Eyes on the Street: A Better Willy-B Approach on Clinton Street

A reader sends this shot of the new two-way bike path on Clinton Street, looking south from the Williamsburg Bridge bike path approach on Delancey. Before, Clinton Street had two-way traffic lanes with sharrows, and orange construction barrels blocked bridge access, or at least made it more of a pain if you were biking. The reconfigured bike and car access (northbound drivers can now get onto the Williamsburg Bridge from Clinton, relieving some pressure on the local street grid), is part of the broader Delancey Street safety project that DOT is implementing this summer.

The new treatment extends down to Grand Street, and we hear the green paint went on a couple of days ago. Have a look at what it replaced:

Image: ##http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/downloads/pdf/2012-02-delancey-slides.pdf##NYC DOT##
  • Daniel Dunnam

    As of the day before yesterday the entire lane has been repainted green. The new green covers the stripes and arrows shown here. Presumably they’re going to repaint those ontop of the green (if they haven’t already. I haven’t been by today). It seems a little odd to have painted in that order, so I assume it was an mistake.

  • They painted over the chevrons? That would be strange, since the chevrons are like crosswalks for bikes, and go where car traffic crosses the bike lane. They never paint that part of the street green. In this photo the chevrons and center stripe don’t really extend past the intersection.

  • MFS

    That’s not the only issue- there is a now a leading pedestrian indicator at Grand/Clinton and they’ve taken away the traffic light that faces north (that would be facing bikers coming from the bridge).  There is a sign that says “bikes use ped crossing” on the crosswalk signal. 

    What that means is that southbound bikers are getting the end of a walk cycle at the same time that the people crossing the north side of Clinton are getting a walk signal.  So the bikers are being directed to go through the crosswalk at the same time people are being told to walk across it.  Seems dangerous and easily fixed by putting the traffic light back.

    Also the bikes use ped signal is yellow (a warning sign) and should be white (a mandate sign) as all other such signs in the city are.

    I think this project is a great concept, but was dogged on a technical level in a couple ways.

  • Willyb

    Cheers for better access to the Willy’b bike path

  • Ben Kintisch

    These are all small, welcome improvements that make things better without approaching the holy grail needed for real safety on Delancey street: a center median, protected bike lane approach to the bridge entrance. Until that is built, hundreds of cyclists each day will continue risking life and limb jockeying with thousands of cars as they head towards the Delancey Street Williamsburg Bridge entrance. Some cyclists follow the safest route, but many use the fastest and most direct route. So let’s make that safer, too!

  • Anonymous

    This is a nice improvement over what had been on Clinton St. before.  It’s worth noting that there were improvements for drivers as well: drivers going north on Clinton can now take it all the way to Delancey, and just turn right to get on the bridge. Before, drivers had to turn left off of Clinton one block before Delancey, at Broome St., then go two blocks to Norfolk St., where they had to turn right to go north in order to get onto Delancey from there.
     
    But, there is a bigger issue happening at Delancey and Clinton.  It pertains to the one-way eastbound bike lane that is in the centre of Delancey St.  Every day, I see bicyclists taking this lane the wrong way, despite the presence of three large signs saying “WRONG WAY”.  It is maddening to see this. 
     
    Part of the problem is the lack of enforcement. Now, please understand that I am the very opposite of a cop-lover; and I abhor the cheap ticket traps that the police often set for bicyclists, sometimes right there at the Williamsburg Bridge, often in Central Park. Furthermore, I am well aware of the police’s “don’t-give-a-fig” attitude towards bicyclists’ lives in cases of vehicular assault.
     
    Still, it would be very good if bicyclists going the wrong way on that Delancey St. bike lane received tickets.  Bicyclists going west on the eastbound Delancey St. bike lane are a danger to the riders using the lane correctly; they are also a danger to themselves, as they have nowhere to go at the end of that lane except into the left lane of westbound Delancey.
     
    Most important, these people contribute to a terrible perception problem which hurts all bicyclists, a perception problem which will surely lead to the rollback or even the elimination of our great bike infrastructure under the next mayor. These misbehaving bicyclists are, in effect, making a very public statement in favour of the removal of our bicycle infrastructure.
     
    That bicyclist going the wrong way on the Delancey St. bike lane and shooting out into traffic in the left lane is sure to be the subject of dinner-table conversation on the part of scores of drivers. (I have a friend who drives over the Williamsburg Bridge often, and whose perception of bikes and bike lanes is formed mostly by those types of idiots. There are many thousands of people just like him.)
     
    The same goes for the bicyclists who fail to stop at red lights, thereby making crossing pedestrians jump out of the way.  (All the worse if the offending bicyclist is in a bike lane!) This is not soon forgotten by the pedestrian, nor by witnesses.
     
    This kind of thing leaves me seething. When I stop at red lights and ride in the correct direction, I am trying to ride safely; but I am also conscious of setting a good example for fellow bicyclists, and of creating a good impression of bicyclists for the general public.  I know, however, that I am vastly outnumbered. And the general public, seeing rampant irresponsible behaviour on the part of bicyclists, is not entirely wrong in concluding that there is no point in creating more bicycle infrastructure, given how often it is abused. (Of course, infrastructure for cars is a permanent feature, regardless of the behaviour of the majority of drivers who are oblivious. In a just world, bike infrastructure would the permanent part of the landscape, while misbehaving drivers would put auto infrastructure at risk of being elimnated. But we do not live in that sort of world.)
     
    I have ridden in our City for over 30 years; and I say that this is the “golden age” of bicycling. Our quality of life as bicyclists in New York has never been higher. But it’s almost over; our “golden age” has peaked. We owe thanks to Bloomberg (despite his flaws) for his appointments of DOT Commissioner Sadik-Khan and also of Parks Commissioner Benepe. But, due mainly to the badly-behaving bicyclists, when the current administration goes, so will go most of the improvements that we bicyclists have enjoyed for the past decade.

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Eyes on the Street: Clinton Street’s New Bikeway

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A new two-way bikeway is under construction to provide a connection between the Williamsburg Bridge and the East River Greenway. The route along Clinton Street extends the existing two-way protected bike lane between Delancey and Grand an additional five blocks to South Street, where it connects to the waterfront bike path beneath the FDR Drive. The waterfront greenway, which […]