CB 7 to DOT: Unprotected Bike Lanes Still Not Good Enough for 110th Street

In June, Manhattan CB 7 rejected a DOT plan for painted bike lanes on 110th Street because it lacked physical protection. Last night, the agency came back with the same plan.

DOT says this is the best it can do for safety on 110th Street. Image: DOT
DOT says this is the best it can do for safety on 110th Street. Image: DOT

For the second time this year, DOT came to Manhattan Community Board 7 with a redesign of 110th Street that doesn’t include protected bike lanes. And for the second time, board members told DOT to go back to the drawing board.

In June, DOT presented a plan to the CB 7 transportation committee for painted bike lanes on 110th west of Central Park. The committee asked DOT to come back with a plan for protected bike lanes instead. But last night, the agency presented more or less the exact same plan [PDF].

Board members were not pleased. “We sent it back to you because the painted lanes we viewed as insufficient,” committee co-chair Howard Yaruss told DOT bike planner Patrick Kennedy. “I think we’re very disappointed because we saw this presentation and we asked you to come up with a more protected plan, and we expected you to come back with a protected plan. You caught us totally by surprise to show up tonight with the exact same plan.”

In public testimony, local resident Willow Stelzer said, “There’s a real false sense of security being on a painted bike lane.” She urged the committee to reject DOT’s design “until a proper plan can be made.”

Kennedy said protected bike lanes would be difficult to engineer on 110th Street because of bus stops and curb extensions at intersections. “It’s a very short corridor with several different impediments to having a protected bike lane,” he said. “This is something we looked at. We definitely tried to figure out a way to do it.”

Kennedy did not rule out a protected bike lane design but said DOT would need a year to work on it. “With time, we can come up with a proposal that addresses some of your concerns,” he said, “but that’s not something we can do before the spring,” when a painted lane could be striped.

Board members said they want to get the design right the first time.

“I think getting it right is better than getting it fast,” said committee co-chair Andrew Albert. “If you put something down, and you have a [subsequent] major improvement envisioned, and all the [community] boards support that, you then have to reeducate. I think people could get really angry at the first thing you do, and not be in favor of the next thing you want to do.”

Echoing its message at the June meeting, the committee passed a resolution calling on DOT to come back with a plan that improves safety the most, as quickly as possible.