DOT Plans Safer Walking and Biking Routes to Bronx River Greenway

DOT is proposing to add a two-way, jersey barrier-protected bikeway to a block of Bruckner Boulevard that's currently a high-speed asphalt free-for-all. Image: ##http://www.streetsblog.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/2013-01-bronx-river-greenway-cb2.pdf##DOT##

The Bronx River Greenway, threaded along the waterfront between expressways, railroad tracks and busy arterial avenues, is difficult to access for many of the surrounding South Bronx residents. A proposal from DOT [PDF] would improve park access while providing some order to the area’s streets.

“It’s hard for folks in the neighborhood to get to these parks,” said Joe Linton, greenway director for the Bronx River Alliance. “We’re going to need these on-street improvements.”

The plan has four components. The first will add a two-way barrier-protected bikeway along a block of Bruckner Boulevard, immediately adjacent to the Bruckner Expressway. It would connect a sidewalk near the southern end of Concrete Plant Park to north-south bike lanes on Bryant and Longfellow Avenues. The lane is carved out of the massive expanse of asphalt currently used for a 41-foot wide travel lane.

While this is a huge safety gain for a location that currently sees a lot of wrong-way cycling on a high-speed road, the lane connects to a pedestrian bridge across the Bruckner Expressway that has no ramps. Instead, bike riders have to carry their bikes up a sloping set of stairs.

“They can still do more to seamlessly connect it,” said Richard Gans, a volunteer on the Transportation Alternatives Bronx committee. “In general, we’re happy with the improvements that are proposed,” he added.

To the north, those improvements include adding green painted bike lanes to Edgewater Road, a frontage street immediately east and parallel to the Sheridan Expressway. Until phase two of Starlight Park is completed (a bureaucratic tangle currently stands in the way), Edgewater Road will be the best connection between Concrete Plant Park and Starlight Park’s first phase, which recently opened to the north. Even after phase two is open, this will remain the most direct route for many residents accessing the parks.

In addition to new bike lanes on Edgewater Road, Westchester Avenue and Bruckner Boulevard, intersections marked above are slated for safety improvements. Image: ##https://maps.google.com/?ll=40.828034,-73.878765&spn=0.022049,0.02871&t=m&z=15&lci=bike##Google Maps##

Westchester Avenue will receive striped bike lanes and shared lanes between Bryant Avenue and Bronx River Avenue; the dedicated lanes will give way to sharrows where stanchions from the elevated 6 train narrows the lane widths. The road will also receive striping to channelize traffic flow; currently, there is minimal striping to indicate where drivers should go.

Intersections will also get safety treatments. Edgewater Road and Westchester Avenue will receive a short two-way buffered bike lane to provide a connection between the greenway in Concrete Plant Park and the new bike lanes on Edgewater Road.

The intersection of Westchester Avenue and Whitlock Avenue, which currently has long crossings for passengers trying to access the elevated 6 train, will receive painted pedestrian islands and bulb-outs.

To the east, where Westchester Avenue crosses Bronx River Avenue, a slip lane from Close Avenue will be converted to pedestrian space. A corner of the intersection’s existing concrete island will be shaved off so that trucks currently using the slip lane will be able to turn from Close Avenue to Bronx River Avenue.

The proposals came about after a site visit DOT hosted last summer with the Bronx River Alliance. A video produced after the site visit shows the dangerous street conditions near the greenway. Nearby residential areas in Claremont received the city’s first Slow Zone treatment in 2011.

DOT presented the proposals to committees of Community Boards 2 and 9 in mid-January but has not yet received supportive votes from the full boards. CB 9’s public service committee chair William Rivera tells Streetsblog that he will bring up the proposal for a vote at the committee’s March 19 meeting, after which it could advance to the full board on March 21.

Streetsblog has inquiries in with DOT and CB 2 for more information. Implementation could begin as early as this spring, according to Linton, but DOT has not confirmed a timeline.

