The New New Broadway: More Pedestrian Space, Redesigned Bike Lane

Broadway from 42nd to 35th Streets will get more pedestrian space and one less lane of motor vehicle traffic, while the bikeway shifts from a protected lane to a buffered lane. Image: ##http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/downloads/pdf/2012-10-22-broadway-blvd-35-42.pdf##NYC DOT##

The protected bike and pedestrian space on Broadway between 42nd and 35th Streets will be redesigned in 2013 to give more space to pedestrians, removing a motor vehicle lane. The alterations will also change the bike lane from a protected route often used by pedestrians as a de facto sidewalk extension to a buffered lane between curbside parking and moving cars.

Because Broadway carries fewer motor vehicles than it used to, thanks to the elimination of through traffic at Times Square and Herald Square, DOT is reducing the number of motor vehicle lanes on this section of the street from two to one. Cyclists riding in the buffered bike lane probably won’t have to worry much about speeding cars, since traffic on Broadway has been calmed significantly. But instead of pedestrians ambling in the protected bike lane, cyclists may have to contend with more double-parked vehicles blocking the way.

In its presentation to Manhattan Community Board 5’s transportation committee last month, DOT dismissed the option of moving the bike lane from the curb to the other side of the pedestrian spaces so it could remain protected by a row of parked cars, as on Broadway between 57th and 47th Streets. DOT said it was not considering this option because the buffer between the parked cars and the bike lane, when combined with the required fire zone, would significantly reduce the amount of space available for tables, chairs, and other public amenities.

The change does not affect other sections of Broadway that have been redesigned from Columbus Circle to Union Square. It was unanimously supported by CB 5’s transportation committee on October 22, and it will go before the full board tomorrow at 6 p.m. at Xavier High School, 30 West 16th Street.

  • HamTech87

    Why not add a second row of planters in the existing lane?  Also, given how many tickets the NYPD has given to cyclists, I wonder whether NYPD is giving tickets to peds in the bike lane.  NOT THAT I’M ADVOCATING THIS, but it seems logical based on their illogical focus on bikes.

  • Anonymous

    Why not remove the parking and put the bike lane along the West sidewalk with some sort of minor grade separation or plastic delineators?  Seems like DOT isn’t presenting all of the options it can here.

    Think about how many tourists are going to take Citi Bikes from Times Square to Macy’s.  Now think about them riding in the door zone.  Why is preserving a tiny amount of parking in the most congested part of the city more important than protecting cyclists?

  • Anonymous

    Actually, if you removed the parking on the West side you could install a two-way bike lane to facilitate back-and-forth travel between Herald Square and Times Square.

  • USbike

    They are already widening the left-sided parking lane, so I don’t understand the rationale for widening the moving lane.  That’s just going to encourage higher speeds.  That 2 feet should instead be dedicated to the buffered bike lane; I also don’t know why they are narrowing the lane for cyclists.  And it’d be better to switch the parking lane with the bike lane.  That would also effectively give more space to cyclists.  

  • Anonymous

    I think the proposed change will at least making the bike lane usable. The existing lane is nearly useless because it is full of pedestrians. It is common for pedestrians to treat parking-protected bike lanes as an extension of the sidewalk, but this stretch of Broadway works worse than most because the bike lane is sandwiched between two pedestrian areas, instead of between the sidewalk and parked cars like other parking-protected bike lanes.

  • Seems like a protected lane against the West curb would have some merit here.

  • Larry Littlefield

    I’ll take it.

    After trying to get down this lane for a long time, and eventually giving up, I’ve begun to think that a “bike boulevard” on Park Avenue, limiting it to local traffic, would be a better solution for Midtown than protected bike lanes.

  • J

    This is great news for pedestrians and for slowing down drivers, but I don’t see why there can’t be a protected bike lane on the west curb, which is what exists south of 23rd street. I imagine that we’re swapping a bike lane full of pedestrians for a bike lane full of double parked cars.

    On the other hand, the Broadway corridor through midtown is pretty crappy for actual bike transportation of any distance. Above 47th, the signals are really poorly timed, so you hit a red every other block. There are no bike facilities through Times Square for 5 blocks, and you must either use 7th Ave or walk your bike, both of which suck. Herald Square has no dedicated bike space, so you have to weave through throngs of pedestrians. I’d prefer a high-quality bike facility here, but unless there’s a plan to fix the other issues on Broadway, I kind of don’t care and would rather focus my attention on other, more useful corridors.

  • ctp

    OMFG, do they have to change this every six months?! I almost die every time I ride Broadway because I can’t figure out what they changed it to now…

  • Thomas040

    god damnit, don’t take away my protected bikelane PLEASE!! i use this all the time, to go downtown …. now i have to go all the way to 2nd avenue?!

