Condo Board Sues City to Stop Central Park West Protected Bike Lane

The (unprotected) bike lane as it exists today.

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.

A drawing of Central Park West showing what it looks like now (top) and how it will look after the protected lane.

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 Century.

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.”

NEWS | 68 comments | permalink
    1. Antonio says:

      Rich people like cars and abhor the vibrant and democratic street life that pedestrians and bicyclists bring. Move to Connecticut and leave New York to those who want to live in a city! Ban cars in NYC and all those displaced suburbanites will voluntarily repatriate.

      • Larry K says:

        Don’t understand why the new bike lane isn’t designated next to the sidewalk and car parking moved to between the bike lane and traffic. Like on Columbus and Amsterdam. This way the bikers are protected from traffic and parking spaces are retained. This would seem to satisfy everyone.

    2. Stuart says:

      Does anyone have a picture showing Polly Trottenberg wearing a helmet while riding a bike? I wonder if she stops at red lights…

      • Sid says:

        People over 14 y.o. are not required to wear helmets in NYC. That, and the fact that most cyclist deaths in NYC would not have been saved by a helmet (many of them wore helmets during their demise).

      • Paul says:

        There are protected bike lanes on Columbus southbound and Amsterdam northbound.
        Central Park is next door and the now car-free road that is just yards from CPW can be converted into a two way bike path with a can of paint.

        Riders should crowd the existing lanes until they are so full new ones are needed. Why? Because the more these lanes are used properly the safer they will be. If they are crowded then wrong way riding will become impossible, delivery workers walking their Fresh Direct orders won’t be able to use them, and fewer pedestrians will intrude in them. The current rate of wrong way riders and intrusive pedestrians shows that these lanes are grossly underused. And these intrusions make the lanes unsafe. If safety is the goal, have no more bike lanes than absolutely necessary.

        Riders who don’t want the 90 second inconvenience of having to bike over to the existing lanes should consider the amount of time it takes their neighbors to walk to bus stops, subway stations, and yes, parking garages. The healthiest among us should be the last to complain about minimal inconvenience.

        • Kevin says:

          “There are protected bike lanes on Columbus southbound and Amsterdam northbound.”

          Correct. There are also car lanes on Columbus southbound and Amsterdam northbound. Why don’t we close Central Park West to car traffic? Have you ever ridden a bike before? It takes much more energy to bike an extra 2 long blocks west than it does to drive a motor vehicle.

        • StevenCinNYC says:

          Paul, I agree completely. The existing lanes are underutilized and misused. I regularly see more people biking in the car lanes even when there are bike lanes protected bike lanes available and largely empty. I almost got hit by a bicycle on CPW when I was crossing the street with the light. I was crossing and he came right at me, and I had the presence of mind to yell Hey and put up my hand, and luckily he was able to stop before hitting me. He looked at me like I was in his way or something, and I showed him I had the light, and he sort of nodded. That was it, and I got across the street. But I regularly see cyclists blowing through the lights with no regard for pedestrians or the rules of the road, and some of them go really fast.

    3. Matt H says:

      This lawsuit makes me extremely angry, and their reading of the environmental impact laws absurd. Some more coverage here:

      There are more than shades here of the knee-jerk hostiles who fought the bidirectional lane on Prospect Park West for years, who ended up looking like complete tools and fools.

      Their parking spaces are more important than saving lives, got it.

      Memo to owners in this condo complex: your board members and others who instigated this, by taking this action, have acted to reduce the value of your apartments. Anyone who reads about this who’s the slightest bit woke will not consider buying in. Why would you gratuitously exclude potential buyers from the market like that? You need to vote them out.

    4. AC says:

      I have no problem with protected bike lanes, but the city should create 400 FREE parking spots between 59 and 110 streets to offset those being removed along CPW.

      The City should look into purchasing vacant lots and creating free parking lots. Make things fair for everyone.

      • Jacob says:

        Why on earth should the city provide free parking to anyone? We should abolish free parking in Manhattan. You want to park in the street? Pay the market rate for taking up the space.

