Crosstown Bike Lanes Remain in the Crosshairs

carmine_bike_connector.jpg

Opponents of the Department of Transportation’s plan for a new Lower Manhattan crosstown bike route are expected to make a show of force at tonight’s Community Board 2 Transportation Committee meeting in an effort to preserve a few dozen on-street parking spaces along Carmine and Bleecker Streets. Bicycling advocates are urging their supporters to show up as well.

Opponents began mobilizing two weeks ago after DOT removed all of the parking meters on Carmine Street and erected "No Standing" signs in preparation for the new bike lane. The loss of parking space angered a small but vocal group of local residents and merchants who managed to put the issue back on tonight’s Transportation Committee agenda despite an 8 to 1 commitee vote in favor of DOT’s plan and full Community Board approval last April.

Item number six on the agenda for this evening’s Community Board meeting is, "Request to keep parking along Carmine St. bet. 7th Ave. and Bleecker
St. intact and to put the new bicycle lane to the left of the parked
cars." A local activist says to expect "fierce opposition from resident car owners and merchants" at tonight’s meeting.

While it seems unlikely that opponents will be successful in overturning last spring’s Community Board vote, which took place after many hours of deliberation, Transportation Alternatives is urging local bike lane supporters to show up tonight to support the critical east-west bike network link:

The Carmine Street bike lane will connect the Hudson River Greenway to
the eastbound Bleecker Street bike lane. This is the DOT’s first
attempt to make sure that bike lanes don’t simply dead-end, but connect
with one another in a neighborhood bike network. This network
represents the diligent efforts of Manhattan Community Board 2, and it
is essential that the work proceed as originally planned.

Tonight’s meeting is at 6:30pm in the NYU Silver Building, 32 Waverly Place, Room 710. ID is required. 

The city’s proposal for lanes on Prince and Bleecker — streets parallel to Houston, rather than Houston itself — met resistance earlier this year from those who saw the plan as a flawed compromise for a dangerous, auto-centric Houston Street, as well as those who do not want street parking supplanted by "reckless cyclists."

  • TimB

    Yikes, look at the difference in directness between their proposed route and Houston St. Will bikers really make 7 turns rather than 0 by taking Houston St?

  • ME

    True, but remember that Houston is one-way heading west when it crosses 6th. Aside from a contra-flow bike lane on Houston, I’m not sure if there is a better alternative to eastbound bicyclists (at least for the section west of 6th).

  • Jonathan

    TimB, good question, but one of the benefits of cycling through NYC as opposed to driving through it is that it is much easier to make turns. Sign me up for the DOT route, which boasts far better people-watching and street life than the straight shot down Houston.

  • Not a Car Fan

    Shame on these residents for demanding they keep parking in such a transit-rich environment!

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    From the Soho Alliance letter:

    In addition, there are obvious congestion and safety problems created by some reckless cyclists speeding down busy Prince in their own private lane, running red lights, and hitting unwitting tourists and residents.

    Gee, the proposed Carmine Street lane is just a few blocks from where a reckless motorist sped down busy Sixth Avenue and killed an unwitting resident. Maybe motorists don’t deserve their own private lanes.

  • flp

    ugh and the DOT can’t even link up bleecker with the new 9th ave lane? argh!!!!! then there is the prince street lane to nowhere …….

    but yeeeeshhhhh, who the f wants to make all those damn turns to follow the bike lane? for many bike commuters, time is of the essence, and they don’t want to do people watching especially if a good 1/4 or 1/3 of them end up jay walking.

    it all would so much simpler and more effective if the lane were on houston street ALL the way (heading west at least). OK heading east from the west side would require a slight divergence, but it does not need to continue on bleecker. instead, after clarkson direct the lane down varick to king, then onto 6th to houston – only 4 turns rather than 7!

  • Jonathan

    flp, agreed, it ought to connect to 9th Ave via Hudson & Bleecker Streets. That’s an oversight.

    As to your “time is of the essence” point, I used to commute homewards in the evening via 9th Ave, Hudson, Bleecker, Mott, Spring, Bowery and Delancey to the Williamsburgh Bridge, and never thought it was particularly time-wasting. Maybe conditions have changed; I wouldn’t know.

    More generally, I would prefer a policy of developing bike lanes on lower-density commercial streets that could get people doing errands out of taxis and onto bikes. I feel that this plan supports such a policy.

  • Larry Littlefield

    The bike lanes are to encourage more middle aged sclubbs like me, who ride at 10-15 mph, to give it a try. If you are cruising at 25, you can just ride in a regular traffic lane. So yeah, I’d rather avoid the arterial.

