A New Bike Lane, Smoking Restrictions and Homelessness are Hot Topics At Community Board Meeting

CB 7 September Full Board Meeting.

By Carol Tannenhauser

More than 200 people logged in to the Community Board 7 meeting on Tuesday night to talk bike lanes, liquor licenses, smoking laws and the most heated topic of the day — homelessness.

Early in the meeting, Captain Neil Zuber, commander of the 20th Precinct, logged in to urge locals to report crimes.

“Please, when you see something — drug use, public lewdness — you have to report it, call 911. If we’re not aware that something’s happening and when and where, we can’t possibly address it. Please call 911. It works. Yesterday, based on increased reporting and our investigation, we were able to make 12 arrests of dealers and people buying drugs on the street. This root cause of what is driving so much of the quality of life issues was addressed in a very big way, thanks to the partnership with the people of the community. A lot of people are afraid if they call 911, it will clog up the system. That’s not going to happen. If you’re not certain what to do, call 911. By all means, err on the side of caution.”

Next up was the business session:

Two liquor licenses were approved — one for a place called Bonita, at 483 Columbus Avenue, the old Bellini spot.

Six building renovations were given the go ahead, involving a rooftop air conditioner, a ramp, a door and a bay window.

Prolonged attention was paid to the resolution presented by Howard Yaruss of the Transportation Committee in favor of a two-way protected bike lane on West 72nd Street.

”I don’t like to think of it as solely a bike lane resolution,” Yaruss said. “It’s calling for the Department of Transportation and experts to come up with something that will make 72nd a better street – safer, more pleasant and, of course, with a protected bike lane, connecting the north/south lanes and Central Park West with Riverside Drive.” The resolution passed.

The last order of business involved smoking on the perimeter of city parks, for example, on the benches that sit outside Central Park. Interestingly, in 2002, when legislation authored by Gale Brewer to make NYC parks smoke-free passed, an exemption was made for the perimeters, as well as parking lots and medians. Last night, CB 7 passed a resolution banning smoking on the perimeter of parks and in parking lots and medians, but marijuana was not included.

Next came the public session. Unsurprisingly it centered on the issues surrounding the people experiencing homelessness who have been moved to hotels in the neighborhood. Several speakers spoke up in favor of hotels being used as shelters; most of the proponents said they were from neighborhoods other than the UWS.

A similar number spoke against the shelters, though they were all from the neighborhood. The opponents argued that the shelters serve neither the homeless clients nor the neighborhood well.

If you want to see and hear for yourself — and you’ve got five hours — check out the full September community board meeting below.

NEWS | 73 comments | permalink
    1. Bob says:

      Wait, so you can’t smoke tobacco on the perimeters of parks, but you can smoke marijuana? That’s… odd.

      I mean, I’m not particularly in favor of banning smoking outdoors generally — better outdoors than indoors, after all — but understand why certain areas might need a restriction. For example, maybe there’s a playground right inside the walls, and the smoke drifts in. But I wouldn’t want the kids grooving on the secondhand wacky tobaccy any more than I would want them breathing the regular kind.

      • Steve B says:

        Any place in NY State where it is illegal to smoke tobacco, it’s also illegal to smoke marijuana. Not sure what CB7 could say to change that; it’s a state law/regulation.

    2. ST says:

      The emperor Howard Yaruss needs to be deposed. Obsessed with bike lanes despite considerable community opposition, he is doing nothing about dangerous electric vehicles that ignore all rules of traffic or even direction.

      • Kevin S says:

        This comment is straight up obnoxious and ridiculous. The resolution passed with a vast majority of board member votes and a vast majority of community support. The proposal addresses all kinds of safety improvements.

        • Nevets K says:

          “The (bike lane) resolution passed with a vast majority of board member votes and a vast majority of community support.”

          You can’t be certain about that “vast majority of community support.” There is zero evidence of this. Most likely, you’re imagining it.

