By Carla Zanoni
UPPER MANHATTAN — Community Board 12 approved a resolution asking the city to look into creating and strengthening bike lanes in Washington Heights and Inwood during its general meeting Tuesday night.
The move came after months of contentious debate around safe bicycle and pedestrian access on neighborhood streets above 155th Street.
"We've heard overwhelming support from the community for adding and connecting bike lanes," said Yosef Kalinsky, chair of the board's traffic and transportation committee. "This is something they want to see in the community."
The resolution, which was drafted moments before the start of CB12's general meeting, asks the Department of Transportation (DOT) to engage in a thorough study of Upper Manhattan to see "whether, how and where it is feasible to create bike lanes uptown the way they exist downtown," said Kalinsky.
The resolution also called for a study of how to improve bike and pedestrian access to area bridges, connections of the east and west side greenways near Dyckman and 181st streets.
In addition to new bike lanes, cycling advocates have called for stronger education of pedestrians and drivers who frequently obstruct existing bike lanes uptown with taxis dropping off or picking up fares, cars who veer into bike lanes while turning and "people walking their dogs to poop," said Washington Heights resident Rita McKee at Tuesday's meeting.
"We need to do more about the whole idea of empathic safety," McKee said. "My right to be safe using a perfectly legal form of transportation is the same as cars and pedestrians."
Kalinsky said he hoped the agency would begin its work over the summer so that the board can discuss more substantive plans, such as placement of new lanes and the relocation of any parking spots lost to new bike lanes in a newly drafted plan, once it reconvenes in September.
For many, the board vote was a positive step in the right direction, but they recognized their battle is not yet over.
"At last," said Brad Conover, a spokesman for the uptown cycling advocay group Bike Upper Manhattan. "We're pleased, we just hope the DOT now does a good job."