BY ALEJANDRA O’CONNELL-DOMENECH| The Transportation Committee of the Upper West Side’s Community Board 7 approved a proposed northbound protected bike lane along Central Park West on June 10.
The Department of Transportation’s proposed bike lane would run north from W. 59th St. to W. 110th St. The plan would require the removal of 400 parking spaces along the eastern side of the avenue. The bike lane would be painted, bordered by the curb on its right, as well as by physical barriers separating it from traffic by 7 feet.
“This is a great step in the right direction,” said Howard Yaruss, C.B. 7 Transportation Committee chairperson
After Madison Jane Lyden, a 23-year-old Australian tourist, died after being forced to swerve her bike into oncoming traffic along the avenue in 2018, Upper West Siders, bicycle safety activists, C.B. 7 and local elected officials, including Assemblymember Richard Gottfried and Councilmember Helen Rosenthal, called on D.O.T. to create a two-way protected bike lane.
But D.O.T. Manhattan Borough Commission Edward Pincar; Director of Bicycle and Greenway Programs Ted Wright; and Senior Project Manager at the Bicycle and Greenway Program Nick Carey said that a southbound lane was not feasible. According to Wright, anticipating the movements of southbound cyclists in a second lane would be “too counterintuitive” for southbound drivers waiting for gaps in between northbound cars, bicycles and pedestrians in order to make left-hand turns. Designing a southbound lane that would also need to accommodate the 22 northbound bus stops along Central Park West would also be a challenging.
Attendees at the packed committee at the chapel in Congregation Rodeph Sholom were divided.
“There aren’t enough people using bikes to justify inconveniencing everyone,” said Upper West Sider Fern Arden. The 84th St. and Central Park West resident complained that traffic has worsened on neighboring Columbus Ave. since a southbound bike lane was installed 2010. She did not want to see the same thing happen on another major traffic vein. Other opponents were concerned about a cut to scarce parking space.
According an October 2018 count by D.O.T., 1,310 cyclists passed W. 66th St. and 1,540 passed W. 86th St. within a 12-hour period, qualifying Central Park West as a heavily used bike route. At the meeting, D.O.T representatives added that two-thirds of the cyclists counted were heading northbound.
According to D.O.T data, between 2013 and 2017, a total of 22 cyclists and pedestrians were severely injured on Central Park West between W. 59th St. and W. 110th St. And a total of 95 pedestrians and 94 cyclists have received some sort of injury along the avenue, based on the data. A total of 40 people have either been severely injured, or killed, at 96th St. and Central Park West.
Those in support of the bike lanes, were moved to do so to decrease the number injuries and stop another tragic death like Lyden’s.
“It’s not a matter of if there will be another Madison Lyden, it’s when” said Deputy Inspector Timothy Malin from the 20th Precinct, which responded to collision that killed the young Australian.
The proposed bike lane plan will be voted on again at C.B. 7’s next full-board meeting, in July. If the resolution passes, the earliest that D.O.T. could begin constructing the protected bike lane would be later this summer.