Council Member Helen Rosenthal has come out strongly for a protected bike lane on Amsterdam Avenue, sending a letter to DOT this week asking for a plan to calm traffic and provide a northbound complement to the Columbus Avenue bike lane.
Upper West Side Council Member Helen Rosenthal. Photo: NYC Council
“We need to make Amsterdam Avenue safer for families, and that’s just what this street redesign would do. I’ve seen it work on Columbus Avenue,” Rosenthal told Streetsblog yesterday. “It’s something that’s important to me, for my district.”
What prompted the letter? “It’s something that I knew I wanted to do from comments I’ve heard throughout the years from residents along Amsterdam Avenue,” said Rosenthal, whose district stretches from 54th Street to 96th Street on the West Side. She was especially inspired by the recent release of an anti-reckless driving video from Families for Safe Streets and the Taxi and Limousine Commission.
Street safety advocates have spent years trying to bring protected bike lanes and pedestrian islands to Amsterdam Avenue.
Although DOT installed (and then expanded) a bike lane on Columbus Avenue in recent years, with another extension proposed earlier this year near Lincoln Center, Amsterdam Avenue remains unchanged.
Any street redesign plan must be sent to the community board for advisory review. The hitch: DOT is reluctant to act without community board support and CB 7 has a track record of stalling when it comes time to implement protected bike lanes. In particular, procedural maneuvering by its two longtime transportation committee chairs, Andrew Albert and Dan Zweig, has led to a pattern of stasis and inaction.
Rosenthal, herself a former CB 7 chair, now recommends board members for appointment as a council member. She is confident that CB 7 will quickly support a protected bike lane plan.
“At the end of the day, the community board is advisory. I’m always interested in hearing from the community board. They always have insights, kernels of truth. I’m sure they’ll have some idea of tweaking DOT’s plan,” Rosenthal said. “I’m sure they’ll have some tweaks here and there, but I’m sure this will sail through.”
Updated 2:58 p.m.: DOT says it is “reviewing possible safety enhancements” on Amsterdam Avenue and will work with Rosenthal and CB 7 to discuss next steps.