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Residents Shoot Down City's Plan to Bring 6 Bike Lanes to UES

By Shaye Weaver | February 5, 2016 4:17pm | Updated on February 8, 2016 8:45am
 The DOT is proposing to paint new crosstown bike lanes on six streets on the Upper East Side.
The DOT is proposing to paint new crosstown bike lanes on six streets on the Upper East Side.
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UPPER EAST SIDE — Residents blasted the city's proposal to install six new crosstown bike lanes throughout the neighborhood, citing congestion and safety as main concerns.

In the city's latest push for street improvements under the mayor's Vision Zero program, the Department of Transportation has proposed adding painted bike lanes to East 67th, 68th, 77th, 78th, 84th and 85th streets.

But the city's choice of streets was careless considering how congested they are already, residents said during a Community Board 8 meeting on Thursday, where the DOT presented the plan.

DNAinfo live tweeted the meeting.

"This is Vision 100 percent bad," said 84th Street resident Dan Abrams. "This is not an issue of whether or not we need bike lanes. They’re a good idea. This is about [the DOT]. You have decided to pick the most preposterous streets you could think of." 

The proposed bike lanes, which would connect Central Park to the East River Esplanade, would be 5 feet wide and painted onto the road without taking away parking spaces or traffic lanes, according to the DOT.

By placing the bike lanes on these streets, the roadways would be organized, calm traffic and increase drivers' awareness of cyclists, the agency added.

"This is about organizing the roadway and making it safer for vehicles and cyclists by creating more predictable movements," a DOT spokesman told community members.

But dozens of residents living near 67th, 68th, 84th and 85th streets disagreed, saying their blocks are already clogged with traffic, double-parked cars and a number of high-trafficked institutions, including precincts, fire stations, schools and hospitals.

"Eighty-fourth Street is the single dumbest place to put a bike lane," Abrams said. "Every car that comes from Central Park is funneled onto 84th Street, and now you're going to funnel every bike onto it?  Anybody who lives on Upper East Side knows 84th street is completely ridiculous."

A representative of The Ramaz School on 85th Street, near Lexington Avenue, agreed that putting a bike lane on their street would complicate things for the school.

"Bike lanes are great and necessary but not on 85th Street," said Johanna Shlomovich, the school's chief operating officer. "The corner is so so dangerous for pedestrians that we even have a traffic police officer out there this year to protect the kids from crossing the street in regular traffic."

Residents near 67th and 68th streets were baffled by the bike lanes proposed for their streets as well, saying the area was busy with a firehouse, schools, embassies and the double parked vans outside Fox studios, they said.

"If you put a [bike] lane here, someone is gonna get killed," said Max Herzog, a 67th Street resident and cyclist. "There's already not enough room on the streets and then here comes a 10-foot bus? Someone will die. I would fear my life biking on 67th."

DOT representatives said they'd take residents' concerns into consideration, but added that a crowded street isn't a reason not to put bike lanes there.

"In Manhattan alone, we have bike lanes in front of over 10 police stations and over 10 fire houses," said Nina Haiman, the DOT's Manhattan borough deputy commissioner. "This is New York. It's a really dense city and wouldn’t have any bike lanes if we avoided doctor's offices, police departments and schools."

The DOT reps said they would return at next month's CB8 transportation committee meeting with more information about the plans.

To see a copy of the presentation, visit the DOT's website.