DOT Plans Four Pairs of Midtown Bike Lanes in Time for Bike-Share

Midtown cycling. Photo: Todd Mecklem ## Flickr##

Has any district in New York City ever seen the kind of bike infrastructure transformation coming to Midtown in 2012?

The heart of Manhattan — the biggest business district in the county — is getting dozens of bike-share stations. On one eight-block stretch of Broadway, there will be over 200 docks for the new public bikes. By the end of the summer, cyclists will be able to ride in protected lanes up and down Midtown on Eighth and Ninth Avenues, between 34th Street and Columbus Circle. In the past two years, a mix of protected and shared lanes have made cycling much safer on First and Second Avenues.

And now, to tie it all together, DOT has proposed four pairs of crosstown bike routes through Midtown, reports New York Magazine’s Justin Davidson:

Sometime this summer, around the launch of the city’s bike-share program, the Department of Transportation will start making the east-west ride more pleasant and less suicidal. Four new pairs of one-way bike routes between Eighth and First Avenues — on 39th and 40th, 43rd and 44th, 48th and 51st, and 54th and 55th Streets — could accomplish what even Robert Moses failed to provide: a safe and efficient way to cut across Manhattan.

Davidson notes the limitations of the plan — the lanes will shift back and forth between standard painted lanes and shared route markings, and they won’t yet extend to the Hudson — but as he says, “even such tiny, cheap, and flawed alterations can have a huge effect.”

We’ll have details on the plan, which is being presented to Manhattan Community Board 5’s transportation committee this evening, as they’re available.

  • Anonymous

    One of these will run right in front of my apartment. Which has a decent minority of old cranky people. I’m VERY curious to see what the reaction to that will be.

  • Sharrows from Cupid

    Can I just give a shout out to sharrows?  I know they seem like the weakest form of bike facility but I actually really like the sharrows on First and Second Avenue.  Unlike protected lanes they don’t make you invisible to cars turning so you’re not constantly worried about being hooked.  Also, because they are used by cars pedestrians don’t use them as an extension of the sidewalk.  Finally — and this is a big one — you get to take the whole lane.  Yes the sharrow placement all the way against the curb implies that that’s where you should ride but the signs at every intersection are very clear that a car may not pass you in that lane.  So there’s no reason not to take the whole lane.  And having the sharrow on the road sends the message that have a right to be there.  So I have never had anyone honk at me in the sharrow lane or try to run me off the road or even follow me too closely.  

    Don’t get me wrong, I parking-protected bike lanes the most but if I had to choose between just a painted buffered bike lane (i.e., the double-parking lane) and a sharrow I would choose the sharrow.

    In short, why aren’t there at least sharrows on every street in Manhattan?

  • Larry Littlefield

    It will be interesting to see if it makes sense to alter my route to the (now sold out for bike parking — hope they didn’t read Shoup) Hippodrome garage between 6th and 5th Avenues, 43rd and 44th Streets.

  • Mike

    Why only to 8th Ave? There are two key pieces of bike infrastructure west of there: the Hudson River Greenway and the coming-soon protected bike lane on 9th Ave.

  • Any news on extending the pair of lanes on 30th and 29th streets?

  • fj

    Elevated veloways assembled on-demand could be quite elegant and might not even cost that much.

    If someone or company like American Caterpillar could be convinced to design a rapid deployment and take-down system, it could be a boon for special events, days when holiday parades, presidential visits and other stuff generate crippling traffic, emergencies, etc. 

  • Anonymous

    Agree with Mike.  It really needs to extend to the HRG.

    There’s nothing worse than feeling safe and then getting deposited into aggressive traffic for a few blocks. 

  • Most of the one-way crosstown streets are too narrow for parking-protected bike lanes. So they should remove parking from one side of the street and dedicate the entire former parking lane to a bike lane. Hell, it would be wide enough for a two-way bike lane so they could use just 4 streets instead of 8. You could even put in some type of soft, sloping curb as separation between moving traffic and the bike lane.

  • Anonymous


    Agreed.  Why not two-way cycle tracks from the Hudson to 1st Ave.

    Like, it’s only fair.  And after Bike-Share –> HAHAHAHAHAH They’ll be begging for more bike lanes b/c of all the bikers.

    People, taking a bike for quick trips is the optimal policy.  People hate waiting in this city.  Waiting is for losers.  This is a city of doing things and getting shit done.  I don’t need to wait for that local to arrive when I can bike there in 4 minutes.  Oh man, so giddy!

  • Anonymous

    Lack of good mid town connections to the west side bikeway is what led to the Dershowitz death. These should connect.

  • Danny G

    Mix-up! That photo is not midtown, but Bleecker Street looking south down Broadway.

    P.S. The hair salon on the right side of the image is highly recommended.