          Even worse, the destruction of whatever community we used to have here on the UWS began with the elimination of nearly a thousand parking spots used by our working and middle class residents in exchange for the wholesale construction of electric bike lanes — that, of all things, run parallel to existing bus and subway routes!

          • Kyle D. says:

            “The destruction of whatever community we used to have here on the UWS began with the elimination of nearly a thousand parking spots used by our working and middle class residents in exchange for the wholesale construction of electric bike lanes — that, of all things, run parallel to existing bus and subway routes!”

            I genuinely cannot tell if this is meant as sarcasm. “Working class car drivers”, as far as NYC is concerned, are a construct that exists chiefly in the head of Mayor de Blasio. Most people on the UWS don’t own cars, so it’s absolutely nonsensical to complain about giving over more space to the majority of people after a century of widening roads and shrinking sidewalks for the benefit of a privileged minority.

            As for safety, of the 219 people killed in traffic accidents last year, 122 were pedestrians and 29 were cyclists. Just two was hit by a cyclists. I don’t like seeing e-bike riders running red lights, but it’s important to keep things in proportion.

            • Paul says:

              The overwhelming majority of deaths on our roads are caused by for hire drivers, truck, and bus drivers.
              The goal of getting privately owned cars out of our neighborhood won’t make a difference if “carnage” is the issue. Indeed, the ones causing the damage will only drive faster if the local owners are out of the way.

              It’s important to keep things in proportion.

            • Lauren Gordon says:

              Electric bikes should be banned from NYC or those riders need to be ticketed and,fined for running red lights or speeding.
              Several times I’ve almost been hit by one on Broadway or Columbus or CPW.Dont even get me started about seeing them riding the wrong way on a one-way street.
              If this was addressed at this meeting I would think West Side Rag would have reported it. People will be killed by electric bike riders.
              As far as the loss of parking spots. most people with cars in NYC need them for outside Manhattan transportation and can’t afford almost $600 a month for a parking garage. That is and will drive many lifetime and older New Yorkers, pardon the
              pun, outside NYC.

      • EagleEye says:

        Data shows bike lanes save pedestrian lives. https://usa.streetsblog.org/2014/11/14/four-reasons-pedestrian-injuries-have-plummeted-along-protected-bike-lanes/

        Care to show me any data to the contrary? What are YOU doing to make our neighborhood a better place? ALL HAIL HOWARD!

        • Nevets K says:

          “Instead of the pedestrians crossing maybe 70 or 80 feet or 90 feet of unspecified undesignated roadway into which the car could be turning from a side street at any point, instead the pedestrian now crosses the bike lane, IN WHICH IT’S VERY CLEAR WHERE THE BIKES ARE COMING FROM.”

          The above quote comes directly from your linked “study” in defense of electric bike lanes.

          Get a load of that last line!

          Next time you link “a study,” kindly state its planet of origin.

        • Paul says:

          Bike lanes are only as safe as the people who use them. As a rider I can tell you that they’re so often used improperly that the sense of protection when using them is often illusory.

          Oh, the article you linked is argument, not data, and it’a what? 6 years old?
          Streetsblog is the house organ of the conglomerate that was formed to get private cars out of NYC. It’s as reliable as “The American Rifleman,” the house organ of the NRA.

    3. ZoomZ says:

      CB7 has gone beyond insanity.
      Cigarette smoking is prohibited.
      Marijuana smoking is permitted.
      Last I heard, cigarettes are still legal in the entire USA.
      Marijuana may be legal is some states but NOT in NY state.
      The joke is on us and the people who run CB7.

    4. EdNY says:

      Why ban tobacco smoking from the perimeters around parks and in parking lots and medians, but exempt marijuana smoking? Is the second-hand smoke from joints any less annoying than that of ordinary cigarettes?

      • Ryan says:

        One is linked to cancer while the other is not

        • EdNY says:

          Which is why I only mentioned the annoyance factor, which is significant. The same law that says you can’t sit on a public bench and play loud music should apply here. (And they should both be enforced.) And do we know enough about second-hand marijuana smoke?

