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by Ben Fried
Transpo committee votes 5-5 not to support Columbus Ave protected bike lane from 77-96.
Is there some way to stop having these fights? I’m so tried of grocery store owners and local cranks standing in the way of every single improvement. It’s always the same arguments and they never EVER pan out. But having to fight the same fights and make the same arguments over and over and over again is getting absurd. Can’t we force the opponents to show actual damages before we take their complaints seriously? Good projects shouldn’t be held hostage by the paranoid fantasies of local curmudgeons.
Last night the grocery store owner and local cranks were far outnumbered by bike lane supporters in the audience. You can pin the split vote directly on the committee co-chairs, Dan Zweig and Andrew Albert, who both sided against the plan. Post coming soon.
This project has the support of the BID, eight elected officials, and a large, highly committed grassroots campaign. It’s not going anywhere.
Ben, “It’s not going anywhere” is rather ambiguous. Do you mean that it’s happening, or that it’s dying?
The project has a lot of political support, despite the split committee vote. I don’t see how that will kill it.
A protected bike path with no loss of travel lanes at the cost of a mere 55 parking spaces over 20 blocks, and “this is not the right place and time to do it?” If not here and now, when and where are the right time and place?
Eric, the board members who suggested other places suggested:
- Columbus Ave from 110th to 96th, where it is (supposedly) less congested
- West End Ave
- Riverside Drive
So by their logic, we can proceed with tearing down all expressways within city limits; and when the motorists start crying, we can say, “What’s the matter? Can’t you just drive your cars somewhere else? I don’t know, like in New Jersey or something?”
Dan, in first-world democracies the environmental review process requires puts the burden of proof on the government, and maintains sensitivity to what the locals think.
And Jeff, I’d personally be down with tearing down the Henry Hudson. If you could get the local departments – not just the CBs but also DOT – to understand reduced demand, you might even convince them it’s a good idea. For example, you could promise Washington Heights residents that the freeway interchange mess south of the GWB could be turned into parkland or extra housing.
I don’t think there is an obvious answer as to what is the correct amount of local community involvement.
If you completely ignore CB’s, you run the risk of Robert Moses style projects that destroy neighborhoods, etc.
On the other hand, if you allow CB’s to veto any project then a vocal minority can prevent anythiing from getting done.
The relevant agencies (DOT, etc.) should formulate a city-wide plan (or region wide if applicable) — which I think they already have. They should then make the entire plan public, and allow individual CBs to have their say.
Objections should be considered in the context of the whole plan, so that if there is an alternate implementation favored by the local community that doesn’t materially change the city-wide implementation, it could be used. By the same token, unsupported NIMBY objections could be dismissed for the sake implementing the larger plan.
There is a book that was written recently called “Wrestling with Mosees – How Jane Jacobs Took On New York’s Master Builder and Transformed the American City,” by a Mr. Anthony Flint, that effectively serves as a parallel biography of both Moses and Jacobs (great for anyone too lazy to read Caro’s work!). But more pertinent to this discussion, Flint highlights how the anti-Moses backlash which vibrated through all facets of city planning in NYC have created a deadlock of NIMBYs for any improvement, and how to effectively move forward while preserving the past, we need to strike a happy medium.
A good example which he wraps up his book with is how after Jacobs’ death, Parks wanted to re-name a West Village playground after Mrs. Jacobs, but local neighborhood groups defeated the proposal, on the grounds that it might confuse their children. Now that, more than a name on a playground, is a true testament to Jacobs’ lasting legacy in NYC!
J:Lai: there’s another dimension to this discussion – namely, what tools CBs have to formulate alternative plans. When it comes to zoning, CBs can and do come up with 197a plans; their weakness is that they’re non-binding, so the city ignores them, but the actual process works well. The city could come up with a binding version of the process for streetscape improvements, such as bike lanes, bus-only lanes, loading zones, etc.
“This would have the biggest improvement to the quality of the public realm and to transportation funding of anything that could be done. We need a bold, visionary elected official who is willing to step up to the plate to push for this.”
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