Eyes on the Street: Broadway Improved Beyond Times Square

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Not that it didn’t deserve the attention, but last month’s car-free Times Square debut overshadowed other major Broadway safety improvements like these to the north — including pedestrian islands and separated bike lanes — which are now well on their way to being implemented. These pics were taken last weekend just south of Columbus Circle between 57th and 55th Streets.

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Photos: Brad Aaron

  • The only downside to the new Broadway bike lane is that it stops abruptly at the new, traffic free, Broadway Plaza where cyclists are expected to walk their bikes. Anyone know if there are an plans to, somehow, link the Broadway bike lanes that run north and south of Times Square? Maybe add some much needed bicycle parking?

  • What does the space near the curb stands for? It is easier to notice on the third picture.

  • I have the same question as Joao. Are they a loading area or considered a sidewalk extension?

    If the latter, why wasnt the sidewalk simply extended then?

  • This is all right outside my job.

    It has made crossing Broadway on foot a hell of a lot more pleasant.

    This stretch seems to be unfinished yet. If it’s not finished, my hope/concern is that DOT has learned from the stretch between Herald Square and Times Square, and and they won’t put a bike lane right through the middle two ped-only areas. There, peds overrun the bike lane–quite forgivably.

    Actually, I hope I’m wrong–I hope it’s finished now, because currently it’s working very well.

  • I agree with Stacy. Also, the bike lane in Herald Square has the same problem.

    Until these problems get addressed, it’s easier for me to bike down 7th Avenue, although I like riding on the (working) parts of the Broadway lane. Hopefully, DOT will soon fix.

  • (n)

    Yes, ditto on Stacy’s question. Also, as someone who rides this everyday, I wonder if /when they plan on adding redlights for left turns across the bike lane (from broadway to a eastbound street). Taxis in particular seem to take great joy in waiting to turn IN the bike lane, and due to the redirected traffic to Seventh, this is noticably more of a issue than say, the eighth ave bike lane going north (which I also bike everyday).

    I understand JSK’s need for incremental changes, and I can walk the times square intersection if I have to (or bike south on seventh ave), but the lack of left turn lights, ala ninth ave, is a contentious problem everyday I’m there.

  • harry

    Herald Square is a lot more pleasant now
    And the tasteful green folding chairs are much much better than than the tacky lawn chairs at times square

    They do need to find a better solution to the ‘bike lane through the plazas” problem as mentioned by previous commenters

  • David Rendsburg

    I ride this daily and have looked at the diagrams in detail online, and the answer to most questions is yes, and each day that I ride this more and more construction has been finished (actually, I think all curb islands are done). In short, don’t worry – it will be better than it is now. In detail:

    1. Yes, they have learned from Herald Square and from 57th to 47th the bike is between the expanded pedestrian areas and the parking lane.

    2. That gap that we see in the photos between the sidewalk and the bike lane will be filled in with the beige sand for pedestrian plazas. They didnt expand the sidewalk since thats much more money, and this is still only “temporary”

    3. Yes, the plan has bike lights, just like it does between Times and Herald Squares – I biked that part as well while it was open, and it looked just like the current parts do while they were working on it.

    4. YES – car-free sections of Times square will allow bikes through, similar to how they do in Herald Square (where there was already a protected bike area from the failed lanes from decades ago). If you look at page 14 of this presentation – http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/downloads/pdf/broadway_0223409.pdf – you can see the faint lines cutting through the closed areas. It will head down the left side of Broadway, cross 7th ave at 45th street, and then continue down the left side of Broadway until it picks up the section that was completed last year. At Herald Square, (where most is already striped but not colored green), it will cross 6th ave at 33rd and then continue on the left side of Broadway on a yet-to-be-started protected lane down to 23rd street.

    5. Another thing that has gone mostly un-noticed is that the 42-34th street stretches now have extended ladder-style crosswalks between the plazas, not just at the sidewalk. Before, people would naturally walk across streets from one plaza to another, but there was no crosswalk. Those are now going in from the start from the 59-47th stretch.

