BY ALEJANDRA O’CONNELL-DOMENECH | An Upper West Sider condo board hasn’t put the brakes on the Central Park West protected bike lane yet.
On Wed., July 31, Streetsblog reported, Manhattan Supreme Court judge Lynn Kotler denied a motion filed by the board of Century Condominium, at 25 Central Park West and E. 63rd St., on July 30, that argued that the city did not do its due diligence when studying the bike lane’s impact and the resulting loss of parking spaces.
But the battle isn’t over. The Department of Transportation and the plaintiffs will return to court on Aug. 20, according to Curbed.
The Upper West Side’s Community Board 7 approved the northbound protected bike lane — which will run northbound from W. 59th St. to W. 110th St. — during a contentious July 2 meeting. Opponents of the bike lane were mostly residents upset by the fact that D.O.T. will need to remove 400 parking spaces from the eastern side of the avenue to accommodate the 6-foot-wide lane, plus a 7-foot-wide buffer zone.
The push for a protected Central Park West bike lane started in 2018 after the death of Madison Lyden, a 23-year-old Australian tourist who was forced to swerve her bike out of the existing unprotected bike lane and into oncoming traffic and was hit by a garbage truck. In the wake of Lyden’s death, Upper West Siders, bicycle safety activists, C.B. 7 and local politicians, including Assemblymember Richard Gottfried and Councilmember Helen Rosenthal, called on D.O.T. to create a two-way protected bike lane. In the end, D.O.T. decided a two-way lane would be problematic in its impacts on turning car traffic, and settled on a one-way protected bike lane as the best way to accommodate cyclists, drivers and buses.
“We are grateful for the judge’s decision today that will allow us to move forward with a design that will transform Central Park West this summer, and make our streets safer for everyone,” Polly Trottenberg, the Department of Transportation commissioner, said in a statement. “With so many lives being lost this year on our roadways, and with the broad support of the community, we are confident that we will ultimately prevail in our efforts to build this much-needed protected bike lane.”
Local politicians, cycling activists and some residents are eager for work to begin on the bike lane, in light of the alarming spike in cyclist deaths that have occurred in the city this year. So far, through seven and a half months this year, 18 people have died in cycling-related accidents, nearly twice as many as all of last year.
Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a state of emergency for bicycle safety in the city and subsequently announced the $58.4 million “Green Wave” plan to enhance bike safety. The plan calls for adding 30 miles of protected bike lanes every year, with the goal of reaching 80 miles by the end of 2021. In addition, 80 new staff members will be hired by the city to implement the plan and the Police Department will ramp up enforcement at 100 of the city’s most accident-prone intersections.