Neighbors clash on planned Kips Bay bike lane

A man who came to a recent Community Board 6 meeting on the proposed protected bike lane for Kips Bay was one of numerous meeting attendees who said it was sorely needed. Others expressed concern about the loss of parking. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Community Board 6’s transportation committee this Monday voted in favor of a resolution supporting the Department of Transportation’s proposal to install bike lanes on 26th and 29th Streets.

Community Board 5, which covers the western portion of the streets, had a much more contentious meeting last week on the proposal in which a vote was delayed because of disagreements about the removal of parking spaces.

While Community Board 6 members were not enthusiastic about the loss of parking either, the members ultimately voted to support the plan in a 9 to 2 vote.

Board member Fred Arcaro was one of those who voted against the proposal.

“It feels like you’re trying to put too much into a narrow street,” he said.

Public member Bob Cohen was also hesitant about the plan because of the loss of parking.

“Have you contacted all the New York residents about how they feel about losing their parking?” he asked DOT officials.

Representatives at the meeting responded that the presentations to the community boards are actually one of the ways that the agency is getting feedback on the proposal and DOT is taking those comments into consideration.

Board member Andrew Gross said that he is one resident who might be affected by the loss of parking since he drives but he said that he was willing to make the sacrifice because cycling is increasing in the city.

“I’m bothered by losing these parking spaces as a driver but I also feel a sense of responsibility to protect the well-being of people who bike,” he said, explaining his support for the plan.

Ted Wright, the DOT Bicycle Program Director, explained at the meeting that there were a few reasons for specifically choosing 26th and 29th Streets for the crosstown lanes.

Ted Wright, DOT Bicycle Program director

Wright said that one of the reasons is that both streets connect directly to the Hudson River Greenway and neither street conflicts with the DOT’s congestion management plan. Wright also noted that 34 feet is the ideal amount of space for a street with a protected bike lane and although not all of the blocks on 26th and 29th have this “magic number,” he said that they are the streets with the highest number of crosstown blocks with that width.

Jeanette Jones, a disabled resident who lives on East 26th Street between First and Second Avenue, said she was concerned about the loss of parking, especially since parking for the new micro-unit building on Carmel Place took away some of the parking on her block.

“I can’t afford to pay more for parking than I do for rent,” she said of the alternative options. “I’m from Copenhagen and I’m glad you’re putting them in but not at the expense of disabled residents who need access to cars.”

A number of other attendees at the meeting, however, expressed support for the proposal and around 20 people came to the meeting specifically to speak in favor of the plan.

George Calderado, a resident of East 28th Street between Lexington and Third Avenues, said that he is a daily bike rider but cycling in his neighborhood has been hazardous without protected bike lanes.

“I’ve been pushed from the painted bike lane into traffic on East 29th Street,” he said. “Bike lanes don’t increase congestion. It’s Uber and other for-hire vehicles that increase congestion.”

Another neighbor, James Miller, who said that he bikes often, said that the lack of bike lanes is dangerous for cyclists and that he supports the DOT’s plan.

“This is what it’s like for bike riders everywhere in Manhattan,” Miller said, pointing to a slide in the DOT’s presentation showing a cyclist in a narrow space between a truck and parked car. “This is a real safety issue. People’s lives are at stake.”

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7 thoughts on “Neighbors clash on planned Kips Bay bike lane

  1. They need to install protected pedestrian lanes since the NYPD does not give a rats ass about pedestrians who are under siege by all the bike scofflaws.

        • It’s true that it’s dangerous when a person using a bicycle decides to take the sidewalk when people are using it.

          But this statement is not even remotely true, it’s illogical, it’s unfair, and it doesn’t help advance the discussion of how we need to address the issue of people getting killed by reckless drivers, by far the biggest traffic danger.

  2. I just find it awfully strange that not one unreserved proponent of the plan on CB6 was interviewed for this piece. Are our opinions considered unreliable? A man riding a bicycle was injured severely & nearly killed by a truck on W29th that very evening. You don’t have to be a bike-loving car-hating anarchist to see how these incidents should be prevented.

  3. It’s even more dangerous when bicycles just blow through red lights as if they don’t exist. Which occurs millions of times more than “the issue of people getting killed by reckless drivers”. I only know of one recent local death in the east village in which the driver was cleared as the cyclist never stopped for the red light.

  4. As someone who considers them self to be an extreme bike enthusiast, I have to agree with Slash in a way. I bike everywhere I go, and I also collect data for biking studies. For the most part, bikers do not do themselves any favors in terms of promoting safe biking.

    In a data collection of over 20,000 samples, 92.3% of bikers were not following the rules of the road, plain and simple. In 250 accident follow ups, it was determined by eyewitnesses that in 231 of those accidents the biker was in the wrong.

    As a biking proponent, I personally stop people flaunting their “rights” as a cyclist, and I get nothing remotely respectful, And until the entitled biker sentiment goes away I do not expect change.

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