Having endured heavy bombardment from East Village merchants, cabbies, and the anti-bike lane press, cyclists have rallied their forces and launched a daring counteroffensive. Not only are they insisting that the new dedicated bike lanes on First and Second Avenue remain in place, but they're also doubling down and demanding that the bike lanes be extended all the way up to 125th Street. Will the Bloomberg administration continue its policy of appeasement and let the cyclists
ride through Harlem?
Yesterday Transportation Alternatives delivered to Mayor Bloomberg a foot-high stack of 2,500 letters hand-written by cyclists and pedestrians, asking that the city follow through on plans for pedestrian islands and protected bike lanes on Manhattan's First and Second avenues. Up until the winter, the DOT was planning to install pedestrian islands and protected bike lanes all the way up to 125th Street. 19 elected officials threw their support behind protected bike and bus lanes for the length of the route, and every community board along the corridor supported the design.
But in June Bloomberg scaled back the bike lane part of the plan, and stopped construction of the lanes at the Maginot Line of 34th Street. (The bus-only lanes continue to 125th streets.) Transportation Alternatives director Paul Steely White says that if bike lanes are not to die on the vine, the city needs to revive them in the next six weeks, or they won't happen until after 2011. According to DOT data, between 1998 and 2008, nearly 4,900 pedestrians and cyclists were injured or killed on First and Second Avenues between Houston and 125th Streets, with 72% of those injuries and fatalities happening on the unfinished stretch between 34th and 125th streets.
At a protest at CIty Hall yesterday, City Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito told reporters, "It is unacceptable that my community in El Barrio/East Harlem is being excluded from these important transportation improvements on First and Second Avenues." And Sabrina Bishop, whose friend Bob Bowen was hit and killed by a truck while cycling on Second Avenue this summer, recalled how Bowen, a 45-year-old father of two, was run over by a flatbed truck at Second Avenue and 59th Street.