The Tide is Turning

While the main responsibility of the board office is to receive complaints from community residents, they also maintain other duties, such as processing permits for block parties and street fairs. Many boards choose to provide additional services and manage special projects that cater to specific community needs, including organizing tenants associations, coordinating neighborhood cleanup programs, and more.

The above quote is from the “About Community Boards” NYC government website page. Sounds like a pretty thankless job especially when you factor in the those who sit on community boards do so on a volunteer basis, doesn’t it? Yet, community boards and the people who give their time to sit on these community boards serve an important role in NYC. Community boards and the public meetings they hold are the most basic level of government in NYC where every person can have the chance to voice their opinions.

Community boards also help shape quality of life issues for residents of their respective neighborhoods. One important issue that is being addressed by many community boards across the city is Complete Streets. The idea of a Complete Street is one that accommodates all street users: pedestrians, people on bikes, skateboards, push scooters and those in motor vehicles.

The UWS has been lagging for sometime on this issue compared to other neighborhoods in the city, but if last night’s meeting is any indication of our collective beliefs: the tide is definitely turning.

Of the more than 100 people who turned out for last night’s meeting, the support was overwhelmingly in favor of safer streets for the UWS. For those in favor of extending the Columbus Avenue bike lane, the most urgent and real concern was safety- since protected bike lanes make the streets safer for all road users. They also spoke of the economic benefits and how extending the lane will attract more people on bicycles to travel through the UWS and patronize retail establishments that are nearby safe and protected infrastructure.

Of the few people who spoke against extending the lane, comments by one member of the public caught my attention. He started his commentary by stating that even though people on bicycles represent a small minority of NYer’s, that we were a powerful lobby whose voice was so strong that no politician dares to speak out against us.

Even though the rest of his commentary devolved into the usual bike hating mantra, his opening statement speaks volumes. Even though it’s not true that no politician (hello, Marty Markowitz) will speak out against bike lanes and safer streets, it shows how strong our voices ARE growing.

Board member and transportation co-chair Dan Zweig had loads to say against extending the Columbus Avenue bike lane (and by proxy, safer streets in general). But I will give him credit for one particularly clear minded statement. Although he seems to think that people on bikes only belong in Central Park or the West Side Greenway, he did say that we should get the cars of out Central Park. Good idea. We’re working on that too.

Thank you to the board members who voted in favor of the resolution to extend the Columbus Avenue protected bike lane. I sincerely hope that when this issue comes up for a full board vote in February that we will have a similar outcome.

As for Dan Zweig and the other bike skeptics of CB7, there are plenty of #bikenyc who would gladly welcome you into our fold. I for one, and I am sure that other friends and advocates would be willing to pedal along side you and introduce you to the joys and travails of commuting by bicycle through the streets of NYC. My friend and fellow advocate Kimberly Kinchen who spoke at last night’s meeting runs the NYC bike train. I’m sure they’d be happy to have you join them sometime.

I have a dream: that everyone who wants to ride a bicycle for transportation will feel safe enough to do so. It doesn’t mean that everyone will choose a bicycle for transport, but at least let’s give them that option. We’re getting closer to that dream. Let’s make it happen.


About bikepeacenyc

Just another NYer who is happier when on a bike. Gezellig fietsen. Advocate for Liveable Complete Streets.
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