Eyes on the Street: A Safer, More Sociable Boulevard Takes Shape

allen_street_improvements.jpg

A reader sends this view of Pike Street, taken from the Manhattan Bridge bike path late last week. You’ll notice the square of light pavement connecting two mall segments. That’s the intersection with Monroe Street, one of four locations slated for pedestrian plazas in DOT’s most recent plan for Pike and Allen Streets [PDF]. A center median protected bike path running from Houston Street down to the water — the first of its kind in New York City, I believe, depending on how you categorize the Sands Street bike path — is also in the works. DOT’s project presentation characterizes these changes as interim
improvements that can help generate support for further funding and
more permanent construction.

The pedestrian and bike improvements on this corridor are the result of a painstaking bottom-up process that Sarah wrote about last September. Residents have been clamoring for safer walking, safer biking, and more welcoming public spaces on Allen and Pike for a long time. Soon, they’ll be able to enjoy the benefits of more humane streets. (We have a request in with DOT to find out when the project will wrap up.)

  • zgori

    This is on my usual biking route, between Manhattan Bridge and First Ave. I rode in that new bike lane today for the first time. Not finished yet, but usable now that the diagonal stripes are down. This street was never terrible because the traffic volume is reasonably low, but there’s a lot of truck traffic. This is a good arrangement and nice use of space.

  • I’ve been riding in the construction zone’s lane since they paved it. (Outside of work-hours, not gettin’ in the way of the work). It’s already safer than the outside bike lanes – with caveats.

    Last time I was riding up it a car jumped out in front of me (no signal, high accel, Jersey plate, black SUV, stereotypes reinforced etc) and used the striped zone as an acceleration lane. I’ve seen the same thing happen twice (a black or white Jersey SUV each time) while driving Allen in my car.

    Physical separation is going to be required. I know planters are going in at the plaza’d former cross-streets, maybe that’ll be enough.

    Still: Awesome work, enormous fan, DOT firing on all cylinders, I can’t say enough good things.

  • rlb

    Soon to be sourced by only the two lanes of Allen and the turning lanes of Houston, I wonder if the DOT has a plan for the already ludicrously underused 5 lanes of 1st ave below 14th st.

  • J

    Kaja,

    The plans appear to call for vertical plastic bollard to be placed in the hatched area, similar to those on 9th Ave shown here. Those should help out a lot, although I’d certainly prefer something a bit stronger.

  • I \v/ NY

    kaja, i just a day ago saw a hummer use some transit-only lanes for many blocks to get ahead other waiting traffic, funny how this is always a certain type of vehicle with a certain type of driver. you’d never see a sedan or a minivan do that.

  • I \v/ NY

    nationwide in the more bike friendly cities, why dont we see more physically separated bike lanes like in montreal and in most european cities? i’d rather have a fewer number of these quality separated lanes than lots of cheap poorly thoughtout painted lanes. to me the standard painted bike lanes really just provide the motorists in the adjacent “auto lane” a free extra 5 feet to sprawl into and its common knowledge that wider lanes encourage speeding.

  • Vertical plastic is great, I should’ve re-read the plans before poasting. The same people who blast up breakdown lanes are also deathly afraid of the slightest scuff of paint on their luxobarges, so plastic’ll do the job.

    I-v: You can’t change the world all at once. Incrementalism is the publically acknowledged policy of most of Bloomberg’s top managers, not just the DOT. Give it time.

  • I really like the pedestrian improvements in this plan but how are the cyclists supposed to get to the businesses on the right side of the road?

    I understand the need to widen the pedestrian plaza in the middle of the road to make it more amenable to pedestrians by buffering them from vehicles. Putting the bike lane in the center helps to achieve this and gets them away from vehicle doors. Still, the lane should get people to destinations on the street and not just shoot them through it (Yes, I know they can take the lane or walk on the sidewalk, but…).

    Also, is this design legal?

    I’m no expert on NY State or NY City law, however I do know that NYC had to change its vehicle code to allow cyclists to ride to the left on a one-way street so to then construct bike lanes on the left of one-way streets. Despite the pedestrian mall in the middle, Pike Street doesn’t really classify as two, one-way streets to me. Does the law allow for such a bike lane placement on a two-way boulevard? I hope that NYCDoT has covered their bases on this issue.

    As a professional, I would really like to know the answer to this. Across the river in Hoboken, I’m worried that their new (a la NYC) left side bike lanes may be illegal because nothing in New Jersey’s vehicle code permits a cyclist to ride to the left-hand side on a one-way street (See NJ 39:4-14.2.).

  • > I really like the pedestrian improvements in this plan but how are the cyclists supposed to get to the businesses on the right side of the road?

    The central lanes are through lanes. They are for people moving between the Delancey/Houston corridors and the river. Local traffic should merge into the car lanes, move to the right, and make a safe stop.

    If you’re not comfortable with merging into traffic, then dismount and cross at the crosswalk.

  • Dylan

    There ultimately will be a physically separated buffer with three feet of plants between the bike lanes and the vehicular lanes. This is a joint DOT and Parks department project. DOT is laying the groundwork with these temporary improvements and making sure the configuration works. Then Parks will begin constructing permanent improvements next year. This will double the “park” space that currently exists on the pedestrian malls. It’s a huge boon for a community that has a very low amount of open space per resident, and for the safety of pedestrians and cyclists on what has been a very dangerous street.

  • Dylan & Kaja,

    Agreed on all your points and I already thought of them. I’m still curious about the legal details though.

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