|Map of Columbus Ave. Courtesy of Columbus Ave. BID|
The results of the study showed that 72 percent of the 36 businesses surveyed between 96th and 77th Sts. were not in favor of the new design whose central element includes bike lanes, primarily because of the reduction in motorist parking. The study was commissioned by a coalition which includes the Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, Councilwoman Gale Brewer, Community Board 7 and several others.
In addition to a protected bicycle lane, the new design included a floating parking lane, pedestrian refuges and a buffer zone.
No mention was made of the lack of bike parking in the survey, which is slim to none, and could help explain why so many people depend on their cars for independent transit. Although BBB has not yet obtained a copy of the survey, there is a good chance it did not include a question about whether store owners thought more people would bike instead of drive if the perception was they could do so safely, as well as park their bike securely in front of the store of their choice to make purchases.
In an indication that it will take more effort than humanly possible to bring New York firmly into a sustainable 21st Century, more than 85% of the store owners complained about reduced space for parking and loading, increased parking tickets received by vendors and customers, and increases in traffic and congestion.
Ironically, shopping on a bike is a no brainer, if only there were more bike lanes which were deemed safe by riders, if there were more secure bike parking along shopping corridors, and if more bikes were safely equipped for carrying cargo, such as groceries and shopping bags--these facts according to many New Yorkers and potential customers in informal survey of cyclists by BBB.
Others in the coalition called the Columbus Avenue Working Group's (CAWG) who coordinated to develop and deliver the survey include State Senator Tom Duane, Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal, and Upper West Side Streets Renaissance.
The development follows close on the heels of heavy criticism of the bike lane along the west side of Prospect Park in Brooklyn by politicians, despite positive feedback for the lane from a majority of local residents. Former city Department of Transportation Commissioner Iris Weinshall was among those who criticized the bike lane, while the city's current DOT management has reported that accidents have declined since the lane was put in.
Car crashes along Prospect Park West have fallen 16% since the lane went in last summer - and crashes that cause injuries are down 63%, reported the NY Daily News. From last July to December, there were 25 crashes, down from an average of 29.7 every six months before that. Only two of the crashes involved injuries.
Councilwoman Brewer who has proven in the past to be a progressive voice in the city said the survey was an attempt to work out some of the growing pains of bike lanes on Columbus Ave., but that she believes ultimately, "the bike lanes will be a lasting benefit to merchants, residents, and riders, and make the West Side a better place to live and work.”
A study of Columbus Avenue completed in 2007 which is available on the Columbus Ave. BID site, concluded that the area was not a "complete street" because it did not safely accommodate pedestrians, cyclists and children and functioned primarily for the right of way of motorists and trucks.
When Community Board 7 voted last June in favor of the DOT's plan for a redesign, local resident and actor Matthew Modine of "Full Metal Jacket," was reported to have spoken in favor of the bike lanes.
Said Mel Wymore, Chair of Community Board 7, "Our challenge is to include all stakeholders in developing and implementing designs that work for everyone."