Separated Bike Path Isn’t Gay Enough for CB4
Manhattan Community Board 4's transportation committee unanimously approved DOT's plan to install a physically-separated bike path on Eighth Avenue in Lower Manhattan. The committee enthusiastically recommended the plan to the full board on Wednesday. The board then voted to ignore their own committee and block the plan. Apparently, some members feel that complete streets and safe bike infrastructure are somehow incompatible with the neighborhood's gay-friendly environment. Chelsea Now has the play-by-play:
Board member Allen Roskoff was more specific. “I refer to Eighth Ave. between 14th and 23rd Streets as ‘Gay Boulevard,’ he said. “Large numbers of gay people go there… It’s where we feel at home. … The atmosphere there—the restaurants, the activity, the people walking— it’s a home to many of us that no other avenue is. I don’t think these changes are for the positive in any way, shape or form.”
Which reminds me... Have you looked in to joining your local Community Board lately? This kind of thing is going to keep happening until either the Community Board system is overhauled or we get more Ian Dutton's, Christine Berthet's and Teresa Toro's serving on local boards.
The DOT's plan for a pilot project on Eighth Avenue, which can be downloaded here, mirrors the complete street redesign of Ninth Avenue one block to the west. The Eighth Avenue bike lane also runs through part of CB2, which unanimously approved the project last month.
It's also worth noting that outcry against the bike lane at CB4 was not at all universal and that Community Boards only have advisory power. DOT can go ahead with the project with or without the board's support. Again, from Chelsea Now:
Board member David Hanzel observed that “walking down Ninth Ave., I think it’s an improved experience.” He said there’s less traffic, fewer cars making sharp turns, and it’s “more of a leisurely stroll now.”
Hanzel was seconded by longtime member Bob Trentlyon, who observed that the discussion was the “most retro conversation I’ve heard at a board meeting in a long time. … There must be two Ninth Aves., because the Ninth Ave. I see, the traffic is moving very smoothly along… There are no businesses that have gone out of business since this has happened; there are more people starting to use the bike lanes.”