Eighth Avenue Protected Bike Lane Slated for 11-Block Extension

eighth_avenue_packed.jpgThe Eighth Avenue protected bike lane is up for an 11-block extension from 23rd Street to 34th Street. Photo: BicyclesOnly/Flickr

A reader sent along this item spied on the DOT events calendar for next week. On Wednesday the 16th, at Manhattan Community Board 4…

DOT will present a proposal to extend the Eighth Avenue Bike
Path from West 23rd Street to West 34th Street. The project will create
safer pedestrian crossings, reduce speeding and calm traffic, maintain
existing auto capacity and create a safe, protected cycling path.

So by the end of this year, there should be four north-south protected bike routes extending up to 34th Street, each at least 20 blocks long — on First, Second, Eighth, and Ninth Avenues. The first protected segment north of 60th Street, on Columbus Avenue, is on the way too. Each of these bikeway segments will become exponentially more useful and attract many more New Yorkers once they’re extended to create cohesive corridors, running through Midtown, connecting Upper and Lower Manhattan.

It would be a big mistake to assume that a complete network of protected bikeways is inevitable. After today’s news that protected bike routes along the whole East Side are no sure thing, I think there are two major questions to consider. One is whether Mayor Bloomberg has the will to complete these corridors in the next three years. And the second is whether advocates can mobilize well enough to make his decision an easy one.

  • What is it with south of 34th Street?

    Why should supporters do anything frankly? It doesn’t seem like DOT really cares if it gets an unprecedented amount of support for the East Side bike lanes and then after a process of many months, many meetings and raising our hopes with “final” plans we get a weak final product that gets changed at the last minute anyway.

  • J

    It’s simply because there’s less traffic south of 34th Street. DOT has shown a commitment to keeping traffic moving, so all the projects so far have targeted areas with excess capacity. Midtown, and many parts of the UWS and UES simply don’t have that excess capacity to work with, especially near tunnels and bridges.

    In addition, downtown has a healthy cycling community, so new bike lanes will be well used, and won’t appear empty. It takes a bit of time for people to change behavior, so even if you put a bike lane in East Harlem, if it didn’t lead anywhere, it wouldn’t get much use, and could derail future bike lanes. To put things in perspective, Portland still only has one short cycle track. It takes times and can be very frustrating, but slow cautious change is permanent change. Radical overnight change can bring everything to a grinding halt.

  • J

    Also, I’m a little surprised they wanted to extend the bike lane all the way up to 34th St. Up to 30th is pretty free and clear, but traffic begins to get heavy next to Penn Station/MSG and is stays heavy up into the 50s, with Midtown and Lincoln Tunnel traffic.

  • HaSoferet

    Great news! Now if we can just get people to stop going in the wrong direction in the bike lane.

  • eLK

    That’s great! I’ll take 8 blocks anytime, anyplace.

  • JK

    Glenn, today’s frustrating news about the “cycling safety hole” on 1st, 2nd and 8th Aves north of 34th street is a reminder of why congestion pricing remains the Holy Grail of sustainable transportation in NYC. Pricing leads to reduced motor vehicle demand, which leads to more street capacity, which makes it politically easier to build protected bikeways. Cycling in London increased tremendously in the first few years after congestion pricing for this very reason. Unfortunately, it is going to be an ugly process after the new protected lanes are built on the East Side and extended here to 34th Street. Large numbers of cyclists are going to be dumped into hostile territory as their protected lane ends. Their unhappiness will be the political force which ultimately compels protected lanes to extend all the way through Midtown. It may take many years for that to happen.

  • Glenn

    JK – totally agree about lack of CP as a contributor, but I really thought this complete streets approach was the alternative within the Mayor’s power – simply prioritize Buses, Peds, and bikes and traffic volumes reduce over time. If the plan is to do this piecemeal over a few years, then fine.

