A condominium board on Central Park West is asking a state judge for an injunction to stop the construction of a protected bicycle lane on the avenue, claiming the project has not undergone the proper environmental reviews.
The lane, which won the support of Community Board 7 at a heated meeting earlier this month, would stretch the entire length of the east side of the avenue from Columbus Circle at 59th to Frederick Douglass Circle at 110th, and eliminate about 400 parking spaces. Currently, there’s a painted bike lane there that cyclists say offers little protection from vehicles.
Protected lanes are seen as a key street design change to stem what has been a brutal year for cyclists — already 18 people have died while biking this year, versus 10 in all of 2018. One of the people killed in 2018 was Madison Lyden, an Australian tourist who was hit by a truck while cycling on Central Park West at 66th Street. Her death served as a catalyst for getting the CPW lane constructed, though it wasn’t the first time safety concerns have been raised about the avenue. Between 2013 and 2017, there were 22 serious injuries to pedestrians, cyclists and people in vehicles on CPW.
The suit comes as the city appears to be already starting construction on the lane. “Road repair” signs showed up on Central Park West this week warning drivers their cars will be towed.
The Residential Board of Managers of the Century Condominium, on Central Park West and 63rd Street, argues in its lawsuit that the city needs to undertake a formal review of the impacts of the bike lane, including determining how it will impact traffic and safety issues. That would entail conducting a full review under the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act and city regulations.
The suit goes through a litany of criticisms about bike lanes and cyclists — that the lanes serve a small minority of citizens, that they result in more tickets to delivery truck drivers, and that cyclists “often neglect to abide by the normal traffic rules,” putting disabled and elderly residents at risk. And the plaintiffs are worried about losing all those parking spaces: “residents and building staff will lose available free parking, which will increase their expenses.” Read the suit here.
The city intends to fight the suit. “Far too many lives are being lost on our roadways,” said Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg in a statement. “The City will fight for this urgently needed and broadly-supported safety project on Central Park West.”