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Bicycle Safety

DOT: No Plans for Park Avenue Bike Infrastructure After Recent Deaths

1:57 PM EDT on August 19, 2014

The west side of Park Avenue and 108th Street, facing south. Image: Google Maps

DOT will consider design changes at the Park Avenue intersection in East Harlem where drivers have recently killed three cyclists, but there are no plans for new bike infrastructure along the Park Avenue viaduct.

Livery cab driver Nojeem Odunfa hit cyclist Jerrison Garcia at Park Avenue and E. 108th Street Monday morning, reportedly dragging Garcia 80 feet before stopping. Odunfa was charged with aggravated unlicensed operation and careless driving.

"There's car accidents here all the time," a local resident told DNAinfo. "They drive like this is a highway."

Park Avenue is divided by a Metro-North viaduct from E. 102nd Street northward. There is car parking on northbound and southbound Park along this 30-block stretch, but no bike lanes. Cyclists on Park must share one through-lane with moving vehicles, and riding on Park or biking across Park entails negotiating intersections with limited visibility.

Jerrison Garcia was the third cyclist killed at 108th and Park since July 2012. Image: I Quant NY

It's no secret that this segment of Park Avenue is dangerous for people on bikes. Garcia was the third cyclist killed at the E. 108th Street intersection since 2012. There were six additional crashes resulting in cyclist injuries on Park between E. 106th and E. 110th Streets from April to September 2013, according to I Quant NY. Data mapped by Transportation Alternatives' CrashStat show dozens of cyclist injuries along the viaduct, and one death, from 1995 to 2007.

The viaduct area is also hazardous for pedestrians, and a DOT project to make it safer to walk there is underway. In light of recent cyclist deaths and injuries, on Monday we asked DOT if the agency is reviewing conditions at Park and E. 108th, and if bike infrastructure improvements along the viaduct are in the works.

Here is DOT's reply:

Safety is DOT’s top priority and this spring the agency initiated the first phase of a safety project along Park Avenue from 96th-111th streets designed to enhance safety for all street users and calm traffic. These include new and refurbished markings, which are currently being installed throughout the project area. DOT has also installed concrete neckdowns at 106th Street and 102nd Street to make pedestrian crossings safer, and is currently adding new pedestrian signals to them. Painted neckdowns at 96th Street also help shorten distances for pedestrians crossing at that intersection. DOT also completed signal retimings for added safety and mobility within the project area. A look at the plan can be found here:

While the 108th Street intersection concrete island is scheduled for implementation in the second phase next year, DOT is taking a look to see if there are any potential safety treatments that can be added.

DOT also noted new bike lanes on E. 106th Street, which run from Central Park to First Avenue.

New concrete and markings will force Park Avenue motorists to be more attentive, and will probably slow them down some. But as with DOT's West End Avenue project, there are no provisions specifically aimed at making it safer to bike. 

As for enforcement, NYPD's 23rd and 25th Precincts, which encompass Park Avenue north of 102nd Street, ticketed just 194 drivers for speeding combined through July -- a little less than one ticket per day, on average.

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