The realization of a protected bike lane on NYC’s Amsterdam Avenue was an epic struggle years in the making. And the good guys finally won!
The reason? In NYC, Community Boards have an advisory role in transportation changes to the street and NYC DOT is required to go thru them. Although “advisory”, the boards essentially have long had veto power over safety improvements, and if you have members on the body who aren’t educated in transportation matters or favor parking spaces and traffic speeds, it can easily mean the defeat of Vision Zero efforts for things like protected bike lanes. Compounding the effect is that board members are appointed for life!
Thankfully, advocates have been getting appointed on boards across the city. And on the Upper West Side, the community decided it had had enough of the stalling and roadblocks. They staged years of silent protests and neighborhood actions to publicly shame their board. Their efforts were finally rewarded earlier this year when CB7 voted in favor of a protected bike path on Amsterdam Avenue. Although only partially built, the lane is already getting high use and the feel of the corridor has changed dramatically.
Safe streets activists promise this is just the beginning of transforming the streets of the Upper West Side. All communities across the United States and world should be inspired by their dedication and the playbook they implemented to victory.