Eyes on the Street: Bus Bulbs on Broadway, Protected Lanes on Second Ave

Broadway Bus Bulb Grates_1.JPGWith drainage grates being installed, Broadway’s bus bulbs can lose their fences. All images: Clarence Eckerson.

Bus bulbs are one of the most versatile tools in the livable streets toolkit. By extending the sidewalk out into the street, you can send a calming signal to through traffic, spare buses the trouble of pulling to the curb every few blocks, and expand the amount of pedestrian space in one fell swoop.

But the bus bulbs along Lower Broadway haven’t been living up to their full potential. In order to allow water to flow normally into drains, DOT had to leave a gap between the old sidewalk and the new bus bulb. Then they had to put up a fence along the sidewalk side of the bus bulb, presumably so no one would fall into the gap. What that left you with was an island of cement cut off from the busy sidewalks of SoHo, a waste of pedestrian space. 

It looks like that’s a thing of the past, however. By installing a grate over the gutter, rain can fall where it needs to and pedestrians can safely cross between sidewalk and sidewalk extension. That means the fences are coming down and benches are going up.

Broadway_Bus_Bulb_Benches.JPGBenches ready to be installed on wider Broadway sidewalks.

Moving uptown, we’ve written about the disappointing plans for the Second Avenue, which will switch from a protected lane to a curbside lane between 14th and 23rd Streets. But that doesn’t make it any less exciting to see the protected portion get striped. Here’s your newest protected lane: 

Second_Ave_Parking_Protected.JPGSecond Avenue’s parking-protected lane.
Second_Ave_Stenciling.JPGHello from DOT employees, stenciling the bike lane.

After the treat of seeing protected lanes get installed, here’s an easy, visual explanation of why a curbside lane isn’t good enough. Taken yesterday on Second Avenue, between 13th and 14th Streets:

That block should be parking protected once striping is complete, but Red Bull will be able to park its flotilla just a block north. 

  • Yeah, coming downtown and seeing Red Bull cars in the new bike lane was hysterical. They did not have a clue.

    Much nicer that they were gone upon return.

  • m to the i

    im going to wait until the lanes are complete and everyone gets used to the changes to make a definitive statement but i have a sneaking feeling that pretty narrow curb side lanes on 2nd ave through the east village are not going to work, especially on weekends. maybe its all the pedestrians who will walk in the lane and stand off the curb waiting to cross. maybe the cars who can’t park within the lines. maybe even the bikers who like to ride the wrong way in the lane.

    but, so far, i do like those mixing zones for bikes and left turning vehicles. much better than before.

  • I use bike lanes to run. I usually run on the edge of the lane closest to the parked cars and I have never given a biker a reason to complain. I run against the flow of traffic so I can give the bikers their right of way. This also gives me a chance to knock in the mirrors of the cars that park in the lane.

    http://whatyourdonotknowbecauseyouarenotme.blogspot.com/2009/03/hey-how-did-my-mirror-get-folded-in.html

    I woulda treated those Red Bull cars like an obstacle course.

  • Mike

    Bike lanes are for bikes. Please run on the sidewalk.

  • #4 Mike, “Bike lanes are for bikes. Please run on the sidewalk.”

    While your concern is appreciated it’s nice that people use bike lanes as safe places to do their mobility thing; despite the little bit of inconvenience.

    I like sneaking up behind people in “our” lanes to see how slow I can go for how long and before detection. Bikes are so quiet! It’s amazing how nice and apologetic most people can be.

  • Clarence Eckerson Jr.

    People run in the street where there are no bike lanes. I don’t have a problem with single runners running in bike lanes facing the correct direction (against traffic). I DO have a problem in places like Kent Ave in Williamsburg where people are running and walking two abreast (or more!) in bike lanes. If you can keep it single file, no biggie.

  • Checking out the Second Avenue bike lane on Thursday I was surprised to see how heavily used it is, even before it’s completed. Maybe they should’ve made it a bit wider to accommodate so many cyclists (and runners.)

    I personally don’t mind runners, people in wheelchairs, or anyone moving significantly faster than the average pedestrian using bike lanes. However I am bothered by salmon whether they on bikes or foot.

