By Meredith Kurz
Street safety advocates have been organizing tirelessly — even in the middle of last week’s blizzard — to gather support for a redesign of Amsterdam Avenue. The community board’s transportation committee voted 4-4 last month on the city’s proposal for the redesign, surprising many people in the room given that the vast majority of speakers at the meeting had supported the plan.
Safety advocates say Transportation Committee chairs Andrew Albert and Dan Zweig, both of whom voted against the proposal, have been recalcitrant in the face of clear community support for safer streets and bike lanes. Neither Albert nor Zweig responded to requests for comment.
Board Chair Elizabeth Caputo, however, said the full 50-member community board will get to vote on the proposal and can overturn the transportation committee’s decision (a tie vote effectively would kill the proposal).
The meeting will take place Tuesday, February 2 at 6:30pm at Goddard Riverside Community Center, 593 Columbus Avenue (at 88th Street). You can also submit comments to email@example.com.
Under the plan, the city would turn Amsterdam into a three-lane road (it’s now four lanes) and it would get a protected bike lane and left-hand turn lanes. There would also be pedestrian islands to shorten the crossing distance. These types of changes have led to decreases in pedestrian injuries on other avenues, including Columbus.
Street safety advocate Willow Stelzer says she’s gotten 3,600 people to sign a petition in favor of the redesign, and advocates have gotten support from more than 200 businesses. The effect on businesses was one of the biggest concerns among the handful of people who spoke against the plan at the January meeting.
“For the most part local businesses support the redesign of Amsterdam Avenue including the bike lane,” said Willow Stelzer. “As an Upper West Sider, I much prefer to spend my time on streets that are bicycling and pedestrian friendly, and I’m not alone in that. They just feel nicer, calmer, and more like a neighborhood. “
Here’s a small example of the businesses that support the Amsterdam project: Greenstones Children’s Clothing, Writopia, Beer Shop, Gleam Hair Salon, Levain Bakery, Blossom Restaurant, Joe’s Bar, Birdbath Bakery, Henry’s Restaurant, Crepes on Columbus, Gastronomie, Hosteling International, Irving Farm, and Sasha’s Coffee. Some organizations include St. Luke’s Mount Sinai, 75th Street Block Association, Hazon (a sustainable community organization), Goddard Riverside Community Center, Calhoun School, a local synagogue and a local church.
Read the most recent iteration of the plan below: