CB 2 Committee Endorses Parking-Protected Hudson St. Bike Lane

Upgrading the Hudson Avenue bike lane would extend the protected lanes on both Eighth and Ninth Avenues.

The transportation committee of Manhattan Community Board 2 voted unanimously on Tuesday to endorse a community-generated plan to upgrade the Hudson Street bike lane to a parking-protected lane.

Right now, Hudson Street has a buffered bike lane. It’s one of the oldest in the city according to Ian Dutton, a former vice chair of the transportation committee, who proposed the upgrade along with community board member Maury Schott and Mike Epstein, who works in the area. But the lane has become inadequate for safe travel. The paint on the street has been totally worn away and the lane is constantly blocked by double-parked vehicles.

Since it is already buffered, however, upgrading to a parking-protected lane is easy. “All we’re doing is flipping it,” said Dutton. “It has no impact on moving lanes — they stay right where they are.” The only trade-off for the safety upgrade is a few parking spaces that would need to be removed for new mixing zones and pedestrian refuge islands.

“All the statistics point to the fact that parking protected zones reduce both pedestrian, bike and vehicle passenger injuries,” said Schott. On Eighth Avenue, total street injuries fell between 18 and 35 percent after the upgrade. On Second Avenue, injuries fell 11 percent while the number of weekday cyclists using the lane more than tripled.

Hudson Street effectively runs in two segments. Above Abingdon Square, Hudson runs southbound, connecting Ninth Avenue to Bleecker Street. Below the square, Hudson runs north until it becomes Eighth Avenue. If installed alongside existing DOT plans for bike lanes in Midtown, therefore, the upgrade would create continuous protected lanes on Eighth Avenue from 59th Street to Canal Street and on Ninth Avenue from 59th to Bleecker.

Nearly every member of the public who spoke at the meeting voiced support for the proposal; a straw poll of attendees showed seven in favor and one opposed. Testimony submitted by e-mail weighed overwhelmingly in favor of the lane.

Safety — for both cyclists and pedestrians — was the top issue. CB 2  member Denise Collins,  said she worried for parents and children cycling to Hudson Street’s P.S. 3. “There are people who don’t even know that we have a bike lane on Hudson, it’s just totally washed away,” she said. “I hold my heart in my hands sometimes when I see these people on bikes.”

Ellen Peterson-Lewis, a public member of CB 2’s environment committee, noted that the neighborhood has a growing senior population, a group she included herself in. “To have that flip and to have that pedestrian island there,” she said, “I do think this is an excellent idea.”

The double parking and worn out markings that plague the Hudson Street bike lane are visible here.

Ellen Baer, the president of the Hudson Square Connection, a local BID, expressed opposition to the proposal. Though the BID has supported a number of important improvements to local streets, Baer asked the committee to put off a decision on the bike lane until she could forge some consensus among her members. Dutton later reported that he had heard some BID members were thrilled about the proposed upgrade while others were vehemently opposed.

The transportation committee debated delaying the issue or endorsing a bike lane upgrade only above Houston Street, north of the BID’s jurisdiction, but decided to move forward with the entire thing. “It’s going to be January or February before DOT even comes back to us,” argued Dutton, which would provide plenty of time for negotiations between the BID, DOT and the community board. The committee also requested that DOT revise parking regulations in the area to reduce double parking.

The full board of CB 2 will vote on the proposal on November 17.

  • Johnson

    As a cyclist on Hudson I think this is a bad idea. Never been a problem on the street for the 5 years.

  • JK

    When do we get physical protection on Lafayette Street, the city’s oldest paint “buffered” bike lane? It has far more cars illegally parked and driving on it than Hudson Street.

  • J

    As a cyclist on Hudson Street for many many years, I think this is a wonderful idea. I always breath a sigh of relief when I get to the protected section at at 8th Ave, and I brace myself when the protected lane ends on 9th Ave. There are always cars double parked in the lane, forcing me to swerve out into the roadway. Also, it is often difficult to cross the street as a pedestrian. I think this is an excellent location for a protected bike lanes, since it connects to other protected bike lanes, expanding the reach for those who aren’t comfortable on unprotected lanes.

  • Anonymous

    You’re forgetting that since the installation of the PPW lane, Park Slope has become one of NYC’s least desirable neighborhoods: real estate has crashed, and zombies roam through the burning wreckage.  The Fort Apache South Bronx of the 70s looks like Disney World compared to PPW since the bike lane ruined everything.  /sarcasm

  • Danny G

    JK, a protected lane on Lafayette would make a lot of sense as well.

    I think the only design question is whether to make it a separated two-way bikeway between the Brooklyn Bridge and Union Square, to help deal with that weird one-way split. (For those who argue that this is not Kent Avenue, please see 15th Street in Washington, D.C.)

  • Daphna

    To JK, I agree that swtiching the buffered lane on Lafayette Street to a curbside parking protected is needed.  I would also say that the buffered lane on Fifth Avenue from 23rd to 8th Street should also be flipped to be a protected lane.  To get some movement towards the change you want, approach a member of the Transportation Committee of the local community board in that area and get them to put this on the agenda of one of their meetings.  Then at that meeting, make sure that lots of bike lane supporters go to speak in favor of changing the buffered lane into a protected lanel. If the committee members listen and vote in favor of it, then they will bring it to the full community board a month later.  If the full community board votes in favor, then the request will be sent to the DOT and the DOT will consider it and will come back to the transportation committee with a proposal a couple months later.  Then there will have to be another transportation committee vote and another full community board vote.  This is the process.

  • J

    @88b32fb69e499718d95067da9d3d7b03:disqus Thanks for sharing the process. I think that as people get used to them, more people use them (especially with bikeshare), and businesses realize that the benefits far outweigh the costs there will be more and more calls for protected bike lanes. Already we are seeing home-grown initiatives popping up. This Hudson initiative, the East Harlem push, and the big push in Inwood, not to mention the PPW lane. In the not too distant future I think the problem will be prioritizing who gets them first.


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