Proponents of protected bike lanes scored a major win at the CB7 Transportation Committee meeting earlier this week, as they unanimously passed a resolution for crosstown bidirectional bike lanes on 72nd Street, Streetsblog first reported.
For some, this news is long overdue. The city has witnessed many tragic accidents that resulted in the deaths of bikers, including the recent death of a beloved NYC pediatrician while he was biking to work. Streetsblog cites statistics that there “were a total of 169 crashes, causing 36 injuries, including to eight cyclists and 17 pedestrians” since June 2018.
Some argue that street space is more cramped than ever and do not want to see more space given to bike lanes. For example, restaurants are now using more space on the streets, reducing what little walking space there was before. The committee noted the importance of supporting restaurants during this challenging time, but did discuss that space usage was becoming an issue.
Committee and community members have been outspoken about concerns over lost parking space and risks pedestrians face from cyclists. Upper West Sider Sharon says “I already feel that space is so limited on the sidewalks and streets. Adding more bike lanes is just adding more risks for me as I try to walk to the store.” 72nd Street is of particular concern because of the double parked cars. Some residents wonder what enforcement will look like to keep all parties safe.
Despite concerns, community and city officials are making plans to embrace bike lanes. Streetopia writer, Lisa Orman, told Streetsblog she hopes to see the bike lines extend to the east side. According to the DOT, there has been a 60 percent increase in bike usage in the past month for those looking to cross town on the weekends. This is expected to increase as work and school opens back up.
Local advocacy groups such as Streetopia have been outspoken about the need for more bike lanes. As we reported back in January, the group held a meeting to engage the community and plan how to engage CB7 about getting crosstown in a safe manner, among other issues. Streetopia led the charge by polling the community about which street would be the most popular option, and 72nd Street was the winner.
There is a long way to go before the paths get built because CB7 needs to coordinate closely with the Department of Transportation, but we will keep you posted as things develop.
NYC first implemented bike lanes in 1978. The first lanes in NYC included “the southbound lane traveled on Broadway between Central Park South and 23rd Street, then Fifth Avenue to Washington Square (3 miles), and the northbound lane went up Sixth Avenue between 8th Street and Central Park South (2.5 miles).”
Biking in NYC has been a fixture since the late 19th century and has gone through many cycles of rules and regulations. Over the decades, biking has also been at the center of problem solving discussions for city officials.
The NYC’s Parks Department has been trying to find biking solutions in Riverside Park since 1875. When the park expanded in 1930, they were finally able to create space along the Hudson River to accommodate bikes, but there were still gaps that needed to be filled. “For more than seventy years, however, one of the only missing links on the west side existed in a section of Riverside Park from 83rd to 91st Street,” states their website. It took until 2007 and $13.3 million to finally build a fix to the problem.