Eyes on the Street: DOT Replaces PPW Bike Lane With Parking

This is one of New York City's most famous protected bike lanes. Photo: @NoBikeLane/Twitter
This is one of New York City’s most famous protected bike lanes on a busy August day. Photo: @NoBikeLane/Twitter

During the warm summer months, lots of New Yorkers decide to hop on their bicycles and head for the nearest bike lane. That’s also when the city does much of its street repaving, and new asphalt is coming to Prospect Park West. But instead of maintaining the heavily used bike path with temporary materials, our bike-friendly DOT has decided that one of the city’s marquee bikeways will be erased for more than a week during one of the busiest cycling months of the year.

It’s a temporary victory for Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes.

Bike riders started reporting the closure yesterday. There was no advance notice of a detour. DOT says milling was completed today. Repaving, which the agency expects to be complete within seven business days, will begin Monday. The department’s paving schedule for next week indicates that crews will be working between Union Street and 20th Street in two sections, first north of 14th Street before moving south [PDF].

Some small white signs printed on white letter paper have been taped to nearby posts. “Bike Lane Temporarily Closed,” they say. With the bike lane erased, drivers have begun parking at the curb, pushing cyclists into mixed traffic with car drivers. This is especially dangerous for northbound cyclists, who are now traveling head-on into traffic before ducking behind the street’s concrete pedestrian islands for protection.

As an alternative during construction, northbound cyclists can use Eighth Avenue. Riders looking for a route with less car traffic must detour to the more circuitous Prospect Park loop, which offers a series of inclines through the east side of the park.

This situation could have easily been prevented by installing cones or barrels after the street is milled but before new striping is installed. DOT did not answer questions about whether it considered maintaining the bikeway during this period with temporary cones.

During repaving, the Prospect Park West bike lane has been removed and replaced with parking. Photo: @NoBikeLane/Twitter
During repaving, the Prospect Park West bike lane has been removed and replaced with parking. DOT didn’t reply to questions about putting in temporary cones to keep the lane open to bike riders. Photo: @NoBikeLane/Twitter

“During the paving process, the block will be demarcated by work zone signs and barrels and the entire width of the roadway will be closed to vehicles, bikes, and parking. This happens block-by-block,” an agency spokesperson said. “Following the completion of the paving, markings will be put in place for the bike lane.”

That could take a while. In response to complaints from Second Avenue Sagas blogger Ben Kabak about missing bike lane markings on Bergen Street after it was repaved last year, DOT tweeted: “For crew efficiency, there may be a lag between paving and striping.”

“I understand a lag,” Kabak replied, “but it’s been about five weeks.”

  • Ian Turner

    There are still “no parking” signs there, I don’t understand why parking would be legal. My guess is that NBBL has arranged for there to be no parking enforcement.

  • Mark Walker

    If DOT regards traffic lanes and bike lanes as fungible, I have a suggestion for the impending repaving of West End Ave. Close it to cars and turn it into one big bike lane. As a pedestrian, I’d feel safer, at least for a while.

  • J

    More evidence of a DOT that really could give a crap about biking. This is pathetic; it would be extremely easy to simply put some cones there as a temporary measure to, you know, keep people safe. #zerovision.

  • Larry Littlefield

    That lawsuit is still out there, is it not?

    Assuming we don’t get screwed, I’ll be glad to see the bike lane repaved. It was rough in spots. Without motor vehicles, the pavement on the bike lane could last a long, long time.

  • BBnet3000

    Will DOT still repave this on the same cycle as the rest of PPW? I think its very important for the DOT and New Yorkers to understand the costs savings that can be had here in the long run.

  • FWIW, when I started talking about this on twitter, David Greenfield expressed an interest in requiring DOT to immediately demarcate protected bike lanes after milling. I’ll follow up with him next week. This could be an easy issue for a good win.

    https://twitter.com/NYCGreenfield/status/502921003249713154

  • Nesbiteme O’Nesbiteme Nesbitem

    They tried this on 9th a few times during the on going water main construction. A few phone calls and the bike lane was redrawn. This shouldn’t be a big deal.

  • StepUpAndSaySomething

    That’s not cool, lots of people bring there kids on this lane. Putting up a temp lane wouldn’t be that hard.

  • Eric McClure

    Yes it is, Larry. The next hearing is scheduled for Sept. 17 at 9:30 a.m., though the last several hearing dates have all been adjourned.

    The bike path was definitely in need of new asphalt – it was pretty bad along the curb in many spots.

  • Eric McClure

    Don’t know if they’re able to repave a linear portion without repaving the entire width of the streets, but the bike path portion of PPW should last much longer than the rest going forward.

  • New Yorker

    Perhaps DOT wanted to slip this project in while every member of NBBL was vacationing at their summer bungalows on the Hamptons, the Vineyard or up in Quebec.

    As we all recall, Bill de Blasio was very critical of the Bloomberg Administration’s alleged lack of communication and engagement on Prospect Park West. So, if nothing else, this total surprise repaving and bike lane elimination project with virtually zero warning or discussion, is a clear sign of the De Blasio administration’s commitment to communication and engagement.

