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Upper Manhattan Bike Lane Debate Delayed After Community Board Meeting Devolves Into Bickering

By Carla Zanoni | November 4, 2010 1:43pm
Cyclists ride in traffic on Dyckman Street.
Cyclists ride in traffic on Dyckman Street.
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DNAinfo/Carla Zanoni

By Carla Zanoni

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

UPPER MANHATTAN — Residents will have to wait to speak their minds on bike lanes in Inwood and Washington Heights after a "miscommunication" derailed a public discussion at a community board meeting this week.

Members of the Inwood/Washington Heights chapter of Livable Streets came to Community Board 12’s Traffic and Transportation committee meeting to voice support for the plan to increase and improve bike lanes in Manhattan above 155th Street.

But when the board said the members could not use a PowerPoint presentation in support of the plan, tempers flared.

"You do not have the right to show a presentation every time you come," committee member Jim Berlin said, referring to another the group had given in October.

Last week, board chair Pamela Palanque-North had said the committee meeting would include a public speaking portion on the agenda, but committee members said they were not ready to listen to public feedback.

"We had only planned to talk about when we would hold a public hearing," committee assistant chair, Rabbi Josef Kalinsky, said explaining there had been a miscommunication within the board.

Livable Streets first presented a plan with a petition from community members in favor of additional and revamped bike lanes.

The plan includes protected bike lanes on Dyckman Street, painted bike lanes on major cross streets, an expansion of the Hudson River Greenway and Croton Aqueduct path and a more direct path between the Greenway and George Washington Bridge.

"Protected lanes are good for riders, pedestrians and drivers," said Rita McKee, a member of Livable Streets.

"We are angry, because of the reception we have gotten from the board so far,” she added later.

"It seems we are not in the state emotionally to discuss this," committee chair George Nelson Preston said when the meeting devolved into bickering between residents and the board members. "It would be best to table the matter until we are of cooler minds."

The committee said it plans to discuss when to hold a public hearing regarding the matter at its next meeting on December 6.l

"I don't want this to drag on," Preston said. "I don't know why we can't hold something by January."