  • I’d say go ahead and make the two 14ft lanes 12ft and add the extra 4 feet to widen the bidirectional bike path so that cyclists have 7ft lanes in each direction. Why go with the minimum of 5ft when there’s clearly room for a wider bike facility without compromising anything?

  • Ben Kintisch

    Little by little making the Bronx bikable. Nice proposal DOT, and keep up the good work, Bronx TA committee. 

  • Andrew

    A 41-foot lane? How does that even happen?

  • Ben Kintisch

    I wonder what other super wide highway-type roads could be improved with this new design to feed more cyclists safely to the Bronx River Greenway. Suggestions, readers?

  • Joe R.

    I was thinking the same thing, Andrew. Maybe it was going to be a lane for The Big Bus:

    http://www.thepetrolstop.com/2011/07/cyclops-big-bus.html

  • Anonymous

    Great news. DOT often seems to prefer leaving the worst roads be, given their role in the regional transportation network. Facing the challenge of Bruckner head on, even for a short distance, is important. 

  • Caltrans is willing to have lanes be as narrow as 12ft (In LA the DOT goes as narrow as 10ft) so why this proposal offers 14ft wide lanes is beyond me. Push for a wider bike facility– there’s the room to do it! For a road diet project here in LA advocates were able to push for an extra half foot so that the bike lanes were implemented as 5.5ft wide rather than the minimum 5ft. See this post advocating for more than the minimum. http://www.bikesidela.org/no-more-door-lanes/

  • KillMoto

    Wait, 41′?  So I could park my extended cab, long bed pickup perpendicular to the curb and the lane would still be insanely wide? 

    Yes – 7′ in each direction for the cyclists, thank you.  Build it that way from the start, saving me the trouble of using said pickup to move the barriers that 4′ south…

  • jrab

    I am disappointed that there are no improvements on the Westchester Ave Bridge over the Sheridan Expressway and Bronx River. The stretch between the Sheridan access road on the west and Bronx River Ave on the east is like a mini speedway. Every time I cross it, I imagine smacking straight into one of the elevated-subway pillars that dot the route.

    Safety would be greatly improved by making the intersections into right angles and painting better lanes for all traffic, including bicycles.

  • Bronxite

    Also, still waiting for a pedestrian/bike bridge across the Bronx River at Lafayette Ave.

  • Daphna

    I agree with Walk Eagle Rock.  Although this plan is an improvement over the current street layout, there is no need for two 14′ wide vehicle travel lanes.  Those two lanes could be 11′ wide and then the bike lane could be 8′ in each direction instead of 5′.  5′ is too narrow.  10′ lanes are wide enough even for trucks and buses at the citywide 30mph speed limit.  11′ lanes are more than enough. 12′ lanes are for highway speeds. 14′ lanes are completely unnecessary.  Meanwhile, the bike lane at 8′ in each direction would make it much more practical.

  • Bronxite

    The extra footage doesn’t necessarily need to join the bicycle lane either. The area could use some beautification. Greenstreets anyone? With that much space you should be able to do both. Traffic calming should be priority #1.

  • Bronxite

    And does anyone know the status of the South Bronx Greenway? Will there be protected bicycle lanes on Bruckner Blvd? Or how about the status of the Randall’s Island connector? Some of these implementations were to happen years ago…

  • If the car lanes are made 11 feet, thats 7 extra feet to work with.

    Make the jersey barrier not be ugly….increase from 4 to 7 feet and add trees.

    That leaves 4 feet. Make the bike lanes 7 feet each way.

  • Bronxite

    How about an extension of the coming Bruckner Blvd (between Longfellow and Bryant Aves) protected, two-way bike lane to Southern Blvd along E 163rd St. That would provide Bronxites in the Southeast Bronx (Soundview/Harding Park/Castle Hill/Throgs Neck) a safe connection to the Southern Blvd bike lane (safest/fastest way towards Manhattan on the East side of the Southwest Bronx). That 3 block extension would mean a world of a difference.

  • Holly Rose

    So excited to see bike lanes along Westchester Ave. I commute to and from work ( via Triboro Bridge) and I feel slightly safer. Thank you!

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