UPPER WEST SIDE — The Department of Transportation has unveiled a revised plan for the Columbus Avenue bike lane that restores 25 parking spaces and loading zones and has won the support of a community board committee.
DOT Manhattan Borough Commissioner Margaret Forgione shared a revised plan with Community Board 7 members Tuesday. The plan reflects feedback from Columbus Avenue businesses, some of which complained that the lane hampered pedestrian access and made parking for potential customers more difficult.
The new plan proposes removing a total of 36 parking spaces, compared with the previous plan, which removed 61 spaces.
Forgione said that since the last transportation committee meeting in early December, the DOT held meetings with 189 businesses along the avenue to determine their parking and loading needs.
After those conversations, said Forgione, the DOT decided to add five new loading zones; between West 107th and 108th Streets for West Side Movers, between West 105th and 106th Streets for Adel Wine and the 99 Cent Store, between 98th and 97th Streets and between 76th and 75th Streets for two Duane Reades, and between 74th and 73rd Streets for Pioneer Supermarket.
"The loading zones — we estimate are going to amount to about 30 parking spaces [lost]," said Bicycle Program Director Joshua Benson, adding that "overnight and on the weekends, they’re still available for community parking."
However, the DOT said to compensate for this loss, it would eliminate rush hour regulations prohibiting parking north of 96th Street along Columbus Avenue to 110th Street, which Benson said would amount to a gain of 105 spaces.
Combined with a restructuring of the bike lane turning zones, which would save 6 spots, the DOT is now proposing taking away 34 spots along Columbus Avenue.
Bikers and pedestrians gave hours of testimony to the committee about their desire for the new bike lanes, with only a couple people voicing opposition.
Some expressed frustration with what they perceived as the slowness of the community board to support the plan.
"I’m both happy and sad being here tonight." said Upper West Sider Mark Gordon. "I’m saddened that we have to do all this work to educate the members of the transportation committee about the basics of road safety."
Committee member Ken Coughlin urged his fellow board members to vote for the proposal: "I can’t believe we’d be rejecting all these improved safety benefits just for a handful of parking spaces," and said he felt the Upper West Side was falling behind other neighborhoods in terms of its progressivism.
Seven members of Community Board 7's transportation committee voted to approve the new plan, two opposed it and 1 abstained. The plan now moves to the next full board meeting in early February. If approved, the DOT will extend the current protected bike lane, which runs from 77th Street to 96th Street, to run south to 69th Street and north to 110th Street sometime in 2013, according to Forgione.
She would not comment on whether a northbound Amsterdam Avenue bike lane was also in the works.