    5. UpperWest says:

      Nice for people from outside the neighborhood to weigh in on the hotels. Did they volunteer any buildings in their own neighborhoods for new such hotels? Now, excuse me as I make my way to the perimeter of a park to smoke some marijuana. At least I won’t have to look at cigarette butts while I’m there.

    6. SM says:

      I hope everyone has seen the fiasco that is the protected bike lane along the east side of CPW. I have been there many, many times and the road is empty. I would estimate usage (including nights/evenings, early mornings) of less that 5%.
      This is NOT GOOD USE OF PUBLIC SPACE. I cannot understand why the bike lane was not pushed to the inside with cars on the outside like on Amsterdam, Columbus and numerous other city streets.
      Instead, we have this vast area of space that is empty.
      Extremely frustrating.

      • Mark P says:

        I don’t consider the current utilization of a newly protected lane (and even without barriers in place, the wider lane without parked cars is safer…excepting people who selfishly ride the wrong direction) is not a good argument against it. It will see more use with time. I remember when the same arguments were made against HOV car lanes in Texas. Now they see a lot of use.

        Consider the fact that it is wide open your invitation to get on a bike and enjoy it! I used it last week to ride up to Harlem, over to 2nd Avenue, back down to 72nd, and across. You don’t need any special clothes. When I ride in the winter, I ride with the same coats I would otherwise wear. The trick is to ride in a relaxed fashion, not as fast as possible – which incidentally is also safer.

        • ok says:

          why couldn’t they build a protected bike line and keep the parking spots? best of both worlds and spots are sorely needed given the influx of cars since the pandemic hit.

        • SM says:

          My point is that you can achieve the same result without eliminating alternative usage of the space.
          Create a protected lane similar to Columbus and Amsterdam by all means. Keep bike riders safe(r).
          But this doesn’t mean you eliminate all the parking spots (some would be lost anyway due to the design of the bike lanes). Both can co-exist.
          Instead, you see valuable space underutilized. Bike riders don’t use it enough and cars aren’t allowed. Lose-lose for all.

      • Mikey K says:

        You’ve hit the nail on the head SM thank you!
        These barely-used bike lanes have led to idling cars looking for parking (worse for the environment), more double-parked vehicles causing safety concerns, and frustrated workers who need to drive to work, including a an extended group as public transit is less trusted during COVID. Yes, have the same setup on the East side of NHM. Or at least let cars park overnight. Btw- let’s not forget HUGE Central Park to bike IN what’s better than that??

        I’m sick of DiBlasio claiming victories for his future autobiography (similar to the ridiculous presidential run) that worsens the city from business/tax base, safety, and environmental standpoints. Reverse the green wave that increases pollution. Sure it works in Copenhagen that has 5% of NYC’s population or vast spaces in Texas or Arizona. But not here…. Especially when the cold weather hits! Thanks for listening

        • Alan says:

          You are so right! I’ve been to Copenhagen – yes it does work there but one of the big differences is that all the riders there observe traffic lights and signals. Here in NYC, the vast majority don’t observe them — and no one is ever penalized. If bike riders want to ride in traffic, they should obey the rules or be prohibited from riding.

      • BSW says:

        I absolutely agree. The space is empty. To take a wide boulevard like CPW and favor bike lanes over parking when bikers have all of Central Park( and lanes on every other avenue) shows a contempt for pedestrians and residents. When bikers can ride on Columbus and all through the park, why close off CPW.? It looks wrong and creates terrible problems for those of us without garages. Why should bikers have priority?

