Late last month, the board of the Century Condominium on the Upper West Side filed a lawsuit claiming that the city's plan to install a protected bike lane on Central Park West was made without the proper environmental and community approval process. Now, a resident of that same condo has filed a motion to get the suit tossed on the grounds that the board overstepped its own authority by bringing litigation in the first place.
In a memo presented last week, Kenneth Squire, a 53-year-old resident of the 25 Central Park West building, alleged the condo board's lawsuit "came as a complete surprise to the residents and unit owners of the Century Condominium," in part because the board's rules prohibit it from getting involved in such legal matters.
After learning about the suit in the press, Squire says he’s repeatedly raised objections with the building's manager, Eric Lyons, and president of the board, Cliff Eisler. So far, they have refused his request to gauge support for the bike lanes within the building, declining to present even a single person who backed the lawsuit, according to the motion.
Squire also alleges that the anti-bike lane lawsuit hurts the condo's overall reputation, "as it portrayed residents as caring more about parking spots than the safety of bikers and the community."
In a FAQ distributed to condo residents, the board claimed that the new infrastructure would turn Central Park West into a "bike speedway" full of "joy-riding speedsters."
The city is already in the process of installing the protected bike lane, which will run north between 59th Street and 110th Street, replacing roughly 400 parking spots. The plan was approved overwhelmingly by the local community board earlier this summer, with many local residents citing the death of 23-year-old cyclist Madison Lyden as the project's catalyst.
The lawsuit's attempt to secure a temporary restraining order against the installation was promptly rejected by a judge last month, but the legal battle has nevertheless continued.
Bonnie Eisler—one of the suit's named plaintiffs, and wife of the board's president—told Gothamist on Monday that the motion is "baseless" because "the board has absolute authority."
She went on to suggest that Squire "may have a conflict of interest, maybe he has an interest in bicycles or Citi Bikes," though she declined to provide evidence for the claim.
The 62-year-old resident, who suffers from multiple sclerosis and uses a service dog, also claimed that the lawsuit was not about parking, but about safety. "I have never felt that I was being threatened by a car—bikes pose a much bigger threat," she told Gothamist. "There's a small mafia of these bike people who don’t care about anyone else."
Central Park West has long been one of Manhattan's most dangerous corridors. According to city data, at least a dozen cyclists and pedestrians were killed or severely injured by drivers on the street between 2013 and 2018.
Studies have shown that injuries to cyclists, pedestrians, and drivers all drop after a protected bike lane is installed.
Neither Squire nor the attorneys for the condo board could be reached for comment.