Manhattan's Community Board 7 probably had no idea what it was getting into when it asked the DOT to present a plan for bike lanes on Columbus Avenue between 77th and 96th Streets. The bike lane wars have previously torn apart Williamsburg, Park Slope, and Soho, and now the Upper West Side is getting its taste of the hot hell that is municipal transportation planning. What's funny about this latest
bloodbath dispute is that the same people who requested the DOT's proposal are the ones now fighting against it!
Although the full board asked the DOT to provide the bike lane plan [pdf], last night the board's transportation committee voted 5-5 to reject it. The DOT's proposal would resemble the parking-protected bicycle path already in effect on roads like Ninth Avenue and Grand Street, and over 100 people packed the hearing room to voice their support... people like 12-year-old Clark Vaccaro, who bikes to school down Columbus Avenue every day. "The proposed cycle track will allow me to bike to school without getting into confrontations with the motorists,” Clark said, according to the Westside Independent.
But the committee chairmen ultimately decided that this part of Columbus is just too congested for the bike path. "I don’t believe this area is the right area for this bike lane,” Albert said. "The delivery problems we’ve heard are probably just the tip of the iceberg. You’re trying to jam something in a corridor that’s extremely crowded." However, as Streetsblog points out in a thorough takedown, the DOT plan does not eliminate any traffic lanes. (It would take away 55 parking spaces.) The space for the bike path and pedestrian islands comes from narrowing the wide moving and parking lanes on Columbus Avenue.
Someday this bike lane war's gonna end, but not yet. The proposal will still be voted on by the full community board, whose role is only advisory anyway.