By Carol Tannenhauser
On Tuesday evening, the Transportation Committee of Community Board 7 decisively passed a resolution (9-2 with 1 abstention) asking the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) to present them with a “detailed proposal” for creating “a network of fully protected east-west bike lanes, approximately every 10 blocks between 60th and 110th Streets.”
Nearly 40 speakers from the public – many, but not all from the Upper West Side – testified in favor of the resolution. They included bicyclists who ride for pleasure as well as those who commute to work or school, some with their children. Many spoke passionately, and all cited safety as their primary concern. Members of the group Families for Safe Streets, made up of loved ones of bicyclists killed on the streets, described the loss they felt over the death of a girlfriend, a brother, a husband, or a friend.
“My brother, Charlie, was killed in 2020 in an UWS intersection like many we’re considering,” said Thomas Proctor. “Please don’t wait until there’s another death. Pass this resolution.”
Maria Danzilo, an Upper West Side lawyer who ran unsuccessfully for state senate last year, noted that in 2020, the community board’s transportation committee had called on DOT to create a single crosstown bike lane on West 72nd Street, running from Riverside Drive to Central Park. Nearly three years later, no lane has been created, she noted. “Why don’t we let 72nd Street happen and see how that goes?” rather than making a “hasty” request for a more ambitious plan, Danzilo asked.
“It’s not that that the proposal is a bad idea,” said committee member Jay Adolf, during the committee’s discussion period. “It’s impossible.” He argued that side streets are too narrow to accommodate protected bike lanes, parking, and traffic. Deliveries and emergency vehicles wouldn’t be able to get through. The neighborhood would become “clogged,” Adolf said.
Given the the turbulent topic, the meeting was relatively calm and concise, lasting about two hours and 15 minutes. The only real debate came over a single word in the resolution, which asks DOT for a detailed “proposal.” Susan Schwartz, co-chair of the community board’s Parks & Environment Committee, suggested the board ask for a study instead, which prompted committee member Andrew Rigie to complain: “Nothing ever happens!” Other members noted that a proposal would still be subject to debate, so the word stayed in the resolution.
The resolution now goes to the April meeting of the full Community Board 7 for a final vote, when public comment will again be heard.
You can watch the Transportation Committee meeting below.