Protected bike lane approved for Central Park West

CB7 Transportation Committee passes resolution to improve safety for northbound cyclists

  • Cyclists on Central Park West on Aug. 17, 2018 for a memorial ride in honor of Madison Jane Lyden, a 23-year-old Australian tourist who was struck and killed by a truck as she biked on the avenue. Photo: Michael Garofalo

  • Graphic: New York City Department of Transportation

Cyclists on the Upper West Side may soon feel safer near Central Park. Last week the Community Board 7 Transportation Committee passed a resolution that will create a northbound protected bike lane on Central Park West.

On June 11, the Department of Transportation presented the community with a proposal outlining how there will be dedicated space for cyclists, safer pedestrian and cyclist crossings and dedicated turn lanes, all of which will reduce weaving in and out of traffic.

Members of the Transportation Committee praised the DOT for their plan.

“I think this is a great start,” said Committee Member Ken Coughlin. “It’s really a shame we did not have this a year ago.”

“I think this is something that is substantial for us,” added Committeewoman Elizabeth Caputo. “I’m in support of making this happen.”

While their colleague Richard Robbins commended the DOT, he still saw a couple of troubling issues with the plan.

“They’ve done a great job with really difficult conditions,” Robbins said. “I’m still concerned because cyclists will be going southbound and they’re at risk.”

The discussions to improve safety for cyclists on Central Park West began last year when an Australian tourist, Madison Lyden, was killed while riding her bike.

As Lyden rode north on Aug. 10, a livery vehicle blocked the painted bike lane on Central Park West, forcing her to pull into the adjacent traffic lane, where she was struck and killed by a private sanitation truck.

Lyden’s death prompted renewed calls from bike activists and local politicians for the city’s Department of Transportation to replace the painted bike lane on Central Park West with a protected lane, a step supporters say would almost certainly have prevented the collision.

In addition to Lyden’s death, the DOT found that 22 people have been severely injured on Central Park West from 2013 to 2017. On streets where protected bike lanes were installed, such as West 59th St. to West 110th St, there has been a 15 percent decrease in all crashes with injuries and a 21 percent drop in pedestrian injuries from 2007 to 2017.

Issues that have plagued cyclists near the park include bicycle fatalities, cyclists traveling alongside vehicles, double parking in bike lane, curb access, bus routes and traffic patterns and volumes.

The majority of the residents who attended the meeting were in favor of the proposal. Mitchell Loring, who lives on 86th and Columbus, is a frequent rider in the park. In fact, he was about 15 minutes or so behind Lyden when she was killed.

“I support some kind of protection at Central Park West,” he said. “I would have loved to have seen a two-way proposal on the street, but this is a good step. Right now it’s so dangerous.”

Chelsea Yamada, the Manhattan organizer with the bicycle and pedestrian advocacy group Transportation Alternatives, told the West Side Spirit that the proposal will not only benefit cyclists, but all New Yorkers. Having a buffered bike lane, where cyclists are separate from traffic, is vital to safety, she stressed.

“Not only were there a lot of safety components, which will enhance cyclists experience along the side of the park in one direction, but also huge calls for continued traffic safety,” Yamada said. “We will see a huge tremendous increase of cyclists flowing through the neighborhood.”

The proposal will go before the full Community Board at its next meeting on July 2.

Sign up to get our newsletter emailed to you every week!

Enter your email address in the box below.
Select the newsletters you would like to subscribe to.
Click the 'SUBSCRIBE' button.

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required
Neighborhood Newsletters