A buffered bike lane in New York - Credit: Flickr user Spencer T.
Bike advocates that have been holding their breath in hopes of seeing the Riverside Drive bike project come to fruition can exhale again, thanks to another change in the status of the project. The issue still hasn't been resolved, but on Wednesday supporters of the Riverside Drive bike lane project crossed a major barricade when a City Council meeting ended with every member present in agreement that the project should move forward without delay.
The only council member who didn't cast a positive vote was Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls, who was out of town and unable to attend the meeting. The meeting garnered significant community support, including East End residents, business owners and Queen City Bike representatives.
Last week, the city's Department of Transportation and Engineering (DOTE) announced that the project would be postponed for a year to two years in hopes of preventing traffic overflow on Riverside during the impending construction project scheduled for I-471.
City Council's overwhelming support to ignore DOTE's recommendations means the project could move forward as scheduled.
A Council Committee is likely discuss the issue and take a final vote in about two weeks. In the meantime, a social bike ride is scheduled to Saturday, March 31 along Riverside Drive, which will function as a "road rally" for the cause and hopefully garner more cycling commuters. According to Nern Ostendorf, Queen City Bike executive director, the ride will function as a "bike bus" on Riverside, which she explains will make the journey safer and less stressful for bikers wary of Riverside's unsafe conditions. Riders will meet at 6 p.m. on Fountain Square. Ostendorf, who is an avid cyclist, describes the commute on Riverside heading downtown during rush hour as "really intense."
"There are a lot of really large trucks on that road, which is why cyclists are so wary of riding on there. Nobody's looking for a little cyclist on the side of the road," she says. The bike lane project would presumably create a significant buffer between the bike lane and the road, protecting cyclists from large trucks and speeding drivers. Cyclists say Columbia Parkway, which also
runs from the East End downtown, is a far more viable alternative for
commuters inconvenienced by I-471 construction. Speed limits on Columbia
Parkway are higher than on Riverside Drive, and the infrastructure is
markedly unfriendly for bikers, while Riverside Drive holds far more