DOT: Grand Concourse Project to “Replace and Upgrade Existing Bike Lanes”

A cyclist was killed last year at the intersection of Grand Concourse and 158th Street, pictured, where there is currently no dedicate bike infrastructure. Photo: Google Maps
A cyclist was killed last year at the intersection of the Grand Concourse and 158th Street, above, where there is currently no bike infrastructure. Photo: Google Maps

With Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz calling for better bike infrastructure on the Grand Concourse, there’s some serious political momentum to make this major north-south thoroughfare a safer street. How far will DOT take it?

The Grand Concourse is one of DOT’s Vision Zero “Great Streets” projects slated for capital improvements in the next few years. Currently, it has buffered bike lanes on the service roads above 162nd Street but no bike infrastructure south of that.

That’s a problem: A sizable chunk of cyclist injuries on the Grand Concourse in 2015 occurred below 162nd Street, including one fatality at 158th Street by Franz Sigel Park.

An agency spokesperson provided the following statement when Streetsblog asked if the Grand Concourse would be redesigned with a protected bike lane:

DOT plans to replace and upgrade the existing bike lanes as part of the ongoing capital reconstruction of the Grand Concourse. We expect to present proposals for the next phases of Capital Reconstruction to local stakeholders and Community Boards in the Spring.

Upgrading the current bike lanes could make a big difference above 162nd Street, but it would also be a pretty easy lift, since there’s already space devoted to buffered bike lanes. While the statement leaves some wiggle room, there’s no specific reference to adding bike infrastructure where there is none today.

Much of the Concourse below 162nd Street is in the City Council district of speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who’s been very supportive of complete streets projects before.

The Grand Concourse was originally designed to be a tree-lined Champs-Élysées of the Bronx, but like other New York boulevards it became overrun by high-speed car traffic as the city motorized. Today it consistently ranks as one of the most dangerous streets in the whole region.

Major capital projects specifically aimed at improving safety don’t come along that often. If DOT isn’t bold now, it could be another generation before big changes come to the Grand Concourse.

  • BBnet3000

    A capital project should do better than paint. No more painted chevrons that wear off, let’s get proper junctions at minor cross streets for once, and protected intersections at major ones.

    https://bicycledutch.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/junction05.jpg

  • I wonder if the gentle summation here is intentional.

    I’m reading between the lines and noting, “DOT is about to do something that does fuck-all for safety but that they’ll use to brag about ‘added bike lane miles'” and I don’t think what they’re going to propose will come anywhere close to protected bike lanes along significant portions of the street distance.

    In other words, I predict a blown opportunity.

    Then again, it depends who’s working on it, who’s pushing for it, and how much the communities in the central/northern Bronx feel that cycling infrastructure represents “gentrification” and symbolic oppression of the automobile. I feel these factors have been very determinant in whether a proposal even happens at all. When the right factors aligned in central Queens, the Queens Boulevard improvements happened – and they were good! In other instances…

  • AnoNYC

    The Bronx has historically been more receptive to non-automotive transportation improvements than Queens. Perhaps because less Bronxites have access to an automobile, especially in the communities around the GC. Much of the Bronx was developed before significant access to automobiles, and it is not an easy place to drive around due to congestion (high population density), limited parking, and pedestrian oriented communities.

    There has been a big push in the Bronx to improve mass transportation, pedestrian, and bicyclists infrastructure. Sustainable options are something that Bronxites are concerned with, considering the levels of environmental decay and disregard the borough has experienced.

    The DOT just needs to bring progressive plans to the table.

  • AnoNYC

    The Grand Concourse needs more pedestrian space, safer crossings, separate bicycle infrastructure, slower traffic (through engineering) and more greenery.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    Grand Concourse could be a premiere complete street, one of the best in world. there is more than enough roadway width to create beauty, safety, and mobility.

    it will take courage and creativity to implement, but it can be done. First step would be to realize the side access streets should be reallocated 100% for active transportation. and civic space. Heck there is enough space in the access roads to create protected bike lanes AND some children’s playgrounds and green places for the elderly to enjoy the outside.

    the acess roads and medians represent some 45′-50′ of width – every inch of this width should be reallocated to people

    the main roadaay should have 10′ lanes and paid parking, daylighting, and bump outs at every intersection

    it’s not complicated at all.