  • I’m a CB2 resident, and I can tell you that there’s no more use at all in debating the Houston vs. Prince-n-Bleecker issue. Save your keystrokes. It ain’t happening. They already repaved Bleecker. Now, you should focus your energy on showing the parking-lovers why their demand for spots on Carmine isn’t going to be in the cards for them.

  • Ian D

    flp, agreed, it ought to connect to 9th Ave via Hudson & Bleecker Streets. That’s an oversight.

    Just to point out, they *DO* all connect – that’s the beauty of it (or, they will when the paint is dry). I think it’s really the first real integrated network. You can start at Ninth Ave. and 22nd St., ride down Ninth Ave. to Hudson to Bleecker and continue all the way to the end of Bleecker at Bowery. Then there is a zig-zag at Bowery onto E. 2nd St. you go all the way to First Ave. And just like things are still developing on Ninth Ave., I think we’re going to continue seeing improvements such as signage even after the lane is painted.

    Besides the link to the Hudson River Greenway via Clarkson and Carmine, there are also other uptown/downtown routes that will now interconnect (likewise with the E. 1st St./Prince/Charlton St. links). Downtown bike lanes are going to start to look tied together on the 2008 Bike Map. Not to say that there’s not more to be done…

  • TimB

    From what I understand, there WILL be a bike lane connecting the 9th Ave/Hudson St facility. Wasn’t Bleecker recently milled for repaving? There ya go.

  • What happens east of Houston and 2nd? A bike line on the south side of Houston from 2nd to B is a bad idea. You have articulated M15 buses making a wide right at Allen, the nightmare of cab traffic at Ludlow, and Essex/A, which has to be one the most dangerous intersections in the East Village.

    The seven turns is over-stated. Even the Bowery/2nd jog is quick, and almost always an easy dodge (assuming, yes, you run the light), and the ‘turns’ west of there are the same as a straight line when riding.

    They should reverse flow on 2nd to B — that’s a little tricky because it would increase traffic. The 11/28 fire house rarely seemed to utilize 2nd heading West. I don’t know what the is the western border of their coverage, but aside from that, I can’t see a good reason of the reverse flow at 1st.

  • flp

    @ TimB and Ian D –

    why does the map above not have a red bike lane line ON bleecker between carmine and hudson/9th? instead the lane goes from clarkson to carmine to bleecker. that is not a direct link from 9th-hudson

    as for fighting over the houston vs. bleecker/prince, the point is the DOT reneged on a long standing plan and there is absolutely NO excuse for that (a “promise” is a “promise” plus houston needs traffic calming!)! perhaps, if they had been A LOT more honest about it from the get go, many of us may feel better about it. as it stands, they screwed up royally, and i am not ready (if ever) to forgive them for that.

  • dave

    When I ride my bike I find routes which are reasonably safe concerning car volume. I like going across tenth street. Carmine is rather busy imo and I would avoid it as a biker. I often wonder if some of these planners even ride bikes.

  • LN

    When I attended and testified at those meetings, there was one thing we were all agreed upon -parkers, drivers, walkers, bikers, concerned citizens and elected officials- it really was quite amazing. A class I Houston St bike lane is what everyone wants, it makes sense to everyone BUT the DOT–and was promised for 10 years– until they suddenly realized that it wasnt going to fit with their plan to make houston street a speedway which facilitates turning -smack into pedestrians and cyclists.

    This ‘alternative bike lane’ will NOT prevent deaths and injuries on Houston St. and we will continue to hold the DOT responsible until they do the right thing and give us safe passage on Houston street.

    Few will use these bike routes. Especially if the routes are full of cars desperately looking for more precious parking spaces –the most dangerous driver to pedestrians and bikers.

    And you know what, a class I bike lane would be one of the best traffic calming devices here to protect everyone not on bikes on Houston as well.

  • Jonathan

    LN, I agree with you that the DOT lane will not prevent deaths or injuries or both on Houston Street.

    But I think you have your danger antennae waving at the wrong threat. According to the US DOT’s Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center, crashes involving “cars desperately looking for more precious parking spaces” are not particularly deadly, and certainly not the most dangerous driver, as you assert (that would be drivers turning, I believe).

    As the researcher says, “For the few (n=10) crashes of this type, the vast majority involved a motorist pulling out from a parking space….This crash tended to be less severe than the average. There were no fatalities.”

  • Ann

    Bikers need to understand that they have a responsibility to honor the biking rules of obeying the traffic light signals, etc.  Stop at stop lights and stop signs.  Allow people in the cross walk to be able to walk safely and follow traffic.  I noticed a biker who busted through the traffic light on Fifth Ave and knocked over a pregnant woman and just kept going!!! this is simply awful!!

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