Uptown Bike Network Gets Safer With New Buffered Path in Harlem

acp_jr_blvd_map.jpgA new buffered bike path on Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Boulevard will create a safer connection to Central Park.

Compared to downtown Manhattan, the bike network in Harlem is on the patchy side, with only a few on-street lanes. Safer streets are on the way, however. Last week, DOT presented plans for a buffered bike path on Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Boulevard to a neighborhood forum put on by Community Board 10. The new lane would run from 153rd Street to 118th Street, connecting to an existing route that feeds into Central Park.

No vote was held at the meeting, where about half a dozen people spoke about the bike lane.

Perspectives on the proposal tended to hinge on this question: Are bike lanes scarcer uptown because Harlemites prefer it that way, or is the area overdue for some critical safety improvements?

Oye Carr, owner of Mod Squad Cycles on Frederick Douglass Boulevard, spoke in favor of the new lane. "Folks don’t want to feel like people from outside the community are dictating what goes on in the community," he told Streetsblog. "But this impetus for bike lanes isn’t just coming from outside of Harlem."

While some speakers associated the lane with re-zoning and development that they view as symptoms of City Hall’s heavy-handedness, others welcomed the added safety and called on DOT to go further. Gwen Kash of Community Pride — a program of the non-profit Harlem Children’s Zone — asked DOT to couple
the bike improvements with pedestrian safety measures like LPIs and
longer crossing times. (In January, CB10 passed a resolution calling for such
improvements at dangerous intersections throughout the district.)

Carr, who opened his shop last November and says sales have been good so far, hopes his testimony helps people see the bike lane as a family-oriented amenity and a boon for locally-owned business. "The parents who come to my shop are concerned about the traffic," he said, noting that it’s common to see kids biking in Morningside Park, but rare to see them riding in the street. "We’re talking about being able to take their 8-year-old and ride with them. The idea that I could see Harlem on a safe and dedicated area is great."

  • J-Uptown

    As a Harlem resident for several years now, I would like to add that my experience has been that car ownership in Harlem is very low, but we get a lot of people driving into and through Harlem. Even still, most streets have a moderate amount of traffic, which can lead to less crowded conditions but higher vehicle speeds. The existing bike lanes are the old style with diamonds in the middle, which do not clearly indicate that they are for bikes. Many bike lanes are heavily abused with double and even triple parking, particularly after work near subway station (where people drive to pick up friends and family) and on Sundays near churches. The buffered lanes are certainly a step in the right direction, but they will also attract heavy double parking abuse.

    Like most neighborhoods, Harlem has a lot of potential bikers but few safe places to bike. As a result, there is not currently a high level of biking, but that could change quickly with some good facilities. My hope is that these buffered lanes will someday be turned into serious protected bike lanes, the same way the buffered lanes on 8th Ave were turned into protected lanes. All in all, this is a positive step, but certainly not the final solution.

  • fdr

    The Daily News has an article today about people whose names fit their jobs: a Zoe Hamburger works at McDonalds, Dr. Hertz is a pain manager, etc. Here you’ve got someone named Kash working at a non-profit and a bike shop owner named Carr.

  • This decreases safety unless they change the plan to a protected lane. Getting forced out into speeding traffic by the rampant double-parking is more dangerous than taking the lane in the first place, as you are unpredictable to the speeders (average speed is usually about 40-50 mph on the avenue.)

  • J-Uptown

    Aliostuni,

    I can’t believe we are still having this debate, but here goes. Yes, the buffered lanes aren’t perfect, but they are a decided step in the right direction. With a total of 9 feet, there is room for a car to double park without taking up the entire bike space. Further, the striping lets cars know that bikes belong there, and that cars stopping there are doing so illegally, something that isn’t conveyed on streets with no bike lanes. While the lanes are unenforced at present, their existence allows for future enforcement and reserves the space for future protected bicycle facilities. For a stark contrast, ride down 2nd Ave above and below 14th Street. Above there is no bike lane and you constantly jockey with traffic. Below 14th, a buffered bike lane offers a much needed relief. Try it yourself and see what you think.

  • LN

    While the upgrade of any bike lane is great, I would like to see an upgrade (or at least repainting) of the St. Nicholas Ave bike lane-many of us ride that everyday. This is an extension of the CPW bike lane with very dangerous drop outs and double parking spots. At:

    Frederick Douglass Circle 110/CPW -theres no where for bikes to legally fit in to the traffic flow. Only solution is to run both lights to get up ahead of the cars.

    122-123 Police Precinct. Double parking galore, this is where all the uptown arrestees are dropped off all night. Cops cannot be bothered to park in the precinct provided parking lot.

    144-145 and 125-126 – double parking galore –is it the fish sandwiches?

    Once you run those gauntlets, its smooth sailing until there’s no more bike lane at 168. Find your own way further north.

    At least the A.C.P. lanes will skirt the bike-lane-wasteland of East Harlem, where one is pretty much on his/her own in traffic.

  • Lucas

    Any bike lane in New York that does not account for double-parked cars is a failed solution. They’re more dangerous than not having anything at all because they give bicyclists a false sense of security. Novice bicyclists may take this route thinking there is a “bike lane” and find them in the middle of the street to avoid the abundant double-parked cars.

    Physically protected bike lanes are the way to go. Even a little curb would do the trick.

  • Harlem Bike Rider

    I’ve lived in Midtown, the Upper West Side and now Harlem and I have to say Harlem isn’t that bad for biking. But I don’t bother too much with the bike lanes. Especially not on St. Nicholas… the cops do park in the bike lanes and don’t seem to care.

    What is also a HUGE problem in Harlem are the jerks who ride the dirt bikes up and down the avenues, doing wheelies and not riding safely. This endangers EVERYONE. Those aren’t street legal bikes and the cops don’t care.

    Meanwhile I need to wait six months to get a pistol permit! Go figure.

    I’m ready to move to Texas.

  • Ken Campbell

    I have loved biking in Harlem since my first 5-Boro bike tour and the part of the ride up ACP. Now I live in Harlem and I use ACP to get to and from Central Park. Yes, the double parkers, gypsy cabs, motorcycles, jaywalkers and strollers make it a bit of a gauntlet, but a better bike lane is a welcome step forward. With better lanes we will attract more bikes and increased visibility will add momentum for enhanced facilities like protected bike lanes, bike parking, and LPI’s.

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