Eyes on the Street: The Beginning of a Beautiful Bike Lane

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Snapped by Streetsblog regular Ian Dutton this afternoon: Crews prep Grand Street for the city’s first physically-protected crosstown bike lane [PDF]. Stretching from Varick to Chrystie, the Grand Street cycle track features some new design touches on account of its placement on the right side of a narrow street. The guys on the crew say the finished markings will be in place by next Tuesday.

  • So what about going westbound? Prince is unusable because of misallocation of street space (the sidewalks are absurdly narrow, so I cann’t blame pedestrians for walking in the bike lane). What about a complementary westbound protected lane on Broome?

  • J

    This is a historic moment for NYC. Probably more important than the 9th Ave bike lane that is way overdesigned. This design can easily be replicated on lanes throughout the city.

    On a less bright note, I rode on that stretch recently, and the paving job seems to be a bit sub-par. I assume that most repaved streets start out perfectly flat and then develop the standard hills and valleys over time. Not so for Grand and Christie Streets. Any thoughts?

  • Bob

    Can someone spell out for me how, if you’re a cyclist going straight, you navigate the mixing zone? Do you move to the left side of the lane so the cars can turn right? Or do you go straight and hope the cars see you and yield?

    Very excited to see the finished product – we need as many north american examples of physically separated lanes as we can get!

  • Andy B from Jersey

    Bob,

    Pedestrian left at street you wish to make a left.
    or
    Merge left into traffic at intersection prior to the one you would want to turn left.

    I don’t think the design is absolutely perfect but it really comes close. I’m very glad NYCDoT is at least trying and experimenting. While you all know that I don’t always agree with DoT’s designs (particularly the left side thing) someone needs to try out new ideas. Great products are rarely perfect the first time “out of the box”.

  • Cynical

    While you might like the look of this, I expect Grand St will become a traffic nightmare as the city insists on maintaining parking on both sides of the street.
    Placard users will illegally fill the commercial parking, other parkers will fill the other side so all deliveries will be done from the middle of the street blocking all traffic.
    Given placard abuse and deliveries, no city street should ever be reduced to one lane. especially one not in a residential neighborhood like the UWS, UES or West Village.
    If I lived in the ‘hood or had a business there I would be livid about this short-sighted plan.

  • iwalk

    Anyone been to Prince Street lately? The sidewalks are really crowded. Pedestrians probably outnumber bicyclists fifty to one. So why do bicyclists get all the space? Same next to the new Broadway bike lane. Why do pedestrians always come last instead of first? Give the bicyclists space, but don’t leave pedestrians jammed in a miserable shuffle. When is the mayor going to widen some sidewalks? Does anyone advocate for pedestrians?

  • Cynical

    iwalk:
    There was a proposal to close Prince St to cars for summer weekends only but the NIMBY’s went at it talking about inconvenience and phantom elderly needing to be dropped at their door. Ridiculous, just like the Washington Place residents who complained about the pedestrianization of those two blocks.
    Widening sidewalks will necessarily take away parking space so it will be resisted. Unlike the bike lanes that take away street space without sacrificing parking (which IMHO is ridiculous)
    The car and especially parking still rule the city, with bikers a close second. Has Sadik-Kahn reduced any parking space on the street to widen sidewalks? Don’t think so.

  • Mike

    J, I rode through here shortly after the repaving. I think that what happened here is that they just threw down a quick layer of asphalt on top of everything that was there already — as opposed to the usual process where they grind down what’s there and repave a whole new thick layer.

    In particular, I saw them pulling up the new layer of asphalt where it had covered manholes. It wasn’t very thick.

  • Given placard abuse and deliveries, no city street should ever be reduced to one lane. especially one not in a residential neighborhood like the UWS, UES or West Village.

    I don’t understand. There are hundreds of one-lane streets in those neighborhoods.

  • With respect to the pavement, I got the inside scoop. It’s actually a trial of an environmentally-friendly technique for streets that weren’t in terrible shape to start off with (since when you mill down a street, all that material scraped off is waste, except for a small portion which is recycled).

    Instead, they do a light scraping (like sanding prior to painting) and then put on a “micro-layer” of the new material. It doesn’t end up looking as pretty as doing a whole mill-and-repave, but it is supposed to smooth out with use.

    Personally, riding my bike on the new surface, I found it to be very “grippy” – I had a lot of traction – but it wasn’t really bumpy, as it might appear.

  • Cynical

    Cap’n:
    Read more carefully…I said one NOT in a residential neighborhood like those listed. This newly-created one-lane street is in a commercial district in-between two crossings…WMB and HT. Good luck.

  • Read more carefully…I said one NOT in a residential neighborhood like those listed.

    Maybe you should write more carefully, then. That “not” is in a weird place, and easily overlooked.

    Grand Street (west of Chrystie) has been a one-lane street for as long as I’ve known it. Maybe it used to be wide enough for traffic to go around a double-parked truck (and later, a truck parked in the bike lane), but I don’t recall any lane markings making it two lanes.

    I actually like this design even more since you pointed out that placard abusers will be that much more directly connected to traffic congestion. Maybe frustrated Grand Street drivers will force the NYPD to “ticket their own” in this precinct. In any case, the congestion will only affect drivers, allowing cyclists to sail right through. That is, unless some delivery driver figures out a way to park in such a narrow cycle track (like half on the sidewalk). Let’s hope the DOT puts some street furniture there to prevent that!

  • J

    To Cynical and iwalk: As streetsblog has mentioned several times, sidewalk widening projects are currently at the mercy of OMB, which requires a time-consuming capital project approval of these projects. I agree that sidewalks absolutely need to be widened, particularly in Chinatown. With the CBs unanimous approval of parking removal on Christie Street, perhaps the tide is swaying away from curbside parking and in favor of wider sidewalks. Certainly Grand, Mott, and Elizabeth all could use wider sidewalks.

    The other issues is that it costs a hell of a lot more to lay new concrete than it does to change parking signs or restripe pavement. Wider sidewalks are a long term project, that are happening; albeit slowly. The important thing to note is that steps are being taken by DOT to make sidewalk widening projects much easier to complete.

  • With respect to cynical #7, I would hardly say that “bikers” are anywhere near ruling the city. In Manhattan at least, you can go anywhere on foot and you can go anywhere by car, thanks to a comprehensive network of sidewalks, roads, and parking. Try doing that on a bicycle–several streets are downright dangerous (particularly in midtown), and when you arrive at your destination, you are very lucky to find a secure place to park your bicycle. Most office buildings won’t allow bicycles and locking on the street can put your bicycle at a high risk for theft.

  • Streetsman

    Cynical

    The residents of Soho and the businesses seem to be competing interests. A TA study showed that the temporary pedestrian street on Prince would have attracted more shoppers, and specifically shoppers that send more money. But there didn’t seem to be business interests represented in the CB opposition at the meeting, which it seems was largely attended by residents who see Soho as a residential, or even still a manufacturing district.

    I think most of the businesses on this block of Grand Street (cafes, galleries, showrooms) would probably favor this European-style treatment. It’s the residents that seem to be resistant to changes that welcome non-motorized modes.

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