Manhattan Bridge Bike & Ped Improvements Nearing Completion

It looks like the street redesign around the Manhattan entrance of the Manhattan Bridge is nearing completion. Considering that Transportation Alternatives has been pushing for these fixes for years, that was pretty fast. DOT presented its plan to the local Community Board, to unanimous approval, in July; sketched out the lines on the street in August; and here we are.

With the Manhattan side of the bridge squared away, attention now turns to the utterly pathetic state of bike access on the Brooklyn side of the Manhattan Bridge. Former DOT Commissioner Iris Weinshall unveiled plans for the creation of a Sands Street bike ramp on June 14, 2005, shortly after T.A. Deputy Director Noah Budnick’s life-threatening bike crash down there. Two and a half years later the Sands Street project is nowhere. Apparently, the Department of Design and Construction has completely dropped the ball on this one.


Thanks to Streetsblog reader Dave "Paco" Abraham for sending in these photos. You can find more detailed DOT plans for the Manhattan Bridge and other "complete streets" projects around the city here.

  • Jonathan

    For streetsbloggers who are unfamiliar with the streetscape here, may I make some clarifying comments? It looks like that big dirtpit in the third picture is meant to create a cycle track on the north side of Canal Street between Forsyth and Chrystie, to link the bridge exit (on the south side of the Forsyth corner) with the bike path that goes north on Chrystie. The bike box in the first picture is to help cyclists cross Canal Street between the cycle track and the bridge path. Looks great!

  • Josh

    Regarding the approaches on the Brooklyn side, I’m confused. The existing ramp to the bike path *does* go up from Sands Street. The raised bike path discussed in the linked article is a good idea, sure, but it does nothing to address the fact that getting to the bike path from anywhere other than DUMBO or Vinegar Hill is a huge hassle. And further, because the approach is poorly signed and located in a counterintuitive location, people who don’t know where it is can’t find it – leading to things like the guy who got killed a month or so ago because he was riding his bike in the car lanes. What’s really needed is an approach to the bike path from near the corner of Nassau and Bridge Streets to supplement the one from down towards the river along Sands.

  • That car-circle-slash gets my vote for best NYC street sign.

  • shishi

    I have serious problems with the new design. I think it is half thought out becuase the new flow for a cyclist is a bit turned around. I have to make a slow hard right, then a left (into oncoming traffic that is coming off of the MB making a blind right turn), another left, and than a right onto Chrystie where I still have to cross three lanes of traffic to make the first left turn.

    Instead they should have made two paths, one straight onto Chrystie and one a right turn directly off of the bridge onto Canal. A bike traffic like would give the cyclist the go while autos have the red.

    Simple and easy solution.

  • This path is unfortunate. Why send cyclists up and down the hill, and into the middle of the Chrystie/Canal traffic nightmare, when a *much* better solution would be to put a protected bike path on the west side of Forsyth Street all the way to Houston?

    Forsyth is overly wide and gets extremely minimal traffic; it’s the perfect candidate for a bike path. The short section between Canal and Hester would have to be widened and calmed, but other than that, this seems like a no-brainer.

  • rachael

    Two weeks ago, I was walking by here at night and saw a huge truck with it’s front tire stuck on the island because it couldn’t make the right turn off the bridge. As a result, cars were blocked and everyone was driving down the bike path. It appears from the photos that they might have fixed that so that cars can’t drive through, but it seemed incredibly dangerous at the time.

  • AM

    I saw that, too, Rachael, as I was riding my bike through the intersection and onto the Manhattan Bridge bike path. It didn’t feel dangerous to me at the time — just hilarious. But you’re right, it probably was.

  • biker

    “And further, because the approach is poorly signed and located in a counterintuitive location, people who don’t know where it is can’t find it – leading to things like the guy who got killed a month or so ago because he was riding his bike in the car lanes.”

    That is not why that happened and that person rode from the Manhattan side onto the bridge, not the Brooklyn side.