        • Scott says:

          What market rate? The city owns the space. The rate is whatever they say it is. And they already have. They charge NYCHA residents $75 a year to park their vehicles. We can go with that.

        • It can be metered parking during business hours and then it won’t be for free.

        • Cato says:

          — “You want to park in the street? Pay the market rate for taking up the space.”

          With respect, this is a senseless proposal and could not be made to work. I’m sure that drivers would jump at the opportunity to pay for a dedicated space reserved for them.

          But what about the time that the driver has taken his or her car for a drive? Will that dedicated space simply stay open? Of course not. Some New Jersey or Connecticut, or scofflaw New York, driver will simply move in. Then, when the driver who has paid for the space returns home, the space will be gone.

          On the other hand, if you are talking about just issuing parking permits for a fee, while the driver still needs to find a space to park, you need to be sure that the driver will in fact get a space — and that means preventing all those un-permitted cars from parking. That would take a small police force in itself, and we know that’s not going to happen. So what would that paid-for permit get the driver? Nothing. There is no way to enforce the value of the permit for the driver.

          I believe that Lincoln Towers has condominium-ized its parking spaces, so that you buy the space to park your car (and no one may park in that space when you’re gone). But Lincoln Towers is a closed community, and has security to keep non-resident drivers out. There’s no way to implement a similar program on the public streets of New York City.

          Next brilliant idea?

    5. Jay says:

      This suit is another waste of taxpayer dollars.

      Bike lanes are coming. Get used to it.

    6. Opinionated says:

      I hope a future mayor and city council reverse the insane changes to traffic that are being created by this administration. The recent changes at Broadway and 65th Street, on West End Avenue, on 2nd Avenue near Queensboro Bridge and many others make cars move slower and create permanent traffic jams.

      Eliminating 400 parking spaces at the same time the Central Park loop is closed to all car traffic is completely absurd.

    7. B flat says:

      Now that the park is closed to cars, let’s reroute ALL bikes traffic through the park, and off central park west. Keep the land already in place for runners and walkers in place, let bikes could use the rest of the road formerly used by cars. This will also give bikers access to the east side.

      • I agree says:

        That’s too good of an idea. Politicians like bad ideas! All joking aside, I’m in agreement with you.

      • Matt H says:

        This isn’t a completely crazy notion, but:

        * Bikes can only enter or exit the drive at certain spots, what about riders going to a local destination on CPW?

        * The drive is not two-way! It’s still counterclockwise-only, except for the east-west Terrace Drive at 72nd Street being bidirectional.

        There is enough room to come up with a plan for bidirectional bike traffic now, and there’s pent-up demand for it for sure, but the inertia seems to be maintaining things as they are for now. Which is annoying to be frank.

    8. Scott says:

      We can have the bike lane AND plenty of parking for locals if we get the residential permits. How the city views itself as a responsible environmental steward while giving free parking to every out of state driver who shows up here is mind boggling.

    9. Penny Lane says:

      It is the height of arrogant foolhardiness to expand bike lanes and cyclist traffic without a contemporaneous and comprehensive plan for enhancing pedestrian safety, including education and awareness campaigns for drivers, cyclists pedestrians, and strict enforcement of existing traffic laws. Unless and until the NYPD can commit to enforcing traffic laws and treating cylclist-pedestrian ‘encounters’ as traffic violations, then expansion of bike lanes must not proceed.

      Further, there has been thoroughly inadequate provision for liability insurance on the part of Citibike cyclists who may injure themselves or others whilst using the Citibike service. Either Citibike is liable, or cyclists must have liability insurance prior to renting. Or BOTH.

      I would happily co-sign this lawsuit.

      • Woody says:

        You conveniently ignore the role of pedestrians in this dynamic. I”m against devoting more public space to them until they abide by the rules, too.

      • Matt H says:

        At the risk of injecting a fact into the discussion, it’s important to recognize that pedestrian safety has improved everywhere the city’s installed a protected bike lane. It’s not just a question of improving conditions for cyclists, they really improve safety for everyone.

