Eyes on the Street: The Grand Concourse Bike Lanes Get an Upgrade

DOT realigned the bike lane to reduce conflicts with double-parked cars, but the Concourse will need a more substantial overhaul to be a truly low-stress route for cycling.

The bike lanes on the Grand Concourse are now aligned next to the medians, not the parking lane. Photo: Erwin Figueroa
The bike lanes on the Grand Concourse are now aligned next to the medians, not the parking lane. Photo: Erwin Figueroa

DOT has realigned the bike lanes on a section of the Grand Concourse and painted them green.

It’s not as good as the physical protection local advocates are after — the city plans to redesign the Concourse with protected bike lanes later — but it’s an upgrade on one of the Bronx’s major north-south routes. From 166th Street to 171st Street, the buffered bike lanes are now aligned along the medians, not next to the parking lane where they were often obstructed by illegally parked cars.

Bronx advocates with Transportation Alternatives have been pushing for a “complete Concourse” with protected bike lanes and dedicated bus lanes since 2015. Every council member who represents a district touching the Grand Concourse has signed on to the campaign.

The city reconstructed the Grand Concourse between 161st Street and 166th Street back in 2008, before protected bike lanes had been normalized in DOT’s street design toolkit. Three more phases, which will rebuild the Concourse up to Fordham Road, have yet to be completed.

These changes between 166th and 171st are interim treatments DOT is installing before the full reconstruction. The rebuilt Concourse north of 166th is slated to have bike lanes in the raised concrete median, but the glacial pace of capital construction means those improvements are likely years in the future.

Exit lane off the Grand Concourse main roadway near Elliot Place. Photo: Erwin Figueroa
The exit off the Grand Concourse main roadway near Elliot Place. Photo: Erwin Figueroa

There are still significant points of potential conflict in this interim design. Unlike on Queens Boulevard, where DOT squared the transitions for car traffic between the central roadway and service lanes and added stop signs, the transitions on the Grand Concourse rely on yield signs and shark’s teeth to slow down motorists crossing the bike lane.

Entrance lane onto the Grand Concourse main roadway. Photo: Erwin Figueroa
Where drivers cross the bike lane to get onto the Grand Concourse main roadway. Photo: Erwin Figueroa

The main benefit of the new design is the reduction in conflicts between cyclists and drivers accessing the curb. The old buffered bike lanes were so rife with double-parking that TransAlt volunteer Claudia Mena told Streetsblog she preferred riding in the painted median in the central roadway.

“I just feel like I’m always breaking the rules because there’s no other way,” she said. “I either break the rules or feel unsafe.”

The new alignment gets cyclists out of the way of double-parked cars, but a more substantial overhaul will be needed to make the Grand Concourse a truly low-stress street for cycling.

  • AnoNYC

    Flex posts would have a real impact here.

    Alternatively, they could have made the stretch parking protected and called it a day.

  • Double parking is treated throughout as though it were a natural phenomenon rather than a conscious choice by sociopaths, one that is enabled and encouraged by negligence on the part of police.

  • Nathan C Rhodes

    It’s not good enough, but this is NYC, USA.

  • AnoNYC

    I think the bus is in the bike lane in the first photograph.

  • AnoNYC

    If every block had loading zones, including residential streets, we could greatly reduce the problem.

  • Loading zones are where stores receive deliveries of their stock, so I am not sure what purpose such a zone would serve on a residential street.

    Anyway, even on a commercial street, most double parkers are not delivery vehicles but selfish goons who think that they are entitled to double park while they go into a store.

    I certainly don’t disagree that loading zones should be much more abundant; but the main problem is the lack of enforcement. All non-commercial vehicles that are double parked should be towed immediately.

  • AnoNYC

    I perhaps should have said “no parking zones.” Either way for residents to pick up and drop off people or goods at residences. Curbside temporary standing loading/drop off areas are needed everywhere.

  • That bus – along with the car ahead of it that’s also in the bike lane – appears to be going around a double-parked car. Saw the same thing yesterday while taking photos of the new lanes.

