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UWS Councilman Joins Call for Protected Bike Lane on Amsterdam Ave.

By Emily Frost | July 29, 2015 2:53pm
 Councilman Mark Levine is calling for a protected bike lane along Amsterdam Avenue, like the one pictured here along Columbus Avenue.
Councilman Mark Levine is calling for a protected bike lane along Amsterdam Avenue, like the one pictured here along Columbus Avenue.
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UPPER WEST SIDE — City Councliman Mark Levine joined the chorus of support for a protected bike lane along Amsterdam Avenue in a letter he sent Wednesday to the Department of Transportation.

The letter, directed to Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, urged the department to "move expeditiously" in creating a bike lane that would separate cyclists from traffic via a row of parked cars between them. 

Levine's call follows a push by Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal and Community Board 7 to create the lane, which would be the only protected northbound bike lane in the neighborhood. Currently, there's a southbound protected lane along Columbus Avenue. 

The heavy use of Amsterdam Avenue by trucks and tourist buses makes residents afraid to use it for cycling, Levine wrote. 

As a result, "the heavy vehicular traffic is causing many riders to ride against traffic, heading north on the southbound lane on Columbus Avenue, and further endangering riders and pedestrians," the letter said. 

Levine also cited the arrival of Citi Bike in the neighborhood bringing more bikes to the streets starting at the end of August. He also argues that NYPD data shows Amsterdam Avenue is the second most unsafe corridor in the neighborhood. 

Many residents posted to Neighborhood Square saying they supported the idea:

breezy300 on 

Absolutely. As someone who lives on the UWS, I would love to see more bike lanes (particularly protected lanes) and Citibike stations. It's a great, affordable way to get around and cuts down on traffic (I'm more likely to hop on a bike than in a cab). I would think that everyone in the neighborhood would like to see it more bike friendly.

However, others worried the bike lane would mean congestion and poorer air quality:

RustySteel on July 9, 2015

Enough. If you check the air quality that exists on Columbus both before and after protected bike lanes you'll see that the air quality has worsened considerably. So you can have safe bike lanes, which already exist on Columbus, and Central and Riverside Park as well as designated, but unpoliced, bike lanes on Central Park W, and Riverside Drive or you can breath well. The population density on the upper west side and the truck and commercial traffic that it brings make adding another "protected" bike lane a health hazard and a danger to pedestrians.

The DOT has said it is reviewing safety enhancements to the avenue, but has not said whether it will propose a bike lane.