Eyes on the Street: Carving Up Morningside Avenue for a Road Diet

After a breakthrough vote from Community Board 10 in May, DOT crews are out remaking 10 blocks of Morningside Avenue as a safer, calmer neighborhood street. This morning, @SteveMiami captured this circular saw operator at what looks like the moment of incision — the asphalt will be cut away to make room for a concrete pedestrian island.

An earlier photo of a pedestrian island outline from Transportation Alternatives’ Tom DeVito gives a nice sense of scale:

The Morningside project will trim the four-lane speedway down to two lanes plus center-median turn bays [PDF]. Pedestrian islands will be installed at four intersections where people cross the street to access Morningside Park entrances, and there will be several painted sidewalk extensions to demarcate expansions of pedestrian space.

Neighborhood residents had requested action from the city to tame dangerous speeding on Morningside, but the plan almost didn’t make it through the gauntlet of Community Boards 9 and 10. The May vote in favor of the project followed nine months of waffling.

  • Two Wheels Bad

    Cyclists sacrificed on the altar of political expediency and Harlem politics. This street was perfect for protected bike lanes.

  • crazytrainmatt

    hopefully we won’t have to wait too long for this to be reconsidered. Morningside would make a perfect connection with few cross streets (instead of the still too-wide seventh ave.) between Central Park and the St. Nicholas bike lane, which connects to the Harlem Greenway all the way up to Inwood. This can actually be a better route than the Hudson Greenway for destinations not directly on the west side, or in case of snow and is certainly more populated after dark and flatter.

  • Jonathan R

    Perhaps a policy of putting protected bike lanes on direct through routes, instead of streets like Morningside that require detours, would be a better one.

    Coming downtown from 145th St or further uptown, Convent to Morningside to Manhattan Ave is not as good a route as Edgecombe to St Nicholas to Manhattan, because on Convent you have to climb up to CCNY.

    If you take the Harlem Speedway like crazytrainmatt, it would be super helpful to have a protected bike lane from the south end of the bridge along the FDR access road to the north end of 8th Avenue, then along Bradhurst to 146th St to 8th Ave to 141st St to Edgecombe, St Nicholas, and Manhattan Ave. That route is flat, unlike climbing up the Speedway path to St Nicholas Place.

    Coming uptown, the most direct route is St Nicholas the entire way from 110th St; why not put the protected bike lane there?

  • J

    This is a big win, but the bigger picture needs to be addressed soon. Curmudgeon CBs who oppose any changes are simply not tenable, don’t represent the area, and don’t have safety (and certainly not Vision Zero, at heart).

    No one has considered a larger NETWORK of protected bike lanes, so with many projects that could have protected lanes, they’re not even considered. NYC desperately needs a new bike master plan so when projects come up, we can say “hey, this would create a good connection for protected lanes, let’s see if we can make them work”. The current protected bike lane strategy is shrouded in DOT secrecy. I’m not even sure they have a plan for where the next protected lanes will go. Anyone else have an idea?

  • kencam

    The pedestrian island picture shows the fatal flaw in this plan. That church on the right creates a flood of double parkers every week. With only 2 lanes for traffic, they will clog the block and make this impassable.

  • qrt145

    The blockage will be the fault of the illegal double-parkers, not the pedestrian safety island. And it could be easily remedied with enforcement (except that the NYPD seems to have decided that God granted a right to double park in front of churches which supersedes the laws of the land).

  • jzisfein

    14-foot parking lanes _are_ de facto bike lanes (example: AC Powell Blvd above 117th St.) Except for double-parking, of course, but that happens even with marked bike lanes.

    The Morningside Ave. redesign can be a template for West End Ave.

  • crazytrainmatt

    Good point about the other options, and the hills.

    The advantage of Morningside though is that a protected lane on the west side of the street would make for ~1.5 miles between 110th and 141st without a vehicle crossing (excepting the gap between 123-128). This is a big improvement over a mixing zone every other block, and would provide almost the same level of safety and speed as the greenway.

    Most of us will bike anyway, but something like this is what’s needed to get more women and children out.

  • The crazytrainmatt bikeway would require downtown-bound people to bike along 126 between St Nick and Convent, past the post office loading dock, with plenty of truck traffic, then make a left turn on Convent. I didn’t make an explicit point of it in yesterday’s post, but when I’m going downtown through Central Park I take Manhattan Ave to 108th St and turn left, then enter the park at 108th and CPW.

    But coming uptown is a different story. It’s easier to leave the park at 110th and ACP, and use the on-street bike lane to 117, then make a left turn crossing ACP to St Nicholas and turn right onto the bike lane, all the way to 168th St. Using 113th St instead means crossing ACP, FDB and Manhattan Aves to access the crazytrainmatt bikeway, which is a quarter-mile out of the way. Then backtracking east at 124th St one block (1/10th mile), crossing Morningside Ave, and making a left turn at St Nicholas. That’s five avenue crossings to go 11 blocks along the crazytrainmatt bikeway; wouldn’t it be easier just to stay on St Nick and cross only ACP and FDB?

    Plus Morningside and St Nicholas Parks block access to the crazytrainmatt bikeway from the west, reducing its utility further (need two-way bike lane on 123d between Morningside Ave and Amsterdam!)

    My family is 75% women and children, and I doubt out-of-the-way bike lanes that parallel their route for short distances, and require more avenue crossings, are going to make them bike any more than they already do. Remember, detours inconvenience slower riders more. It’s two miles from 150th St to 110th St, or 15 minutes at 8 mph; adding 0.35 miles of detours slows the trip 3 minutes, or 20%.

  • qrt145

    St. Nicholas Ave. definitely makes more sense as a through route. Still, Morningside Ave practically begs for a two-way protected lane like the one in Prospect Park West, even though its usefulness would be more local.

    I’d wish for both, but if I had to pick one I’d pick St. Nicholas Ave.


Tonight: CB 10 Committee Set to Vote on Morningside Ave Improvements

Manhattan Community Board 10 has scheduled a committee vote for this evening on proposed pedestrian improvements to Morningside Avenue in Harlem. The item appeared on a parks and transportation committee agenda sent out this afternoon. The meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. DOT has proposed restriping Morningside between 116th Street and 126th Street from two lanes […]

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Last week, Staten Island Community Board 1 passed a resolution asking DOT to install bike lanes, while in Manhattan, a community-requested plan for a road diet and pedestrian islands continues to be delayed by two Harlem community boards. After months of organizing by Transportation Alternatives — resulting in more than 260 petition signatures and 22 partners signing onto a […]

Video: Drivers Endanger Lives on Morningside Avenue as CB 10 Dithers

While Manhattan Community Board 10 fails to take action, proposed measures to make Morningside Avenue safer for pedestrians continue to languish. Among other changes, DOT has proposed restriping Morningside between 116th Street and 126th Street from two lanes in each direction to one lane in each direction with a center striped median, concrete pedestrian islands and […]