Status Report: DOT Considering Bike Facilities in East Side BRT Plan

A quick update on the status of bike infrastructure in the city’s plans for the East Side. We asked DOT whether the agency is considering protected bike facilities as part of the Bus Rapid Transit corridor planned for First and Second avenues. The press office says:

We have been considering ways to incorporate bike facilities and expect to be reporting back to stakeholders soon.

Not a whole lot to go on there, but it’s good to hear that DOT is looking into the possibilities. The recent organizing around this issue has been formidable. Community Board 8 passed a resolution last month favoring protected bike lanes for the East Side. And last week, Transportation Alternatives delivered more than a thousand letters to transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan asking for protected bike lanes on First and Second.

  • Let’s also consider the current situation on First and Second Avenue. With 5 lanes of active car traffic and a 6th lane for buses during rush hour, you have a wild crazy situation that does not necessarily improve traffic flow.

    What you often get is cars switching lanes quite often creating a dangerous situation to people inside cars and on the sidewalks. Also currently, you could find yourself in the far left lane needing to make a right turn across 6 lanes of traffic…

    On Second Ave specifically, the influx of cars at 59th Street creates a bottleneck that can only handle 3-4 lanes of traffic anyway. But instead, you have the entire upper deck of inbound traffic merging with 5-6 lanes of car traffic. Dumping that many cars at one time into the same intersection is lunacy.

    Separating the bus lanes will also prevent the constant merge and re-merging of buses from the curb to the first moving traffic lane. A steady flow of 3 lanes of private automobile/taxi traffic is plenty and it should channel the volume more efficiently since there will not be as much lane switching.

    The goal of the East Side Avenue redesign should be to move more people safely & efficiently, not more cars faster. If done correctly, we could see a huge change in mode share for bike and buses.

  • Boris

    By the way, this “lunacy” is abetted by the city in three different ways: peak-direction lane reversals on the bridge; traffic agents that speed cars through intersections; and using formerly rapid transit (trolley) bridge lanes for cars. Bringing back Queensboro Bridge rapid transit, probably in the form of BRT on Queens Blvd and over the bridge, would solve all traffic problems in this area. Physically separated lanes already exist, in the form of outer roadways. And depending on routing, it may increase utilization of the new BRT lanes on First and Second Avenues by adding inter-borough routes.

  • Of course, there is already a protected Bike Lane on the East Side. One that has no cars at all. One that is also safe for pedestrians. It even has a view of the East River. I’m talking, of course, of the Greenway. Oh, but there is a Gap between 38th and 61 streets – 23 blocks. This also corresponds to the area, especially around the 59th street bridge, where 9 cyclists have been killed from 1995-2007, on or near the official Greenway Detour. Just today, we learned of a wheelchair-bound woman who was run over by a garbage truck on Hudson Street – in a separated Bike Lane. http://www.thevillager.com/villager_341/womenclingstolife.html
    This goes to show that not even separated bike lanes are safe from vehicles – though perhaps this tragedy will force the city to finally make them so.
    Still, if we are going to give up a lane – however well-deserved – to BRT, than both cars and bikes will be squeezed onto the remaining lanes, unless the city provides a Second lane (or half lane) for just bikes. I do hope they don’t expect us to share the lane with the Rapid Bus Transiting behind us.
    Sign the petition to close the Gap now:
    http://www.change.org/actions/view/close_the_gap_2

  • IsaacB

    Redesign of 1st and 2nd also needs to account for the streets’ serving as Manhattan’s primary n-s truck routes and it’s impact on the people who live, work or visit along its length.

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