Getting a protected bike lane on NYC’s Amsterdam Avenue was an epic struggle. This year, safe streets finally won.
Amsterdam Avenue is a neighborhood street on the Upper West Side, but it was designed like a highway with several lanes of one-way motor vehicle traffic. Local residents campaigned for nearly ten years to repurpose one of those lanes to make way for a parking-protected bike lane and pedestrian islands. They kept butting up against a few stubborn opponents of the street redesign on Community Board 7 (for viewers outside NYC, community boards are appointed bodies that weigh in on street redesigns, among other neighborhood changes).
Fed up with the dangerous conditions on Amsterdam, residents ramped up the activism. They staged silent protests and neighborhood actions to publicly shame the community board members stalling the redesign. Their efforts were rewarded earlier this year when CB 7 voted in favor of DOT’s plan for a protected bike lane on Amsterdam Avenue from 72nd Street to 110th Street. Although not fully built yet — 14 more blocks above 96th Street are still to come — the project has changed the feel of the street dramatically.
It was a hard-earned victory, and yesterday people who fought for a safer Amsterdam celebrated with a ride down the new bike lane. Here’s a look at the ride — a sight we should see many times again as advocates organize for more space for safe biking and walking throughout NYC.