By Jill Colvin
CITY HALL— Bike lane advocates and their critics continued to face off as the escalating war over bike lanes made its way to the City Council Thursday, and inspired a borough president to break into song.
"While there are inevitable growing pains as cycling moves from the margins to the mainstream, its growth in New York is already delivering substantial safety, mobility and health dividends," Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan said in testimony delivered at the hearing.
The city added 200 miles of bike lanes between 2007 and 2009 and intends to add hundreds more.
But opponents disagree. Throughout the hearing, many described the city's efforts to install hundreds of miles of new lanes as an attack on drivers. They complained the lanes are rarely used but eat up valuable parking spots and block access to storefronts.
"Many New Yorkers are feeling confused by the changes to the streetscape and disenfranchised by the city’s lack of public education and community consultation," said Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, who released a survey in October that found widespread abuse of bike lanes by pedestrians, motorists and cyclists across the borough.
Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz was so frustrated by the lanes that he was driven to song.
He broke into song to the tune of "My favorite things," that said the bike lane situation is "getting insane" and argued streets should be open to "strollers and shleppers and skaters and joggers" as well as cars.
He plans to send copies of the lyrics in Christmas cards to his constituents.
New Jersey’s Nancy Gruskin, whose husband, Stuart, was struck and killed by a cyclist in Midtown last year, gave an emotional plea urging the city to do more to keep pedestrians safe.
"This type of tragedy has the potential of escalating," she said.
City Council Transportation Committee Chairman James Vacca called for an inter-agency task force to consider the lanes, and said he will consider introducing legislation to create one if the city does not act.