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Bicycle Safety

Bike & Ped Improvements Slated for Manhattan Bridge Approach

10:35 AM EDT on August 27, 2007


DOT plans to build a physically-separated two-way bike lane on this one block stretch of Canal Street at the foot of the Manhattan Bridge. The project also includes pedestrian safety fixes.

The Manhattan approach to the Manhattan Bridge, where Chinatown and the Lower East Side come together in a jumble, has long presented one of the most confusing streetscapes in the city. Pedestrians, bicycles, cars and trucks compete for space in a chaotic rush of traffic that often feels dangerous and unnavigable.

Now the city's Dept. of Transportation is going to do something about it.

In a presentation given to the Community Board 3 transportation committee back in July (download PDF here), the DOT proposed several major improvements to the area, including sidewalk extensions, pedestrian refuge islands and decreased crossing distances for those on foot. Pedestrian safety improvements for two schools in the shadow of the bridge, IS 131 and PS 124, are a key part of the plan and have already been put in place.

The committee unanimously approved the proposal.

Perhaps the most dramatic element in the project is a "complete intersection" redesign for Canal St. at Forsyth St. This is where the bridge's newly reopened northside bike path currently ends, at a blind corner that practically guarantees conflict with pedestrians and cyclists riding the wrong way along the one block stretch of Canal St. leading to Christie St.

The DOT's plan will separate bike and pedestrian flows with a fence and provide a one block physically-separated bike path (with bicycle traffic signals) on Canal St. The DOT press office did not respond to questions about the project and would not say when it would be completed.

A DOT source says that it is difficult to say when the project will be completed now that it is in the hands of the sometimes slow-moving Dept. of Design and Construction (DDC). A similar fate has befallen the Sands Street bike safety improvements on the Brooklyn side of the Manhattan Bridge. Announced on June 14, 2005, the project appears to have stalled since being handed off from DOT to DDC.

Top photo: Geoff Zink. Plan and photographic rendering were pulled from DOT's presentation.

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