All Eyes on DOT After CB 7 Endorses Amsterdam Ave Protected Bike Lane

Will the third time be the charm? Manhattan Community Board 7 has overwhelmingly voted — again — to ask the city for a northbound protected bike lane as part of a redesign of Amsterdam Avenue on the Upper West Side. DOT will have to move forward on a redesign very soon to get a complement to the southbound protected bike lane on Columbus Avenue in place by the time Citi Bike debuts in the neighborhood, which is expected sometime later this year.

It's time to act, DOT. Photo: birdfarm/Flickr
It’s time for DOT to act. Photo: birdfarm/Flickr

Last night, in a 34-5 vote with one abstention, the full board passed a resolution calling on DOT to “immediately” install safety improvements including “pedestrian refuges, curb extensions, signal timing, and a protected northbound bike lane on Amsterdam Avenue.” If for some reason DOT determines that a northbound bike lane isn’t feasible on Amsterdam, CB 7 is asking the agency to install a northbound lane elsewhere in the neighborhood [PDF].

The CB 7 transportation committee unanimously endorsed the request last month.

Last night’s vote was actually the board’s third request for a northbound protected bike lane. CB 7 first asked DOT to design protected bike lanes for Amsterdam in 2009. But during years of haggling with CB 7 transportation committee leadership over the installation of a protected bike lane on Columbus Avenue, plans for Amsterdam stalled. The community board approved another resolution at the end of 2013 asking DOT to “study” a protected bike lane for Amsterdam, a vote that prompted no visible action from the agency.

The pressure on DOT to act from local advocates, officials, and now the community board is intensifying. Council Member Helen Rosenthal endorsed a protected bike lane on Amsterdam in April, and now the board has said loud and clear that a protected bike lane on Amsterdam is a priority.

One board member worried last night that a protected bike lane on Amsterdam could cause traffic congestion, according to people at the meeting. Another objected to the strong wording of the resolution, which went above and beyond the 2013 resolution, requesting immediate action by DOT. In the end, an overwhelming majority of the board, including transportation committee co-chairs Andrew Albert and Dan Zweig, voted for the resolution.

“I think most people see Citi Bike coming. When people say, ‘How do we go north on the Upper West Side?’ we have to have an answer,” said transportation committee member Howard Yaruss. “You have to have a place for them to go.”

Streetsblog has asked DOT when it will come forward with a redesign for Amsterdam Avenue. We have yet to receive a response.

Update 3:25 p.m.: DOT says it is continuing to review possible safety enhancements along Amsterdam Avenue.