At Long Last, DOT Proposes Bike Lanes for Upper Manhattan

DOT recommends “future study” for bike infrastructure on upper Broadway and the Broadway Bridge, background left.

Responding to years of citizen advocacy and a resolution from Manhattan Community Board 12, DOT has proposed bike lanes for a number of streets in Upper Manhattan.

Most of the lanes, concentrated in Washington Heights [PDF], would be installed next year, after a consultation with CB 12 this fall. One would be protected by parked cars.

The plan also acknowledges but does not set a timetable for the highest priority of local livable streets advocates: a bike route on Dyckman Street to connect the Hudson and Harlem River Greenways, first proposed by Inwood residents in 2008.

Among the proposed bike routes are:

  • W. 177th Street between Broadway and Cabrini Boulevard (2013 installation)
  • Cabrini Boulevard between W. 177th Street and W. 178th Street to the George Washington Bridge (2013 installation)
  • W. 179th Street between Amsterdam Avenue and Cabrini Boulevard (179th serves as a motorist access point to the GWB)
  • W. 180th Street between Cabrini Boulevard and Amsterdam Avenue
  • Ft. George Hill between Fairview Avenue and Dyckman Street (parking protected)

The proposal, presented to the CB 12 transportation committee in May, includes two to four miles of lanes on Amsterdam Avenue, possibly interrupted at intersections with “prohibitively high traffic volumes,” and on St. Nicholas Avenue between Fairview Avenue and Broadway.

In Inwood, bike lanes on Seaman Avenue, which connects the Hudson River Greenway to the Bronx, would be rehabbed. Photos: Brad Aaron

Bike lanes would be refurbished for the full lengths of Ft. Washington Avenue, which runs from W. 160th Street to north of W. 190th, and Seaman Avenue, which parallels Broadway from Riverside Drive to W. 218th Street.

On W. 180th Street, DOT would simply paint in a bike lane to the right of moving auto traffic. On W. 179th, the proposal would convert a motor vehicle lane to a bike lane and a two-foot buffer, while also maintaining parking on both sides.

Thanks to residents who have advocated tirelessly on behalf of safer streets, CB 12 has seen a pretty remarkable turnaround. While still protective of free on-street parking, in 2011 board members unanimously passed a resolution asking DOT to explore bike infrastructure improvements for Washington Heights and Inwood.

At the top of the board’s wish list was the project known informally as the “Dyckman Greenway Connector.” The proposal is one of a dozen potential bike routes DOT recommends for “study” at an unspecified date, along with Broadway between W. 168th Street and W. 218th Street and the harrowing Broadway Bridge.

West 218th Street, which connects Broadway and Inwood Hill Park and is part of a marked and mapped bike route for cyclists headed to and from Van Cortlandt Park, in the Bronx, is deemed “insufficient width for upgrade.” The street has two lanes of parking and had bike lanes until they were recently downgraded to sharrows by DOT.

Shortcomings aside, the DOT proposal is a big step forward for a large swath of Manhattan that has scant bike infrastructure, and it has safe streets advocates ready for the next step.

“Now that there’s a plan, we definitely support the bike lanes and moving forward with them,” says Jonathan Rabinowitz of Bike Upper Manhattan. “We will be discussing this with each other and with the transportation committee in order to refine our response and let DOT know where we think their basic plan can be tweaked and improved, and also where we suggest bike share stations could go.”

Adds Rabinowitz: “I am quite pleased to finally have a bike lane on my block, personally.”

  • Kevin Love

    “…possibly interrupted at intersections with ‘prohibitively high traffic volumes…'”

    English translation: “Where you most need bike lanes, you are not going to get them.”

    Meanwhile, here is a video of how intersections are handled in places that regard cyclists as real human beings.

  • Bronxite

    Very nice additions (I welcome the new bike lanes),

    But surprised St. Nicholas isn’t a parking protected path. Very central and wide enough to support it.

  • Bronxite

    Very nice additions (I welcome the new bike lanes),

    But surprised St. Nicholas isn’t a parking protected path. Very central and wide enough to support it.

  • Mikhail Rosenbloom

    Broadway bridge please. That place is a menace to a bicyclist

  • Miles Bader

    Dorothy Rabinowitz is gonna freak (again!)…

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, one of the worst aspect of the new NYC bike infrastructure is the location of bike lanes *in the middle* of the traffic lanes, where drivers cut through the bike lane to make it to the turning lane. Who hell comes up with ideas like this??? I’d rather not have a bike lane at all.

  • We need this design at Tillary and Jay in a big way.

  • Anonymous

    Tillary and Jay needs more than this. It needs a teleportation device or possibly a very large animal capable of lifting up pedestrians and cyclists and setting them back down on the other side–one that can also punish all the trucks and buses and cop cars that turn into crosswalks while leaning on their horns.

  • jrab

    The old Alta software package had that teleportation capability wired into the bikes. Too bad they had the billing dispute.

  • Anonymous

    [Falls on knees, shakes fist at sky.] Damn you, Bloomberg-Kahn!

  • J

    Excellent point. The most robust infrastructure in this plan is a parking protected path on Fort George Hill, which is perhaps the steepest route between Inwood and Washington Heights, limiting its utility for cyclists. Meanwhile the rest of the streets get only get striped bike lanes, which, without any changes to curb regulations or enforcement, will continue to serve as space for double parking.

    It seems the focus at DOT is too much on how to get a lot of paint on the ground (not inconveniencing drivers too much) and not nearly enough on how to move cyclists safely and comfortably from one location to another.

  • Keith Williams

    This article is missing a disclaimer: is Jonathan Rabinowitz related?

  • jrab

    Related to whom? Brad Aaron?

  • Andrew

    To Dorothy.

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