      • EagleEye says:

        SM, Please stop spreading “alternative facts”. Here is a link to DOT’s live camera at 66th and CPW. At 10:30 pm, as I write this there are as many bikes using the bike lane as cars who have been allocated twice the space. https://webcams.nyctmc.org/google_popup.php?cid=964

        Secondly, the need for this protected lane is that the prior configuration cost a Madison Lyden her life. https://nyc.streetsblog.org/2018/08/17/madison-lyden-died-on-central-park-west-because-the-city-failed-her/

        • Paul says:

          I rode up that bike lane today at 2:30 PM. The nearest bike ahead of me was about 4 blocks up the road. I stopped for a full minute at 81 St, and all of three riders caught up to me. I wasn’t the least bit surprised, because that’s my normal experience on this lane.
          The notion that bikes use CPW as often as cars is absurd. There was and remains plenty of unused capacity on Amsterdam Ave’s northbound lane thus the CPW lane was unnecessary.

          • Boris says:

            So why do you ride in the CPW bike lane?

            Counting the number of bikes at 2:30PM for a few minutes is a statistically insignificant waste of time. Genuine traffic studies are more sophisticated than that.

      • mkmuws says:

        I guess I’m misunderstanding what you’re saying, because the CPW bike lane is a busy thoroughfare.

        • Chris says:

          I used the CPW bike lane every day until the pandemic had me working from home and I will be using it again when I get back to the office. To complain about its state of use right now is like complaining that NYC’s restaurants should all be torn down and replaced with garages because people aren’t patronizing them at the moment.

    7. Juan says:

      A two-way protected bike lane on 72nd St. is a horrible idea. There is too much traffic on that road to sustain it. And please don’t tell me that bike riders have the same rights as cars. There are lots of delivery trucks for all of the retail there, there are buses, etc. Buses need to let people on and off as close to the curb as possible, particularly for the benefit of the elderly.

      If you are going to add crosstown bike lanes, but them on less heavily trafficked streets – it really isn’t that hard. It seems like the squeaky wheel always gets the grease around here.

      • Josh P. says:

        People always talk about how we can’t have a bike lane because of the delivery trucks, but they forget that the vast majority of delivery traffic for a restaurant is actually by bike!

        • Juan says:

          I meant the delivery trucks that deliver the merchandise the stores sell, as well as the UPS, Amazon, USPS and other trucks.

          • Jay says:

            Easy solution. Get rid of the parking lanes and put in loading zones. Plenty of room for bike lanes and delivery trucks.

    8. Steve says:

      Excuse me but people from outside of the neighborhood should not be given any attention or consideration at community board meetings.

    9. Ms. GreenFuture says:

      More bikes and bike lanes and less fuel consuming vehicles! Used my bike to take my dog to the vet this morning.. so grateful for the well protected bike lanes on Colombus and CPW.

      • love my bike says:

        I bike most places…even more so now with better paved roads, more bike lanes and less cars – safe enough for my daughter to bike with me. I’m a car owner and can’t do without b/c I go upstate frequently. I also park on the street so understand the frustration of reduced spaces. But I look forward to more bike lanes, more citibike docking stations, and a cleaner more civilised city with less cars and pollution.

    10. Kevin S says:

      Thank you to the full Community Board for passing the resolution on improving 72nd street with such an overwhelming majority! The street is full of double parked vehicles all day and it’s treacherous for drivers, bikes, and pedestrians trying to cross. The CB action will reduce chaos on the street and make our community safer. As a driver, I know things like loading zones will help traffic keep moving without swerving around stopped vehicles. As a biker as well, I will finally have a way to go east/west with a protected lane- not just north/south. Kudos to the full CB for passing this resolution and for giving more attention to safer streets in our UWS! More of this please!

    11. RV says:

      So where can you smoke a cigarette or cigars outside now in this city?

      • LK says:

        Logistics are a bit complicated. You’ll be better off buying pot on Broadway in the morning and then smoking it along the perimeter of the park. Why stop there? Smoke pot at the playground while on a swing set – it’s perfectly fine!

      • Cato says:

        — “So where can you smoke a cigarette or cigars outside now in this city?”

