Eyes on the Street: Ped Plaza/Bike-Share Hub Takes Shape at Grand Central

Across the street from Grand Central, a new pedestrian plaza is being installed this afternoon. Jonny Hamilton, who works nearby, snapped this short video of DOT workers laying down the new surface at Pershing Square between 42nd and 41st Streets, on the east side of the Park Avenue viaduct.

Once the plaza is installed, the block will also receive two bike-share stations with 59 docks each, making it the city’s biggest bike-share hub.

An airport bus stop was relocated to accommodate the plaza and bike-share stations, “turning that street essentially into a bike-share plaza that would really allow it to be a gateway to Grand Central,” DOT’s Kate Fillin-Yeh said at a bike-share planning meeting with Community Board 5 last year.

On the other side of the viaduct, Hamilton said the southbound block of Park Avenue didn’t get attention from DOT crews today, but it will soon: a plaza plan in the works for that block since 1987 is scheduled to begin construction next year. The space will be managed by the Grand Central Partnership business improvement district.

Update 6:00 p.m.: A photo from Peter W. Beadle shows that plaza is done and components for the bike-share station installation have arrived by truck:

Just hours after DOT put down a gravel epoxy plaza surface, the city's largest bike-share stations are about to be installed at Pershing Square. Photo: ##https://twitter.com/pwbnyc/status/332977218458370048/photo/1##Peter W. Beadle/Twitter##
  • Daphna

    I thought that Park Avenue on the southbound side under the viaduct from 41st to 42nd already was a plaza. It was a plaza last summer. Was that a pilot program? Was it only a seasonal plaza?

    I am glad to hear that the northbound side of this street now was converted into a plaza.

    What about Vanderbilt Avenue from 42nd to 43rd becoming a plaza? I thought at one point there had been plans proposed to pedestrianize part of Vanderbilt Avenue.

  • Anonymous

    Park Avenue southbound from 41st to 42nd is a seasonal plaza with seating for Pershing Square Cafe. Vanderbilt Avenue pedestrianization is tied to the Midtown East rezoning.

  • Anonymous

    Once the plaza is installed, the block will also receive two bike-share stations with 59 docks each, making it the city’s biggest bike-share hub.

    According to the Citibikes map, the new plaza is only getting 39 bike slots whereas the revised Pershing Square is getting the double 59’ers. I’d imagine the new plaza would be the optimal location since it’s larger and right next to GST; whereas I believe you’ll still have to cross 42nd street which can be hairy in the mornings.

  • Larry Littlefield

    For those living along MetroNorth lines and working in Lower Manhattan, I’d bet a ride down Park Avenue/Broadway will be pretty attractive relative to the Lex Express. I guess the hope is some other folks will ride in the other direction, because 120 bikes per rush hour isn’t going to do it if bikeshare is property marketed.

  • soexcited

    I have a friend who lives in the Financial District and reverse-commutes to Connecticut, so that’s one bike coming in to GCT. Hopefully more reverse-commuters will do the same?

  • Seems like a lot of bikes, but are there actual projections of how many people will want to use them who arrive at Grand Central? 100+ bikes represents just a few seconds of commute hour people-flow through the station..

  • guestnyc

    How do other dense cities like London and Paris handle their bike share stations at their largest primary transit hubs?

  • Copenhagen in 2006 had hundreds – possibly thousands – of personal bicycles parked around the main RR station in the evening. These appeared to be reverse commute bikes. There was only a rudimentary coin operated bike-share at that time. At outlying commuter stations were hundreds more parked bikes for the first mile to the train. Denmark has bike space on all trains, but charges extra for the bike. Regular commuters keep a bike at each end. Bring the bike on board for the occasional trip with no bike waiting at the other end.

    Washington DC has a full Bike Station next to Union Station, as well as large bike-share. In DC they truck bikes around the city as needed, to balance the peak direction loads at the bike stations.

    Key point about the NY Bike Share is that it’s modular and wireless. Racks can be added or subtracted from any station based on real demand. The whole station can be relocated if it turns out not to be in the best place. Which is a valid answer to people who say a particular station is going to be a disaster where it is, but will be just fine around the corner. They can be moved.

    Sometime, spending a lot of time and money on projecting demand costs a lot more than just putting the project on the ground, collect the real time data, and adjust to fit the facts. Bike Share is probably the perfect situation for this “adjust as you learn” process.

    On the other hand, we often hear “There’s no time for action! Start a study!” 😉

  • soexcited

    Looks like they’re in place!

    http://instagram.com/p/ZJd5lBvCre/#

  • Ben Kintisch

    Hey if some of you are right and it’s a super popular station, maybe they will need to expand the bike share stations in these areas.

  • bon

    Go citi bike!

  • Jeff

    I’m very confused. The idea of permanently pedestrianizing the Southbound lanes of Park Ave/Pershing Sq has been around since 1987. It’s been a seasonal pedestrian space for many years since, and I believe they are finally moving forward on a capital buildout, with some space for the use of the cafe, and some space for the oublic

    But yesterday, out of nowhere (well, I’m sure there was the usual DOT process, but certainly not 20-some years in the making), the Northbound lanes are pedestrianized? Am I understanding this correctly? Is this “bike share plaza” on the Northbound lanes wholly independent and on top of the plans for the Southbound lanes that have been kicking around for a quarter century?

    Is it Christmas?

  • Cap’n Sensible

    DOTA can’t be bothered putting racks for actual cyclists. All about Citibike.

    Can’t wait till Bloomberg & JSK are gone.

  • P B

    Sweeeeet! This is perfect for me. CitiBike is going to be exciting!

  • Daphna

    As I understand it, turning the northbound block into a plaza is separate, not a replacement, for turning the southbound lanes into a plaza.

    I wished that when they had the equipment out, they had just laid down the tan texture on the south side as well as the north side!! Right now the south side is closed to cars in the summer and has outdoor seating for Pershing Square cafe. It would be really great if that block were turned into a permanent year-round plaza. It would also be great if it could have seating that could be used by all, not just Pershing Square cafe customers.

    I don’t know why plans for the northbound side were able to move forward rapidly while the southbound side has been pedestrianized seasonally for a couple years and yet still not turned into a permanent plaza.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Blah. I ride through that block on my way to work, and since I have my own bike I won’t need Citibike. I suppose if I were a “real New Yorker” I’d be whining “what about my needs” too.

    After all I might have to detour or walk my bike for a block. Where the was the public process? Why was I not consulted? Who do these Citibikers think they are, taking some of MY space? It is an outrage!

    As I get older, I feel worse and worse about human nature.

  • Nearly all big European cities with bike modal share of more than 5 or 10% have space for thousands of bikes at their main train stations. Bike share of some sort in these places helps a little. That’s it.

  • Shemp

    Ever heard of Google? The plan for the southbound lanes was covered in the news last week and has been on the Grand Central Partnership site for a long while.

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