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

  • Larry Littlefield

    It may not be legal, but riding south on Forsyth, with no traffic, feels a lot safer than riding south on Chrystie.

    There is a high probabilty that the southbound bicycle lane will be blocked by double parkers and trucks loading and unloading 100% of the time. Adjacent to the park, that wouldn’t be a problem.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Following up, they will have managed to have the traffic along the park, the safest for cyclists because of the double parking, be northbound in both directions.

  • somebody

    it is highly laudable to place a bike lane or whatever southbound on chrystie street as it is a natural connector between 2nd ave and the manhattan bridge, but the north bound lane raises some serious issues that the DOT, a local CB, and various turncoat advocates have utterly failed to address. actually those issues can all be summed up as one issue, nay, one word: HOUSTON.

    indeed, where will the northbound chrystie street lane take the intrepid urban cyclist? straight up to the end of the street which then forces the cyclist to turn onto unprotected, highway-like houston street? or will the lane lead the cyclist to follow a confused maze of bike lanes on various side streets some of which will also lead to high auto traffic streets such as *gasp* the bowery or 1st ave?

    now i am wondering, what is more beneficial: MORE bike lanes or BETTER bike lanes? i think it would be behoove us all if bike lanes were better placed first before there are more of them.

  • I agree with number 4 – let’s stop painting lanes for a month and re-asses how can better maintain and protect the ones we have. Until NYC can commit to keeping lanes clear of parked vehicles 95 percent of the day, we shouldnt be painting new class II lanes.

  • J

    Maybe this plan will lead (eventually) to protected lanes on Houston St.

  • Are they going to add a sidewalk to the west side of Chrystie Street? If not, I fear that pedestrians will take advantage of the lack of parked cars along the wall of the park and walk in the newly striped bike lane, as invariably they are doing now with the elimination of parking on that side of the street. There definitely should be a sidewalk there, so I hope the street section shown above is accurate.

  • The main story here is the pedestrian infrastructure. I don’t think we should complain that bike lanes are in the mix, at approximately zero additional cost, just because the LES mess is not immediately sorted out by them. I’ll even ride on Chrystie’s lanes to try to make them less imaginary, after they’re painted, but if the DOT doesn’t improve the traffic signal at Delancey I’m not going to risk my life to prove that point. Elizabeth, though clogged with cars and trucks, at least doesn’t make you play chicken with oncoming, impatient, left-turning automobiles.

  • Brooklyn

    Has anyone else noticed how crappy the new road surface is on Chrystie? The moguls southbound toward Delancey are still there, though not now as extreme.

    Rough on a road bike, I’m hoping this surface is only “sub-floor” to a silky-smooth top coat, but it’s a distant hope.

    I’m also looking forward to how fast traffic comes hurtling off the upper roadway, now that they won’t have to give a flip about bottoming out their suspensions.

  • mfs

    they need to make a westbound connector using Rivington/Bowery to the Prince Street lane.

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