The City Council passed legislation yesterday requiring the DOT to notify Community Boards whenever it plans to install bike lanes. Some cycling advocates view the legislation as superfluous red tape, because it's been standard practice for the DOT to hold CB hearings prior to the installation of most bike lanes. "It's bizarre that bike lanes alone would be singled out for extra requirements," says Transportation Alternatives' spokesman Michael Murphy. "That implies political considerations are being prioritized over safety."
The new law will require the DOT to notify the appropriate Community Board 90 days before work on a bike lane begins, and to make a presentation if so requested. "I don't think it's anti-bike to make sure that local neighborhoods have input as to where bike lanes go," City Councilman James Vacca told NY 1. But another Transportation Alternatives rep, Caroline Samponaro, counters, "By singling out bike lanes and burdening the community board with an additional meeting that isn't doing anything different than the other meetings that happen, we see it as a way to just slow down safety improvements."
However, the DOT supported the bill, which, according to a city spokesman, simply "codifies what has been standard practice and has already brought community supported projects citywide. Projects like Prospect Park West, Columbus Avenue, 1st and 2nd avenues and others in fact exceeded the bill’s requirements, with community board requests, open houses, supporting resolutions and widespread elected support."
But enough with the informed opinions! NY1 got some classic quotes from residents on the Upper West Side, where the Columbus Avenue bike lane has been criticized. "For the past couple years, I slowly see them come out of nowhere," observed one unidentified local. "Like one day I see a bike lane." Another man on the street opined, "The way it is right now, the economy is not too good. So we don't have too many business [sic], and they don't stop like they did before because before we used to have more parking available." (In response to community feedback, the DOT added more parking/loading zones.)
The best quote, perhaps, comes from another area resident who says, "Sometimes if you're a driver, sometimes if I'm driving, it's a little confusing when the road is divided." Yeah, why can't the DOT keep it simple and just get rid of all these confusing lines in the road?