IMPORTANT MEETING TUESDAY: SHOULD AMSTERDAM AVENUE GET PROTECTED BIKE LANES?

amsterdam avenue

Now that Columbus Avenue has a southbound protected bike lane from 110th street to 65th, the community board is considering where to put a northbound lane. Bike lane advocates are pushing for a lane that runs on Amsterdam Avenue from 59th to 110th street, which would take away one lane of traffic on that avenue (the Columbus lane didn’t need to take a lane of traffic because the lanes were already quite wide, so they were simply narrowed). The next meeting on the issue is this Tuesday October 15 at 6:30 p.m. at Goddard Riverside Community Center, 593 Columbus Avenue (88th).

Amsterdam was the third most dangerous road in Manhattan from 2008 to 2010, according to a report from the Tri State Transportation Campaign that looked at pedestrian deaths. Other studies have also shown a particularly large number of crashes. Bike and pedestrian advocacy group Transportation Alternatives has started a petition to turn the avenue into a “complete street.” A complete street redesign would include the bike lane, pedestrian islands, curb extensions, and leading pedestrian intervals. The community board is also considering taking away parking for commercial loading zones and turning lanes.

At a recent meeting about Amsterdam, some Community board 7 members pushed for changing the timing of lights on Amsterdam, which could reduce automobile speed. As for bike lanes, some members of the Community Board have been gravitating towards a new bike lane on Central Park West instead of Amsterdam, said Streetsblog, which reports on and advocates for bike lanes.

“In what may be a sign of progress, committee co-chair Dan Zweig said protected bike lanes ‘are really the only ones worth doing,’ but he suggested one for Central Park West, not Amsterdam. Later in the meeting, CB 7 chair Mark Diller also said his ‘first preference’ for a protected bike lane was CPW.”

Photo of Amsterdam Avenue by birdfarm.

NEWS | 20 comments | permalink
    1. JW says:

      Isn’t there already a dedicated northbound bike lane on Central Park West?

      • Josh says:

        How about we put bike lane expansion on the ballot in the locales in which they are proposed? That would make the debate fair, and not just a battle of who can send the most people to a community board meeting.

    2. Ken says:

      I could be wrong, but I’m not recalling at all that the bike lane on Columbus did not remove a car lane. Is that correct? Anyone remember?
      Also, Amsterdam is the last avenue in Manhattan that actually moves. Bike lane is going to kill if. CPW bike lane would be a much better idea.

    3. Scooter Stan says:

      BETTER IDEA:
      1) Leave Amsterdam Ave. alone, esp. because it’s the route for both the M7 and M11 buses and, as Ken notes, is probably the last avenue in Manhattan that is NOT choked with traffic.

      2) Leave CPW alone…unless we’re willing to risk endless lawsuits from some of the very powerful people along CPW who, understandably, are very protective of their elegant avenue.

      Instead:
      a) Send the northbound bike-riders over to Riverside Drive where:
      1) they’ll surely enjoy the scenic views,
      2) we will not have to see them, and
      3) while navigating that artery’s twists and turns they can pretend they
      are in the Tour de France

      OR:

      b) make the existing Columbus Ave. bike lane, which could be quite profitable, as:
      1) the city will not have to waste even more tax-payer dollars on a teensy subset
      of the general populace who have little respect for the rest of us, and
      2) considering the overblown egos of that generation fed the mantra of
      self-esteem, it will be amusing to watch them attempt to negotiate
      two-way traffic in that narrow space. IN FACT, the city could earn extra
      revenue by selling tickets to watch the inevitable fisticuffs resulting when
      Mr. Northbound Arrogant comes face-to-face with Mr. Southbound Arrogant.

    4. Fred P says:

      I think Amsterdam Avenue is a perfect place for a redesign. The street itself is very dangerous, so it is most in need of traffic calming measures, AND the Columbus Avenue lane needs a northbound partner. The CPW lane is unprotected.

      Calmer, prettier streets are better for communities in my opinion. I spend most of my time on Columbus Avenue, precisely because it is a nicer atmosphere.

    5. Ryan Dolan says:

      I support a complete street redesign on Amsterdam Avenue. It’s the safest option, as it will improve the horrible safety of Amsterdam Avenue for both bicyclists and pedestrians. It will also provide a protected, safe north-bound route in the middle of the UWS.

      Also, the current north-bound bike lane on CPW is not a protected lane; it is exposed to fast-moving north-bound traffic.

      • Complete street advocates are only interested in getting a bike lane. Creating a dedicated bike lane seems to be the only answer for all problems. There are many other community issues that need to be addressed. Parking is a big problem in the community for both residents and visitors. Providing space for all sorts of deliveries to businesses and residences are in need of a solution. Enforcement of traffic regulations is also not being taken seriously. Why are we allowing the community board total control of proposals? They are not the only ones with good ideas.

