Checking in With People Cycling on the New Sixth Ave Protected Bike Lane

The Sixth Avenue protected bike lane was installed last month. Photo: David Meyer
The Sixth Avenue protected bike lane at 20th Street. All photos: David Meyer

The Sixth Avenue protected bike lane is just about finished between 8th Street and 33rd Street, except for the pedestrian islands. The redesign is still in that awkward transitional phase where people are figuring out how to use it, so today Streetsblog checked in with a few of the thousands of people who bike Sixth Avenue daily to see how the change is coming.

“I think it’s great! I think they should keep making more,” Jesus Andrade said as he waited for the light to cross 26th Street. “I think this [design] is the best way because the cars shield us from the traffic.”

The old painted bike lane on Sixth Avenue was frequently blocked by double-parked drivers, pushing cyclists into the street’s treacherous motor vehicle traffic. Wide crossing distances made the street exceedingly dangerous for pedestrians too. Between 2009 and 2013, 27 pedestrians and 10 cyclists were severely injured in the project area, according to DOT.

In addition to a parking-protected bike lane, the project includes 33 new concrete pedestrians islands that have yet to be installed.

sixth_ave
A rider prepares for the mixing zone at 21st Street.

Abigail, who declined to give her last name, said people are still adjusting to the new street configuration. As she hopped off her bike in front of her Sixth Avenue apartment building, she pointed to the absence of concrete islands as one reason pedestrians and motorists may not be respecting the lane.

“The protected lanes that are not on Sixth Avenue I think are great, because people know about them and I think there’s like curbs between the bike lane and the road,” she said. “I think in the long run, it will definitely make it safer, but I think, as of right now, it would have been maybe helpful if they had cones up or something to signify that [the bike lane] just moved.”

Traffic agents were out ticketing vehicles parked in the bike lane today. Even some cars with unofficial (i.e. fake) parking placards weren’t immune. The owner of this Range Rover with “volunteer ambulance service” credentials got a ticket:

range_rover

A closer look at the plea for “professional courtesy”:emergency_amb

One concern with the Sixth Avenue lane is that the sidewalks aren’t wide enough to handle the foot traffic, which will spill into the bike lane. But on this August weekday around noon, there wasn’t much spillover.

David Cass, who was on his bike, endorsed the new design even though pedestrians sometimes use the bike lane. “People still stand in them, which is pretty annoying,” he said, “but I like the protected lane.”

On a few blocks — between 22nd Street and 25th Street and 13th Street and 14th Street — construction projects have delayed installation. We’ve asked DOT for a timeline for the installation of both the remaining portions of the lane, the 33 concrete islands, and new split-phase traffic signals along the route.

  • Seth Rosenblum

    Last I heard there weren’t going to be any concrete islands, since the lane + buffer were less than 11 feet, so DOT can’t get street-sweepers through. I thought it was supposed to be like 2nd avenue south of 14th.

    Did that change?

  • BrandonWC
  • Seth Rosenblum

    Wonderful!

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    Will be interesting to see where this lane falls on the chart in 3 years. Would a measly ? 10% reduction in injuries be considered a success in the Vision Zero era?

    Of course, this method of measuring (the “bad old days” approach) gives an advantage to streets that are especially dangerous beforehand. A better approach would be to compare the cycling risk indicator across routes.

  • Vooch

    now a PBL for Fifth !

  • AMH

    Church St/6 Av was always a fast and convenient but terrifying route. Hoping this cuts down on the terror without affecting the speed and convenience.

  • AlexB

    We’ve got three good uptown bike lanes on 8th, 6th and 1st and only one good downtown one on 9th. Build more downtown protected bike lanes!

  • JudenChino

    So what’s going on above 34th street?

  • ohnonononono

    …or crosstown.

  • Elizabeth F

    What about B’way and 2nd Ave?

  • AlexB

    I guess because 2nd ave doesn’t go north of 34th and Broadway is really difficult to use because of Times Square and Herald Square. It’s a bit arbitrary I admit

  • Danny Franklin

    Excellent analysis . Just to add my thoughts http://goo.gl/skADQH, if someone is interested a CA BOE-58-AH , my boss saw a sample version here

  • BrandonWC

    DOT says it “requires further evaluation,” but they do plan on extending the lane south to Canal in 2017. See pg 15: http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/downloads/pdf/6th-ave-cb-4-2015-11-18.pdf

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

DOT Extends Sixth Avenue Protected Bike Lane Plan to 8th Street

|
DOT is extending its plan for a protected bike lane on Sixth Avenue six blocks and will include some concrete pedestrian islands in the project. Previously, the plan called for a protected bike lane between 14th Street and 33rd Street with painted pedestrian islands at intersections. The revised plan extends south to 8th Street and will […]

TA, Manhattan Pols Urge DOT to Commit to Fully Redesigning Fifth and Sixth

|
Last month DOT announced its intent to add a protected bike lane along 19 blocks of Sixth Avenue. A coalition of advocates, business groups, community board representatives, and elected officials think the city can do better. At a press conference next to the Flatiron Building this morning, they called on DOT to redesign the entire length of Fifth Avenue and Sixth Avenue in Manhattan. In a […]

Will the Sixth Avenue Protected Bike Lane Get Done in 2016?

|
DOT presented a plan for a protected bike lane on 19 blocks of Sixth Avenue to the Manhattan Community Board 4 transportation committee last night. From 14th Street to 33rd Street, the design calls for carving out a six-foot bike lane and three-foot buffer protected from moving motor vehicles by a lane of parked cars [PDF]. Sixth […]

DOT’s Latest Missed Opportunity for Protected Bike Lanes

|
Eighth Street, which cuts eastbound across Greenwich Village just above Washington Square Park, had two traffic lanes until recently. A road diet by the Department of Transportation dropped it to one lane and added new pedestrian crossings. Left out of the redesign: bike lanes. Instead, there are “extra-wide parking lanes” that also accommodate double-parked drivers. Last November, the plan […]