  • dr2chase

    Seems like the cops would normally be happy to ticket. Why not suggest it to them?

  • Andres Dee

    I’d be very leery of what’s going on here.

  • Andres Dee

    Sllly bicycler, thinks “communication and engagement” is meant for him. (/sarcasm)

  • MatthewEH

    Tho to be fair, riding on milled pavement is hardly fun either.

    Would it have been crazy to designate the east-side PPW sidewalk as a temporary bike detour until fresh pavement is laid down?

  • Stanley Greenberg

    Let’s home they repaint the lines more quickly than another park border street, Ocean Avenue. No bike lane there, but it’s taken them over eight weeks since resurfacing and they’ve only just started the repainting. Credit to whoever was in charge of the recent Prospect Park roadway adjustment; paint trucks were at the ready as soon as the repaving was complete.

  • HJ

    There actually were a few cones out the first day they were doing the milling, but I was more annoyed that there wasn’t even a sign on a post when they were working. After a few blocks of smooth sailing from union street the pavement abruptly stopped.

    I”m surprised the NYPD hasn’t positioned themselves along PPW and given out tickets for “riding outside of the bike lane” that currently doesn’t exist.

  • Larry Littlefield

    There are reasons to assume that repaving this road when they are is a benefit for all street users to be grateful for. The work is being done at a time when many (though not me) are out of town, at a time of low traffic, and not when Celebrate Brooklyn is going on. So if I were inclined to be optimistic, I’d say they were doing us a favor.

    But after observing NY city and state government for a few decades, I’m not inclined to be optimistic. I’m inclined to be cynical and smell a rat.

  • Eric McClure

    I don’t think the 78th Precinct has a lot of interest in handing out bogus tickets to cyclists.

    As for conspiracy theories, this is a needed milling and repaving, no more, no less. And not a surprise, either. I heard it was coming weeks ago. As for community notice about bike lanes, that applies to implementing or removing them, not milling-and-repaving work.

    That said, the failure to plan for some temporary accommodation for safe bike passage was not NYCDOT’s finest moment.

  • wklis

    Genuflect before the automobile gods. Pay homage before them, sacrifice a bicyclist or pedestrian to appease the automobile gods.

  • bobthebuilder

    The park side
    bike lane was ’40 miles of bad road’ as they say- so bumpy it jiggled my dental work! I rejoice that it’s being repaved-THANK YOU DOT.

  • JamesR

    so let me get this straight: PPW will temporarily lose the bike lane while the repaving job takes place. Meanwhile, up where I live in the Bronx, the few bike friendly corridors we have (all of which use sharrows on the main roadway surface – that’s it, no separation infrastructure, not even a painted bike lane) have almost no pavement markings left due to damaged thermoplast from this past winter that was never repaired.

    Sorry, I just can’t find it in me to feel bad for those who use the PPW lane. You’ll have it back in no time, and honestly, you don’t even know how good you have it. And Streetsblog, how about a little reporting on the vast majority of the city outside of Manhattan and gentrified Brooklyn that make due with a pitiful level of bike infrastructure?

  • whererrow?

    I take your point, and can verify that the repaving had already started as of this morning. However, the point of this post is that DOT gave not a jot of thought to cyclists when doing this work, and thereby created unsafe conditions that were *entirely preventable*. Since the milling work there have been many cyclists expecting to use a contraflow bike lane who ended up salmoning either toward other confused cyclists and motorists, or took to the sidewalk. The agency that fails to even acknowledge that cyclists are legitimate users of their infrastructure when undertaking a repair job that includes one of the most well known protected bike lanes is the city clearly demonstrates that it is not on board with Vision Zero.

    The existence of sharrows as bike “infrastructure” and their
    fading everywhere in this city are also examples of that. IMHO, if they’re going to put them off to the side of the roadway creating the expectation among motorists that bikes belong in the door zone, we may all be better off if they don’t bother repainting them.

  • nycadmin

    Today was a total cluster#$%^& on PPW. DOT just doesnt care or know how to manage its projects. Today, there was repaving in the vicinity of 3rd Street. The 3rd Street bike lane simply dead-ended at PPW with no place to go as hot asphalt was being poured. The crew at work suggested that I “go to the end of the work zone” to get into the park. No signs, no help.

    Also, DOT simply set up cones and barrels near Montgomery or Garfield with no advance warning of the work ahead, so that all traffic traveling southbound on PPW had to turn down the narrow one way street. Chaos ensued with cars backing up the wrong way down PPW or attempting u-turns. There were no Traffic Agents or NYPD in place to direct traffic.

    This is Vision Zero?

  • Larry Littlefield

    What I’m doing is riding on 8th Avenue and taking the lane to avoid being sideswiped or doored. Thus far no one has tried to run me off the road.

    This evening I was able to ride down PPW as far as 3rd Street and detour into the park. At this rate they’ll be to Bartell Prichard by the end of the week, though it will be (once again) dangerous to ride on that street until the cars are moved off the curb.

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