  • Anonymous

    This makes sense.  I ride in the street for this stretch usually anyway.  The bike lane was non-functional with peds beforehand.  And this stretch of broadway gets so little car traffic, that you car ride in an unprotected lane and still feel safe. 

  • There is more than enough space for a two-way cycle track. 

  • Anonymous

    Anyone know if they’ll be a public input session for this or not?

  • jim.moore70

    Who says America’s broke. If you can park cars on what must be some of the most expensive land in the world then you must be swimming in moolah.

    Oh, and a single cyclist width bike lane…in the door zone…in one direction only? And a motor vehicle lane wide enough for hummers? What’s the speed limit here…45mph?

    Instead of “existing” and “proposed” these should be titled Failed and Soon to Fail..

    Quickly, while everybody is busy, throw these plans in the trash and say they got blown away by Sandy, and then start again and do it right.

  • Anonymous

    With regards to the section north of Union Square – anytime I’ve been down there I’ve seen 5X more salmon than I have cyclists going with the flow of traffic.

  • JK

    What about putting the buffer on the door side/curb side? Depending on how close to the curb the parked car is, the car doors will extend 2-3 feet into the bike lane. Far more cyclists get doored than get struck from a  moving vehicle that’s moving straight ahead. Dooring, turning and double parked vehicles are the big danger. Seems crazy to keep designing lanes that put cyclists into the door zone.

  • J

    From ped clogged bike lane to car clogged bike lane. Better for peds, still crappy for bicyclists.

  • eLK

    Idiots!  Just look at 5th Ave below 23rd St.  It doesn’t work.

  • eLK

    Idiots!  Just look at 5th Ave below 23rd St.  It doesn’t work.

  • Daphna

    I support a re-configuration, but
    the one the DOT is proposing is a step backwards.  There are better
    options to create a protected bike lane that’s not in conflict with
    pedestrians.  However, the DOT is proposing an
    in-the-door-zone-of-parked-cars unprotected bike lane that will be used
    for double parking.

    That street space that could be re-configured differently.  There’s
    no need for a 12′ wide travel lane when 10′ is plenty.  8′ or 9′
    floating parking functions fine – there’s no need to increase it to 11′
    wide.  A 5′ bike lane is TOO narrow.  This and all future bike lanes
    need to be made at an appropriate width (8-10′).  Bike lanes should
    be made for the large future volume of bikes that there will be, not so
    narrow as to barely accommodate today’s volumes.

    Other better options:1) There could be a curbside protected bike
    lane on the west side of Broadway.  There is more room than the 11′
    needed for one if the moving lane were 10′ and the floating parking were
    8 or 9′ instead of 11′.
    2) The bike lane could go where the floating
    parking is currently and the floating parking could be moved one lane
    west.  Planters would divide pedestrians from bikes and bikes would
    still be protected by parked cars in floating parking.

    If street space is going to be reclaimed from motorists, then it
    should really be reclaimed.  Removing a travel lane and making a
    buffered bike lane is not really reclaiming street space from motorists because there is NO enforcement, obedience or
    respect for unprotected lanes.  That space is still for motorists who
    want it and can not be considered dedicated bike space.

    This stretch of Broadway is not heavily traveled and so an
    unprotected lane here is not as bad as elsewhere, but this is not the
    way to go with bike infrastructure.  Bike lanes need a
    physical barrier to keep motorists out since nothing else works.

    Also, during off hours and off seasons, when there are no pedestrians
    out, this Broadway bike lane functions very well as a de facto 
    bidirectional bike lane.  When it’s not protected, this quality will be
    lost.  (I supposed some will cheer but the fact that
    it is used as bi-directional shows that a protected uptown bike lane is
    needed and it’s a shame to take away this option.  I know there is a push for one on 6th Ave but that is a long way off)

  • Guest

    I love bike lanes and more bike friendly infrastructure, but two lane bike paths on one way streets in Manhattan is not a good idea.  The whole point of a grid system with mostly one way streets is the simplicity and predictability of traffic.  Pedestrians know which way to look when crossing the street — in the single direction traffic is coming from.  We can’t be adding to that confusion by now having bicyclists coming from both sides without warning.

  • Danny G

    @10468ad8d146df7dc85e4f8c51ef542e:disqus I agree with your opinion of a grid of one-ways when it comes to streets, which are spaced about 250 feet apart, a reasonable distance. I disagree when it comes to avenues, which are 500 to 1000 feet apart.

  • Daphna

    The comments regarding this change written by Streetsblog readers are right on target.  If only the DOT and Manhattan Community Board 5 and would read them!!

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