DOT Has a Fix for the Crummy Bike Connection Between Lower Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge

Goodbye, illegally parked police cars and press vans on Park Row. Hello protected bikeway. Image: DOT
Goodbye, illegally parked police cars and press vans on Park Row. Hello protected bikeway. Image: DOT

DOT is looking to fix the stressful connection between the Lower Manhattan street grid and the Brooklyn Bridge bike path with a short, two-way protected bike lane on Park Row [PDF].

Currently, there are no good options for cyclists. If you’re biking off the bridge, you head right into a row of police cars, press vans, and other vehicles with parking placards — they’re all stationed in what’s supposed to be a short stretch of southbound buffered bike lane on Park Row. Heading toward the bridge, cyclists are expected to go out of their way to take hectic Church Street and approach the bike path entrance through City Hall Park — many end up breaking the rules and riding against traffic on Park Row instead.

The big change in DOT’s plan is a two-way section of bike lane protected by a concrete barrier on Park Row, plus a short contraflow lane on Spruce Street. It’s not a lot of bike lane mileage, but it’s a key link in the network that will be dramatically improved:

park_row_bikeway

spruce_street_contraflow

“We know there are a lot of cyclists coming from Lower Manhattan,” said DOT Bicycle and Pedestrian Program Director Sean Quinn. “Almost half the cyclists are going the wrong way on Park Row or on the sidewalk. We knew we could capitalize on a route that people are already doing.”

Quinn said the agency wants to get something done this year to improve the Manhattan side of the bridge, complementing the capital project on the Brooklyn approach to the bridge, which is currently in progress.

There will be two gaps in the concrete barrier on Park Row for vehicle access to City Hall, the press vans will be shifted to an area along the median, and police will be directed to use space north of Spruce Street as a drop-off zone. DOT’s also planning to extend concrete medians into four crosswalks on Park Row.

park_row_plan

Between Spruce and the Battery, the project mainly calls for sharrows to direct cyclists along a network of narrow streets leading to and from the bridge.

DOT presented the project to Manhattan Community Board 1 on Monday. The board did not vote but indicated support for the project, and DOT is moving forward, with implementation anticipated for late spring or early summer.

  • JudenChino

    Yes. Finally. So obvious and sensible.

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    Please add a curb and bollards to the northbound lane in front of the Muni Building too and paint the driveway crossings green. Thank you!

  • N_Gorski

    Now if we can just get a protected lane on Centre St (and upgrade the Lafayette lane north of there to a two-way path, somehow), it’ll finally stop being a pain in the butt to ride north out of the financial district.

  • Brian Howald

    This is fantastic! DOT has long been mum on this glaring gap in the bike network or even what the recommended current route is.

    Most of the parking in the current Class 2 S/B lane on Centre is NYPD or City Hall related. I hope this barrier and the parking on the median on the next block are enough to deter those drivers from parking in the upgraded lane, but worry that it won’t be given the impunity with which these violators operate currently.

    If that isn’t effective, DOT should consider narrowing the street on the east side, adding steel bollards to the western sidewalk, and – I hate saying it – moving S/B cyclists to sharrows for that block so that the street isn’t wide enough for two cars side by side. That harnesses drivers’ strong desire to not block other drivers into keeping the contraflow lane clear.

    Additionally, DOT should add bike infrastructure to eastbound Chambers as the path from Warren through the park is closed after 1 AM. Thank you, DOT!

  • Even in 2002: see this video at the 3:05 mark – four cars parked in it! It’s about time!!

  • kevd

    Unless that 2′ barrier is 2′ high, I bet NYPD will still park in it.

  • Bahij

    So great. So simple. So necessary.

    I like how DOT labeled the existing buffered bike lane a 6′ parking lane.

  • Geck

    Yes, Lafayette as a two-way parking protected lane all the way to Union Square would fill a big gap. The space is there. Just switch the existing bike lane and parking lane (where it is not already parking protected). Add a few turn restrictions and split phase signals and it could be done.

  • NYCer

    They’re going to need a six-foot tall concrete wall, tire spikes and camera enforcement on this thing to prevent the cops and TV news vans from parking on it.

  • J

    pdf link is broken.

  • J

    So, I think this is a great and much needed project which should have happened ages ago. Kudos to DOT for thinking more and more about the network and not just about building random unconnected stretches of bike lanes.

    That said, if the existing “bike lane” stripes are completely ignored (even DOT refers to it as a 6′ buffered parking lane!), why would we think anyone will respect the new configuration, since multiple sections of it rely solely on painted lines? I.e. why wouldn’t the picture look like this?

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/9b85e45017674a6e3dadd497e9df218940726276c658b6eb0c8a02d09e072723.png

  • J

    Guaranteed. They brazenly park on sidewalks across the city, why would they respect a bike lane when there are zero con sequences for doing so? I wonder if in 5 years, DOT will have another presentation where this is referred to as a “green protected parking lane”.

  • kevd

    the only way to prevent NYPD and placard holders from parking where ever they feel like it, is to make it physically impossible for them to do so.

    Jersey Barriers are needed here.
    Then they’d probably just drive down the bike lane to park…..

  • AMH

    I was wondering about that–the “buffered parking lane” is what’s supposedly the current bike lane?

  • AMH

    These are exactly the kind of connections we desperately need! There are lots of places where the street grid forces you to ride the wrong way or on the sidewalk to avoid a confusing detour, where a simple counterflow lane would fix everything.

  • KevinJWalsh

    Why not fix the crummy shared bike/pedestrian path on the bridge?

  • Brian Howald
  • Brian Howald

    Now if they could just refer to all Class 2 bike lanes that way, we might be getting somewhere.

  • KevinJWalsh

    I favor eliminating all shared bicycle/ped space. They’re showing ped walks on either side; leave the center path for bikes.

  • Brian Howald

    I think most of us are confused by that, but there may be some legal or operational constraint behind it.

  • BrandonWC

    It used to be a bike lane but it was officially demapped and turned into press parking about a decade ago.

  • AMH

    No kidding?!

  • J

    I generally don’t think 2-way protected bike lanes are the best solution, but on a one-way street with long blocks (like Center/Lafayette) it actually makes a lot of sense.

  • cjstephens

    Am I the only one who remembers that this used to be the location of a bike lane, less than a decade ago? It was difficult to see, but it was there, usually hidden underneath cars with government placards. More than once I had to explain to drivers that there was no placard that allowed them to park in a bike lane. I’ll echo the sentiments that unless there are physical barriers preventing it, this bike lane will get taken over by entitled government workers and the press, who think that their ability to park conveniently trumps the safety of cyclists and pedestrians.

  • This looks the proposed design will be like this in DC for the concrete barriers! Very good!

  • Canonchet

    There was & is very little ‘press’ parking in those spaces – mostly spuriously placarded private cars of City Hall & Board of Ed staff

  • Bernard Finucane

    25′ travel lane lol. They aren’t even trying, are they.

  • Mary P

    absolutely – all placard abuses

  • Mary P

    Yes! and it never worked. Going from downtown to say Municipal Bld is really taking your life into your hands or riding on the side walk. It is very hard to uptown on a bike from below Liberty street without going to the river. Which is not really useful if you are going to the civic center. They should make that Centre St 2 way bike path for real and extend it north all the way through Chinatown. Over by the BB/City Hall 6 entrance there is plenty of room to cut into the pedestrian plaza that’s only used for tourist watching gymnastics.

  • JudenChino

    It’s officially press placard parking as of today (but not for much longer).

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