2006-11-17 / Community

Addabbo: Let Local Boards Set Bicycle Lanes

City Council Member Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. announced that he has cosponsored a Resolution in the Council calling on the Commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation to give community boards significant input with respect to accepting or rejecting bicycle lane proposals in their districts.

The City Charter gives community boards the responsibility to, among other things, "cooperate with, consult, assist, and advise any public officer, agency, local administrators of agencies, legislative body, or the borough president with respect to any matter relating to the welfare of the district and its residents."

Community Boards are comprised of residents and other people with significant interest in their respective districts who are knowledgeable about conditions in such districts, including usage of streets and traffic patterns.

The placement of bicycle lanes in a community can drastically affect the way residents and other people use the streets, including encouraging more people to ride bicycles and attain a healthier lifestyle, as well as affecting traffic patterns.

The bicycle is one of the most environmentally-efficient modes of transportation. By using a renewable energy source, the human body, the bicycle, in contrast to the automobile, is non-polluting.

The bicycle also uses much less space than the automobile, and is considerably quieter than other modes of transportation.

These benefits are especially attractive in New York City, as the City struggles with noise and congestion issues.

The bicycle also has tremendous health benefits. Cycling is ranked among the top three exercises for improving cardiovascular fitness.

According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control, the most effective activity regimens are moderate in intensity, individualized and incorporated into daily activity.

Cycling to work, school or shopping as part of one's regular daily routine can be both a sustainable and time-efficient exercise regimen for maintaining acceptable levels of fitness.

Studies have shown that bicycle commuters work more efficiently, arriving to work eager and alert and, due to a cyclists improved health, have fewer job-related injuries. Cycling can also generate a sense of liberation and pride. Traveling by bicycle, the rider becomes a part of the environment rather than isolated from it, getting to know different neighborhoods in the city and finding attractions that could be missed in an automobile, bus or subway.

Finally, the bicycle is economically efficient. According to estimates by Transportation Alternatives, an advocacy group, bicycle riding costs the frequent cyclist only one-quarter as much as driving, assuming cyclists must replace their bicycles every three years due to bicycle theft and bad pavement.

Transportation Alternatives estimates that the annual savings would average $1,100 per motorist.

The increased safety associated with riding a bicycle in a bicycle lane is evidenced by the Department of Transportation ("DOT") statistics indicating that as of September 12, 2006, there was only one reported fatal crash of a bicyclist involving a motor vehicle when a bicyclist was in a City-marked bike lane.

"Residents, local community groups and other people with significant interest in a district are best equipped to determine whether new bike lanes will be integrated well into a community or may cause conditions, such as limited visibility, that may affect the safety of motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians," said Addabbo, adding that for this reason "Community Boards should be allowed to give significant input into DOT proposals to install bike lanes that may affect the quality of life in their districts."

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