BIG BIKE LANE MEETING TUESDAY; SHOULD COLUMBUS LANES BE EXPANDED?

The Columbus Avenue protected bike lanes now run from 96th to 77th Streets, meaning the lanes basically peter out on both their North and South ends, leaving bicyclists in the midst of traffic. That’s been a big concern for bicycling advocates, who say that the Upper West Side has been too slow to request additional lanes from the city Department of Transportation.

That could change soon, however. The Department of Transportation plans to unveil plans on Tuesday night to expand the lanes from 59th to 110th Streets. The DOT will also say how the lanes have panned out so far.

The meeting is scheduled for Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Rodoph Sholom, 7 West 83rd Street.

The initial rollout of the Columbus Avenue lanes was contentious, in part because local businesses said the DOT didn’t heed their concerns. But it’s not clear whether those hard feelings have been smoothed over yet.

Take our poll below on whether you think the lanes should be expanded.

Either way, the meeting should be fun. One prediction: the Northern section up to 110th should be an easier sell: the business district up there has been pretty supportive. But the lower portion (down to 59th) could be more complicated. The Lincoln Square Business Improvement District has been wary of the lanes. In a recent note to members, the BID wrote: “This may affect your business so make sure you attend. You’re not going to want to miss this one.”

We’re looking for someone to cover the meeting, or at least send us photos of the slides that the DOT shows about their plans. Please contact us at info at westsiderag dot com if you’re interested!

Should the Columbus Avenue bike lanes be expanded from 59th to 110th Street?

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NEWS, OUTDOORS | 13 comments | permalink

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    1. Bicyclists ride on the sidewalk on Columbus Avenue. The other day one tried to push an 83 year old woman out of his way. When I told him there were bicycle lanes 10 feet from where he was riding. He spewed vitriolic crap at me. Why are we giving them more lanes when they don’t use them. Policemen have told me they will never give tickets to cyclists on the sidewalk. Why not? There are two bills on the books.Pedestrians are the least thought about subjects in Bloomberg’s regime.

    2. Ricki Segall says:

      The bike lane is a failure. Cyclists disobey road rules and ride in and out of lane in both directions. The traffic lanes are narrower and more dangerous. Frequently only one lane of traffic can move on Columbus, it takes one delivery truck and one cab and nothing moves.. Frequently the bike lane is blocked by delivery trucks or police cars.
      Crossing the street isAWFUL if you have any difficulty at all walking, as i often do, or if you are walking with a young child, carriage or cart..I wish we could get rid of the bike lane, not expand it.
      I am sure that the DOT has its position set and that my opinion does not match theirs.
      Maybe businesses can fight this.

    3. Barbara B says:

      The Mayor has made it impossible for drivers of vehicles in Manhattan. In the meantime, bicyclists weave in and out of traffic despite bike lanes and, if they decide to claim the right of way, they’re liable not only to use profanity but to pound your car with a fist. Enough, already.

    4. dcortex says:

      The purpose of bike lanes is to ticket NY residents to increase city revenue and it doubles as an emergency access route for patrol cars,
      If the mayor wanted a green way for cyclists, he would commandeer fifth ave (in the center of NY) and establish a bike only way.
      this is a nightmare. licensed drivers and bike riders…unsafe at any speed

    5. stu ross says:

      As i cyclist, I add that the utility of the bike lane is actually minimal BECAUSE it stops at 77th street. If one wants to encourage bike commuting, you need to have cyclists be able to continue south and connect to the 9th avenue or Broadway bike lanes below 59th street (which get much use). Currently, once you hit 77th street, you have to ride with traffic down columbus or CPW (where traffic is heavier than further north) — and many cyclists are not comfortable with that. So either extend it south, or get rid of it totally.
      As a pedestrian, i add that peds need to learn to get comfortable with bicycles on the street. Most peds instinctively look for cars, and cross the street if they dont see one coming. They need to learn to also instinctively look for bicycles. It will take time, but hopefully eventually it will become second nature.
      As a driver, I add that columbus is wide enough as is — the addition of the bike lane did not affect traffic at all (much like traffic hasn’t been affected on Broadway, 8th and 9th avenues). Indeed, traffic is the worst on columbus below 72nd street, where there is no bike lane.

