Staten Islanders Want Their Bike Lanes Back

Cyclists on Staten Island are getting worked up over a decision by the city Department of Transportation to strip away the bike lanes along Capodanno Boulevard in favor of a bus lane and a parking and turning lane. City officials, including a city councilman, the transportation commissioner, and the Staten Island borough president, have lauded the decision due to concerns that the bike lanes were unsafe and impeded traffic, but bike riders are not so pleased.

Critics say City Hall didn't consult the community in deciding to remove the bike lanes and accuse Bloomberg of pandering to motorists who are "hostile to anything that slows them down." They also say removing the bike lanes will increase safety issues by forcing cyclists who ride to the Staten Island Ferry each morning to ride in the dark and in paths occupied with pedestrians, children's strollers, and inline skaters.

No word yet on whether Staten Islanders plan to protest the decision, although they may want to take a page from their outer borough brethren. Last year, hipsters in Williamsburg led a "naked bike ride" to protest the city's removal of a bike lane along Bedford Avenue.

Transportation Alternatives, a "bike and pedestrian advocacy group," denounced that stunt, saying the focus of the bike lane issue should be about safety. In a statement today, the group also denounced the Staten Island decision, claiming dedicated bike lanes can "decrease crashes for cyclists, pedestrians, and drivers up to 60 percent."

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Last year, Examiner.com tallied up the city's bike lanes when a Staten Island city councilman claimed there was no neighborhood demand for bike lanes. They found that while Brooklyn and Manhattan have a "whopping" 43 and 36 lanes, respectively, Queens has only 27, and the Bronx merely 14. Of the five boroughs, Staten Island came in last with a paltry 11 bike lanes, "most of which are short and disconnected."

[shernandez@villagevoice.com]


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