  • it is pretty apparent that the bike lane between 42nd and 34th is a failed lane. it is pretty much impassable during the day because of all the pedestrian traffic. the upside is that since the plazas were instated, broadway below 42nd is practically car free so its easier to just ride down the street.

    broadway used to be a straight shot from central park to union square, now its kind of a mess. the bike lane just seems to end at herald square and it is tough to get over to 5th ave. but that’s a reasonable trade for all the new pedestrian space we have now. hopefully they will figure out to have a continuous bike lane that isn’t overrun with people. 7th ave through times square would probably be best if they can spare any more space.

  • Adam

    Thanks for this article. I came down Broadway this afternoon and was thinking about how significant the changes to the rest of Broadway (not just the pedestrian-only bits) really are.

    By the way, the bike lane changes have been striped from 34th down to Madison Square Park — and it feels much, much safer than it used to (perhaps in part because fewer cars are coming from Times Square, but also, at least in part, because the lane markings are much, much clearer and bike friendlier). Collectively, these changes feels like a pretty big deal. Maybe it’s a good thing that they feel small in comparison to the the closed off bits of Broadway. If DOT tried to do them earlier, it might have caused a lot more complaining.

    Unfortunately, though, I didn’t seen too many bikes on Broadway, so I’m glad you streetsbloggers are getting the word out.

  • m to the i

    It would be really nice if DOT and Parks could get together and create a link between the Central Park loop and Columbus Circle so that cyclists headed north could connect from 8th Avenue and going south could connect to Broadway. Now, the best option to go south is to exit the park at 7th ave and take it until you hit broadway. The broadway lane would get much more use if there was a nice connection to the park.

  • See now, the only thing is we need more bikers there, or cars are just going to say f*ck it and double park and stuff. Although tourists and international investors will definitely think NYers are a lot more bike-friendly than before!

  • I took a cab to Penn Station this morning at about 8:15 a.m. The cabbie was no advocate of traffic calming I am certain but he volunteered that the changes on Broadway made the traffic on 7th Ave. flow much better than it had.

  • David R, thank you for the valuable information.

  • John

    In response to the questions related to the extra space in the above photos, I believe the City intends to expand the sidewalks along Broadway in some areas to allow for greater pedestrian space. However, you’ll also notice that there are some utility elements in the above photos – for example, a stormwater drain. Since the movement and alteration of utilities is quite expensive, I’m sure the city doesn’t plan to make thos final changes until an entire street rehab is done – thus saving costs while temporarily giving this awesome new space 🙂

  • They also seem to be extending the protected lane south of Herald Square… I was along Broadway somewhere between 34th and 14th Sts the other day, and saw workers adding pedestrian refuges and a protected lane.

    The “Broadway Boulevard” section between 42nd and 34th has also gotten a tad wider in spots … they’ve moved the planters out into the parking lane in some places, to get an extra lane for the pedestrians.

  • It would be really nice if DOT and Parks could get together and create a link between the Central Park loop and Columbus Circle so that cyclists headed north could connect from 8th Avenue and going south could connect to Broadway.

    There used to be a car exit from the loop drive there, and it was converted to a walkway and better landscaping, a huge improvement. I’m honestly not sure why they didn’t put a bikeway in; probably just weren’t thinking about bikes at all.

  • (n)

    re: link between CP, 8th and Broadway bike lanes.

    hmm, what would be better, a circular bike lane around columbus circle that had to worry about cars turning into it, or using the island in the middle for bike queuing between lights?

  • The third and fourth picture scare the crap out of me. Why is there a turn lane on the outside of the bike lane? Is NYDOT trying to increase the number of right hook collisions (see collision type #6 here)? This lane configuration is specifically prohibited in the MUTCD (see section 9C.04).

  • (n)

    So! Hooray for red arrow lights turning left!

  • (n)

    Lights went up between thursday and friday afternoon.

  • > Why is there a turn lane on the outside of the bike lane?

    Bikes making a right from the left side of sb bway should wait until the cars have a red, then make a right and join westbound traffic; or, merge into traffic to the right, and behave like a vehicle in the road.

    The adjacent bike-and-left-car-turn bays have mutually exclusive light phases, which drivers respect unless they’re in from the dirty Jerz.

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