Bikes were the hot topic at the town hall held by Council Member Ben Kallos last Thursday.
Bike lanes, bike shares and the enforcement of biking laws seemed to weigh heavily on the minds of the 70 or so attendees at the event. It was not the first time an audience largely comprised of senior citizens has turned out in full force at a community meeting to raise concerns about bikes.
Department of Transportation Commissioner Luis Sanchez was present to address the issue, which he acknowledged but largely passed off to the city’s police department.
“NYPD is responsible for enforcing the laws,” Sanchez said. “[DOT] doesn’t have the power to actually write tickets, but what we do is we go to the restaurant because the restaurant is supposed to have a roster of their cyclists. … If they don’t then we can issue a violation to the restaurant.”
Sanchez and Kallos encouraged residents to go to their respective NYPD precinct community councils with specific questions or requests for more thorough enforcement.
Kallos also announced that he was expanding the amount of bike training required for restaurant delivery people. “Starting this year, on the Upper East Side, every single restaurant that does bicycle deliveries will get DOT outreach,” Kallos said. “They will offer them free safety equipment.”
Representatives from Citi Bike and Transportation Alternatives had set up tables outside the auditorium hosting the town hall to be available for questions as well.
Other problem areas identified by the residents in attendance ranged from noisy manhole covers to a lack of trees to the abundance of mice and rats in St. Catherine’s Park.
The area of concern for residents that came in second to bikes was the Second Avenue subway project, which was scheduled to be addressed by representatives from MTA Capital Construction. But that appearance was cancelled halfway through the meeting to the audible disappointment of many.
Towards the beginning of the meeting, Sanchez gave a brief description of a restoration plan the DOT was developing with the MTA to enhance the Second Avenue street experience. That plan “will include new sidewalks, protected bike lanes, planters, trees, and certainly benches,” he said. “Hopefully all that work will at least transfer into something positive.”
Madeleine Thompson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org