UPPER WEST SIDE — Dozens of bicycle advocates swarmed Community Board 7's transportation committee meeting Wednesday night to plead for a new northbound bike lane along Amsterdam Avenue.
Transportation Alternatives, a nonprofit advocacy group, led the appeal, assembling residents who wore neon stickers to proclaim their love of bikes and testify about the need for a new protected bike lane in the neighborhood.
Over the past couple of months, the group interviewed residents and assembled a petition of 1,300 signatures in favor of a street redesign, said lead organizer Tom DeVito.
"Amsterdam Avenue is by far and away the most dangerous northbound street and corridor on the Upper West Side," said DeVito, citing more than 1,000 accidents involving pedestrians or bikers that occurred along the avenue between 1995 and 2007, according to statistics compiled via CrashStat.org.
A protected bike lane, situated next to the sidewalk with a line of parked cars serving as a barrier to traffic, would reduce the lanes along the avenue from four to three — a change that prompted concern among members of the committee.
"[Amsterdam Avenue] is a major truck route," said committee member Marc Glazer in reaction to the possible reduction of lanes.
Others worried that the lane reduction would cause congestion and excessive honking.
"Both Columbus and Amsterdam [avenues] have an inordinate number of inter-city buses that can’t go elsewhere," said committee co-chairman Andrew Albert.
But committee member Ken Coughlin urged board members to not take a reactionary stance to the proposal.
"Carmageddon does not result [from bike lanes]," he said.
Unlike the Columbus Avenue bike lane, which was brought before the board in a specific proposal by the Department of Transportation, the idea for an Amsterdam Avenue bike lane is coming from the community, said board chairman Mark Diller. That means the tenor of the conversation can be different with more time and space to talk with businesses and residents before taking action.
The committee agreed to hear another proposal by the group in September.
Work on the Columbus Avenue bike lane began this week, a DOT spokesman confirmed, but he did not comment on the department's stance on a proposed Amsterdam Avenue bike lane.