CB 4 Wins Sidewalk Expansions, Bike Corrals For West Side Bike Lanes

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

One of the year’s most exciting street safety projects is on track to get better. Thanks to a recent set of recommendations from Community Board 4, the extension of the protected bike lanes on Eighth and Ninth Avenues will include additional sidewalk expansions and on-street bike parking. Though DOT didn’t adopt all of the board’s ideas — most notably, the agency is leaving a gap in the physical protection for cyclists in front of the Port Authority Bus Terminal — on the West Side, the community board’s requests are helping to build a better bike lane.

The Eighth and Ninth Avenue project, which will extended protected bike lanes from the low 30s to 42nd Street this spring and then up to 59th Street in the fall, was first approved by CB 4 last October. The chaotic Midtown streets badly need the redesign: Between 2005 and 2011, 14 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes on these blocks. In addition to the new bike and pedestrian infrastructure, the project is expected to improve safety by narrowing each travel lane by two feet.

While the community board wholeheartedly endorsed the project, it had a number of recommendations to make Eighth and Ninth Avenues even better places for walking and biking. Some of those have been incorporated into the project and are now set to become a reality.

In three locations, pedestrians packed into cramped Midtown sidewalks are going to get a little bit of breathing room. Sidewalk extensions will be added to the west side of Eighth Avenue between 42nd and 43rd Streets, the northeast corner of Ninth and 41st, and the southwest corner of Eighth and 57th, according to a draft of letter from the board to DOT, which the board shared with Streetsblog.

Even more sidewalk space could be cleared up by adding on-street bike racks in former parking spaces, or bike corrals. Believing that bicycles locked to poles and scaffolding were taking away too much pedestrian space, the board requested the corrals last fall. DOT said that the bike parking could be installed in 2013 (though the board wants them now), and would most likely be placed next to bike-share stations. The city’s first bike corral was just installed last summer.

In front of the Port Authority Bus Terminal, the Eighth Avenue protected bike lane will turn into a buffered bike lane, then a shared lane. Image: ##http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/downloads/pdf/201109_8th_9th_cb4_slides.pdf##NYC DOT##

The design for the bike lane in front of Port Authority, however, will remain inadequate. Under DOT’s proposal, the protected bike lane on Eighth Avenue will transition to a painted lane between 39th and 41st Streets. On the next block, cyclists will share a lane with motor vehicles turning left onto 42nd Street.

The board stated in its draft letter that it remained concerned about the safety of the shared zone. DOT has argued that as long as it keeps two left turn lanes onto 42nd Street, the shared lane is necessary to allow cyclists to continue straight.

DOT also rejected CB 4 requests to remove the pedestrian fence on Eighth Avenue and to replace mixing zones at most left turns with signals that separate bicycle, pedestrian and motor vehicle phases. DOT believes that except at large intersections, where signals will be used, mixing zones are as safe as signals and give each user more time to cross the intersection.

Though not every one of its demands was met, CB 4 is standing strong behind the plan for the two avenues. It supports the protected lanes, it wrote in its letter, not only as part of an effort to make New York City bike-friendly, but also because of their proven record of protecting pedestrians.

 

  • AlexB

     After it goes up to 59th St, the only major gap will be from 59th to 72nd. 

  • J

    This is fantastic news. The sidewalk on the west side of 8th Ave, just north of 42nd is constantly overcrowded in the evenings, with pedestrians spilling into the bike lane and roadway. Cops often park their cars right in the bike lane to direct traffic. Also, bike parking in that area is nearly non-existant and sidewalk congestion is bad throughout midtown. The on-street bike parking should ease both problems.

    It’s pretty amazing to see how far we’ve come. I remember when the 8th Ave lane was first installed. It was so bad there, that anything seemed better than no bike facilities at all. That project, of course, is a joke by today’s standards, constantly full of double parked cars and traffic whizzing by. This new project is one of the most exciting that I have seen in NYC, and it will surely do much to change how people get around on the west side. Once this is installed, it is surely only a matter of time before the gap between 59th & 77th is filled, making that stretch of Columbus much more useful, and providing a comfortable bike path for much of the west side.

  • Ben from Bed Stuy

    This speaks to the patience and persistence we need to build out our network. We know that NYC DOT wants to make our city safer for walkers and cyclists. It’s up to us to continue pressing for improvements – extending lanes, upgrading lanes, improving conditions for pedestrians. It’s not a quick process, and certainly not that much fun – but when we stick with it, we can protect the safety of our neighbors and friends.

  • Cberthet

    Correction, the 8th av lane will be built going north starting in May , then 9 th av will be built going south starting in July.
    Alex B, DOT mentionned interesting plans for Columbus circle. Stay tuned.

  • It’s not a ideal design from a bicyclist’s perspective but its much better than the conditions that exist in front of the Port Authority Bus Terminal now. 

    Maybe put a speed hump to slow cars that enter from the right into the mixing zone.

    Also, the supposedly “bike friendly” PA should build a secure bicycle parking area inside the bus terminal.  I’d have absolutely no desire to park any bicycle I own in a bike corral out in front of the terminal for more than 30 minutes. 

  • Marcus Schodorf

    Great news that they agreed to the sidewalk extension at 42nd and 8th (my suggestion at the October meeting!).  I am a little confused as to why they wouldn’t then remove the pedestrian fence at that same location though.  Are they going to move the existing fence to the new curbline?

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