Bike advocates would like to keep the Upper East Side from becoming a kind of Waterloo for protected bicycle lanes.
So along with riders and elected officials from the Upper East Side and East Harlem, they gathered in front of City Hall on Wednesday to demand that the city extend protected bike lanes from 34th Street to 125th Street on First and Second Avenues.
The city’s handling of the East Side lanes has been a source of frustration for neighborhood cyclists since June, when the Transportation Department abruptly altered its plan to build physically separated bicycle lanes from Houston Street to 125th Street, instead running them only as far north as 34th Street. The department has insisted that the lanes have simply been delayed and that they will be extended in 2011, but outcry from uptown cyclists was swift, and many remain skeptical that the city will return to the area.
The tussle represents a rare locus of conflict between the city and bike advocates, who have seen many of their long-dreamed-of plans realized under the Bloomberg administration.
Since June, Transportation Alternatives has gathered about 2,500 handwritten letters addressed to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg from lane supporters at community events on the East Side. The weighty, ribbon-wrapped stack of those letters figured prominently in Wednesday’s rally, as it was passed between speakers and the crowd before being delivered to the mayor.