Eyes on the Street: Filling the Gap in the Second Avenue Protected Bike Lane

Crews stripe a new parking lane alongside the existing bike lane on Second Avenue at 21st Street. Photo: Stephen Miller

Two months after a presentation to Manhattan Community Board 6’s transportation committee, and less than one month after the full board voted to support the plan, DOT crews were on Second Avenue today painting new stripes to convert the buffered bike lane in Kips Bay to the parking-protected variety.

Between 23rd and 14th Streets, Second Avenue had four lanes of car traffic sandwiched by a buffered bike lane on the left and a curbside bus lane on the right. Now, the left lane of car traffic has been converted to parking, better protecting southbound cyclists. The new configuration links other segments of protected bikeway on Second Avenue, creating a continuous stretch between 34th Street and 2nd Street.

According to DOT’s seasonally-adjusted counts, weekday motor vehicle traffic between 14th and 15th Streets dropped significantly from 2011 to 2013: Traffic volumes are down 11.8 percent during the morning rush, 23.1 percent midday, and 15.3 percent during the evening’s busiest hour. The agency predicted that converting a general traffic lane to parking would not significantly affect traffic flow on this section of the avenue.

The existing buffered bike lane has been a hotbed of double parking. Like other parking-protected bike lanes, this new stretch will probably see a bit of a learning curve: Some drivers early this afternoon, looking at the new parking signs, decided to park in the bike lane instead of the newly-striped floating lane right next to them.

  • Anonymous

    9th Avenue is still the only SB protected lane above 34th Street in Midtown. We need more options.

  • J

    It is fantastic to see this implemented. Stephen makes a good point that the continuous southbound protected lane ends at 2nd street. There is a huge opportunity to extend that route from 34th all the way to the Battery by connecting this segment to the protected southbound lane on Allen Street going south from Houston. It’s only 2 blocks separating the 2 segments of protected lanes, so this could be one of the least expensive, most transformative pieces of bike infrastructure yet built.

  • Driver

    If they wanted to mitigate the impact on traffic, they would make these spaces commercial loading zones. Of course they will probably be passenger car metered spaces, and trucks will have no choice but to continue to double park, reducing the three lanes to two.

  • Danny G

    A contraflow bike lane on East 1st Street between First & Second Avenues would help make that a reality. Anybody wanna take it to the community board?

  • J

    I like the notion of making the 1st Ave Bike lane 2-way between 2nd St & Houston. There’s plenty of space, you just need to restripe and sign it.

  • J

    I like the notion of making the 1st Ave Bike lane 2-way between 2nd St & Houston. There’s plenty of space, you just need to restripe and sign it.

  • guest

    Absolutely. And there is no alternative by East River, either, for those of us on the east side. I commute from LES to East Harlem and on my way back, I go through Central Park and down 9th Ave, because of the gap in 2nd Ave bike lane and the crazy midtown traffic there. (Broadway doesn’t work well for commuting because of the number of red lights you encounter and the volume of pedestrians in the lane.) I can’t get over how idiotic my SB route is, but I still ride it because that’s where I feel the safest.

  • Anonymous

    So often, there is the perception that improved bike infrastructure comes at the expense of drivers. So I think it’s worth noting that this is a win-win situation for everybody. Bikers get a better bike lane, while drivers get more parking that was clearly in demand. This point should be made prominent in conversations with the public.

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