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City Council Passes Controversial Bike Lane Legislation

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Legislation passed by the City Council Thursday could lead to fewer bike lanes in the city, as the Department of Transportation must now notify community boards 90 days before installing them and consider their input. NY1’s Courtney Gross filed the following report.

The City Council unanimously passed legislation Thursday to force the city's Department of Transportation to alert communities when it plans to install bike lanes.

"Bike lanes are loved by some neighborhoods, not so much by others, and they will work better if they are installed, developed, conceptualized with input particularly from those that are enthusiastic about them," said City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

The move is seen as anti-bike by some advocates.

"By singling out bike lanes and burdening the community board with an additional meeting that isn't doing anything different than the other meetings that happen, we see it as a way to just slow down safety improvements," said Caroline Samponaro of Transportation Alternatives.

Community boards will get a 90-day warning when a bike lane is slated for the neighborhood and a chance to weigh in on the proposal.

"I don't think it's anti-bike to make sure that local neighborhoods have input as to where bike lanes go," said City Councilman James Vacca.

Under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the number of bike lanes has surged across the city. Advocates say it makes pedaling around safer, but some residents complain they reduce parking. That divide is seen on the Upper West Side.

"At the end of the day, it will turn out to be a good thing," said one resident.

"For the past couple years, I slowly see them come out of nowhere. Like one day I see a bike lane," said another.

"Sometimes if you're a driver, sometimes if I'm driving, it's a little confusing when the road is divided," said a third.

Businesses say the bike lanes mean less foot traffic.

"The way it is right now, the economy is not too good. So we don't have too many business [sic], and they don't stop like they did before because before we used to have more parking available," said one pizzeria employee.

Ultimately, the measure approved by the council will only give community boards a warning that the lane is coming. The board will not get veto power over when and where the lanes are installed.

The mayor is expected to sign the measure.

In a statement, the Department of Transportation says they support the bill and noted that the Columbus Avenue bike path would not have been affected or "slowed down" by this law, since it was actually requested by the very community the bill purports to be helping.

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