    6. Kenny says:

      This is not just about a bike lane — it’s about making the Upper West Side’s most dangerous northbound route a safer and more pleasant street. It’s no coincidence that Amsterdam is also the only four-lane unidirectional road. Trimming off a lane, which this overbuilt street can easily handle, will by itself reduce injuries and deaths. Creating pedestrian refuges, dedicated left-turn lanes and a physically protected bike lane will make Amsterdam even safer for all users.

      Where complete streets have been created elsewhere in Manhattan, they have cut injuries to all road users (including drivers and their passengers) by more than 30 percent. Yes, change is hard, but we have tolerated an unacceptable level of carnage on our streets for far too long. We can do better, and the proposal for Amsterdam is a big step forward for our neighborhood.

    7. richard fine says:

      we who live in the area and are aware of the high incident of both pedestrian and vehicular accidents on amsterdam know the value of creating a complete and livable street there. the AARP strongly endorses complete streets for the safety and sanity of local urban communities. local business organizations support complete street on amsterdam, knowing the benefits they get from this civilized [and profitable] way of sharing road space with all who use it. i really dont see the rational of those who oppose this improvement in making our community, with its disproportionate amount of seniors, more liveable.

    8. Helene says:

      Maybe the bike lanes should be on Park Avenue… plenty of room for them there. And then they won’t be in the way of buses or trucks unloading. Makes sense to me.

    9. Ken says:

      Wow. The pro Amsterdam Avenue bike lane lobby seems to have turned out en-mass to comment on this post. Names not previously seen on these pages quoting safety statistics absent any backup citation. Oh well. It is the internet so it must be true – right?

      Removing car lanes from Amsterdam (especially north of 72nd Street) is going to cripple northbound motor vehicle traffic flow – just as it has southbound on Columbus. I know there are those who do not think this is a bad thing – but it kills business and drives up consumer costs for everything. Do you know why it costs $800 for a plumber to come to your home for 30 minutes to fix a faucet – because it takes them two hours to get there and two hours to get to the next person after you. – plus a parking ticket. Multiply that out over every single consumer/business interaction and look at some real costs.

      I’m not saying that we should not make the streets safer for bikers and pedestrians – but the panic-button reaction of hobbling motor vehicle traffic to facilitate that goal is misguided in my view. I’d like to see the police start enforcing the no-parking and no standing rules on Columbus Avenue in the mornings (and maybe even get themselves to stop double parking on Columbus around the precinct house at 82nd street)and get Columbus Avenue with the bike lanes working correctly first before we choke off another Avenue.

    10. KrystalUWS says:

      I totally oppose a bike lane on Amsterdam. Car traffic on Amsterdam creates terrible jams. Amsterdam has a lot of commercial property which requires loading/unloading constantly.

      Why not make the bike lane on a more residential avenue like West End or Riverside? Isn’t the CPW bike lane northbound and Columbus south? Every avenue doesn’t need to have a bike lane. Let’s not get greedy

    11. Ellen says:

      I suggest that the city expand the Citi Bike program to this neighborhood before adding additional bike lanes. If more people had easy access to bikes, then expanding the availability to bike lanes would be a good thing. But until that happens, I see no need for additional bike lanes.

      • joe says:

        Citi Bike will almost definitely be expanding to the UES, UWS and select Brooklyn and Queens neighborhoods next spring and summer. We might as well work on putting in the infrastructure now considering that it takes just a few days to put in Citi Bike docks and years to get approval for bike lanes.

    12. Jeremy says:

      Without a doubt, a bike lane on Amsterdam would push increased car traffic to Broadway, which has the potential to negatively impact the many thousands of people who use it on a regular basis.

      In addition, DOT (who never met a bike lane they didn’t love) said that a bike lane on Amsterdam is a bad idea. That should be the final say. The bike lane on CPW is perfectly fine.

    13. Fred P says:

      There is little evidence linking “complete streets” with increased congestion. The New York Times and analysts from the conservative Manhattan Institute have reported the same thing:

      http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/05/nyregion/in-bloombergs-city-of-bike-lanes-data-show-cabs-gain-a-little-speed.html?_r=0

      They do, however, make things MUCH safer and greener. It’s win-win, in my view.

      A small percentage of people have been consistently apocalyptic about these changes since 2007, and, if anything, the city is more prosperous and livable than it’s ever been. These changes are positive — I support them fully.

    14. RBK says:

      Turning Amsterdam into a safe street is a splendid idea. I lived on Amsterdam for 7 years and finally moved when I had had enough and could no longer stand it.

      Large, noisy trucks and buses barreling up the ugly avenue at speeds over 50mph, spewing soot and dust in their wake? I felt like I was living on a major truck route.

    15. Josh says:

      Amsterdam and CPW are both bad choices for a protected bike lane. In addition to Columbus Avenue, the UWS already has 2 additional protected bike lanes from 59th to 110th, they are called Riverside Park and Central Park.

    16. scott says:

      The intention of a building safe bike infrastructure on commercial streets is so that businesses can be accessed safely by bikes. Suggestions of moving the only uptown to a residential street does not make sense for businesses nor bicyclists. Completing Amsterdam avenue improves access and safety for all.