Eyes on the Street: 34th Street Runs Red With Paint

Streetsblog’s Brad Aaron — on vacation in exotic, uh, Midtown — sends this pic of a newly-striped 34th Street bus lane, looking east from Eighth Avenue. Red lanes on each side of 34th are part of the first phase of improvements to what is intended to become the city’s first "transitway." Another witness says the bus lane on the north side of the street hasn’t been striped yet.

Seeing bus-only territory marked off like this is bittersweet. If it weren’t for the intransigence of Rochester Assemblyman David Gantt, there’s a good chance these red lanes would not only be highly visible, but adequately enforced with bus-mounted cameras too.

  • Chris

    Does anyone know if bicycles can legally use bus lanes? In some other cities, bikes are allowed.

  • Streetsman

    Without cameras you just get the feeling this is going to be a parking lot.

  • I’m wondering if taxi and black car pickup are allowed.

  • anon

    Can they install some plastic bollards to separate the lanes?

  • Could we invite David Gantt to NYC and take him on a bus ride so he can see how bad it is? Maybe we should start mailing him photos of cars in the lane so he knows how bad it is? At least with the red lane such photos will be easier to verify.

  • Veritas

    Can the DOT just leave the orange construction barriers between the bus lane and the car lanes? In this photo, they seem to be effectively keeping cars out.

  • Isn’t this exactly where the Bolt Bus picks up and drops off? Will they move?

  • Veritas, they could super-glue those cones down! That might work. But, I bet they’d end up all bent up like those plastic bollards near times square.

  • momos

    I have the same fear as Streetsman.

    Susan, great idea about taking Gantt on an MTA bus tour of midtown. It should be scheduled for rush hour on 42nd st when he has an important meeting across town in 15 mins.

  • Spud Spudly

    How about some kind of buffer or barrier between the new bus lane and the pedestrians walking on the sidewalk three inches away? I don’t care what they do to 34th Street but I really hate bus lanes that are adjacent to the sidewalk. You get big noisy, smelly and dangerous buses whipping by your ear as you walk and one false step by a tourist or whomever and they’re toast. I also know two people who were smacked in the head by bus sideview mirrors and spent weeks in the hospital.

  • uSkyscraper

    I used to live on 35th St. This will be an incredible test of wills, and my money is on the taxis, delivery trucks, work vehicles and tour buses. That pretty red lane doesn’t stand a chance in hell.

  • Sean

    Unlike the photo above, the more eastern stretches of the road were fully complete yesterday and did not have road cones or police tape. As a resident of the area, I noticed that prior to the red paint, people were driving in the new bus lane all the time. (It’s so wide and comfy to zoom in!) But yesterday, with the new paint, cars were staying out of it… Likely it’s only the “newness” and the unfamiliarity of a strange red lane, but it seemed to be working and I hope it continues to do so! (Crossing my fingers but not holding my breath.) 🙂

    I agree that minicurbs or little plastic bollards would be a great idea, and I do hope we’re allowed to bike in the lane because all the crosstown streets in that area are a zoo!

  • Bill Perkins

    I hear that, Spud, but where should the buses go, then? 34th St is woefully narrow. Unless we were willing to remove a moving lane.. which isn’t an awful idea.. how about, in each direction: 1 moving lane, a curb, a bus lane, and then a parking lane or widened sidewalk with areas cut out for bus stops or something like that.

  • Spud Spudly

    That would be fine Bill, anything to separate the buses from the people. This plan as it is now benefits bus riders but it makes things worse for pedestrians on the sidewalk.

  • Chrifs

    Unfortunately, I haven’t observed what Sean observed. Watching the segment between Lex and 3rd Aves for only a few minutes yesterday, I saw delivery trucks, service vans, cabs, right-turning vehicles, vehicles swerving around left-turning vehicles, cars just passing through in this lane. It’s not much different than it ever has been. The buses have no free lane to travel through, because they have to merge back into general traffic to avoid the obstructions. Transitways are great, but if general traffic gets only one lane, left turns from 34th street need to be prohibited, and deliveries need an alternative provision (exactly what, I don’t know). Otherwise the red lane will be ineffective.

  • mister mark davis

    the sidewalk is completely inadequate on 34th street. why not get all the cars off widen the side walk and add a bike lane.

  • It great that DOT is trying improvements that may somewhat improve crosstown transit on 34th St. though Albany has once against sent the message to the City to go screw itself.

    But as long as the clock is ticking to make serious streetscape and transit improvements, why not make an order of magnitude improvement in crosstown travel along 42nd St. with a project that already has a foundation, significant backing, and will get the world’s attention?

  • mahmud

    please send me ur pics in redlane street in holand

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