  • Jason A

    Space is at such a premium, and our streets are so crowded (and we desperately need congestion pricing!!!), I’m apt to grant excuses for non-car uses of the bike lanes. My only request is that if runners, pedestrians (whomever…) stroll into the bike lane, you exercise extreme care and recognize you’re a “guest” – and ensure you keep conditions safe and passable for all cyclists. I don’t mind joggers in the bike lane per se (and I’m a runner, and there will be times where I’ll run in and out of the bike lane on a crowded sidewalk…), just please, keep to the edges and always be mindful of passing cyclists.

  • I am just saying, bike lanes make great running routes for the same reason they are good bike lanes. But they are bike lanes, if I am gonna run there I keep that in mind.

  • If we run out of space some time in the far far distant future they will make more.

    Actually, a lot of these on-street rules come from cars, insurance and liability; there are not a lot of rules for pedestrians walking down the street or in malls.

    The financials of normal mobility side-by-side with the extremely destructive mobility of transportation systems based on cars is what causes this.

    People go skiing, snowboarding, skate boarding, biking, extreme sport enthusiasts, etc., etc. never need insurance.

    In normal systems the government is completely responsible for safety.

    In systems based on cars the government builds the roads — and the system — where victim and perpetuator hash it out on their own and insurance ultimately wins; the monopoly continues; big oil’s equity in dinosaurs appreciates.

  • I am always dismayed to see the sense of entitlement that some cyclists are starting to show. The reason people advocated for bike lanes, and the city subsequently started building them, is because a certain class of four-wheeled street users just didn’t seem to get the fact that an urban street serves many, many purposes. They were under the impression that the streets served one purpose: Moving automobiles.

    Now, we seem to have a class of cyclists which believes that the streets serve two purposes, and ONLY two purposes: Moving automobiles, and moving bicycles.

    Jogging is not a compatible use for the sidewalk any more than cycling is a compatible use. It’s a place to walk, to stroll, maybe even to sit. But not jog. Do they belong in the bike lane? I don’t know. New York City has always been about social interpretations of the rules, not following them to the letter. So the DOT painted a system of bike lanes, and New Yorkers decided that they were not only an appropriate place to ride a bike, but to jog, or for homeless people to push grocery carts filled with empty cans.

    Any cyclists who are that frustrated and/or annoyed that their fellow New Yorkers are using their streets in a different way than they had in mind should stop what they are doing, and visit their local Toyota dealer. Trust me, you’ll fit into the culture much better (you even get a silly-sounding horn to blow when somebody is in your path of entitlement!).

  • Brian

    What if the DOT takes the fencing that was removed from the Broadway bus bulbs and installs it along the new curbside bike lane on 2nd Avenue? It would prevent cars from parking in the bike lane and discourage peds from standing in the bike lane while they try to hail a cab or cross the street mid-block!

  • Lot’s of times crossing the Brooklyn Bridge both bike and pedestrian lanes are packed with people no problem cycling really; just have to go real slow, it means the weather is nice and people are having fun and good reason to have fun also.

    And, then there’s that little guy real skinny in the racing hat, clip-on shoes, multi-colored spandex shorts, nervous and nasty, flips the bird when you to tell him to calm down take it easy as he saves a few seconds going dangerously fast to reach the end of bridge and a truly spectacular ride. Really!

    The more people that use the lanes the better because it means that more are using and enjoying public space the way they should starting to break the monopoly that cars have been able to maintain for way too long and this city will get really nice and people will want more and more and when people from outside the city see how nice it is they will want their places to be like this also.

    So . . . #11 Jeff, Yes! Amen.

  • Gecko, your best comment ever.

  • I have bike over the Brooklyn Bridge a few times, but I run (on the pedestrian side) over it at least once a week. But never after 9am unless it is raining. The tourists are oblivious to the fact that it is a bridge, a mean of crossing a river. The Brooklyn Bride needs a staff. I hate to self promote, but…

    http://whatyourdonotknowbecauseyouarenotme.blogspot.com/2010/05/brooklyn-bridge-needs-staff.html

    I have brought this up with the people in the Tourism Office in Brooklyn Borough Hall and that ain’t going anywhere. Maybe the Parks Dept and run the Brooklyn Bridge instead of the Dept of Traffic.

  • J

    DOT really really needs ped islands here. Crossing the street is now trickier than before for peds, since you essentially must stay on the sidewalk until the light changes. Most people are used to waiting a few feet out, besides the parked cars, but now that space is a bike lane, and there is little guidance to inform people what to do now.

    Also, trucks seem to think the mixing zones are actually delivery zones. Hopefully, enforcement will curb this type of behavior.

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