CB12 Committee Asks DOT for Dyckman Greenway Connector Study

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Nine months after Inwood residents first proposed a physically separated bike lane for Dyckman/200th Street, connecting the east- and west-side Greenways, this week the Community Board 12 Traffic and Transportation Committee approved a resolution calling for DOT to "test the feasibility" of such a project. CB12 action was considered necessary to gain the involvement of Borough President Scott Stringer's office, which, it is hoped, will also carry weight with DOT. Streetsblog reader and Inwood and Washington Heights Livable Streets member Daniel O’Neil attended the committee meeting and files this report. 

A traffic-calmed Dyckman Street, including pedestrian amenities and a protected bike lane, moved one step closer to reality Monday when the Community Board 12 Traffic and Transportation Committee voted unanimously to request DOT carry out a feasibility study.

The adopted resolution acknowledged several key points that members of Inwood and Washington Heights Livable Streets have raised in previous presentations to the committee, including:

  • Greater numbers of New Yorkers cycling and walking through the city reduce automobile congestion and help the environment through improved air quality.
  • A segregated bike lane along Dyckman Street, separated from traffic by a planted median, would improve safety for both bicyclists and drivers.
  • A safe route connecting Hudson and Harlem River Greenways would encourage bicyclists from around the region to visit Inwood and patronize local businesses.
  • The plan is being championed by a grassroots group of Inwood residents.

The resolution stopped short, however, of fully endorsing a livable streets makeover for Dyckman Street. Rather, it limited itself to requesting a feasibility study by DOT and did not state a position for or against the proposal. Committee member Jim Berlin took pains to point out that even if DOT determines such a project is feasible, the community board may still reject it. Member Anita Barberis wanted a demonstration of support from business owners along Dyckman Street before approving the project.

Not all members were negative. Edith Prentiss, a committee member who uses a wheelchair, voiced her support for segregated bike lanes, stating that she used them regularly and that the city needed more of them, since unprotected lanes often become auxiliary parking spaces. Rita McKee, a new committee member and member of Inwood and Washington Heights Livable Streets, attempted to insert an amendment stating CB12’s support for a Greenway connector. However, committee chair Mark Levine, who authored the resolution (and is himself an Inwood and Washington Heights Livable Streets member), encouraged members to vote on the resolution as is. “There is no downside,” he said to McKee, to not including more supportive language at this stage since DOT simply needed a request from the board to move ahead with the study. It was also clear that an amended resolution might not pass.

All seven members of the committee voted in favor of the resolution. CB12 member Martin Collins, also in attendance, voted in favor. Five community residents voted in favor, and one abstained. No voices were raised in opposition.

Last night was the fourth time this year that community residents and activists had brought forward the idea of a protected bicycle lane on Dyckman Street to CB12. This vote demonstrated the importance of attending community board meetings, the usefulness of Livable Streets Groups as a community organizing tool, and the value of having community board members involved in your group.

Photo: Brad Aaron