        Cyclists do not carry insurance because the risks that they impose on other users of the road, while not entirely absent, are really quite minimal. There’s been, what, 1 death from a cyclist/pedestrian crash in NYC in the last 3 years? In a typical year there are 0 or 1 such crashes. On both an absolute and a per-capita basis, risks from more drivers completely dwarf this.

      • acyclist says:

        Most cyclists are responsible, and many of the things “pedestrians” consider as reckless is in fact done by cyclists to avoid getting killed by cars, like getting ahead of traffic at a light — because there are few protected lanes.

        Also, cyclists ARE pedestrains. it’s not like we bike everywhere. most walk a lot more.

        cars account for 99.99% of all serious pedestrian injuries and fatalities.

        I assure you no one hates reckless riders more than me because they are a far greater risk to other cyclists than walkers, but to say cyclists shoudln’t be protected because some are irresponsible towards pedestrians is a ridiculous non sequitor.

    10. Mark Moore says:

      That lawsuit isn’t going anywhere. Good luck proving that a BIKE LANE could have an adverse environmental impact. It doesn’t.

    11. Mark Moore says:

      “the lanes serve a small minority of citizens”

      Not any less than the parking spots do.

      “they result in more tickets to delivery truck drivers”

      Irrelevant to an environmental review.

      “cyclists “often neglect to abide by the normal traffic rules,” putting disabled and elderly residents at risk”

      Irrelevant. And you can say the exact same thing about motorists.

      “residents and building staff will lose available free parking, which will increase their expenses.”

      Irrelevant to an environmental review.

      I find this lawsuit to be without merit. Dismissed.

    12. John says:

      If Bikes and their riders carried Liability Insurance and Registration I would be for it. I was almost run over for the third time this month on CPW and the protected bike lane is going to make it worse. I have to say I have only seen 1 bike stop for a light on CPW this past month out of hundreds observed.

      • Christine E says:

        So, John, you were “almost” run over, but didn’t let yourself get run over because the biker did not have insurance??

        I welcome protected lanes. I frequently dodge cars on CPW. Many cars ignore the bike lane marker.

        And you are welcome to bike with me, I stop for lights.

    13. ShelbyTouch says:

      Enough with the bike lanes already. This is the city not the countryside. The environment is not conducive for bike lanes and all of these attempts to reconstruct the streets is adding to the congestion. People need to use MTA or drive. You want to stay fit? Ride your bike in the park!

    14. Nora Prentice says:

      Use the wide park sidewalk for bikes and save a thin bit for pedestrians. Simple.

    15. ileen says:

      If you can afford to live on CPW & own a car, you can afford to pay to park.

      • Stuart says:

        But the staff that works in the CPW buildings cannot afford to pay to park in
        garages. Would you suggest that the condo board provide free housing for them?

        • ben says:

          Not OP, but I would suggest the condo board provide their building employees with transportation/parking compensations. Cheaper than a unit in the building.

          • Jay says:

            Why do they need to do either?

            The building is right next to Columbus Circle. The building staff can take the subway like everyone else.

            I have a feeling the person’s filing this lawsuit really don’t care that much about their building staff and are just finding a lame excuse to save their taxpayer funded parking.

            Thankfully, the judge saw right through this quickly.

            • ben says:

              Not saying they *should*. Just addressing the previous person’s assertion that the board needs to provide housing. I too am glad the lawsuit got tossed quickly.

      • Paul says:

        If there’s no street parking how much will the garages cost?

    16. Amanda says:

      There is not one good reason to have a bike lane on Central Park West – let bikes use the road within the park just like cars used to- safer for bikers, drivers, and pedestrians.

    17. Shmuel says:

      It’s the PC crowd, folks. Get used to it! Full of opinions while ignoring the facts. It is good to be old in this world

    18. Lala says:

      This may be a silly suggestion, but why not just flip the placement of the bike lane and the parking lane, so that the parked cars create a buffer from traffic? There are other streets on the UWS (can’t recall exactly where I have seen it right now -Amsterdam in the 70’s?) where parking is permitted on the street side of the bike lane rather than curb side.

