Tomorrow: Speak Up for Safer Streets on the Upper West Side

Tomorrow night, the transportation committee of Manhattan Community Board 7 will take public input on the possible expansion of protected bike lanes on the Upper West Side.

Traffic crashes and injuries dropped significantly after the installation of the Columbus Ave. protected lane. Photo: Civitas

On the agenda is a request from the board that DOT complete a proposal for protected lanes and other changes to the streetscape, including pedestrian islands, turning lanes and loading zones, on Amsterdam and Columbus Avenues from 59th Street to 110th Street.

The existing protected lane, on Columbus from 96th Street to 77th Street, was narrowly endorsed by CB 7 in 2010. Six months after its installation, traffic crashes were down by 34 percent, and the number of traffic injuries dropped by 27 percent, according to DOT.

Data collected by the city following the completion of the one-mile segment showed that, on the blocks of Columbus to the north and south of the bike lane, 29 percent of motorists were clocked speeding, while between eight and 17 percent of vehicles on the stretch of Columbus with the bike lane were found to be traveling faster than the 30 miles per hour speed limit.

The protected lane is also popular with residents, according to a survey conducted by City Council Member Gale Brewer. Safe streets proponents want protected bike lanes running north and south, and want those lanes to connect with existing protected lanes on Eighth and Ninth Avenues.

Nevertheless, a community board recommendation is no sure thing.

“For too long, the leaders of the transportation committee of Community Board 7 have neglected to protect residents and visitors on our streets,” said Lisa Sladkus, of the Upper West Side Streets Renaissance, in an email to Streetsblog. “Protected bike lanes protect ALL road users, including motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists. There are no excuses for not implementing them on many of our streets, connecting people to parks, work, school, and commerce. Yes, parking will be re-allocated for this change. As a community, we need to stand up for safety over the desire to park private vehicles on our public streets. Upper West Side residents deserve safer streets. Please help us in communicating this message to our appointed leaders of the transportation committee. They need to hear a unified and strong voice.”

Tomorrow’s meeting will be held at 250 W. 87th Street at 7 p.m.