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Bike Lane Backlash on Grand Street: Councilman Blasts DOT

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It's been a while since we checked in on community dissatisfaction with the DOT's changes to Grand Street in Manhattan, and we're not surprised to see the opposition still hates the new configuration, which provides a dedicated lane for cyclists, separated from traffic by a row of parked cars and pedestrian islands at some intersections. On Monday night City Councilmember Alan Gerson held a public forum on traffic and parking problems in the neighborhood, and accused the DOT of turning "a deaf ear to community concerns. Traffic on Grand Street is worse. Pedestrian crossings are more dangerous. Critical turns for the Fire Department, ambulances and police have become difficult."

You'll recall that last December the Soho Alliance sent us a video depicting a truck driver who got stuck turning from West Broadway onto Grand Street because he mistook the parked cars for idling traffic. Business owners along Grand Street say the bike lanes have made truck deliveries onerous, and one building manager says, "I’ve seen fire engines tied up at Pitt Street." And then there are those cyclists. The Villager reports that forum attendees complained about reckless bike riders along the Grand Street lane, and one resident declared, "It’s time the city licensed bikes so they can track offenders."

Gerson and others want the DOT to consider revising the traffic configuration, and though a compromise is being hammered out over the controversial Kent Ave bike lane in Williamsburg, it's unclear what the DOT will do to appease Grand Street opponents. Asked about the ongoing objections, Wiley Norvell at Transportation Alternatives tells us, "When it comes to traffic afflictions, downtown has it all, from thousands of illegally parked government vehicles, to trucks, to bridge and tunnel congestion. One of the best ways to untangle that morass is to make biking and walking safer, and bike lanes and pedestrian refuges are doing just that." According to The Lo-Down, Gerson says he'll hold another town hall meeting on May 19th.

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