DOT: Seaman Avenue Bike Lanes Won’t Return This Year

Seaman Avenue cyclists will have to make do with sporadic preliminary bike lane markings until sometime in 2015. Photo: Brad Aaron
Cyclists on Seaman Avenue will have to make do with sporadic preliminary bike lane markings until sometime in 2015. Photo: Brad Aaron

The asphalt is fresh, the yellow lines and crosswalks installed, but DOT won’t be returning bike lanes to Seaman Avenue until next year, according to the office of local City Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez.

Seaman Avenue is the only designated north-south bike route between the Hudson River Greenway and the Bronx, and it’s the trunk line for Inwoodites who live west of Broadway and commute downtown by bike. DOT resurfaced Seaman over the summer, and save for the bike lanes, other markings went down weeks ago.

When our queries to DOT yielded no answers, Streetsblog reached out to Rodriguez to ask if bike lanes would be restored before the year is out. We also wanted to know why DOT didn’t repave the southernmost blocks of Seaman, near Riverside Drive and Dyckman Street, where the road surface remains in poor shape. Though DOT didn’t address our questions, the agency did respond to Rodriguez’s office.

“It seems that they will not be reinstalling the bike lanes until at least the spring,” said Rodriguez spokesperson Lucas Acosta, via email. “It’s too cold for the thermoplastic markings and they also need to draw up some new street design plans.” If thermoplast is not applied in the right conditions, the markings don’t last and have to be restriped.

“Regarding the street resurfacing,” wrote Acosta, “that section of Seaman Avenue was never part of their resurfacing plans.”

Streetsblog asked DOT in October if protected bike lanes were considered for Seaman. DOT said no, because the street isn’t wide enough for separated bike lanes and two lanes of parking. If there are new “design plans” for Seaman Avenue, DOT didn’t mention them.

As for resurfacing plans, a line item in a 2013 DOT proposal for Upper Manhattan bike projects (on page three of this PDF) seems to indicate Seaman would be rehabbed from end to end. It reads: “Seaman Ave between Riverside Ave [sic] and 218th St (refurbishment).” This doesn’t match the work DOT did this year, or the claim that the agency always intended to leave a segment of Seaman as is — patched and pockmarked with little in the way of discernible bike lane markings. For that matter, why would DOT have chosen to leave that part of the street in such degraded condition?

Last week Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg announced a departmental initiative to improve safety for cyclists on Harlem River bridges. It’s important to have improvements in the pipeline, but DOT has to pay attention to the basics too, or else the new upgrades will connect to an existing network that’s in poor shape.

  • Boris Kaganovich

    Someone has to introduce them to 3M Stamark Traffic Tape.

  • r

    DOT acts as if the calendar and the change of seasons are total surprises! This street was repaved in October. So why wasn’t its re-striping folded into the project then? There are countless other examples all across the city. Having to wait until April or May for a bike lane – which is just paint and doesn’t offer any real protection – is unacceptable and not in keeping with Vision Zero.

  • Hilda

    I would like to see the NYC Department of Design and Construction specifications for temporary markings. If there is to be a length of time after the installation of new asphalt and before the permanent markings are installed, I would have to think that there are requirements for temporary markings to be installed by the contractor. Temperature requirements for the installation of the materials is based both on the temperature of the substrate (asphalt) and the material to be used. Paint may be 40 degrees, but Thermoplast may very well be different.

    Streetsblog should be asking to see these temporary markings requirements, as well as the Thermoplast and regular pavement markings temperature requirements.

    From NYC DDC Highway Specifications page 389
    dated 11/01/2010

    SECTION 6.49 – Temporary Pavement Markings

    6.49.1. DESCRIPTION. Under this section, the Contractor shall furnish, apply and when so
    ordered, remove temporary pavement markings where shown on the Contract Drawings, or directed by
    the Engineer, in accordance with the requirements of these specifications.

    and from page 390

    The Contractor shall follow for the new pavement markings the same pattern, color and widths of pavement markings as are on the existing roadway surfaces, unless otherwise shown on the Contract Drawings or directed by the Engineer.

  • Jonathan R

    If I recall correctly the decoupling of the striping from the milling-and-paving was an efficiency measure, as it meant that the millers-and-pavers could set their own schedule and not have to wait until the stripers were available.

  • Brad Aaron

    This is the kind of thing I would be reporting had DOT not ignored my questions.

  • r

    One would still think that DOT could look at the schedule and recognize that if a repaving project is going to be finished so close to the end of painting season, then it could coordinate better with the appropriate contractors so that these multi-month gaps didn’t occur. It’s one thing if it’s an emergency and a street must be repaved even if the stripers aren’t available, but if it’s part of the regular milling and repaving schedule that’s another story.

  • dave “paco” abraham

    Boerum Pl in Brooklyn was repaved 3+ months ago… and still has no bike lane. Its basic common sense garbage like this that makes me want to shift from DOT’s biggest supporter to DOT’s biggest antagonizer.

  • SheRidesABike

    It is 69 degrees today. Last time I checked my weather app, there were a couple of 50+ degrees days in the works this week.

  • SheRidesABike

    Brad, I just checked my Twitter feed. On September 9th I tweeted at DOT that Seaman had been paved for at least a week and was still without any markings at all, including speed bumps that are part of the Slow Zone.. So I think it was repaved in late August or very early September, not early October as you writer in this post.

    So DOT and its contractors have had at least 2.5 months of decent weather to add all the markings, not 6 weeks or so.

    By the way, DOT’s response was to tell me to file a 311 complaint, which I did (but not until a couple of weeks later). Zero follow up on that.

  • Brad Aaron

    Yep. “October” was based on pics I took of the preliminary lane markings. I fixed the copy. Thanks.

  • Jonathan R

    The pavement markings on Fort Washington Avenue between 183d & 185th were not done as of March 2014, when I complained to 311. If I recall correctly, the street had been milled and paved the autumn before.

    Missing then were all the markings, including the center line. My response was dated the next month and said, “The Department of Transportation inspected the condition. Street
    markings will be painted in future markings seasons or when contracts
    are awarded.”

  • Brad Aaron

    Whoa. You got a response?

    I’m impressed.

  • Jonathan R

    If you call that waste of pixels and electrons a response…

  • phuzzie

    Why does anyone want these door zone “bike lanes” especially in NYC where you are forced to use bike lanes if present??? Now a redesign of the street that removed on street parking on one or both sides and used the space to build protected bike lanes I could see getting behind… But door lanes are just immoral and should never be supported /rant.

  • BBnet3000

    But the street has been striped, just not the bike lane.

  • BBnet3000

    No other mode has to do without infrastructure so frequently.

    Lets get real, there’s probably 100 miles of worn-away bike lanes out there too. The oft-quoted mile-length of network is barely holding on by attrition.

  • BikeTexter

    If DOT’s rationale for not restriping were in line with yours (i.e. This is substandard infrastructure that need to be improved upon) that would be one thing. But their reason is ‘bikes come last/don’t matter.’ That thinking needs to be combatted precisely because much of the cycling infrastructure in this city is little more than a door-trap.

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