downtownexpress.com

Volume 19 • Issue 19 | September 22 - 28, 2006

Editorial

Long-delayed shroud removal

We fully understand any of you who are thinking “I’ll believe it when I see it,” but it looks like the shrouded and damaged Deutsche Bank building that has haunted the World Trade Center site for five years may finally begin to come down next month. The Environmental Protection Agency’s spokesperson told us Wednesday the agency likes the adjusted demolition plan Downtown rebuilding officials presented and the E.P.A. expects to give the final okay this week.

This long overdue and most welcome development will solve half of a serious problem that continues to infect Lower Manhattan’s psyche. The damaged building haunting the north side of the site, the Borough of Manhattan Community College’s Fiterman Hall, still stands as a constant reminder that too little rebuilding has occurred. The State Dormitory Authority is still far from coming up with an E.P.A.-approved plan to take down the building and seems like it is in no hurry to do so. It is easy to blame insurance companies for many of the W.T.C. delays – and they deserve it – but clearly if the alphabet soup of agencies responsible for Fiterman understood the urgency of the project, we wouldn’t have to make wishful hopes to see real progress by the sixth anniversary of 9/11.


More bike lanes are a great start

The recent announcement that the city plans to add 200 miles of new bike lanes including over five miles in Lower Manhattan over the next three years is tremendous news for cyclists.

The addition of so many miles of new bike lanes represents a change of direction on bicycles — and bicyclists — for the Bloomberg administration. Since August 2004, when police cracked down on the monthly Critical Mass ride before the Republican National Convention, the administration has had an antagonistic relationship with cyclists. Most recently, the administration created an uproar when it floated a plan to overhaul parade permit regulations, threatening to restrict free speech and the right to assemble and protest.

With the announcement that the city is going to add 200 miles of bike lanes, it seems, hopefully, a corner has been turned.

Bike riding is healthy, energizing, nonpolluting, noiseless transportation, which is why it is so embraced in much of Europe, where bike lanes and separate routes are ubiquitous. Yet, there are legitimate complaints — often from seniors — that bikers don’t obey the rules of the road, making pedestrians fear for their safety. Bike riders must ride responsibly and not impinge on pedestrians’ feeling of safety. Cyclists also deserve safer streets.

Without safe bike lanes, bicyclists will continue to die. Last Friday, Reginald Chan — who never rode in Critical Mass — was killed by a truck on E. 17th St. while making a delivery on bicycle from his restaurant. The administration should consult with cycling groups about the best way to make the new lanes safe.



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