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Manhattan community board calls for safer crosstown Central Park streets

Manhattan Community Board 7 member Rich Robbins share's his thoughts on a resolution calling for safer bike paths and streets across Central Park. (Photo by Chriss Williams)

BY CHRISS WILLIAMS

Weeks after a renowned doctor was run down by a school bus driver near the 96th Street Traverse in Central Park, members of an Upper West Side community board are calling on the Department of Transportation (DOT) to make the traverses safer for cyclists and pedestrians.  

Community Board 7’s Transportation and Park and Environmental Committees passed a joint resolution last week demanding “short-term” action such as visible signs indicating where cyclists can and cannot go throughout the park. They also want the NYPD to better enforce the speed limit for cars driving on the park’s four traverses.

The board also seeks the creation of a cross-agency task force to examine the situation and provide Board 7 with a list of possible solutions by March to improve safety on the Park’s bike paths and traverses. 

Before the joint committee meeting began, residents and activists asked for a moment of silence for Dr. Daniel Cammerman, an Upper East Side pediatrician who became the 29th cyclist to to be killed on the city’s streets last year.

While biking across Central Park’s 96th Traverse on Dec. 18, Cammerman was fatally hit by a school bus after skidding across a patch of ice into the westbound lane. Last week’s board meeting was held, in part, due to his death. 

“I’m thankful that you are here tonight, but I am angry,” said Andy Rosenthal, holding a large photo of Cammerman. Rosenthal told CB7 that he attended a parks committee meeting 10 years ago discussing the same issues.

“It’s nice that we are all here but let’s not screw up like the last time, before somebody else or many [others] die. We should be able to fix this,” Rosenthal added. 

Currently, the 96th Street Traverse, which lacks a bike lane, is the only direct way that Upper West Side cyclists have to travel across the park. Some residents at the meeting asked not only for better accommodations on the traverse for bicyclists, but also additional bike paths throughout the park.

There are only three entrances for bicyclists to the 2.5 mile-long park’s looping bike-path: at 72nd, 97th and 109th Streets.

“These paths are pathetic,” said Lisa Orman, director of Streetopia Upper West Side. 

Transportation Committee Chairman Howard Yaruss asked DOT community liaison Colleen Chattergoon if any work had been done to address safety concerns along the bike paths and traverses.

“There is a clear need to start thinking about it, just like how we started working with the community board to think about the protected bike lanes in Central Park West,” Chattergoon responded.

Board 7 had pushed for protected bike lane along the park’s western border in 2018 after 23-year-old Australian tourist Madison Jane Lyden was was forced to swerve out of the bike lane and was hit by a truck driver. Chattergoon confirmed that the DOT has begun to look at ways to make streets safer and sought feedback from the board and community.  

Committee member Jay Adolf applauded the Board 7 resolution’s passage, but noted that while the city has become more bike-friendly over the years, “they should have been all along dealing with other transportation related problems.”

The full-board will vote on the resolution at their next meeting scheduled for Feb. 4. 

The Villager