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.