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NYC Cyclists Want Promised East Side Bike Lane Extension


Activist group Transportation Alternatives has gathered 2,500 letters asking Mayor Bloomberg to finish his proposed bike lane plan on the East Side.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg promised last winter to create extensive bike lanes on First Avenue.

The lanes were proposed to start on Houston Street and stretch north to East 125th. Over the summer, however, the Mayor halted the plan at 34th street, leaving a four-and-a-half mile stretch in Midtown, the Upper East Side, and East Harlem untouched.

The group Transportation Alternatives joined city and state officials on the steps of City Hall Wednesday demanding an explanation from the Mayor.  They delivered a stack of 2,500 handwritten letters from local residents, businesses, and environmentalists asking the Mayor to follow through on his original plans for pedestrian islands and bike lanes.

TA Executive Director Paul Steely White cited cyclist and pedestrian injuries and fatalities in these areas— a total of 4,900 between 1998 and 2008.  Steely said these neighborhoods have the most to gain from bike lanes: “Physically protected bike lanes calm traffic, and with accompanying pedestrian refuge islands, these changes make the streets safer for everyone: cyclists, pedestrians, drivers and transit riders.”

Steve Vaccaro, the Chair of The Transportation Alternative’s East Side Committee, has lived and biked in New York for most of his life.  He lives on the Upper East Side and says cycling uptown is “slower and dangerous” especially on Second Avenue with the construction of the Second Avenue Subway and the new M-15 Select Bus Service routes.  He loves biking downtown on the designated bike lanes where it is safe, and he can “respectfully ride quickly.”

Spokesman Seth Solomonow of the Department of Transportation says they plan to monitor the effectiveness of the existing bike lanes before extending them any further.