DOT Moves Ahead With Two Pairs of Upper East Side Bike Lanes

In July, DOT will install painted bikes lanes on 70th, 71st, 77th, and 78th Streets. Image: DOT
In July, DOT will paint bikes lanes on 70th, 71st, 77th, and 78th Streets. Image: DOT

With Manhattan Community Board 8 failing to agree on three pairs of Upper East Side crosstown bike lanes, DOT will go ahead with painted bike lanes on 70th/71st and 77th/78th streets early next month.

So concludes the year’s most ridiculous bike lane story, an epic drama that at one point outed Woody Allen as a full-on bike lane NIMBY.

Advocates had hoped for a protected lane on 72nd Street, but DOT signaled early on that it would only consider painted lanes. These bike lane pairs are just thermoplastic stripes designating space for cycling, without any changes to parking spots or car lanes.

Nevertheless, at meeting after meeting, people showed up in a panic about the possibility of bike lanes by their home, school, or workplace. Parents and administrators from schools on 84th and 85th streets, in particular, fretted over the purported threat to pedestrian safety, despite all evidence to the contrary.

Last month, the full board finally voted on three pairs approved by the transportation committee: 70th/71st, 77th/78th, and 84th/85th. CB 8 Chair Jim Clynes attempted to force separate votes on each pair, but the board ultimately rejected all three lanes in one fell swoop by a vote of 19 to 25 with one abstention.

While DOT is moving ahead with two pairs of bike lanes, the omission of the 84th/85th pair is telling. Without those streets, there will be no cross-town bike lanes between 78th Street and 90th Street.

Looking ahead, Citi Bike is just beginning to reach the northern sections of the neighborhood. Even CB 8 has called for a long-term bike plan that uses “the safest appropriate design.” Bike advocates on the Upper East Side coalesced over this project, and soon enough they’ll be asking for more.