To the Editor:
When the issue of crosstown bike lanes came up at Community Board 8’s meeting on December 16th, I was disappointed to see a handful of people trying to derail a public process before it even began. In November the community board, admirably, asked the DOT to study our neighborhood and make it safer to walk or ride a bike crosstown.
Not even a month later, before the DOT could bring suggestions, a few people appeared to be trying to skew the results preemptively. They asked that East 72nd Street be excluded from the street safety study. That same street, by the way, has seen 128 people injured in traffic crashes in the last three years alone.
I don’t know if 72nd street should be redesigned, but we certainly shouldn’t rule it out. It is demonstrably dangerous and congested with internal combustion vehicles, is a route to Bed Pan Alley East, and features bus stops. At the very least we need to see a study before we, as a community, can make an informed decision.
I chair a health care advocacy organization In New York City, and I know we lose 250 of our friends and neighbors every year, and over 50,000 are injured in car crashes. I also know that when changes are proposed for proven lifesaving street redesigns, someone will invariably say “not on my block.” The way that we figure out if something will work is to first commission research studies. We shouldn’t limit the findings of any study before it begins—that’s what the climate change denying state governors and petro industry-subsidized congressional representatives do.
As Upper East Siders in the densest community in the U.S., we should look forward to making our streets and sidewalks -- our public spaces -- safer for everyone. We employ a public process when deciding about zoning, licenses and outdoor cafes. We should then use the best data and research available when making decisions about how our streets are laid out. The community deserves to see DOT’s complete study about how the agency plans to make our public space as safe as possible.
Former Chair, Transportation Committee - East 79th Street Neighborhood Association
Chairperson, Metro NY Health Care for All Campaign