The DOT has bowed to pressure from motorists on Staten Island and is removing the bike lanes from a major roadway used by cyclists to get back and forth from the Staten Island Railway and the St. George Ferry Terminal. It's unusual for Bloomberg's DOT to roll back any change once it's implemented, so does this reversal suggest that anti-bike lane forces are gaining the upper hand in the city's grueling bike lane wars? The DOT has already declined to extend the east side bike lanes up to Harlem, as previously planned, and last year the Bloomberg administration abruptly removed 14 blocks of bike lane on Bedford Avenue as an election year sop to the local Jewish community. Now this!
"It’s a major step backwards," Staten Island attorney and avid cyclist John Luisi tells The Advance. "It’s sad, and to do it without input from the community is, in a word, arrogant. There’s a large non-cycling population on Staten Island that’s hostile to anything that slows them. [The DOT] is pandering to that constituency, and it’s going to make it more dangerous for everybody." Opponents of the bike lane, which is on Father Capodanno Boulevard, say bicyclists using the lanes interfere with traffic. Of course, city laws consider bicyclists part of traffic.
"I think this is a very good solution," says Borough President James Molinaro, who suggests cyclists use the nearby bike path and greenway. That alternative is certainly more scenic, but bicycle commuters complain that the meandering recreational bike path is often crowded with pedestrians, strollers and in-line skaters. And the bike lanes through Fort Wadsworth close at dusk, which means cyclists will be using Capodanno Boulevard after dark anyway, and without the meager protection offered by a bike lane.
"In a borough that is frequently denied the bike and pedestrian street safety improvements the Bloomberg administration has installed to make NYC's other boroughs safer, the removal of Father Capodanno is effectively a foreclosure on the right to safe cycling for Staten Islanders," Transportation Alternatives said in a statement. "The Bloomberg administration has apparently decided that the opposition of a few drivers and local political bosses can trump public process and the irrefutable evidence that bike lanes save lives and make streets safer for everyone. Bike lanes across NYC have proven to decrease crashes for cyclists, pedestrians and drivers up to 60%. Mayor Bloomberg’s public health efforts like the ban of smoking and trans fats are never the subject of backroom negotiation—safe street design should not be either: all are life saving measures."