CB 8 Committee Warms to Bike-Share, Sets Aside Bike Licenses

Manhattan Community Board 8 has a checkered history when it comes to bike-friendly policies. In the past few years, the Upper East Side CB voted repeatedly to support protected bike lanes, but also put out resolutions drenched with anti-bike vitriol on more than one occasion (most recently this June, when the subject was establishing shared bike-ped paths across Central Park).

Last night the board’s transportation committee heard from NYC DOT about the city’s bike-share plans, and apparently it was a drama-free affair.

Streetsblog reader Steve Vaccaro (also our attorney in the FOIL case seeking documents from opponents of the PPW bike lane) sends this recap:

On bike-share, a CB8 member who adamantly opposed the proposal for cross-park shared bike/ped paths four months ago expressed no hostility, asking if the bikes would have enough cargo room for all her things, and if DOT would consider including three-wheelers in the bike-share program to better accommodate seniors.

The co-chair of the transpo committee, Jonathan Horn, who also opposed the cross-park bike path reso at the full board, expressed no opposition to bike-share and helped explain that the CB would have an opportunity to select exactly where the stations would go, subject to the DOT’s overall density requirements and safety restrictions.

Only one community member, a woman with a canvas bag on which was scrawled “Enforce the Bike Laws,” spoke against the bike-share program. She claimed that seniors would not able to use the bikes and therefore that they were “excluded” from the program. DOT’s Jon Orcutt explained that this was inaccurate.

The presentation by a representative of the Stuart C. Gruskin foundation on the “5 to Ride” education/pledge campaign for commercial cyclists was well received.

The committee then took up a proposal on electric-assisted bicycles, or “e-bikes.” Statements from NYPD and the State DMV were distributed to demonstrate that most if not all e-bikes cannot legally be operated on NYC streets. A proposal was discussed under which businesses seeking a cafe license would have their applications recommended to be approved by the CB only if they agreed not to use e-bikes to deliver food. This proposal passed after thoughtful discussion.

Finally, the committee took up the issue of whether insurance, registration and licenses would be required of commercial delivery cyclists. This issue had been referred to the committee by the full board, after the full board rejected the committee’s proposal last month to require these things of all cyclists (commercial, recreational, and others). The committee chairs seemed to understand that the proposal for commercial cyclists was largely redundant with the rules that already apply to them — something stressed by opponents of the broader blanket reso that had been rejected the preceding month — and after some discussion, decided to table the issue until January.

This is significant, because several members of the Transportation Committee have for years said that licensure and insurance for cyclists was their #1 priority in the area of cycling.