  • paulb

    I’m wondering if separated bike paths will bring any peace to the NYC roadway slugfest. Heading in yesterday, late morning, the new bike lane was being used by pedestrians, one pushing a big stroller, and even a guy using a motorized pallet jack to move an empty skid. A few months ago I nearly got run down at that corner by a guy pulling a ton of canned water chestnuts. (I couldn’t ask for a better epitaph.)

    I saw that stuck semi the other night also! It may have been there was room for the turn, and that the driver just took it too wide. (I’m not completely sure, it just looked to me as if he had more clearance than he’d used.)

    It seems to me as if the exits from bridges are designed to halt a cyclist’s momentum rather than allow a smooth merge back into street traffic.

    I notice crews working on the plaza at the Brooklyn end. Maybe that’s finally going to be returned to public space?

  • paulb

    I don’t think it’s possible to put a thru-to-Houston St. bike path on Forsyth. IS 131 occupies Forsyth between Canal and Hester and blocks it completely. I mean, there’s no street there anymore.

  • biker

    “It seems to me as if the exits from bridges are designed to halt a cyclist’s momentum rather than allow a smooth merge back into street traffic.”

    Yes, I think that is the idea. Especially with the narrowing of the lane as you come down the bridge before the turn. However, you just know that someone is going to come careening down there (probably at night time) and take that turn and run into someone head on. Hell, the other day I was coming around the turn real slow and some guy was right around the corner on my side instead of his right. Almost ran right into him, but at least it would have been minimal injuries.

  • paulb: There’s a walkway between the school and the park, and a bit more space could be taken in the park for a bike path. I ride through that walkway all the time — it’s illegal, but it’s *much* safer than any other option (Allen, Chrystie, Bowery are all utter deathtraps). I go slowly and yield to pedestrians in the walkway.

  • paulb

    I agree with biker that you have to ride absolutely defensively coming to the Canal Street end of the path. Test those brakes early. As to the Forsyth Street path idea, I just wasn’t sure it could be done, but if it can…

    You know what’s one small beef (call it carping) I’ve got with the MB bike path? All that cyclone fencing. I was crossing the other day at a moment when the sky was particularly beautiful. The light, the clouds, something. And all that fencing obstructs a gorgeous scene. Does it have to go quite so high? Does it have to be so…. obstructive?

  • Hilary

    Oh! Someone else cares about aesthetics! What I would really, really like is to remove the hideous billboard-sized “smart” message sign that was brilliantly installed smack in front of the glorious entrance to the bridge. I’m sure that never went before the Art Commission! Maybe DOT will put a matching one in front of the arch (to which it is paired) at the newly-redesigned Prospect Park entrance!
    Can anyone imagine the same thing being allowed on the Champs Elysse?! Brandenburg Gates?

  • paulb: I used to agree with you, but then I spent an hour physically hanging on to someone who was on the wrong side of the fencing on a bridge. She was trying to commit suicide, and the next three or four people who came over the bridge stopped to grab on to her until the cops arrived. I’m now much more in favor of tall fences on bridges after that experience, even though I share your thoughts about their aesthetics.

  • Hilary

    Wouldn’t it have been easier to hold onto her without the fencing in the way?

  • Hannah

    Just as access to the Queensboro Bridge would be much improved if the gate at the U-turn in the bike path were open, affording access from Second Avenue, so would the Manhattan Bridge bike experience benefit from having an entry through the fence at the part of the roundabout closest to Chrystie Street. Even with the separated bike lane, you still have to turn left and go down a hill and then right back up a hill, when it would be so much easier to just go nearly straight from Chrystie onto the bridge.

  • Jonathan

    Hannah & shishi, I suspect that the sharp curves on all bridge approaches (Queensboro, Manhattan, GWB, Brooklyn (Chambers St bound) are design features meant to keep cyclists from hurtling directly into cross traffic.

  • Josh

    “That is not why that happened and that person rode from the Manhattan side onto the bridge, not the Brooklyn side.”

    My mistake about the person who was killed, then, but I stand by my assertion that the approach is poorly signed.


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