PITTSFIELD — Councilor Karen Kalinowsky says it’s time to give voters a say on the oft-derided North Street bike lanes.
Whether that happens will come down to a City Council vote in two weeks.
At this week’s City Council meeting, the at-large councilor put forward a petition to place a question on the Nov. 7 election ballot about the fate of the bike lanes.
The question would ask residents if they would like North Street returned to four lanes of traffic, two in each direction, with turn lanes.
Kalinowsky said she feels the single traffic lane now in place in each direction, and bike lane arrangement, is “dangerous.” But she insists the petition isn’t about her — it’s about giving constituents a choice.
“I’m asking you to allow the constituents to tell us: Do they want the bike lanes on North Street or would they like us to switch it back to four lanes of traffic?” Kalinowsky asked. “Help me and help the constituents make that decision for themselves and place this on the ballot of Nov. 7.”
After Kalinowsky introduced the petition, she made a motion to approve it, place the question on the ballot and refer it to the city solicitor’s office.
After a minor amendment to the petition’s language, the council approved a motion to refer the petition to the city solicitor’s office in a 5-4 vote.
Councilors Ken Warren, Charles Kronick, Patrick Kavey, Jim Conant and Kalinowsky voted in favor of the motion. Councilors Kevin Sherman, Dina Lampiasi, Pete White and Peter Marchetti voted against it.
Councilors Anthony Maffuccio and Earl Persip III were not present at the meeting.
Councilor White said he thinks there’s still work to be done to find a safe configuration for pedestrians, bikers and drivers. Returning to a four-lane design, he said, would not be safe.
Lampiasi said there were bigger issues the council could bring to the voters and called a ballot question reversing the last two years of designs “a terrible waste of time.”
The one-vote margin had some councilors thinking they’d passed a petition to allow voters to have their say on removing the North Street bike lanes come November.
But the council president and clerk said their understanding is that action still faces another vote of the council before it can make it to the ballot.
On Friday, City Solicitor Stephen Pagnotta clarified the vote’s result.
Pagnotta said the affirmative vote in effect sent Kalinowsky’s petition to his office “to review and revise as necessary and to provide a response at the next City Council meeting.”
Pagnotta said that at the next meeting, on Feb. 14, the council can “choose to approve, reject, amend, table or file my communication.”