By Carla Zanoni
UPPER MANHATTAN — Pedestrians, car drivers and bike riders will get a chance to debate the introduction of new bike lanes in Inwood and Washington Heights when Community Board 12 holds a workshop in the spring.
Members of the Traffic and Transportation committee decided to put off a public hearing originally slated for January, saying it wants to be inclusive of the entire community, including older members who are more likely to attend then than in the "dead of winter."
The committee has been mulling a proposal from the Inwood/Washington Heights chapter of Livable Streets that calls for several changes to the Upper Manhattan biking landscape, but has said it wants to hear more community input before recommending a plan to the Department of Transportation.
The DOT said that because the bike lanes would not be implemented until 2012 anyway, the board's delay in submitting a recommendation would not make a difference.
The draft proposal presented in October calls for the extension of 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 group has an online petition asking for support of the plan and currently has 858 signatures.
Committee members and residents who attended the meeting were divided on the issue of bike lanes, but came together to agree that more education about the lanes are necessary for all residents.
"What are you doing for the education of everyone," Community Board 12 member Gloria Vanderpool asked members of the DOT who attended the meeting Monday night. "I see this as an important issue not only for bicyclists, but for all the people in the neighborhood."
Representatives from the DOT said they agreed that more education needs to occur in the community and said they would continue to work with the board to find ways to get the word out about current and future bike lane changes.
"We’ve developed a network expansion of 250 miles in four years," said Hayes Lord from the DOT. "We recognize that we have to start a broader dialogue with the community."