crosstown Protected Bike Lanes

Carling Mott, inset, was killed by a truck driver on a crosstown street that did not have a bike lane. File photo

Following a parade of residents who spoke overwhelmingly for cycling and pedestrian safety, a Manhattan community board on Tuesday night voted in favor of a resolution calling for crosstown bike lanes on the Upper West Side.

Community Board 7 — the same board that voted against a proposed rest stop for delivery workers and has tried to silence safe streets activists — called on the Department of Transportation to “present ... a detailed proposal for an all-ages-and-abilities network of fully protected east-west bike lanes with appropriate pedestrian refuges and protections approximately every 10 blocks between 60th and 110th Streets.”

And after arguing for nearly an hour over the language of the resolution, and whether it should say “proposal” or “study,” the board’s Transportation Committee ultimately voted 9-2 (with one abstention) to support the bike lanes — a long overdue plan that will save lives, advocates say.

“I can't imagine why anyone would not support this call for safer infrastructure,” said Nick Ross, whose girlfriend Carling Mott was killed last year on the Upper East Side after the city failed to build a bike lane. “We can always quibble later about specifics of where these lanes go, how they are constructed, all the minutia. For now, I urge you to vote in strong support of getting us on the right track by passing this resolution and ensuring all of our riders are kept safe and prevent more deaths in this city.”

One doctor who said she started biking to work on the Upper East Side at the start of the pandemic no longer feels safe doing so since the route doesn't have a protected bike lane.

“I no longer feel comfortable taking the risk of biking to work without a protected bike lane, drivers often swerve into the unprotected lane or people would double park forcing me to go out into traffic,” said Emily Brady.

Since just the start of this year, there have been 146 reported crashes within Community Board 7, causing 62 injuries, including to 12 cyclists and 18 pedestrians, with two pedestrian fatalities, according to city stats via Crash Mapper. That's more than two crashes per day, on average, in a fairly small neighborhood.

The committee’s vote comes after CB7’s neighboring civic panel, CB8 on the Upper East Side, similarly voted in September in favor of protected crosstown bike lanes, including on E. 85th Street, where Mott was killed.

The committee's vote will now go to the full board on April 4, where it awaits an uncertain fate.

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