  • AnoNYC

    I would actually return all of the trolley tunnels which pass under the GC to buses only. The BX 6 is a great candidate for this once it becomes SBS.

  • AnoNYC

    Example at E 167th St.

  • J

    Yes! Here is a more urban example from Amsterdam

  • Jonathan R

    Bronx topography already favors the north-south bicyclist with gentle inclines and declines and a choice of many through routes. How about doing something for people who want to go west to east, up and over the punishing hills and funneled onto busy through routes by natural and artificial barriers, like the escarpment to the west of Jerome Ave, the Metro-North Harlem Line, and the Bronx River?

  • r

    No reason those things can’t be done as well as this.

  • steely

    by the way, in case any readers are interested, Transportation Alternatives has a very active campaign to realize a safe Grand Concourse. pls email david.guerrero @ transalt.org

  • Jonathan R

    Who is going to climb three flights of stairs to get from a bus to the street? Wouldn’t it make more sense to bring the bus to where the people are, at street level?

  • AnoNYC

    http://www.streetsblog.org/2016/02/05/tremont-avenue-in-line-for-new-cross-bronx-bike-route/

    Though we need a physically separated crosstown route. Additionally, as you mention, bottlenecks are an issue. The Bruckner drawbridge over the Bronx River for example is poorly designed for pedestrian and bicyclists use. There are obstructions along the pathway.

  • AnoNYC

    Well the buses would run faster. That may take preference. I wouldn’t be surprised if most drop offs would be headed to the train anyway.

  • vnm

    Yeah but it’s kind of dank and unpleasant in those tunnels. Not a great place to wait for a bus.

  • BBnet3000

    I think that’s really a question of materials and lighting. If you take away the outside lane the tunnel is actually roomier than this: https://tokyotombaker.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/aa-bus-in-tunnel.jpg

  • Alexander Vucelic

    why not have trucks use the old trolley tunnels ? get them off Grand Concourse ?

  • Jonathan R

    What about Bx1 riders?

    The bus still has to come to a stop to pick up and drop off passengers, so it’s not as if it could accelerate to 45 mph for a couple seconds inside the tunnel. The left turns on the westbound Bx35 (the bus that would use the illustrated tunnel) at Franklin and Webster are the big time-eaters.

    And, if you’re waiting for the bus in the tunnel, you can’t visit any of the shops at street level.

  • AnoNYC

    Good point. Don’t know how you could complete the bus transfer. I do wonder if the city could engineer commercial spaced into the side of the tunnel? Perhaps inside the station as well.

  • AnoNYC

    They are only east/west traverses below the GC. Too short to make any impact on trucks. I figured that at least buses could skip the intersection and traffic.

  • Yvette

    I live on 166-167 grand concourse uptown side and it’s insane every time I see car a car, truck or a motorcycle surpassing the 25 MPH limit. There’s a camera there but if it’s not working it defeats the purpose of a 25 MPH zone. Speed bumps should be implemented on the Grand Concourse. Lives will be saved. After all life is priceless. Dirt bikes are also an issue in this area. I have seen 10-25 motorbikes at a time being driven illegally and the cops don’t do anything. A lady was crossing and she fell I called the cops they said they can’t do anything!!!!! What!!!!! Crazy!!! There’s also an area in front of 188 E 167 st that cars and motorcycles turn into and no turns are allowed but it’s done all the time I personally was almost run down. The driver used profanity and kept driving. Too many deaths have already occurred, hit and runs do what’s right! Fix it!! Don’t wait for another tragedy. It can be you or your family member next time. Concerned on the Grand Concourse!!

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