Bruckner Boulevard Protected Bikeway Clears Bronx CB 2 Committee

Unused road space on Bruckner Boulevard is being reclaimed for a protected bikeway that will eventually connect the Bronx River Greenway to Randall's Island. Images: DOT
Excess road space on Bruckner Boulevard will be claimed for a protected bikeway that will eventually connect the Bronx River Greenway to Randall’s Island. Images: DOT [PDF]
A DOT plan to add pedestrian space and create a two-way protected bikeway along a key half-mile stretch of Bruckner Boulevard received a unanimous thumbs-up from Bronx Community Board 2’s economic development committee Wednesday night [PDF].

“Bruckner Boulevard is a very wide, multi-lane boulevard,” said DOT project manager Kimberly Rancourt. “It has lots of traffic but it also has excess space that isn’t needed for capacity.” The plan repurposes that unused asphalt, currently striped as a buffer zone, to add protected bike lanes in the Bruckner Boulevard median from Hunts Point Avenue to Longwood Avenue.

The area is dangerous, with 585 injuries at the five intersections in the project between 2009 and 2013, including 65 pedestrian injuries and 10 bicyclist injuries. Both Bruckner and Hunts Point were identified as priority corridors in DOT’s Vision Zero Bronx pedestrian safety action plan, and their juncture — often busy with pedestrians going between the 6 train and the Hunts Point neighborhood — is also named a priority intersection. There, DOT is proposing new pedestrian islands, large curb extensions, and a new crosswalk in the boulevard’s median.

The protected bikeway will provide a key link in the South Bronx bicycle network, though it will need to be extended to provide a seamless ride to points south.

To the north, the project connects with Monsignor Del Valle Square, where a redesign under development by DOT and the Parks Department will include protected bike lanes. Those lanes will link to improvements installed in 2013 that connect with the Bronx River Greenway, including a short protected bike lane on Bruckner between Bryant and Longfellow Avenues.

To the south, the project would strand cyclists when they reach Longwood Avenue. DOT said it is working on a plan to extend the Bruckner Boulevard median bike lanes southward across a “difficult section,” though there is no public timeline for the second phase. The southern extension of the Bruckner bike lane would link to Randall’s Island, where a long-anticipated connector path to the South Bronx Greenway is set to open this summer.

The plan “exponentially” increases the Bronx’s tiny allotment of protected bike lanes, said Transportation Alternatives Bronx organizer Laura Solis, and with the Randall’s Island connector opening soon, DOT should extend it southward as soon as possible. “The goal is definitely to see that continuous connection to Randall’s Island,” Solis said. “This is one step closer.”

Most of the project can be installed by the end of this year, DOT said, but the protected bikeway will take longer because the agency must dig up a cobblestone median on Bruckner between Hunts Point Avenue and Barretto Street in order to install the bike lanes.

The intersection of Hunts Point Avenue and Bruckner Boulevard is getting new bike lanes, a new median crosswalk, and pedestrian space (in dark brown). Image: DOT [PDF]
The intersection of Hunts Point Avenue and Bruckner Boulevard is getting new bike lanes, a new median crosswalk, and pedestrian space (in dark brown). Image: DOT [PDF]
Other components of the project:

  • On each of the two bridges that carry Hunts Point Avenue and Lafayette Avenue across the railroad tracks between Bruckner Boulevard and Garrison Avenue, DOT will remove one lane of car traffic in each direction. This creates space for buffered curbside bike lanes. DOT said there was not enough room to turn the buffered lanes, which are between 11 and 14 feet wide, into protected lanes. The bridges connect Bruckner, which is getting a bike path, and Garrison, which already has buffered lanes.
  • Sharrows would be added to Longwood Avenue from Bruckner Boulevard to Southern Avenue.
  • DOT is proposing painted curb extensions to square the corners and slow down turning drivers at the intersection of Hunts Point Avenue and Garrison Avenue. The committee asked DOT to add concrete or stone blocks to keep drivers from parking in the painted area.
  • The agency would shorten and straighten pedestrian crossings, extend median tips, and stripe a new crosswalk at the intersections of Bruckner Boulevard, Lafayette Avenue, and Longwood Avenue. The committee asked DOT to add dedicated left-turn signals at Longwood and Bruckner.

A resolution supporting the plan passed 6-0, with two abstentions. It now goes before the CB 2 full board, which is scheduled to meet on March 25 at 6 p.m. at Word of Life Church, 813 Westchester Avenue.

Also on Wednesday, McInnis Cement presented its plan to build a shipping facility for cement materials on the Oak Point waterfront just east of East 149th Street. The proposal, which the company says will reduce truck traffic by shifting long-distance delivery to barges, includes a short section of the South Bronx Greenway. The greenway segment won’t reach all the way to Barretto Point Park; closing the gap requires an easement from adjacent landowners. The company hopes to begin construction in August and expects to complete work in 12 months.

  • AnoNYC

    The second phase is essential in making good use of this lane. Without it, really no point. This is going to be especially useful for East Bronxites entering the South Bronx at various points and connections to Manhattan (and South Bronxites/Manhattanites going to the East Bronx).

    As for the existing protected lane just north along Bruckner Blvd between Bryant and Longfellow Aves, this should be extended to Hunts Point Avenue or at least E 163rd St/De Valle Square. Right now you traverse the protected lane one short block before having to enter the sidewalk (which gets busy in the afternoon).

    Another problem area is the Bruckner Blvd drawbridge. It’s too narrow at points (like 2 feet wide narrow). There’s also these nasty vertical gaps as you ride along side. A Lafayette Avenue drawbridge is proposed for the Bronx River greenway but no clue what’s up with that.

  • J

    This is a good project, creating a much-needed connection in what is otherwise a traffic sewer. As the article mentions, though, it needs connections to other low-stress bike facilities in order to see much use. Hopefully DOT will start planning such improvements right away so this project can show itself to be worthwhile.

  • BBnet3000

    Why is the bikeway running through tan pedestrian space at the intersection with Hunts Point Avenue? Is it that hard to paint the bike portion green? It’s the little sloppy details like this that encourage pedestrians to wait in the bike path to cross Allen Street in Manhattan when they could stand 2 feet forward on the bulbout and be out of the way. It creates unnecessary conflicts.

    If the existing buffer in the Northbound direction “encourages speeding”, why leave it in the Southbound direction? Why not take both buffers and create separate spaces for cycling and walking? Admittedly eyeballing, it looks like there’s enough space to maintain separate space between the highway pillars farther down, even if this meant narrowing the bikeway a bit at the pinch points.

  • AnoNYC

    I noticed that too. A simple bicycle intersection would solve that issue. Also, pedestrians crossing southbound should get a little tan just south of the bike lane along the crosswalk to encourage standing in it rather than the bicycle lane when trying to cross.

    I agree about transforming the spaces on both sides too. If the Sheridan gets converted we could turn the western lanes into a park/public space. Two lanes in each direction is good enough for this location, damn expressway above.

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