        Near a cancer or pulmonary-speciality hospital. Might not technically be permitted, but at least it will be convenient when you need their services.

      • Ish Kabibble says:

        Pretty much anywhere except parks and immediately surrounding parks apparently. That leaves 90% of the city.

      • JJacobs says:

        There should be enclosed glass structures out on the curbs with no ventilation for smokers… then not only will they keep their cancer causing (and covid-spreading) smoke away from our fresh air, they will also be forced to only breath in their smoke

    12. Daniel A says:

      If you are lucky enough to live on the UWS you are privileged. You came from a nurturing home, got a lucky break, or managed to avoid debilitating setbacks. Bad luck in any of these could put you on the street. How many of you could conduct all of your daily necessities out in the open for all to see? Imagine waking up in the morning with strangers glaring at you; finding a bathroom when you needed one; conversing with friends and family for all to hear; eating all your meals; dealing with medical issues. Most of our homeless neighbors do all these things with quiet dignity.

    13. Annalne Dinkelmann says:

      Amazing to learn that the pro-homeless folks who spoke at CB 7 do not live in the UWS.
      So for them its Not in my backyard, but it is OK to have it in our front yard.

      • Josh P. says:

        I live in the neighborhood and I spoke in support of the shelters. Please don’t dismiss my opinion because you don’t agree with it.
        At this meeting, the majority of speakers supported the shelters. You can hypothesize reasons about why more people “really” agree with you but the evidence simply isn’t there.
        There might be a few loud people on Facebook, but when it comes to actually speaking publicly about what our community wants, a majority support these shelters.

    14. Eleanor Seepes says:

      Homelessness is serious as a problem in Central Park. With fewer workers at at this time, garbage is found throughout the greenswards and forested areas. Thre is a group of Central Amricans/Mexicans who sleep each night–with their bikes closeby–and they urinate and defecate in the deeply grown areas.

    15. MarkR says:

      Terrible local representatives—do people realize that locals on UWS raise the same issues again and again in the community and city officials regularly ignore our concerns…tell us what is best and force us to accept something we don’t want? When will we learn?

    16. Maddi says:

      Here we go with more bike lanes. Does anyone care that bikers systematically disregard traffic rules, do not dismount in park walkways and now we have unchecked use of bike lanes and pedestrian walkways in the park and at the Hudson river but people on motorbikes, Revels, etc. When will they be help accountable. And why are we building more bike lanes when they aren’t used by many and cause increased traffic and pollution.

      • Westsider says:

        I agree! Walking through the Park at 85th Street is like walking through an obstacle course. Bikers: e-bikes, citibikes and bikers on racing bikes ride on the pedestrian path in complete disregard for the rules which are in clear view on the placards throughout the walkways. To add to the problem, there are people on electric scooters and skateboards!
        Never have I seen the police stop ANY of these riders (even before the pandemic). The same applies to the riders on Columbus Ave.

      • Josh P. says:

        Bikes do not cause pollution. Cars do.
        Every trip that someone takes by bike instead of by car reduces pollution and reduces the amount of traffic for everyone else.

    17. M says:

      There should never be bike lanes on 2 way streets with bus stops. Too dangerous.

      • Alan Flacks says:

        There is some merit to that, especially the bus stops issue, which may increase vehicular danger to cyclists.

    18. Charles Agee says:

      It’s my understanding that marijuana was not included in CB7’s no smoking resolution, in part, because the Smoke-Free Air Act, which the resolution seeks to amend, only prohibits tobacco smoking. Please see:
      “Smoking” means inhaling, exhaling, burning or carrying any lighted cigar, cigarette, pipe, or any form of lighted object or device which contains tobacco.”

    19. nycityny says:

      72nd St between CPW and West End Ave has many restaurants using the streets these days for outside dining. Are they going to be displaced so that a bike lane can be built? Seems rather unfair to them without the option of indoor dining and the investment they made for street seating.

