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Eyes on the Street: Upper Manhattan Gets First Taste of Protected Cycling

Cyclists can wait to cross Amsterdam Avenue in a bike box, before they enter a parking protected contra-flow lane on the other side. A pedestrian refuge island also shortens crossing distances and calms traffic. Photo: BicyclesOnly via Flickr.
Cyclists can wait to cross Amsterdam Avenue in a bike box, before they enter a parking protected contra-flow lane on the other side. A pedestrian refuge island also shortens crossing distances and calms traffic. Photo: BicyclesOnly via Flickr.

DOT's planned safety improvements for the intersection of St. Nicholas and Amsterdam Avenues are currently being installed, as shown in pictures snapped by Streetsblog reader BicyclesOnly. Major features include shorter crosswalks, additional pedestrian space, and Upper Manhattan's first segment of physically-protected bike lane.

Up to now, the intersection has been a dangerous one. According to a DOT presentation from April, 23 pedestrians were injured there from 2006 to 2009. It's no mystery why. With two large, fast-moving avenues crossing at an irregular angle, it was a recipe for trouble.

The redesign installs a pedestrian refuge island and a Greenstreets triangle to shorten the distance across the intersection on foot. It also turns the blocks of St. Nicholas on either side of the intersection into one-ways, headed into the intersection. Motorists who want to continue on St. Nicholas in either direction need to do a dogleg onto Amsterdam and then turn back to St. Nicholas. Here's a map:

StNickMap

Cyclists in the northbound bike lane on St. Nicholas -- the only on-street bike lane in that direction -- get an innovative new treatment from DOT for their uphill passage. Sharrows direct them from a bike lane on the right side of the street to one on the left side, where they cross over a traffic calming concrete island and into a bike box. From there, they are guided across Amsterdam and into a one-block, contraflow bike lane up St. Nicholas, protected by angled parking. Southbound riders aren't quite so lucky; they'll travel south in the St. Nicholas bike lane as usual, but have to take a detour onto Amsterdam and then turn left to reconnect with St. Nicholas. Even so, the general traffic calming effect should be welcome.

Sharrows lead cyclists across St. Nicholas traffic and over an island that sends motor traffic onto Amsterdam Ave. Photo: BicyclesOnly via Flickr.
Sharrows lead cyclists across St. Nicholas traffic and over an island that sends motor traffic onto Amsterdam Ave. Photo: BicyclesOnly via Flickr.
DOT workers installing the one block-long contraflow bike lane on St. Nicholas. Photo: BicyclesOnly via Flickr.
DOT workers installing the one block-long contraflow bike lane on St. Nicholas. Photo: BicyclesOnly via Flickr.

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