  • Sean

    Jon Orcutt, DOT’s director of policy, mentioned these lanes during a talk at the New Amsterdam Bike Show. As someone who works in midtown, I’m saddened to see the plan is such a weak offering. I guess keeping curbside parking for midtown’s executive branch workers, firefighters, police, FBI agents, doctors on call, police surgeons, legal counsels, consulate employees, the “handicapped,” and court officials all “on official business” is more important than making sure someone doesn’t get killed. 
    The class two lanes will be constantly blocked with double parked vehicles (hello Sixth Avenue!). The sharrows are useless. I observe the ones on Second Avenue and First Avenue daily. Drivers pass cyclists (those who stay to the left) all the time squeezing them between moving and parked vehicles. If the goal with sharrows is to have cyclists “take the lane” as someone else mentioned, then why not just provide a real bike lane instead of backing up vehicular traffic, which is almost always faster.

    Additionally, there’s no provisions to help bicyclists get from the Hudson River Greenway, a major north/south route, to the lanes inception on Eighth Avenue. The areas west of Eighth Avenue, especially around Port Authority, can be scary: heavy traffic and lots of busses and tractor trailers.

    This is a real disappointment. For the life of me, I don’t undertand why DOT implements plans that they know won’t work very well.

  • Sharrows from Cupid makes a good point. The biggest problem I’ve had trying to go east or west around 42nd street hasn’t been cars but rather the incredible number of pedestrians who spill into the street. Let’s hope DOT doesn’t make the same mistake they made with the protected bike lane on Broadway between 42nd and 34th. There are so many pedestrians in the bike lane that it’s practically useless.
    And what’s this thing about parking in midtown? Most of the cars are either parked illegally, standing illegally, or police cars.

  • Ben Kintisch

    Okay, once again we have a less-than optimal plan for bike lane expansion. Okay, so that’s a start. Now, all of you who have complained about this development (“it’s not far enough, it needs to extend all the way west, etc.”) here in the blog’s echo chamber need to move your legitimate ideas to the Community Board 5 level, and perhaps to John Orcutt himself. That said, here’s a great example of the city rapidly expanding the bike lane network to accommodate the coming massive demand related to bike share. So, if we only get “pretty good” this year (still a very fast implementation), we will soon have hundreds if not thousands of fellow cyclists wondering the same thing – why is this lane vanishing here? Then, it will be up to the livable streets community to spread the word that we can all stand up for improved safety.

  • Anonymous

    More pleasant ? Less suicidal ? Has anyone been on 40 th street lately between 11 th and 8 th avenues? This is the exit of Lincoln tunnel with two express entrances to the bus terminal for buses ….about 2,000 buses a day!
    This is even worse than the 30 th street lane in the middle of the street between cars exiting full speed from the Lincoln tunnel and crossing the lane to make a turn on 9 th avenue.

    These are not bike lanes, these are paint on the ground!

    I hope the bicycling community will switch from accepting even the worst lane as good news to demanding high qulity and really safe lanes… JSK is in charge… If not now, when?
    Is it the standard you want to see set for the next Commissionner ?

  • Ty

    Less important, but also notable  🙂  That woman in the photo needs to raise her seat and/or get a bigger bike.  Did she steal that one from her little sister?

  • J

    @facebook-1000909:disqus Re: 29th & 30th. The lanes west of 8th were installed last year, I believe, and the lanes east of 8th are being installed right now. As of May 25th, 29th was striped west from 1st Ave, all the way to 5th Ave or so. Not sure about where 30th Street is at.

  • J

    I think I take a middle ground. I rode down the newly striped section of 29th Street, and it was already blocked by double-parked cars. BUT, at the new sharrows section, cars slogging across town had neatly moved to the right, making them easily passable on bike. As soon as the new striping ended, cars reverted to typical mayhem. Yes, these won’t come close to the 8-80 standard and of course they need to connect better, but they do improve the current situation in some aspects and the number of cyclists using them will increase dramatically, as bikeshare eliminates many logistical options to biking in NYC. 

    As others have suggested, I would prefer a single 2-way protected lane through midtown. It would kill parking on one side of one street, but it would create a highly useable bike lane, cutting across the heart of the city. Montreal did it and so did Vancouver. That fight would be a political slug-fest, so I understand DOT not being ready yet. In short, this is good news, but we still have a LONG way to go.

  • J


Community Board 6 Gives Thumbs Up to Midtown Bike Lanes

Manhattan Community Board 6 last night approved a DOT proposal for four new pairs of crosstown bike lanes from 39th to 55th Streets. Three pairs of lanes will run from First to Eighth Avenue, while a fourth set will be installed between Eighth Avenue and Grand Central Terminal. The lanes, planned ahead of this summer’s […]
The wider pedestrian zone is separated from the bike lane by planters, and the bike lane is separated from motor vehicle traffic by inexpensive bollards and low-profile barriers. Photo: NYCFreeParking/Twitter

This Block Now Has a Protected Bike Lane *and* a Wider Sidewalk

Midtown Manhattan avenues have a problem: The sidewalks aren't wide enough for all the people walking on them. People have to walk in the roadbed to get where they're going. On avenues with protected bike lanes, this means people on foot spill over into bikeways, rendering them all but impassable for cyclists. Now there's a single Midtown block with a protected bike lane that also has a wider sidewalk.