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bicyclists should be celebrating, now that community board 7 voted in favor of the department of transportation's plan to install protected bicycle lanes on columbus and amsterdam avenues.

proponents say that protected lanes offer bicyclists a safe route, while pedestrians will see less bike-riding on the sidewalk. the extra lane would also break the street into shorter segments, making it easier to traverse for senior citizens and those who have trouble walking.

at board 7's oct. 6 meeting, throngs of bicycling advocates young and old came out to support the new bike lanes.

"there was a groundswell of support for this issue not only from cyclists, but from seniors, children and pedestrians," said lisa sladkus, an organizer for upper west side streets renaissance campaign. "it gives cyclists a very safe place to be and little incentive to be on the sidewalk."

the board, by a vote of 28-7 in favor of the project, called for the department to create a plan for a "class 1" lane, which is separated from traffic by a barrier, possibly parked cars.

but neighborhood business interests are skeptical about the new lanes. shop owners have complained that bike lanes, especially ones that are protected, block off truck loading and unloading zones and restrict parking for customers.

peter arndtsen, head of the columbus-amsterdam business improvement district, supports the bike lanes, but urged city officials to heed business concerns when designing the new space.

"this is a tremendous opportunity for both the department of transportation and community board 7 to really rise to the occasion and meet with local businesses to come up with something that works for everybody," arndtsen said.

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