DOT Proposes Solution to Houston Street Cycling Danger

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In response to the deaths of three cyclists on Houston Street in two years and the ensuing community pressure to make the area safer for biking, the Department of Transportation is proposing to establish two new bike lanes along streets running parallel to traffic-heavy Houston Street.

DOT’s plan seeks to transform Bleecker and Prince Streets into Lower Manhattan’s primary east-west bike routes. A DOT Powerpoint presentation, available for download here, compares the Houston Street "parallel facilities" plan to the heavily-used bike lanes on Dean and Bergen Street running adjacent to Brooklyn’s busy Atlantic Avenue.

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Perhaps most notable, DOT’s plan includes the removal of 187 on-street parking spaces from the area, the bulk of which would be eliminated from Prince Street. The results of a recent study by transportation expert Bruce Schaller suggested that Soho businesses, visitors and residents would all benefit by removing parking space from crowded Prince Street. Schaller’s study, however, pointed more towards replacing parking space with expanded sidewalks, particularly on weekends.

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Ian Dutton of Manhattan Community Board 2 has been organizing many of the efforts to make bicycling safer along Houston Street. DOT will present its plan at CB2’s Transportation Committee meeting on Tuesday, March 13, 6:30pm at the NYU Silver Building, 32 Waverly Place, Room 411. Also on the agenda Tuesday evening is the Lower Manhattan Transit Priority Plan, a proposal to improve bus service along Broadway south of Houston Street.

On his Bike Houston Street web site Dutton says, "With the release of this proposal, it is evident that DOT has taken our cries for action seriously, even though that was not clearly communicated to us until now. Regardless of the merits or problems within the proposal itself, DOT’s carefully studied response to our concerns is most appreciated."

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