In an emotional Community Board 7 meeting where multiple people spoke about losing loved ones to bike accidents in New York City, CB7’s Transportation Committee passed a resolution on Tuesday requesting a plan from the Department of Transportation to create a network of fully protected east-to-west bike lanes for all ages and abilities between 60th and 110th streets. The Transportation Committee voted 9 in favor with 2 opposed and 1 abstained on the resolution.
“I’m a CB7 resident for almost 40 years,” said Andrew Rosenthal during the public input portion of the meeting. A bike and automobile owner, Rosenthal also frequently attends CB7 meetings. “I was here in November when this virtually same resolution was presented and then kicked down the road to a joint Parks Committee and then kicked down the road again, and now here we are. Since we first met in November, there have been three people who have died in traffic fatalities within CB7 and 114 seriously injured.” Rosenthal called on the committee to pass the resolution, saying “Let’s start being proactive about protecting the lives of residents of CB7. We have failed in that duty. The five-month delay has caused us three valuable human beings. Please don’t fail again tonight and vote for this resolution.”
Upper West Side resident Dustin Levine pointed to statistics from the New York City DOT, saying “There’s been a 20% increase of community ridership from 2016 to 2021. And since 73% of households in Manhattan’s CB7 do not even own a car, especially since it’s a matter of life and death rather than just convenience, I think it’s very important to have the separate bike lanes.” Levine also cited a 2019 study by the University of Colorado which he claimed is the “most comprehensive study of bicycle and road safety to date,” saying it found that “building safe facilities for cyclists is one of the biggest factors in road safety for everyone.” Levine emphasized that building infrastructure, specifically protected bike lanes leads to fewer fatalities and better road safety for all road users, not just bicyclists.
The vast majority of community members agreed the time has come for building safe, protected bike infrastructure to connect the CB7 district with the rest of the city. Rachel Grosso, a new Upper West Side resident who works as an active transportation planner on the local, state and federal levels across the country, said this initiative “is of the utmost importance for our health, for our safety, for the climate resilience and for our economy.”
Sandra Voss, a member of Families For Safe Streets, spoke on behalf of her brother who died while riding his bike in 2020. “The fact is that the longer we wait, the more preventable deaths and injuries will occur.”
A resident of the Community Board 8 district, Nick Ross shared that his girlfriend Carling Mott was killed while riding her bike to work, traveling crosstown on East 85th Street in July 2022. “She was the light of my life and the lives of so many who had the good fortune to know her.” Ross noted that CB8 had previously rejected a proposal that would have placed a bike lane on the very street that Carling was riding before urging CB7 to pass the resolution. “We can always quibble later about specifics of where these lanes go, how they’re constructed, and all the minutiae.”
Community Board 7 member Erana Stennett took issue with the lack of pedestrian safety being discussed during the meeting. “Currently on the avenues, cyclists don’t stop for pedestrians. In fact, they don’t stop for pedestrians in Central Park, which is why the drive study is underway.” Stennett felt it was important to talk about traffic safety and regulation of cyclists and moving vehicles so the people who do not ride bikes or drive cars can “actually circulate and move across the community safely without being concerned about getting hit by a car or bicycle.”
Fellow CB7 member Sara Lind responded to Stennett’s statement, saying that “If no one talks about pedestrian safety I guess it’s probably because this is specifically a resolution directed at bicyclist safety, but just to put it out there, we’re all pedestrians. I think pedestrian safety is a top concern for everyone here, certainly for me as my kids walk to school alone now and I’m always concerned for their safety as pedestrians.” Lind expressed distaste at seeing pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers being pitted against each other while pointing out that there’s no guarantee any parking spaces would be lost in the proposed DOT plan if the board approved the resolution.
“It’s impossible,” said CB7 member Jay Adolf in reference to not losing any parking spaces for the proposed plan. “That essentially means two lanes to park, one protected bike lane and one lane where cars can actually move. It’s impossible to do that on side streets; it would be a disastrous mess.” Adolf claimed the nature of protected bike lanes would “require the loss of hundreds, if not more” parking spaces in the district.
Non-committee members voted 1 in favor with 3 opposed and 1 abstained for the resolution, which states, “This resolution requests a plan and proposal for the creation of a network of east-west protected bike lanes within CB7’s District. The proposal to install east-west protected bike lanes is limited to the mapped streets on the Upper West Side. It is not intended to address any actual or potential roads, paths or other routes in or through any mapped public parks in or adjacent to Community District 7/Manhattan (such as Central, Riverside, Dante, Verdi Square, Theodore Roosevelt or Straus Parks).”
A full Community Board 7 meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, April 4 for a final vote on the resolution. The public is welcome to attend to voice their input.
Another example of how CB7 doesn’t care about pedestrian safety.
Sara Lind is an employee of the bike lobby. Paid to make policy for the “Open Streets” conglomerate funded by an anti-car millionaire whose business ethics make donald trump look pristine (at least 200 million in fines and settlements for such as stock manipulation and copyright infringement since 2010). Yet she’s not barred from voting?
Others on this committee are activists in the anti-car group Transportation Alternatives, which is funded by the same millionaire and by both Uber and Lyft, who want people forced into using their cars.
And the “community speakers” include nonresidents who just show up on zoom and lie about where they live.