Plenty of Changes Underway on Chrystie and Forsyth (But No Cycle Track)

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New pedestrian space borders Sara Roosevelt Park on Forsyth Street. (The buffered zone is for parking, not biking.)

Redesigns of Chrystie and Forsyth Streets have started to materialize, giving cyclists and pedestrians a glimpse of changes to come. New bicycle lanes on Chrystie Street may be the most widely anticipated aspect of DOT’s planned changes to the Manhattan Bridge access area, but they are only part of a broader effort to calm traffic and increase pedestrian safety on the Lower East Side.

Forsyth Street has already been transformed in several important ways. In late September, about 50 parking spaces were cleared from the west side of the street, and angled parking on the east side was converted to conventional curbside parking. The formerly two-way stretch between Delancey and Grand Streets was converted to one-way uptown.

These changes liberated a lane for the new 10-foot-wide pedestrian path along the edge of Sara D. Roosevelt Park from Hester Street to Houston Street. DOT plans to convert the painted path into a proper sidewalk sometime in 2009, according to its Safe Streets for Seniors report released last month [PDF]. The document indicates that parking will again be permitted on the west side of the street, shifted one lane further toward the center.

Meanwhile, Chrystie Street has already been resurfaced in preparation for its new treatment. Bike lanes, pedestrian islands, narrower motorist lanes, less parking, and designated left turning lanes will make Chrystie a more complete street. The measures should help lower the average of 172 crashes per year recorded from 2001-2006 on the seven-block stretch.

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DOT is adding buffered bike lanes to Chrystie Street, but no physically protected path.

The next logical step for the highly traveled, nearly unbroken straightaway of Chrystie Street would be a protected cycle track à la Copenhagen or New York’s own Ninth Avenue. DOT opted not to pursue a cycle track, despite the fact that members of the Community Board 3 transportation committee advocated for the idea. A protected cycle track is, however, scheduled to be installed on adjacent Grand Street. Like Chrystie Street, much of Grand Street has recently been resurfaced but currently has no lane markings whatsoever.

Photo: Gideon Shapiro

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