    20. Jan says:

      I guess public opinion and outrage means nothing in NYC. So much public dissent and disapproval for all of these bike lanes and yet it continues to expand.
      Bikes and bike lanes will never be compatible
      with City traffic
      This is a walking subway city and for safety
      It should stay that way. Cannot our officials
      see by now the bike thing is NOT working.
      Ban bikes motor bikes etc from NYC immediately

    21. Smokefree says:

      Kudos to CB 7 for passing a resolution banning smoking on the perimeter of parks and in parking lots and medians. I hope this gets traction from other CBs. Here’s a suggestion: Send a letter to other Manhattan CBs asking for them to support your resolution and then present to BP Brewer at an upcoming Borough Board meeting and have the Borough Board pass the same resolution – although I would not exempt marijuana from any future resolutions.

      • Park lover says:

        Smoking within Central Park has increased greatly as the rules are never enforced. That is more important than worrying about the perimeter.

    22. Melba says:

      The homeless issue has been co opted by people from outside the UWS on both sides. There are many people in the UWS for safer streets group that are from outside the UWS and many advocates supporting more homeless people in OUR neighborhood from outside the UWS speaking at the community board meetings. What a disgrace.

    23. John says:

      “but marijuana was not included”
      This is all I smell in the park

    24. UWSider says:

      Talk about a plant. Why would anyone take anything “proponents” of the homeless “hotels” (not shelters!) seriously at a COMMUNITY board meeting on the UWS. Do city officials really think we’re that stupid??!! Welcome to the world of dumb and dumber!!

    25. GF says:

      Finally things are getting back to normal. CB7 voting for more bike lanes.

      Meanwhile, scaffolding and empty storefronts are never addressed. So. What’ll be left is bike riders weaving around the ruins and homeless encampments of the UWS. Yay.

    26. RK7783 says:

      Will signs be posted along the park perimeter to let people know there is no smoking?

    27. Lori says:

      The argument against bike lanes is that too many users do not obey the rules. I ride up Amsterdam very often, and never know when I will be hit by a biker coming at me in the wrong direction, or when a speeder will overtake me. I think electric bikes should have sound, so people would be aware of their velocity. And the rules should be enforced, that means give tickets! Now that there are so many restaurants on the streets, bikers have to navigate pedestrians from more directions, making them extremely unsafe. I am better off riding with motor vehicle traffic.

    28. Stu says:

      I am a daily cyclist who utilizes the bike lanes in our city. There is NO need for a protected bike lane across the UWS (or UES); it is a waste of resources. The side streets are quite safe to ride given that they are narrow enough to allow a bike to take up the entire lane (as they are legally entitled to do). A protected bike lane on the Central Park throughways (81/96) is another matter (and desperately needed).

      I dont think people have an issue with homeless being housed in empty hotels in their neighborhood. People have an issue with addicts and mentally ill people being housed in their neighborhood (who take to the streets much of the day). And done on an inequitable basis as compared to other neighborhoods.

      • Paul says:

        Exactly true on the ability of a bike rider to safely navigate the crosstown side streets, which is how I ride regularly.

        It’s way safer than the 2 way streets and there’s no need for a bike lane. Stay to the left, to avoid being “doored” and keep an ear out for oncoming traffic, of which there is very little.

    29. Marcia Numan says:

      The bike paths are a dangerous problem for pedestrians. The riders do not follow the laws, do not stop for the stoplights, and are intent on moving very fast. The electric delivery bikes are an ongoing hazard as they zoom along without any regard for people.

      • Nevets K says:

        As I have commented previously, one of the tragic aspects of our society is that the general public and our “representatives” do not respond to serious problems until there are deaths, often numerous deaths.
        I’m afraid we’re going to “need” the death or deaths of a few pedestrians and/or bike riders struck by bike riders, electric bike riders, or electric scooter riders before the problem of lawless riders is seen as needing remedy.
        Until then, remember to look five ways before and when crossing a street or when “strolling” in the park.