  • In addition to this, the entire Concourse should be subject to meter parking. Absolutely no reason for free parking on a transit-heavy arterial. This should also reduce double-parking; although with the current bike lane setup, you can also combat double parking by simply adding barriers to the bike lane. Then there’d be no room to double-park since such would block traffic!

  • The Rite Aid near me receives its deliveries via 18-wheeler; that said, I don’t know if other places on the Concourse receive goods via large truck. The bodegas usually receive theirs via much smaller trucks or vans.

    In any case, loading/no parking zones are indeed needed, as AnoNYC said, for those picking up/dropping off people or cargo at residences! I hate double-parking, but I’ve been guilty of it myself when dropping off large quantities of groceries or other cargo.

  • Vincent Howland

    tried this out recently and, to be fair, it was a big improvement. biggest issue for me was that the improved section ends VERY abruptly southbound (and really doesn’t go very far).

    Flex posts (or a raised barrier as was originally proposed) would make the route a lot safer, but it’s passable as is.

  • Andrew

    Alternatively, metered parking, priced to ensure an available parking space close to every resident.

  • J

    I disagree. You give away free ice cream and there’s a line around the corner. You give away (or underprice) free parking, and there’s double parking on every block. Double parking is a policy failure.

  • You are absolutely correct to suggest that the bad policy of free street parking encourages double parking. Obviously the most fundamental solution would be to change that policy. But that doesn’t mean that other solutions should be dismissed.

    Implementing a system of charging for parking would require a change in many laws, a process that would take many years at best. By contrast, double parking is already illegal; all that is required is an adjustment of enforcement priorities to focus on this plague, a decision which which could be made effective tomorrow morning.

    Furthermore, the inevitable queue for free ice cream would not be allowed to spill into the street and to block the movement of traffic. And neither should the result of the overflow demand for inappropriately-priced parking spaces. For cars left parked in traffic lanes, the fitting penalty is towing.

  • Right. I should have seen that “loading zone” was meant more broadly than for the delivery of products to stores. Yes, the problem of double parking is greatly exacerbated by the lack of curbside places set aside for temporary stopping only.

  • Max

    I mentioned this on the tweets last night, but it’s absolutely criminal that the Queens Blvd protected bike lane treatments (including bollards and stop controlled slip lanes at the bare minimum) were not implemented on Grand Concourse. Both boulevards function nearly identically, yet the Bronx is getting shafted on safer street design. It’s insanely simple for anyone operating a motor vehicle to veer into the bike lane and crush someone up against that concrete median. Bollards at the least provide a visual separation. The slip lanes as currently designed don’t encourage drivers to slow down as they come off the main line right into the path of anyone riding a bike.

    I just don’t understand.

  • Wilfried84

    I hate the slip lanes on Queens Blvd., stop sign or no. Drivers do not look for bicycles, and do no yield, hellbent only on getting through at the speed they were going in the travel lane. Especially for a first time rider, it’s not very clear what’s happening, and very easy to get caught unawares.

  • Max

    The stop-controlled slip lanes on Queens Blvd are hardly perfect, but they are a vast improvement to having cars freely merge at 25mph (or faster) directly into the bike path.

  • Wilfried84

    I think that’s what I was trying to say. A “controlled” slip lane already sucks. An uncontrolled one has to be much worse. How is it in any way a good idea to allow drivers to cut across bike lanes with nothing to slow them down?

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Vanessa Gibson Endorses Grand Concourse Protected Bike Lane

|
Thanks @Vanessalgibson for supporting #CompleteConcourse! Win for #VisionZero and #not62@transalt@BxHealthREACHpic.twitter.com/uEuU88qRN9 — Thomas DeVito (@PedestrianTom) August 25, 2016 Council Member Vanessa Gibson wants protected bike lanes on the Grand Concourse. After meeting with Bronx Transportation Alternatives volunteers this week, Gibson signed onto the campaign, joining four other council members whose districts include the Concourse. Below 162nd Street, there is no […]