    6. West 83rd St says:

      The majority of New Yorkers and Upper West Siders do not own a car. Even more people, even if they own one, do not use it every day. Yet a huge percentage of our streets are dedicated to cars and trucks. It’s time to fix this imbalance. The Columbus Avenue bike lanes has made that street safer for everyone, including pedestrians, who now have shorter crossing distances. The lane should be extended – if you don’t think people are using it enough that’s because it starts and stops without reason. How many drivers would use a highway that suddenly ended at a river without a bridge?

      And as for it affecting businesses, it does. The Lincoln Square BID is 100% correct about that. Along 8th and 9th Avenue further downtown, rents and business profits have gone up tremendously as a result of the bike lanes. What BID wouldn’t want that kind of improvement in its neighborhood?

    7. Riding On Handelbars says:

      I don’t think generalizing that all cyclists ride on sidewalks or that they all disobey road rules is a good way to start this conversation. Its like saying all pedestrians jay walk. I live on the UWS and have biked around NYC for the last 8 years, and do my best to follow the rules and be courteous to fellow cyclists, pedestrians and motorists alike. Since I also drive and walk in the city, I can see this from all points of view. There are good and bad seeds all around. We can all share the road. We all need to start paying attention to our surroundings, remember to be courteous, and stop looking down at our smartphones.

      • Cato says:

        No one has said that “all cyclists ride on sidewalks” or that they “all disobey road rules”. What has been said, by so many people as to make it impossible to disregard, is that so many cyclists break these rules, and therefore jeopardize the safety of others, that *statistically* we are all put at risk.

        It does not take universal violation to conclude that the degree of violation by some is significant, and therefore validly considered in deciding whether the privilege granted to all has been abused.

        And, by the way, yes, all pedestrians jay walk. Unlike bicycle whizzers, jaywalkers don’t jeopardize anyone but themselves.

        • DvB says:

          As someone who spends a significant amount of time both walking AND cycling in this wonderful city, I must take issue with your utterly ridiculous assertion that jaywalkers only endanger themselves. I’m exceedingly disciplined about riding in bike lanes when available (and with the flow of traffic when bike lanes are absent), and I can tell you firsthand that jaywalking (and often headphoned and texting) pedestrians are the single most frequent threat cyclists face. This is not to say that there aren’t many careless, dangerous cyclists riding around. Certainly the delivery guys (who are virtually all on illegal electric bikes) and couriers aren’t helping cyclists’ cause. But my observation is that they’re starting to represent less of the cycling population, as everyday commuting increases. There will be growing pains, no doubt. But all modes of transportation — even feet — are capable of threatening any other mode. We have to learn to peacefully coexist.

    8. Al says:

      This is what you get when folks that don’t ride their bikes regularly design a bike lane. The bike lanes there now cause problems for cyclists and cars. They narrowed the main road making the lanes too narrow for trucks to fit in them. That makes driving on the road dangerous. The bike lanes are used by pedestrians and delivery trucks as extensions of the sidewalk. Not to mention that every car turning left never yields the right way to cyclists. It’s just a dumb design that is a waste of money.

      • jerry says:

        A few bike riders are courteous, but the majority aren’t and constantly disobey traffic rules. Here’s an example. The rider: a typical UWS midddle aged dad, with his young son riding in a kiddie seat behind him. It’s 8am on West 88th Street between West End Avenue and Riverside Drive. Dad’s heading east – on the sidewalk – at delivery boy speed. Whizzing through pedestrians, he gets to WEA and turns left, right into oncoming traffic where he heads uptown to 89th and running the light turns right and disappears going against traffic toward Broadway. Just an example, but one of many. Bike riders have to be made more responsible for their actions. And as far as expanding bike lanes…well, now that it’s gotten chilly the not ever crowded bike lanes are even less utilized. Why don’t the planners take the winter to figure a better way to integrate bikes into the city. Columbus Avenue is a mess. I was driving downtown the other morning heading toward 79th Street and there were delivery trucks parked outside the parking lane on the left and a FedEx truck double parked on the right. Traffic was slow to stopped back to 86th. Whatever’s going on, it’s not working so well.

    9. West 83rd St says:

      The last pedestrian killed by a bicyclist was in 2009. The last pedestrian killed by a driver was yesterday.

      Statistically, bikes are less dangerous than falling tree branches, bathtub slips, and stairs.