News | Upper West Side

Community Board 7 asks city for study into Amsterdam Avenue bike lane

  • David Brann / Senior Staff Photographer
    BIKERS BEWARE | Cars speed by on Amsterdam Avenue. Community Board 7 is asking the city Department of Transportation to study implementing a protected bike lane on the avenue.

Updated, December 10, 7:48 p.m.

Community Board 7 peddled a little closer toward the installation of a protected bike lane on Amsterdam Avenue on Tuesday night.

After months of extensive discussion, CB7 overwhelmingly passed a resolution to ask the Department of Transportation to complete a study of the potential redesign of Amsterdam Avenue with the inclusion of a protected bike lane.

The resolution, which passed the full board with 35 votes in favor, zero against, and five abstentions, also asks the transportation department to review other northbound avenues for bike lanes if it finds Amsterdam unsafe for a redesign. 

The potential changes on Amsterdam would mirror the redesign of Columbus Avenue. This summer, the southbound protected bike lane on Columbus received an extension and other modifications.

In the resolution, the board asked the DOT to modify traffic light timings, add pedestrian countdown timers, and look into ways to shorten crosswalk distances on Amsterdam Avenue between 59th Street and 110th Street.

The CB7 vote had been expected at November’s full board meeting following a favorable vote in the board’s transportation committee. But public testimony at the November meeting ran too long for the vote to take place.

While no members ultimately voted against the resolution on Tuesday, there was a lot of back-and-forth during the discussion, with several members proposing substitute resolutions and amendments. Members were divided over what goals they wanted the DOT study to focus on and the specific problems that they felt needed addressing. 

Andrew Albert, a CB7 transportation committee co-chair, said it was important for the resolution to call for a more general study of the possibility of incorporating a protected bike lane on a different northbound avenue.

“We believe that a study of all the northbound avenues is important,” Albert said.

Transportation committee co-chair Dan Zweig emphasized the urgency of introducing safety measures on Amsterdam, independent of the bike lane study. 

“We cannot endure the uncertainty of waiting for a study,” Zweig said. “We cannot wait on pedestrian safety.”

CB7 member Jay Adolf proposed a friendly amendment to include comments from the police, fire, and sanitation departments, as well as from local businesses. Another amendment from Zweig asked for changes to the timing of traffic signals and the introduction of temporary bulb-outs, or extended curbs, to decrease the distance pedestrians must walk to cross the street.

The wording of the final resolution was still undecided at the end of the discussion, but it called for the transportation department to “study and propose the possible redesign of one of the avenues with the potential inclusion of a protected bike lane.”

In response to some board members’ concern over the effectiveness of the Columbus southbound bike lane, members proposed an amendment asking the department to “continue to measure and evaluate the usage of all vehicles, traffic impact and the overall safety of the Columbus avenue redesign and the overall degree of use and accessibility for the mobility impaired.”  |  @evakalikoff

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