DOT Proposes Protected Bike Lane for 10 Blocks of Fifth Avenue in Harlem

The project is an outgrowth of the agency's outreach for safer biking and walking access to the Harlem River bridges.

The two-way protected bike lane would run from the south side of Marcus Garvey Park to the northeast corner of Central Park. Image: DOT
The two-way protected bike lane would run from the south side of Marcus Garvey Park to the northeast corner of Central Park. Image: DOT

Earlier this week, DOT presented plans for a two-way protected bike lane on Fifth Avenue in Harlem, between Marcus Garvey Park and Central Park. The project would be the neighborhood’s first protected bike lane west of Second Avenue.

Agency reps presented initial concepts for Fifth Avenue, along with other Harlem-area bike improvements, to local community boards at the beginning of the summer [PDF]. The ideas grew out of DOT’s workshops for safer biking and walking access to the Harlem River bridges, as well as other surveys and outreach conducted over the past two years.

A one-way street with excessively wide motor vehicle lanes, this stretch of Fifth Avenue is prone to speeding. The DOT redesign calls for a two-way bike lane protected by parked cars on the east side of the street, which would shorten crossing distances for pedestrians by up to 25 feet.

In DOT's Fifth Avenue protected bike lane proposal, bicycles and pedestrians would have a protected crossing phase separate from left turning vehicles. Image: DOT
In DOT’s Fifth Avenue protected bike lane proposal, bicycles and pedestrians would have a protected crossing phase separate from left turning vehicles. Image: DOT

From 120th Street to 115th Street and from 112th Street to 110th Street, the bikeway would be 10 feet wide, separated from traffic by a parking lane and painted buffer. Between 115th Street and 112th Street, alongside NYCHA’s King Towers, the bike lane would be eight feet wide, and the west curb would be converted to back-in parking.

At five of the intersections along the route, the parking lane would give with to painted pedestrian island, which would shorten the crossing distance from sixty to thirty-five feet. At 118th Street, 116th Street, and 112th Street, there would be left-turn lanes with signal phases to separate car traffic from biking and walking traffic.

DOT's proposal for angle-parking and a two-way protected bike lane adjacent to NYCHA's King Houses, between 15th and 12th streets. Image: DOT
The configuration would change slightly, with back-in parking and a narrower bikeway by NYCHA’s King Houses, between 115th and 112th streets. Image: DOT

To connect Fifth Avenue to the Harlem River Greenway, DOT proposes a contraflow bike lane on the block of 110th Street between Central Park and Madison Avenue, which would become an un-protected painted lane east of Madison. An un-protected bike lane on 111th would be the westbound counterpart. Another painted bike lane pair would be added on 126th Street and 128th Street.

On 110th west of Fifth Avenue, DOT is proposing painted bike lanes in both directions. In June, Manhattan Community Board 7 asked the agency to make those lanes protected.

On Tuesday, agency reps discussed the plan with the Manhattan Community Board 10 transportation committee, but the committee declined to take a position other than to needle DOT about ensuring community input, according to Transportation Alternatives Upper Manhattan organizer Dulcie Canton. Fifth Avenue is the dividing line between CB 10 and CB 11, but the bike lane itself is on the CB 11 side.

“DOT has met with both community boards and upon request we will return to Community Board 10 to present the full bike network and Community Board 11 to present additional details on the 5th Avenue Protected Bike Lane project,” an agency spokesperson said. “We hope to return to these boards this Fall.”

  • AMH

    I’m so happy to hear this. Legitimizing two-way biking on one-way streets is needed, as are traffic calming and protected routes. Madison Avenue needs a lot of help–I still won’t be able to bike to my front door without being cursed at by drivers racing for the Major Deegan. I also wish pedestrians could get some protection from left-turning drivers who violate the crosswalk at high speed as they turn from Madison onto 125th. (Whatever happened to that interactive Vision Zero map where we pointed out safety problems all over the city?)

    Better east-west bike routes are needed, particularly eastbound from the Hudson River. I’m amazed that the city managed to rebuild all of the streets in Manhattanville without improving access to the Greenway one bit.

  • van_vlissingen

    Hmm I wonder why they didnt extend it south of 110th to at least 96th (border of CB11 and CB8) or even better 57th,

  • Daphna

    Manhattan CB10 is typically against any street improvements. Hopefully the DOT will proceed anyway. The DOT might have better luck getting a positive endorsement from CB11. A di-directional protected bike lane on 5th Avenue would be fantastic! But central Harlem has a history of fighting off street improvements: they fought against Select Bus Service for the M60 on 125th Street, fought against the traffic calming wider median on Adam Clayton Powell Blvd (7th Avenue), and fought against the 4 to 3 lane conversion of Morningside Avenue. Due to HUGE effort by advocates, these plans were eventually installed, although each were delayed by a year or more due the opposition from the CB10 leadership.
    Bill Perkins, who lead the opposition against Select Bus Service on 125th Street, has now left New York State senate and has replaced Inez Dickens for the city council seat for Central Harlem. This does not bode well because when a CB is against a plan, the local elected officials need to speak out in favor of it to outweigh the opposition, and Bill Perkins is unlikely to do so.
    Hopefully the DOT will install this no matter what. There is precedence for doing so. Local political appointed boards (CBs) are advisory only. DOT does not need any resolution for them. The law only states that DOT should inform the CBs and receive feedback for a certain amount of time prior to installation.
    Gale Brewer needs to stop re-appointing many of these members each time their two-year term is up. Gale Brewer supports safer streets and the people she appoints to CBs should too.

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