CB7 Pushing for Protected Bike Lane on Central Park West

The Sept. 11 CB7 Transportation Committee meeting included testimony from Captain Timothy Malin (seated at far end of the table), the 20th Precinct commanding officer. | Photo by Sydney Pereira

BY SYDNEY PEREIRA Upper West Siders are stepping up their calls for greater protections for bike riders on Central Park West in the wake of the death of Madison Jane Lyden, an Australian tourist killed while cycling on the avenue last month.

Community Board 7’s Transportation Committee has voted unanimously on a request to the city Department of Transportation to come up with a proposal for a two-way protected bike lane on CPW. An additional seven CB7 board members who are not members of the committee also voted in favor of the request.

Currently, the avenue only has a painted bike lane. Several attendees at the Sept. 11 committee meeting described biking on Central Park West as it currently is as “terrifying.”

“I’ll just say that’s true,” Elisabeth Dyssegaard, an East Village resident who frequents Central Park, said testifying at the meeting. “It’s terrifying to bike there.”

“I come up to the park on the weekends and sometimes during the week in the summer,” she told Manhattan Express, adding that she went to the park during a parade held after cars were officially barred from the interior roads. “But again, if you can’t get there safely, it kind of defeats the whole purpose, right?”

CB 7’s committee resolution will be voted on by the full board at its Oct. 2 meeting.

Questions about how the avenue could be designed with a two-way protected bike lane were raised, but co-chair Howard Yaruss emphasized that the committee’s ask currently is for the DOT to come up with a proposal.

“We just want to see what it looks like,” Yaruss said. “That’s what we’re proposing right now.” 

Yaruss, who lives just a block from where Lyden was killed, said he’s been asking the DOT to look into Central Park West for two years with no resolution. The DOT told Manhattan Express last month that the department is studying how to make the avenue safer after Lyden’s death.

The 20th Precinct commanding officer, Captain Timothy Malin, told the committee that he has filed a traffic intelligence report, recommending that the DOT explore options to prevent what happened to Lyden from recurring. The report asks the department to assess what’s feasible for the avenue, Malin said.

Attendees at the Transportation Committee meeting described cycling on Central Park West as a “terrifying” experience. | Photo by Sydney Pereira

Central Park West has the fourth most total traffic injuries among Upper West Side avenues, including Amsterdam Ave., Broadway, Columbus Ave., Riverside Drive, and West End Ave. But for cyclists, Central Park West is the most dangerous, according to data gleaned from the city’s open data system presented by Transportation Committee member Richard Robbins.

The highest number of injuries are where there are park crossings, according to Robbins.

Since 2012, 113 cyclists have been injured on Central Park West, compared to 101 on Broadway, 81 on Amsterdam, 69 on Columbus, 46 on West End Ave., and 23 on Riverside Drive.

Following Lyden’s death, cycling activists petitioned for better bike lanes and held a memorial ride where City Councilmember Helen Rosenthal told activists she supports a two-way protected bike lane circling the entire park. Currently, painted bike lanes with no barrier line the park’s north and west sides. The east and south sides have no bike lanes.

“Because there’s no protected bike lane, [Lyden] swerved into traffic and a truck hit her and killed her,” Rosenthal told Manhattan Express last month. “A two-way protected bike lane would solve that problem.”

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance has declined to press charges against José Peralta, the cabbie who blocked the bike lane, forcing Lyden into traffic. Earlier this month, even 20th Precinct Commanding Officer Malin said many cops “took that one very personally” when the DA didn’t prosecute, reported Streetsblog.

The driver of the private sanitation truck who struck Lyden, 44-year-old Felipe Chairez, was arrested on a DWI charge.

In 2014, Vance didn’t charge a driver who killed nine-year-old Cooper Stock — instead offering a plea deal with a $580 civil fine.

Lyden’s mother, Amanda Berry, and Dana Lerner, Stock’s mother, said in a statement responding to the DA not prosecuting Peralta, “Four years ago, when District Attorney Cyrus Vance refused to prosecute the driver who killed Cooper Stock, he sent a message to all reckless drivers in Manhattan that deadly behavior will not have any consequences under his watch.”

“If DA Vance had prosecuted Cooper’s killing, it would have sent a message to all drivers that reckless behavior is unacceptable, creating a system of accountability that could have prevented Madison’s death,” they wrote. “DA Vance’s failure to prosecute reckless drivers is sheer cowardice, and as long as he continues to indulge such dangerous behavior, pedestrians and cyclists will continue to die on Manhattan streets.”

On Monday of this week, the Lyden family was joined by Families for Safe Streets, a group of traffic injury survivors and the loved ones of those lost in accidents, and cycling activists for a second memorial for Madison Jane Lyden, where a white memorial bike was left at the scene of her death on Central Park West.

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