By Carla Zanoni
UPPER MANHATTAN — A proposal to improve bike lanes in Inwood and Washington Heights received a "hostile reception" earlier this week from Community Board 12.
CB12's Traffic and Transportation committee said they wanted more community input before recommending the plan to the Department of Transportation, despite the proposal receiving 378 signatures of support on a web petition as of Thursday.
The plan, drafted by the Inwood/Washington Heights chapter of Livable Streets, calls for several changes to the Upper Manhattan biking landscape, including extending the Greenway path along the Hudson River to the northern tip of Manhattan, adding additional bike lanes throughout Inwood and Washington Heights and making the the bike lane on Dyckman Street protected, so riders won't be forced to bike in traffic due to double-parked cars and congestion.
"The committee decided it could not make a recommendation before it gets more feedback by others affected by the proposal," CB12 chair Pamela Palanque-North said, adding that the board will hold a public hearing on the matter during its upcoming Traffic and Transportation committee meeting Nov. 1 at 7 p.m.
Rita McKee, a representative of Livable Streets and a former member of CB12's Traffic and Transportation committee, said she was disappointed in the board's reaction and called the current committee members overwhelmingly anti-cyclist.
"The reaction was a non-reaction," she said. "We did not get the feeling that the members of the committee were committed to the protection of cyclists through protected lanes."
Brad Conover, another member of Livable Streets, said "it was quite a hostile response" and added that members of the committee have been known to have had negative run-ins with bicyclists.
"For members of the community board who have had a scary moment with bikes passing them, the sense is that they would be rewarding those bikers [if they added and improved bike lanes]," Conover said.
"They think by denying protected bike lanes they will be discouraging bikers from that behavior. There really needs to be a paradigm shift," he added.
The Department of Transportation said it is open to implementing changes to the Northern Manhattan landscape after it hears from CB12.
"DOT is committed to expanding New York City's bicycle infrastructure and we will continue to work with local communities to gather input on possible additions to the bike network," Monty Dean, a spokesman for the Transportation Department, wrote in an email.