New law opens lanes of communication about bike lanes

December 26, 2011 Heather Chin
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More commuter bicyclists in New York City, coupled with ageneral push by the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) toincrease transportation safety, has led to the creation of newparking meter bike racks and a requirement for the DOT to notifycommunity leaders in advance of plans to install or remove bikelanes in their neighborhoods.

In November, a bill was passed by City Council and signed byMayor Michael Bloomberg that requires the DOT to notify communityboards and councilmembers 90 days prior to scheduled constructionor removal of a bike lane in their district.

This would give residents a chance to meet and provide feedbackon how the DOT proposal could best meet their community’s needs.Until now, such advance communication was widely practiced, but notrequired against any specific timetable.

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This notification is very important, noted Doris Cruz, chairof Community Board 10’s Transportation Committee. That was part ofthe problem from earlier this year with the bike lane proposal on Bay Ridge Parkway because nonotification was required. We felt that there was no input oroutreach. This will help improve communication and create a better system forworking with communities.

Two weeks after the bike legislation became a fait accompli, DOTCommissioner Janette Sadik-Khan announced the installation of 175parking meter bike racks that basically consists of a hoop of metalbeing attached to the poles of decommissioned parking meters. The resultresembles what a lollipop would look like without the candyfilling.

The recycled bike racks eliminate the cost of removing meterpoles as Muni-Meters become more ubiquitous while alsoreducing the cost of installing new racks.

Our infrastructure needs to keep pace with new demands on citystreets, said Sadik-Khan. By transforming obsolete parking metersinto off-the-rack bike parking, we are recycling old facilities tomeet this growing need.

Bike riding has increased 102 percent since 2007 and 289 percentsince 2001, according to DOT counts at six locations in Manhattanand at the East River bridges. The DOT’s Pedestrian Safety Report and Action Plan alsonoted that streets with bike lanes are 40 percent less deadly forpedestrians.

In Bay Ridge, the DOT is currently considering proposals toredesign a stretch of 86th Street from Fourth Avenue to Shore Roadin order to calm traffic.

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