Plan for Grand Street Cycle Track Features New Design Treatment


DOT has unveiled plans for a Grand Street cycle track [PDF] that bear the fingerprints of Danish planner Jan Gehl. It would be Manhattan’s first cross-town protected bike path.

Grand Street is narrower than Ninth Avenue, where the existing protected path runs. Whereas the Ninth Avenue cycle track uses signal timing to prevent conflicts between bikes and turning vehicles, the Grand Street plan uses what DOT is calling a "mixing zone," a space shared by cyclists and drivers at the approach to an intersection (shown above).

In an unusually thorough and bike-positive story about cycle tracks (headline: "Streets are on track for safer bike lanes"), Villager reporter Gabriel Zucker explains:

The narrow-street pilot on Grand St. lacks these special lights;
instead, a 90-foot “mixing zone” where the bike lane merges with a
right-turn bay will allow cyclists and motorists to negotiate the
intersection themselves. The mixing zone, like the entire cycle track
design, was copied from Copenhagen, Denmark. According to Josh Benson,
New York City D.O.T. bicycle program coordinator, the zones have led to
a steep decrease in intersection crashes in Copenhagen.

The Grand Street cycle track would run from Varick Street to Chrystie Street, making the lack of a protected path on Chrystie, a north-south route, look like an even bigger missed opportunity. As DOT creates a network-within-a-network of safer bike lanes, what’s holding back protected paths? Community Board politics seem to be the determining factor. While the Grand Street path falls almost entirely within the boundaries of CB2, which recently approved an Eighth Avenue cycle track, Chrystie Street is the domain of CB3. Community Board votes are not binding, but they are seen as a proxy for public opinion.

CB2 voted on the Grand Street cycle track last night. A CB2 representative was not able to retrieve the results of the vote this morning.

Image: NYCDOT 

  • Steve Emerson

    Is this city doing anything for people who want to walk from A to B and not loiter around some plaza. Are there any sidewalks being widened anywhere? All this European design is about protecting bicyclists. Why is the most obvious need ignored. Walking around Midtown is miserably crowded. So is most of downtown.

  • Grendel

    How is a cyclist expected to turn left when trapped right like this?

  • Max Rockatansky

    This looks like a great plan, ties in nicely with the bridges. I think it is a win for pedestrians – if indirectly. Bikes slow down traffic, making it safer to walk. Plazas take people out of the flow of pedestrian traffic which is the most annoying problem when walking down the street. I don’t know that just widening a sidewalk would accomplish as much.

  • Max Rockatansky

    Wouldn’t you turn left by crossing the intersection and then changing direction? I’ll take the protected bike lane over the minor inconvenience of not turning with traffic.

  • That intersection will need a bike box to complete it. It will prevent a right hook and at a stop allow a cyclist to maneuver to turn left.

  • You’re not supposed to turn left at this intersection; it’s a one-way street running only to the right, thus why cars have a “straight only” lane and the right turn “mixing zone” described above.

    That said, while this is fine for an intersection with Grand and a street that’s one-way downtown like Mercer, if the bike path is on the right then I’m not sure how you’d make a left on a street that’s one-way uptown like Crosby. Presumably with a bike box, as Mike suggests above. How do you turn right from the cycle track on 9th Avenue?

  • Andy B from Jersey

    From what I see this looks great! It all but eliminates the right-hook hazard typical of so many cycletrack designs. While it is unfortunate that a vehicular left couldn’t be built in to the design, a two crossing “pedestrian left” is a fine compromise that is appealing to a wider number of cyclists and those potential cyclists. Anyway you could always mix it up with traffic for the block before your left turn if you feel like it.

  • Community Board vote: unanimous in favor except one against (a self-described cyclist who believes traffic volumes must be reduced *before* bike lanes can be applied) and one abstention (Mr. Sweeney).

    RE: left turns from the right-side lane/track – the cyclist has two options. In civilized countries with significant cycling populations (Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Netherlands, etc.), the cyclist would pull to the right and make a 90deg. turn so as to put themselves at the front of the car traffic waiting for the light to change. Upon a green light the cyclist would lead the other vehicles through the intersection.