      • sam says:

        this is precisely what I’ve wondered – why they don’t create a parking buffer (like on Columbus) rather than just a completely empty buffer that they seem to be planning here?

        It would still eliminate some spaces because of the dynamics of how the buffers get created, but much less than 400, AND it would also create pedestrian islands between the bike lane and the rest of the road at intersections, which could be used for things like bus stops given that those will have to shift over.

        I get that it could be slightly more complicated because CPW is a two-way street, but this particular part of the dynamic doesn’t seem that different?

      • Paul says:

        It can’t be done that way because of busses. Passengers would be stepping off the bus and into the bike lane.
        On one way avenues the bike lanes are on the left side so this can’t happen.

        • Stuart says:

          Why do we need buses on CPW – there’s already buses on Amsterdam and Columbus…

          (Same logic – different mode of transport. Do you get the joke ?)

        • sam says:

          but they could create raised islands at the corners/intersections as bus stops instead – they’ve done this downtown on lower broadway, and it’s done in plenty of other cities. I’m not saying it’s a perfect solution, but it’s certainly possible, and would only be necessary every 3-4 blocks (and given that there are almost no right turns on CPW going north, probably more feasible than on some other streets).

          I’m just trying to suggest some creative options that would get everyone to a happier place.

    19. acyclist says:

      there are more than 500,000 daily riders in NYC. it’s NOT a fringe niche. Yes, they don’t all ride on this bike path, but that numebr is only going to increase.

      As a cyclist, I understand that we need parking too. perhaps a partial barrier would be better? I’m thinking 50 feet on fifty feet off? seems drivers would get the picture, no?

    20. Bill Williams says:

      Woo hoo!!! CB7 and DOT must be stopped.from ruining the entire UWS. The absurdity of a protected lane on CPW when there is a park with a 4 lane roadway right next to it is ure comedy. The fact that DOT didn’t even look at this as an option speaks volumes. Time to get these transportation alternatives fanatics off the board.

    21. S. Hayes says:

      Not one comment with empathy toward the 18 deaths to date this year vs. 10 all LY. If the young woman who died last year on CPW had been a Century resident, or the daughter of a Century resident, would their board still have brought suit? If the answer is yes, shame on them. If the answer is no, well, at least they would behave as people who understand and empathize with lives lost. Saying the solution supported by Community Board 7 is not providing safety for the elderly is cynical and unfair. CB7 want safety for all, and made a very inconvenient (to some) decision. The Century board’s suit is probably motivated to a degree by the future loss of parking. But when a young woman was killed just down the block last year… crickets.

    22. EBuzz says:

      Does this mean that trucks won’t be able to line up along CPW for film shoots anymore?

      • John says:

        They will line up on the west side of the street. And what about the Macys Day Parade will they move that onto Broadway.

        • Stuart says:

          No – on Thanksgiving, the parade will take place inside the CPW bike lane, while the traffic lanes ordinarily used by cars will be totally taken over by bikes.

    23. Lord Of The Slice says:

      Item of note:

      Notice how the argument has shifted from “no one uses the bike lanes”


      “Us poor poor car owners, there’s just too many people using the bike lanes.”

      What’s your next distraction for moving us into the 21st century, city car owners?

    24. Big Earl says:

      Good! This project was rushed through from a knee-jerk reaction. I rode my bike around the neighborhood for many years and I knew every time I went out, I took a big risk. That’s life. That’s the reality of biking in NYC. A few ill conceived new bike lanes is not going to change that fact. It’s an inherent risk. If you bike in NYC, you could die. If you swim the NYC beaches, you could die from a rip-tide. You participate in an activity with an inherent risk, you just hope and pray you’re not the statistic. Sadly, someone always is. Called life. No need to rush this PC project through so fast.

    25. Margo says:

      They’re squeezing residents that own cars. There is no parking 8am to 6pm along West End Avenue, and now No Standing along CPW. Too many of these cyclists do not follow the rules of the rode, ride the wrong on one way streets, don’t stop for pedestrians or traffic lights. Some very nasty things are probably going to happen.

