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Bicycle Safety

DOT Makes the Case for Bike Routes Parallel to W. Houston St.




Last Tuesday night Ryan Russo and Josh Benson from the Department of Transportation presented a plan to Manhattan's Community Board 2 to create a safer east-west bike route across Lower Manhattan. With three cyclists having been killed on Houston Street over the last two years and major reconstruction of the street currently underway, members of CB2 led by Ian Dutton have been advocating for  a physically-separated bike lane to be built on Houston Street.

I'm not going to have time to do the meeting justice right now and I hope that people will add to this report in the comments section. The gist of it is this: DOT argues that Houston Street, with its busy, multi-lane traffic and numerous cross streets -- 18 intersections per mile, Russo said -- wouldn't work all that well as a two-way protected bike lane. DOT's Powerpoint presentation is above (Is Streetsblog becoming some sort of New York City government agency Powerpoint clearinghouse?).

Everyone, however, agrees that Lower Manhattan needs a safe, convenient east-west bike route. But rather than directing bicyclists to Houston Street DOT proposes placing the bike lanes on less busy streets that parallel Houston -- Prince and Bleecker. The plan, Russo said, is similar to the Bike Boulevard program in Berkeley, California and the popular Dean and Bergen bike lanes that parallel Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn. One other possible benefit to Livable Streets advocates: The proposal includes the removal of nearly 200 parking spaces.

Community Board members were impressed with the thoughtfulness that went in to DOT's study. Russo and Benson "changed some minds" and the presentation "was well received" according to transportation committee chair Brad Hoylman. "We reiterated our support for a Houston Street bike lane but stated that the alternative was a viable option that should be examined further with continued community input."

Bonus Weekend Essay Project: Compare and contrast the DOT bike plan for Lower Manhattan and the process that brought it about versus the one-way streets plan presented last night in Park Slope.

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