West Side Protected Lanes Get Thumbs Up From CB 4

Bike traffic on the Eighth Avenue protected bike lane. Photo: ##http://www.flickr.com/photos/bicyclesonly/3723831856/##BicyclesOnly/Flickr##

By a vote of 26 to 10 Wednesday night, Manhattan Community Board 4 endorsed DOT plans to extend the protected bike lanes on Eighth and Ninth Avenue from 34th Street to 59th Street. The bike lanes will improve safety for all users on some of Midtown’s most chaotic streets, which pass by Penn Station, the Port Authority Bus Terminal, and the Lincoln Tunnel entrance.

Though there were objections from a couple of businesses when the CB 4 transportation committee discussed the project last month, last night only one person testified about the lanes.”I’m just someone who got injured and started biking to heal the injury,” said Detta Ahl. “I found it was a good way to get around the city. I want to get around the city safely.”

Ahl also pointed out that the redesigned streets will improve safety for pedestrians and motorists as well as cyclists; further south on Eighth Avenue, a similar redesign reduced traffic injuries for all street users by 35 percent.

On the community board, opponents of the bike lane focused on what they saw as bad behavior by cyclists. Calls for additional education and enforcement of traffic laws earned loud applause.

Construction will take place in two phases next year. The lanes will be extended to 42nd Street in the spring and to 59th Street in the fall.

  • Thanks to Christine Bethet, Detta and the many others who helped make this happen. 

    Am I correct that this will be a fully parking-protected design (aside from the 2 blocks at Port Authority) on both 8th and 9th?  That would be huge.  First Avenue is currently the only on-grid protected cycling option through midtown and it’s so far east that it’s utility is limited.  A protected 8th Ave. path would be the option of choice for most cyclists who prefer protection from traffic for an uptown route through midtown, and will take a lot of the pressure off the Hudson River bike path.  And once you arrive at Columbus Circle, you’ve got a connection through East Drive in Central Park to the Upper East Side, East Harlem, and points north!

  • Eric McClure

    This is great news.

    But as for increased enforcement, NYPD is too busy spraying mace in the faces of peaceful protesters and deploying military anti-aircraft technology to worry about actually making our streets safer.

  • J

    This is really really important, as this will be by far the best route through midtown yet. When completed, it will connect to existing protected bike lanes on the south, which then link to the Manhattan and Williamsburg bridges. It will also connect to the CPW lanes and Central Park path to the north. With this in place, it’s a no brainer to complete the Columbus Ave lane from 77th down to 59th Street, which creates a nearly uninterrupted west side bikeway.

    Combined with the greenway, this will create the first neighborhoods which approach the 8-80 standard in terms of bikeability. You’ll pretty much be able to get most places within those neighborhoods using only protected bike lanes and striped crosstown bike lanes. I imagine that biking is going to soar there.

    Also, since the lanes pass by both Port Authority and Penn Station, they’ll create amazing connectivity between transit and biking, which is incredibly important for bikeshare. Workers coming into either of those destinations can exit the stations and take a bikeshare up protected lanes on 8th Ave and head crosstown to the many many jobs there. The most difficult part will be the crosstown streets, which are hectic but fairly slow moving during the day.

    I consider this to be a bit of a hump project. It may become a fight later, as businesses bring out their standard gripes about loading and parking. However, it looks like DOT has gotten much more proactive in addressing those issues. The connections with bikeshare and other lanes will make removing these lanes virtually impossible. It’s also pretty ingenious that the capacity argument is a nonstarter, since this project provides a slight increase in capacity. If we can get this put in alongside bikeshare, biking with become much more normal and the public debate will shift from “if we should accomodate biking” to “how can we accomodate biking”.

  • Anonymous

    This is huge news.

    J’s comment makes me think of the train stations I’ve seen in Japan, Holland, and Denmark, with their massive bike parking areas.  IMO, finding adequate bike parking is already becoming a problem in many parts of NYC, and I look forward to the inevitable complaints about a lack of bike storage, which will a) be undeniable physical evidence of a growing number of cyclists, and b) lead to calls for more accommodation.  Several times recently in both Brooklyn and Manhattan I’ve had to walk around for a while in disbelief trying to find a signpost that doesn’t already have 2-3 bikes tied up.  The other day I was relieved that the person who had locked her bike over mine happened to come back just in time!

  • Daphna

    To answer Bicycles Only’s question and provide more details:

    9th Avenue will get a protected bike lane from 60th Street down to 33rd Street.  33rd-31st Streets will apparently have no lane.  31st-30th has an existing unprotected bike lane.  30th to 15th Streets has the original protected bike lane.  When completed this will be a protected bike lane on 9th Avenue from West 60th to 15th Street minus 3 blocks (33rd-30th).  From 60th to 33rd there will be 3 dedicated left turn lanes with signals that separate vehicles turning left from bicycles going straight, and 10 mixing zones where drivers turning left use the bike lane and are supposed to yield to bicyclists going straight.

    8th Avenue will get a protected lane from 34th up to 59th Street minus 3 blocks (39th – 42nd).  39th-41st will have an unprotected lane with a painted buffer; 41st-42nd will only have sharrows.  When complete, there will be a protected lane on 8th Avenue from West 11th to 59th Street minus 3 blocks (39th-42nd).  There will be 1 dedicated left turn lane and 10 mixing zones in the new section between 34th-59th on 8th Ave.

    The 8th and 9th Avenue protected bike lane extensions from 34th/33rd to 42nd is scheduled to be installed in the Spring of 2012.  The 42nd to 59th/60th stretch is supposed to be installed in the Fall of 2012.

    This is a great plan!  I am concerned about the many mixing zones, but am thrilled overall.  My hope is that the DOT completes the installation as planned in the Fall of 2012 because I fear that the new NYC mayor may put all uninstalled plans on hold.

  • Daphna, the next mayor takes office 1st of January 2014. That’s more than two years from today.

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