      • Woody says:

        “Too many of these cyclists do not follow the rules of the rode, ride the wrong on one way streets, don’t stop for pedestrians or traffic lights.”

        I was not aware of this; surprised it’s never been mentioned. We need to immediately make it more dangerous for cyclists by forcing them to ride with vehicular traffic like before.

    26. MW says:

      What about instead building the bike lane in the space that between the Central Park boundary wall and the CPW sidwalk? (This area is currently cobblestone and has benches intermittently but the benches could be flipped/relocated between the curb and the sidewalk in the strip where the trees and streetlights are.) This solution would preserve the parking spots and might even be safe for cyclists & pedestrians because it would reduce the number of crosswalks that intersect with the bike lane. Comments?

    27. J says:

      The bike lane will negatively impact bus flow and bus riders.

      Wondering why no discussion of this issue?

    28. J says:

      Regarding parking spots generally….
      1. today, a cable tech came to my family’s apartment to make a repair.
      The tech parked 5 blocks away as he was unable to find a spot near our building.
      He had to walk back to the truck twice to get additional parts.

      2. Several of the building staff carpool in from Yonkers. They have to park their car. They cannot afford to live in Manhattan. There is no public transportation from Yonkers.

      Folks – Are these acceptable needs for parking?

      • Christine E says:

        You are asking the city to give free parking to your building staff. When many WSR readers (including me) do not even have building staff and cannot afford to live in such buildings.

        I suggest that you/your building pay your staff a living wage. If you can’t pay them enough to live in the neighborhood, then at least buy them a shared parking garage spot.

      • your_neighbor says:

        Easy to get to/from Yonkers.

        MetroNorth to the subway just like the tens of thousands of people who live north of NYC and work in midtown or downtown.

        • There will always be a need for parking. Mass transit is only available in limited areas of the NYC metropolitan center. Yes you can take a train from any of the main transit centers. Getting there is not so easy. Connecting buses are not always running at odd hours. Car service or cabs are just as unreliable. Try shopping using a bike. If the weather is not so great, can you walk in the rain or snow? Mass transit usually shuts down in the slight threat of bad weather. Try using New Jersey Transit when it snows. Subways are not reliable in bad weather either. Rain can flood a station and it happens all the time. There are many seniors and disabled that rely on their vehicles to get around. How many train stations are accessible? Those healthy enough to ride a bike should use mass transit.

    29. stu says:

      While there are many arguments that the plan has inherent problems and there are better solutions, this lawsuit is actually offensive. It is the same NIMBY action that the wealthy folks in Park Slope on PPW took, to no avail. The wealthy residents of the plaintiff building use parking garages (except perhaps for some long-time, hard-core folks too stubborn or cheap to do so). Any arguments that their poor staff need to now use public transportation to get to work — like tens of thousands of other NYers — fall on deaf ears. If it is a matter of helping out the late-night doorman who has to travel at 4AM, well then the residents can easily afford to chip in and pay for a driver to drive him every night.

    30. Perhaps the DOT and/or police department should be enforcing traffic laws, rather than the neighborhood enduring more changing traffic patterns and loss of valued parking spaces. Stringent enforcement (citywide) should result in fewer lives lost and less strife and stress for pedestrians, bicyclists, and pedestrians.

    31. Ellen says:

      A few posters have asked the question, but I don’t see an answer – does anyone know how the new plan will effect the uptown CPW bus? Will passengers get on and off at the cement divider (forcing them to cross the bike lane, and causing traffic issues for cars as buses would no longer be pulling over to a curbside stop), or will the stops remain at the curb, with cutouts in the cement divider for buses to cross into the bike lane (which seems to defeat the safety purpose)?

    32. Gilbert Garshman says:

      Perhaps it would help if the cyclists were required to have licence plates on their bicycles and get tickets for disobeying all of the traffic regulations their would be less deaths. It is almost impossible to cross a street with the light for the people crossing withthe light. They go the wrong way on one way streets, do not obay traffic signals and generally do whatever they feel like.