New in 2016: Safe, Convenient Bike Connections Linking East Harlem and the Bronx

This two-way bike lane separates cyclists from high-speed motor vehicle traffic on First Avenue. Photos: David Meyer
This two-way bike lane separates cyclists from high-speed motor vehicle traffic on First Avenue. Photos: David Meyer

Yesterday the Chrystie Street protected bike lane had its official unveiling, marking a huge improvement to the bike connection between Manhattan and downtown Brooklyn. All the way at the other end of the East Side of Manhattan, DOT made another big improvement this year to interborough bridge access for cyclists.

It’s a two-block bidirectional bike lane connecting the protected bike lanes on First and Second Avenues to the Willis Avenue Bridge and Triborough Bridge [PDF].

Before this project, if you were biking from the Bronx over the Willis Avenue Bridge, you had no good options once you got to First Avenue and 125th Street. Biking on wide, highly-trafficked 125th Street was a legal connection to Second Avenue and points west, but it was extremely intimidating.

A less stressful option was to go down First Avenue to East 124th Street, but that was illegal and entailed biking on the sidewalk or against traffic.

DOT’s project fixed this weak spot in the bike network by making the informal route a safe, well-designed — and legal — option. With new two-way protected bike lanes on First Avenue between East 125th Street to East 124th Street, and on 124th Street between First Avenue and Second Avenue, there are now safe, direct connections from the on-street bike network to the paths on the Willis Avenue and Triborough bridges.

124th street protected lane
The new two-way protected bike lane on 124th Street also calmed traffic and shortened pedestrian crossings.

At the intersection of 124th Street and Second Avenue, where the bike lane converges with an on-ramp for the Triborough Bridge, DOT made some adjustments to its original plan, which called for cyclists to use crosswalks to get from the bridge to Second Avenue, make a convoluted jog to get from 124th Street to Second Avenue, and also had no clear route for southbound cyclists to get onto 124th Street.

DOT's original plans for the intersection routed cyclists onto the sidewalk and over a pedestrian crosswalk. Image: DOT
DOT’s original plans for the intersection routed cyclists over crosswalks. Image: DOT

As implemented, the project gives cyclists making these three movements more intuitive options. The bike lane by the Triborough entrance traverses the motor vehicle lane on 124th Street, then connects to the protected lane on Second Avenue.

The intersection of East 124th Street, 2nd Avenue and the ramp onto the Triborough Bridge.
Cyclists heading from East 124th Street or the Triborough Bridge cross this lane of car traffic to get to Second Avenue.

This short bi-directional segment is also useful for southbound cyclists on Second Avenue looking to get over to 124th Street:

second_ave_connector

One shortcoming of the project is the absence of protection on First Avenue as it approaches the bridge, putting cyclists dangerously close to high-speed traffic.

Also missing is directional signage. The new configuration works well but may not be very intuitive. Yesterday I saw one cyclist headed toward the Willis Avenue Bridge via the treacherous, construction-plagued block of East 125th Street.

First Avenue looking towards the Willis Avenue Bridge.
First Avenue looking toward the Willis Avenue Bridge.
  • vnm

    Excellent! This might also make it easier to get to Paladino Avenue, which is a nice low-traffic diagonal connection to the northernmost entrance to the East River Greenway, at 120th Street.

  • HamTech87

    Can somebody more savvy than me get this added to Google Maps?

  • Jeremy Lenz

    I sent in the report and referenced this article. You’re right, it was really difficult. There’s no option to report a problem with bicycling directions on iOS. So I went to my Windows desktop and tried there.. still no option. I ended up just right-clicking on the map at 125th and then “Report a data problem.”

  • AnoNYC

    The E 124th St bike lane is great because you can avoid hectic E 125th St. So far so good there except for drivers blocking the lane where it crosses over the entrance to the Triboro.

    The new two way protected bike lane on 1st Ave between E 124th and 125th Sts is frequently blocked now by NYPD Traffic or at times construction related vehicles for the Triboro project. You also have your occasional drivers using it as a turning lane onto E 125th St. And yes, the jersey barrier is way too short. There should at least be flex post to the crosswalk.

    The lane is still located between a turning and moving lane between E 123rd and 124th St. That section also needs to get pushed against the curb and protected.

  • AnoNYC

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/701fe2b1a6de97f3a13bc19424a5b2dc01c167c44e1f49f45c213bdd22b009ea.jpg

    Notice the car in the bike on this last unprotected segment on 1st Ave between E 123rd and 124th Sts.

  • AnoNYC

    I tried on Google Map maker a few times for a few missing lanes. No luck.

  • AnoNYC

    If we keep bothering them then maybe they will simply the process.

  • AnoNYC

    Once the work on the Triboro Bridge wraps up, there will be that already built ramp at the Willis Ave Bridge too.

  • AnoNYC
  • vnm

    Actually it isn’t just the Triboro Bridge work that needs to wrap up. From Lexington Avenue to First Avenue, I think the DOT is shifting the alignment of the FDR upland slightly, which is good in that it could enable a widened waterfront park.

  • vnm
  • BrandonWC

    I just fixed it in Google Map Maker. The green lines should appear on the map by tomorrow and routing should be updated in a couple of days (though google maps really doesn’t like two-way or contra-flow bike lanes on one-way (for cars) streets so directions going east on 124th may or may not work).

  • AnoNYC

    Did you get some kind of confirmation that Google will update the map? I posted some changes, confirmed by others even, that never showed up. There’s a few sections of bicycle lanes missing across the city.

  • AnoNYC
  • BrandonWC
  • AnoNYC

    Comes up on my side. Don’t know how your edit got approved, I contribute quite a bit and haven’t had any luck.

  • BrandonWC

    It’s a huge crapshoot. I had basically given up on map maker as most of my edits last year seemed to get stuck in limbo, but in the last couple of weeks I’ve had almost all of my edits approved in 48 hours if not sooner. I even went back and undid some of my edits that had been sitting for months and those also got approve almost immediately. I don’t know if this has made the difference, but I’ve been making sure to say exactly what I’m doing in the comments (e.g “parking protected, segregated bike lane on X Ave from Y St to Z St. See [links to street view images from both ends if available]”).

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