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Count It: First and Second Avenue Redesigns Are a Success

2:30 PM EDT on April 29, 2011

With results like these, it's hard to understand why the city isn't rushing to complete the redesign of First and Second Avenue all the way up to 125th Street. According to DOT's presentation to its community advisory council Wednesday night, both the bus improvements, which go the length of the corridor, and the protected bike lanes, which run from Houston to 34th, are improving safety and mobility for all New Yorkers. Here are the highlights:

    • The new Select Bus Service is 15 percent faster than the old limited was. It goes 11 percent faster while moving, thanks to dedicated lanes enforced with cameras, and spends 36 percent less time at stops thanks to off-board fare payment.
    • Those faster speeds mean that 4,000 more people ride the M15 every day, from a previous base of a bit more than 50,000 daily riders. That increase is even more impressive in the context of the overall decline in Manhattan bus ridership by 5 percent over the same period.
    • Where the bike lane and pedestrian refuge islands were installed, the street is much safer. Injuries declined by 8.3 percent compared to an average of the three previous years.
    • Riders are flocking to the new protected lanes. On First Avenue, there were more riders counted in December, January, and February with the lanes than in June without them. From June 2010 to April 2011, the count rose by 153 percent. On Second, where the base of riders was higher to start, the number of cyclists rose by 55 percent from June to April.
    • All of this came without imposing a cost on motorists. Based on taxi data, traffic appears to actually be moving faster on Second Avenue than before the redesign, and at about the same speed on First. Traffic volumes, too, are basically the same: a little higher in some locations, a little lower elsewhere.

M15 riders can expect an even easier ride moving forward. Bus bulbs will be installed over the next two years eliminating the need for bus drivers to pull over to pick up passengers, and starting this fall, transit signal priority will give buses a few extra seconds of green below Houston.

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