Details on East Side SBS Come Into Focus at CB 8 Meeting

We’ve got a few dispatches from last week’s Manhattan Community Board 8 meeting on East Side bus and bike improvements, which we couldn’t attend ourselves. First, Michael Auerbach, who’s doing some fantastic livable streets advocacy at Upper Green Side, filed a report for Second Ave Sagas about how Select Bus Service will function alongside the subway construction zones on Second Avenue.

The area from 100th Street down to 67th Street, where the roadway has narrowed to accommodate subway construction, had been a big question mark in all the SBS presentations so far. Auerbach reports that DOT and the MTA intend to install temporary bus stations with off-board fare machines in the vicinity of 89th Street and 68th Street. That will be all for SBS buildout until conditions on the surface get back to normal, which means no dedicated lane for buses on this stretch. Auerbach writes:

DOT regulations require the MTA to maintain 4
lanes of moving traffic through the SAS zone at all times. A DOT
official even went as far as to say that the current curb side lane
(once a fully functional bus lane back in the day) is now NOT in fact a
bus lane, but simply a lane for buses. Which also means it’s a lane for
cars, and a lane for trucks… The statement makes one really wonder
whether or not SBS will be able to truly achieve its stated goal of
speeding bus trips along the corridor.

Streetsblog reader BicyclesOnly tells us that when the discussion turned to pedestrian and bicycle improvements in the East Side plan, parents told DOT they want to see better safety measures.

Heidi Untener, who bikes to school with her kids, criticized the decision to avoid implementing protected bike lanes on long stretches of Second Avenue. Untener got some spontaneous applause when she said that East Side
congestion is driven by the free price of driving across the East River
bridges, and that high traffic volumes are no justification for relying on the un-protected, shared route bike lanes in DOT’s "Design C" configuration.

At one point, when asked about the dangers of riding side-by-side with traffic in narrow, shared lanes, DOT Bicycle Program Coordinator Josh Benson said the agency’s intent is for cyclists to take the full lane in such situations. Benson added that DOT is updating its "Share the Road" signs to avoid giving the impression that cyclists should cede the center of the lane to motorists.

There was no vote but the early word is that CB 8 transpo committee will hold one at its next meeting.

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