What’s Up With the Short Raised Bike Lane By Times Square?

Yes, there is now a short segment of raised bike lane on Seventh Avenue at Times Square. TransitCenter’s Jon Orcutt tweeted the picture above last month.

The Department of Design and Construction, which is building the permanent pedestrian plazas and other street improvements at Times Square, has so far only put down the raised lane between 46th Street and 45th Street. It’s supposed to be part of a short detour for cyclists using the Broadway bike lane to bypass the pedestrian plazas.

We checked in with DDC about the project, and a spokesperson directed us to DOT. DOT said more is coming. The finished product will provide a contraflow protected lane from Broadway to Seventh on 47th Street. From there cyclists would be directed to the eastern side of Seventh, and for the block between 47th Street and 46th Street there would only be sharrows. Then the raised lane will extend from 46th to 42nd, and the detour will conclude with sharrows on 42nd Street from Seventh to Broadway.

Bike lanes were not in the original design for the permanent plaza project but were added later in the process at the request of DOT, according to a spokesperson from the Times Square Alliance. Raised bike lanes are unusual in NYC but there are a few precedents, like the block of Sands Street between Navy and Gold near the Manhattan Bridge.

I checked in on the progress along Seventh Avenue recently and there was some construction going on south of 46th Street, where the rest of the raised lane is supposed to be built.

DDC’s online database of capital projects list an April 14 completion date for the plaza construction, but judging by the current conditions it will likely finish later than that.

  • SSkate

    I’ve tried skating on this bike lane, but it’s impossible to use for more than a half block because of (surprise!) pedestrians. Last time I tried (last Sunday maybe), there was a police car parked next to it and two cops were just loitering in the middle of the lane.

  • BBnet3000

    Did they explore the incremental cost difference of using green pigmented asphalt?

  • thomas040

    If they could just make all curb sided bike lanes in New York look like that, then they are getting pretty close to the ideal.

  • Bobberooni

    It’s good to hear what the actual plan is. I’ve been going through Times Square on bike for two years, and will welcome the end of construction. I’ve been taking 48th St. to 7th Ave, then merging with traffic to 43d. This bike lane will be a significant improvement — both reducing my time on 7th Ave, and making it easier to get through the traffic. Sure, pedestrians might block the raised bike lane. But they will be easier to navigate around than stalled traffic.

    No one should expect to move any vehicle through Times Square faster than a crawl.

  • This is great. DDC and DOT should look into making these a different color than the car lanes. Can be subtle, but in other cities it’s common to distinguish them beyond just the curb separation.

  • Seth Rosenblum

    Better the police in the bike lane than the police car in the bike lane. At least the cops you can ask to move.

  • HamTech87

    Along with the bike icon, they should paint a pedestrian with a line though it.

  • William Farrell

    Beautiful! There’s more like this on some blocks of Allen/Pike St.

  • jooltman

    Without bollards, this design gets much abused by impatient motorists and there-must-be-an-emergency-somewhere police cruisers. The part of Sands Street in Brooklyn lacking barriers is a known cautionary tale. Sometimes, it seems the different borough offices of DOT don’t communicate with each other.

  • Joe Enoch

    This is excellent news. The Broadway bike lane is a valuable tool that just totally craps out during the worst stretch making it nearly useless. Let’s hope they can complete this valuable bike lane connection!

  • dave “paco” abraham

    I’ve been in Times Square’s chaos a few times since this went in and not once did I see a cyclist using it simply because it became extra pedestrian space by default. While I’m glad it’s there as a acknowledgement of the needs to keep people in cars and people on bikes away from one another… I do not think its current configuration has proven effective. Anyone else have similar observations?

  • qrt145

    I ride by several times a week as part of my commute. I’ve been able to use this raised lane maybe three times, but not because of pedestrians. (There are some, of course.) The issue at first is that it was often used by the NYPD for parking. And soon after, it was closed for construction or something. It remains so, although right now the “construction zone” is empty and you can actually use the lane if you squeak by next to the construction sign and then between the barrels or whatever those road-blocking devices are called.

    The times I’ve been able to use it I thought it was pretty nice, even if only one block long.

  • Joe Enoch

    Commenting on an old story here, but any update on this? I rode it yesterday and the raised bike lane no longer has bike logos on it, and it was overrun with pedestrians. One of them even shouted at me when I dinged my bell as I approached that it wasn’t a bike lane.

  • qrt145

    In the morning is not that bad, but in the evenings I do see lots of pedestrians. Maybe some bike logos would help a bit. At least they might only shout generic obscenities at you instead of lies! 🙂

    There’s also the constant construction in Times Sq which can reduce the space for pedestrians considerably. I’m hopeful that things will get a little bit better when all that is over.

    One update for readers who haven’t been there in a while is that the raised bike lane is now a bit longer. It goes from 46th St to 42th St, if I remember correctly.

  • Joe Enoch

    Thanks for the update! Hopefully they can clear this up soon. I think a few bike logos and a sign at the entrance saying it’s a bike lane might help but in defense of the pedestrians, there just isn’t a lot of room for them, either.

  • Drew Leigh

    To me, this has to be the biggest joke of a bike lane in all of NYC, or in Manhattan at least. Is it a bike lane? Is it not a bike lane? Without any signage, all we’re left with is failed infrastructure and the confusion, frustration, and misunderstanding that follows.

    FYI, I ride with cars here (on the [still] unpaved road) because that raised platform is usually overrun with pedestrians — through no fault of their own.

  • qrt145

    The block between 46th and 45th _does_ have bike line markings, and is not so terrible in my experience. Part of it may be the markings, but mostly I think it’s because it is next to a functioning sidewalk.

    The other three blocks are a mess. The sidewalk/plaza next to the bike lane is under construction, and there are no bike lane markings. I suspect they omitted them on purpose to let the bike lane be the sidewalk during construction.

  • Joe Enoch

    So I think it is a bike lane but temporarily it is not. The pedestrian mall is closed for that short stretch due to construction and so I think until they can open that back up, the “bike lane” is the only north-south pedestrian crossing on the east side of 7th Ave. My hope is that it will be remarked as a bike lane and reclaimed by bicyclists when the pedestrian mall construction is completed in 2027.

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