If you ever go to an Upper East Side community board meeting about bike lanes, bring some popcorn.
Last night, the Manhattan Community Board 8 transportation committee called the bluff of crosstown bike lane opponents. After a parade of people spoke against DOT’s plan to stripe bike lanes on their blocks, even though they support the general concept of bike lanes, the committee asked DOT to explore bike lanes on as many east-west streets as possible. This would spread the “burden” of bike lanes equally.
How many school children will die if DOT stripes crosstown bike lanes on the Upper East Side? Map: DOT
DOT’s plan calls for three pairs of east-west painted bike lanes: on 85th and 84th streets, 78th and 77th streets, and 67th and 68th streets [PDF
]. The only change on these streets would be the addition of some thermoplast to delineate space for cycling. After ruling out bolder ideas like a protected lane on 72nd Street
, DOT’s proposal is as tame as you can get
, with no impact on motor vehicle lanes or parking.
Nevertheless, the mere thought that more people might bike on these crosstown streets was too much for some people to bear.
For nearly two hours, a succession of building managers, block association presidents, school administrators, and even a hospital liaison ticked off their reasons why a simple painted bike lane won’t work on the streets where they live and work.
Denise Goodman, manager of community affairs at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, which is located on 67th Street between First and York, spoke on behalf of her hospital. “We are partners with the DOT, we support these bikes lanes, but really this is the wrong street,” she said. Later in the meeting, a number of administrators, staff, and parents from St. Ignatius Loyola School on 84th Street, including an assistant principal, claimed more bike traffic would put young students in jeopardy.
In one of the night’s more surreal moments, DOT Manhattan Borough Commissioner Margaret Forgione had to allay these fears. “We have been installing bike lanes for many years and we have not had instances of collisions with school children,” she said.