Construction of East Harlem Protected Bike Lanes Slated to Start This Month

Image: NYC DOT

Before cleaning his workspace yesterday and packing up for New Haven, Noah Kazis snagged one more piece of good news, which it is my pleasure to report: DOT will begin constructing a protected bike lane on Second Avenue in East Harlem at the end of August.

The first section to be built will stretch from 125th Street to 100th Street. (Second Avenue Subway construction will keep the redesign from extending further south for a few more years.) The construction timetable for the northbound lane on First Avenue will be available soon, according to a DOT spokesperson.

This project has been a long time coming — protected bike lanes up to 125th Street were first announced early in 2010 — and a lot of people helped bring it to this point. Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito steadfastly advocated for the project after City Hall walked back the initial timetable and when local restaurant owners temporarily eroded support from the local community board. Transportation Alternatives and local volunteers mobilized when the Bloomberg administration’s commitment to complete the redesign appeared to be flagging. And in the final round of community board meetings, the Department of Health helped DOT dispel the notion that the project would worsen asthma rates.

I also give Noah a lot of credit for highlighting the support for this project from Mark-Viverito and State Senator José Serrano when it seemed like it might continue to languish. Not long after that post last April, East Harlem’s protected bike lanes were officially “well on their way.”

  • HamTech87

    Ironically, the big winner here will be Patsy’s Pizza, even though its owner opposed the protected bike lanes.  As I’ve said before, bicycles dramatically increases Patsy’s geographic market.  And the tourist business, once CitiBike expands to East Harlem, will be tremendous.

  • Ben Kintisch

    Glad that Noah helped to keep this project moving ahead with his excellent reporting. I can’t wait to ride the new lanes when they’re done. One qualm with the design, though – why the big gap in the green paint every time it’s a mixing zone?

  • Danny G

    @Ben_Kintisch:disqus In NYC, the way green paint has been doled out is that when you’re riding somewhere that is conflict-free, it’s green. When it’s somewhere where you should be more aware, like a mixing zone or a driveway, it’s not green. There either have been or probably have been studies which have found good and bad things about this approach.

  • Joe R.

    The concept here could be improved upon with two simple changes. One, limit the places where cars can turn left to major cross streets so that you might only have mixing zones every 10 or 20 blocks instead of every other block. Two, when the signal on 2nd Avenue is red for cars have flashing red or flashing yellow for bikes. This would allow bike traffic to legally move much faster at off-peak times by effectively giving it the equivalent of an Idaho stop without going through the hassle of trying to amend current traffic laws.

    Long term I’d love to see elevated bike lanes on the Manhattan Avenues and major cross streets, but for now this is a great first step.

  • Is anything ever going to be done to make Third Avenue better. I know it’s not really part of a “pair” like 1st/2nd, or 8th/9th Avenues, but something needs to be done. It’s 7 lanes wide for most of it’s length with no bike or bus lane. Even discounting the parking lanes, that is 5 lanes of traffic moving in the same direction through the UES and Harlem. That is just too wide. It could use a bus-only lane and/or a protected bike lane, and it would still be plenty wide enough for the car drivers. In fact, 7 lanes in one direction isn’t good for anyone, INCLUDING car drivers who are forced to shift over too many lanes (this also causes excess congestion). 

  • Eric McClure

    This is truly great news.  It’s a great leap forward for protected bike lanes to be implemented beyond midtown and northwest Brooklyn.  Kudos to Melissa Mark-Viverito, José Serrano and the many advocates who pushed these lanes forward.  And thanks, NYCDOT and DOH.

  • Bushwick Bee Ahch

    Unfortuately, “protected” bike lanes in Midtown along Broadway (and other areas) are anything but protected.  People frequently walk in the lanes – next to the curb – and essentially block all bike traffic.
    The lanes would actually work better next to traffic lanes with some sort of barrier to protect cyclists from pedestrians!

  • J

    @fed3074da3ad96eb4df58319a96aa94f:disqus As these lanes are connected to each other and with bike share, they will get more bike traffic which will do a lot to keep them clear of pedestrians. In the mean time, I got a loud bell and I use it. I also bike slightly slower but much much happier.

  • jose

    From my personal experience with the Broadway bike lanes, I have to agree with Bushwick Bee.  Pedestrians see these lanes as an extension of the sidewalk.  The problem is particularly dangerous in the 30’s where going slow, using a bell or even just screaming at them to get out of the way doesn’t do anything to alleviate the pedestrian congestion. 

  • jose

    Just wanted to add, that I am not against the protected bike lanes, as an East Harlem resident, I’m actually quite happy that they are building them all the way up here. 

  • Putting up a barrier to separate/designate the bike lanes as only for bicyclists can go a long way to keeping bicyclists, pedestrians, and even drivers safe.

  • Danny G

    @fed3074da3ad96eb4df58319a96aa94f:disqus Sometimes putting fences or bollards or bushes between the sidewalk and a protected bike lane can help, so long the separation is porous enough that you can still jaywalk across it and still be able to bring your bike to destinations mid-block.

  • That’s really great and also helps in avoiding the injuries.But must take care of the construction injury while the work.