    All I feel like right now is that DOT either pulled a sham on the East Side north of 34th street or squandered our advocacy efforts on a suicide mission and after jumping through all their hoops (elected official support, community board approval, 1000 letters of support, etc, they just abruptly change course without giving us a clue as to what their future intentions are.

    Right now I just don’t trust them

  • nobody

    Look to the Mayor, not DOT, as the target of your blame.

  • Moe

    Glenn, the idea that DOT has total control of NYC or that our monstrously-sized city government is some kind of unified, well oiled machine is a typical conceit here on streetsblog but very far from reality.

  • Why are they extending this when they can’t even keep it clear of vehicles now?

    Rite Aid and Souther Beverage Distributors, among others, still routinely obstruct the 8th and 9th avenue lanes.

    I think it’s a load of shit to put money into extending it if huge trucks can still get in them.

  • Why are they extending this when they can’t even keep it clear of vehicles now?

    Rite Aid and Souther Beverage Distributors, among others, still routinely obstruct the 8th and 9th avenue lanes.

    I think it’s a load of bull to put money into extending it if huge trucks can still get in them.

  • J

    Liam,
    I ride that route all the time and, yes, big trucks do occasionally get into them. The bike lanes were made really wide on purpose, so the lanes could be installed without buying new street sweepers, new snow plows, etc. In all my time on 8th and 9th Aves, I’ve seen a truck in there maybe 3 or 4 times. Yes, it was obnoxious, but I’ll take a protected lane that’s free and clear 99% of the time over an unprotected lane any day.

    We can and should always strive for better, but not at the expense of good progress.

  • Lauri Schindler

    @HaSoferet: I don’t like that game of chicken either. I’d like DOT to add “wrong way” to the bike lane stencils, printed “upside down” so that those riding counterflow know it’s meant for them. I think some of the newer lanes are stenciled with arrows to address this issue, but frankly I think that “wrong way” is a little more blunt and may be a little more effective.

  • Gregg

    They’re redoing the cement at the corners of the 8th ave bike lane working north from bank street. Anyone know about the plans for plantings around the trees? I planted flowers at 12th St but it got all dug up when they redid the cement. New topsoil put in today.

  • I hate bike lanes

    Sorry, but these bike lanes are one of the worst things to happen to this city. I’m sick of this jerkoff mayor trying to remake this bustling metropolis into some sleepy european town. People need to unload goods curbside in order for businesses to remain viable, and this is nothing but a hinderance. In this period of serious financial crisis, why is the city wasting vast amounts of money redoing our city streets while cutting off funding for rape crisis hotlines?!!! Seriously screwed up priorities. If you want to bike, go to the country. If you want to cross the street mid-block, live in NYC. At least that’s how it used to be. Urban planning run amok!

  • Sorry, but, that’s like, your opinion.

    If people business aren’t going to remain viable without curbside loading, why have they survived to this point?

    Take 8th Avenue for example. Many curbside loading zones were routinely ignored by drivers who would instead parking in the old bike lane. I have dozens and dozens of pictures showing this. So what the fuck are you talking about?

  • dave

    yes, screw everyone who drives in the city to appease 1% of the population, which drops to .5% once the temperature drops below 55F. I wonder how this is going to look when it starts to snow.

  • Yeah, screw everyone who drives in the city needlessly! More space for people on foot and people on bikes.

    Also, you aren’t “screwed” you just can’t double park in the bike lanes like complete morons anymore. Sorry!

  • ChrisCo

    10th Avenue needs a protect bike lane. Preferably two-way.

    Anyone who has sat in the 10th Avenue viewing area on the High Line knows what I’m talking about. It’s just TOO FRIGGIN WIDE.

  • Guy Ross

    You don’t have to wonder as people already ride bikes in the city and there has also already been a winter.

    http://www.amny.com/transit/citi-bike-ridership-didn-t-cool-down-during-winter-months-1.11589286

  • Alexander Vucelic

    10% of CBD roadway traffic are cyclists using 2% of space