    Otherwise, in more New York fashion, the cyclist could leave the track at the previous intersection, join the motor traffic for one block, and make the left turn.

  • The reason we’re seeing more DOT activity around cycling is that it’s starting from near-zero infrastructure, whereas we at least have sidewalks for walking. Cycling can replace a lot of high-energy, high-cost transportation that walking can not. And there are other things going on; the grand army plaza redesign will be a huge safety and convenience win for pedestrians. Plus, if we can get bike sharing going then the bicycle infrastructure will be immediately useful to every New Yorker. I mean, I’m totally biased towards this particular improvement because I’ll be using it every day when it opens (and trying not to be killed on Chrystie, thanks). But wherever the city wants to reclaim space for people from cars, even if it is something I’ll probably never use myself, I’m for it.

  • I don’t think this will work! Bike riders have enough on their hands already dealing with cars – but in this design we’re competing for space with little red penises!

  • Doc,

    Splendid comment. And let me say, I love your photo icon.

  • I vote ubrayj02 for best comment ever.

  • mfs

    I’m interested to see if this will work. I’m not one to use the “This is NYC” excuse very often, but the level of aggressive driving in this town makes me wonder if a “mixing zone” with those kinds of signs (what about just a regular yield sign for cars?) will truly end up with cyclists having the right of way.

    The picture of the cycle track w/ mixing zone from Denmark is on a street that appears to be way way less chaotic and far less used than Grand Street. The level of vehicle and truck traffic (it connects the West Side Highway, & Holland Tunnel to the Williamsburg Br) is very high on Grand St, and the right turns are very busy, especially Broadway and Christie.

    Having said that, it’s worth a try- not every street that we need a cycle track on will allow signalized turning bays.

  • Thanks Clarence! Although I am no fan of pigeons in the flesh, I relate to this one for some reason. A friend of mine took its picture on Empire’s observation deck.

  • Stacy

    It will be vast improvement to have a Grand Street bike lane that’s on one side of the street rather than switching from left, to right, as the current one does when Grand becomes a two way street at Christie.

  • Gwin

    Why would a bike lane be needed on Chrystie when it only goes a few blocks before dead-ending into Houston? Besides that, there is already one on Allen that feeds right onto First Avenue.

    Since the worst, most inconsiderate drivers in the city are definitely in Chinatown — the drivers on Grand *always* use the bike lane as a double-parking zone — this is a really positive improvement.

  • I didn’t understand ubrayj02’s comment at first until I looked at the diagram. Heffron you might be right on that!

  • m-o

    There’s demand for a cycle track on Chrystie because of all the southbound traffic going to the Manhattan Bridge. the northbound lane on Allen doesn’t really help with that.

    I can’t wait to use this Grand Street lane. these concerns are accurate but as mfs said, it’s worth a try. the DOT’s been trying a bunch of things to see what works, where, and how, so that everything can improve… and this is part of that. it’s great.

    I’m an aggressive rider who likes mixing it up on the avenues with the cabs, but i love these separated lanes – so casual and pleasant. much more enjoyable to cruise in comfort than to brawl in the streets.

  • Gwin

    m-o: thanks for the clarification; I didn’t think of that.

  • There is a bike lane like separated by a lane of parking like this one just installed in Melbourne. It’s good to be protected from traffic, but because pedestrians seem to equate parked cars with the edge of the footpath, you have to go really slow yelling at people ‘oi! this is a bike path!’

  • Andy B from Jersey

    Hey!! So what possessed NYCDoT to put this bike lane on the CORRECT (read right side) of this one-way street?? Did they flip a coin?

    Aren’t all you NYC cyclists gonna’ get confused?

  • Andy, there’s no bus on Grand Street. That’s what they base the decision on.

  • Andy B from Jersey

    Yeah, thats what I figured but every one-way street in Manhattan that have bike lanes (at least that I’ve seen) have them on the left side of the street and there doesn’t seem to be any significant bus traffic on those streets. Why the change of heart / design here??

    Like I said, did they flip a coin?

  • Gwin

    Andy: what’s even weirder is that the current, non-barricaded bike lane on Grand is indeed on the left side of the street…

  • Andy B from Jersey

    Either way this is an excellent, superior design and I’m even happier that they’ve put it on the right side of the street whatever the reason.

