City Suspends Adding Tribeca Bike Lanes After CB1 Votes Against Them

The city Dept. of Transportation's proposal to create buffered bike lanes similar to the one on Warren Street (above) along portions of West Broadway and Church Street was rejected by Community Board 1 on July 28. Photo: NYC DOT

Jul. 31, 2013

The city Department of Transportation’s proposal to put bike paths on West Broadway, Varick Street and Church Street in Tribeca was shot down last night in a Community Board 1 vote, prompting the agency to scrap its plan for the time being.

DOT spokesman Nicholas Mosquera confirmed to the Trib via e-mail Thursday afternoon that plans to add the lanes this month are now on hold. Acknowledging the 11-11 vote, with 14 abstentions, he said the agency "looks forward to discussing next steps with the board in September."

The vote marked the board’s unwillingness to go along with a plan that would give cyclists an uninterrupted bike route between Warren Street and Union Square. The vote contradicted the majority opinion of the board’s Tribeca Committee, which approved the plan in a 6-2 vote last month.

“I assume that everyone who abstained knows that they’re voting ‘no’ and just not actually admitting it,” CB1’s Tribeca Committee chair Michael Connolly told the full board.

During his presentation at the July committee meeting, the DOT’s bicycle director Hayes Lord said that the agency would not implement the plan without the board’s approval. That plan included two types of bike lanes: a five-foot-wide, “buffered” path sandwiched between traffic and parking lanes and separated by three-foot wide painted street markings, and an “enhanced” lane shared with car lanes and designated as such with painted bike symbols.

The full board voted against the proposal even though the DOT said it would reconsider the most controversial part of the plan: to direct bicyclists onto the sidewalk beside Albert Capsouto Park, on Varick Street, between Canal and Laight streets, so that the cyclists could avoid the cobblestone-covered street. Instead, the DOT proposed installing a smooth, bike-friendly patch on the street, similar to something the agency is experimenting with in DUMBO, Lacher told the board.

In an email to the Trib, DOT spokesman Mosquera described the lane as “a smooth granite strip within the cobblestone strip.”

Lacher said he was told the smoothed path would not be installed for another year and that, in the meantime, there would be no indication of a path for that one block.