  • Gwin – Maybe the current left side Grand Street bike lane is from the days when there was a Grand Street crosstown bus?

  • Mike

    No, Stacy, the Grand Street bike lane is only about two years old.

  • Chinatown Paul

    I applaud all those who are in favor of reducing emissions and pollutions but these new regulations and ideas in NYC and mostly Chinatown are post-productive for the New York City environment. We already have the largest transit system in the world. The amount of people bicycling is very low. The benefits of this type of system in a city as large as NY is not feasible. Most traffic is generated by visitors to NYC, tourists, out of towners, and delivery vehicles. Taking the streets away from the vehicles to give to bicyclists will take away significantly from the businesses of Chinatown and make it virtually impossible for out of towners to visit. The community is already suffering from high supply prices and is having a hard enough time keeping the cost of consumer goods down in this bad economy, but what the DOT is doing will help no one and destroy Chinatown. The city already destroyed much of Chinatowns appeal and business by cracking down on imitation goods on Canal Street. Seriously, Canal street was not taking business away from the like of Prada, Louis Vuitton, etc by making fakes. Everyone knew they were fakes. If they could afford the real ones, they would have bought it! Now, not only is the City and DOT trying to make ridiculous useless concrete islands in the middle of extremely busy intersections, they have taken away parking from many areas where parking is already rare. Where will everyone park? Do they want us to park in expensive garages? Mayor Bloomberg is a fool who doesn’t think for the larger population, he only cares for the upper class rich folk. It is people like him that is making life for the middle and lower class impossible. The economy is destroyed because of people like him! Chinatown needs help! Pretty soon there will be no Chinatown. Chinatown lives on Tourism. All types of people come to shop, enjoy Dim Sum, good chinese food, etc. With reduced parking, lack of business, delay of deliveries, Chinatown’s tourist revenue will not be enough and it will be shut down! Does anyone want to see this happen? Please help and voice your opinions to help Chinatown!

  • Of course no one wants to see Chinatown businesspeople lose money, Paul, but your argument contains a logical fallacy:

    Most traffic is generated by visitors to NYC, tourists, out of towners, and delivery vehicles. Taking the streets away from the vehicles to give to bicyclists will take away significantly from the businesses of Chinatown and make it virtually impossible for out of towners to visit.

    Just because most traffic is generated by visitors (as you assert; I have no independent confirmation of this) does not mean that most visitors come by car. You notice the visitors who come by car because they take up a lot more space.

  • Bruce Lee

    Paul, Frankly, you are clueless. Traffic congestion is absolutely choking the life out of Chinatown’s streets, killing neighborhood business and sickening the children who live there. A number of streets in Chinatown are top candidates for going car-free, pedestrian-only during certain times of the day, week or year. Chinatown businesses, residents and visitors would be tremendous beneficiaries of removing motor vehicles from their streets. Chinatown’s neighborhood leaders need to get their heads out of the a$$’s and start experimenting with some car-free streets. Your neighborhood is a traffic sewer. No one wants to spend any time there.

  • Traffic congestion in Manhattan comes from Manhattan and outer borough residents as well as the suburbs. The ones I resent the most are my fellow Manhattan residents. With all the options they’ve got, what’s their excuse?

  • Paul

    Great news. Cars in the city are the real death to people, livability and business. Even as an experienced cyclist, I could finally relax if we had cycle tracks like these all over the city.

  • Kew

    I live in grand and mott st. I’m just wondering, the parking lane on the right(next to the bike lane) is it a free parking for whole day. Right now the signs are pretty confusing. 1 sign says “NO STOPPING ANYTIME”, the other one says “STREET CLEANING 3-6AM”. If anyone know, please let me know. Thanks, Kew

  • Zufechten

    Those aren’t penises. They are shark teeth! It’s a yield line telling vehicle drivers they are supposed to yield to bike lane traffic. Will they? Heck if I know. It probably depends on how strictly NYPD will enforce them.

    @Chinatown Paul: How is helping people get around on a $500 bike instead of a $25,000 car elitist? I don’t get it.


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