Eyes on the Street: When Will Inwood Get Its Scarce Bike Lanes Back?

Seaman Avenue at Isham Street, looking north. New asphalt and markings, but no bike lanes. Photo: Brad Aaron
Seaman Avenue at Isham Street, looking north. New asphalt and markings, but no bike lanes. Photo: Brad Aaron

As Streetsblog readers know, Inwood is the Manhattan neighborhood where DOT periodically and without warning takes away bike infrastructure. So locals were pleased when in 2013 DOT announced a handful of modest bike projects for Inwood and Washington Heights, including Upper Manhattan’s first protected bike lane, and the rehabbing of bike lanes on Seaman Avenue, which parallels Broadway from Riverside Drive to W. 218th Street and leads to and from the Hudson River Greenway.

DOT resurfaced most of Seaman over the summer, but several weeks after center lines and crosswalks were striped and speed humps marked, the street’s bike lanes have not returned. Also, though DOT said Seaman would be repaired end to end, the southernmost blocks, where the road surface was probably in the worst shape and, therefore, the most hazardous for bike riding, were not repaved with the rest of the street.

Last month Streetsblog asked if DOT had considered protected bike lanes for Seaman. That wouldn’t work, DOT said, because the street isn’t wide enough for separated bike lanes and two lanes of parking. We also asked when the remainder of Seaman would be resurfaced, but did not get a response.

On Tuesday Streetsblog emailed DOT to ask if bike lanes on Seaman would be striped before the end of the year. We asked again Wednesday and to this point DOT hasn’t told us. We’ve forwarded our unanswered questions to Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez in the hope that his office can get a reply from DOT.

Rough street surface and barely visible bike lanes on the southern end of Seaman, which DOT has not repaved. Image: Google Maps
Rough street surface and barely visible bike lanes on Seaman at Dyckman Street, where DOT has not yet repaved. Image: Google Maps
  • Upper Manhattan’s “bike lanes” mostly consist of sharrows.
    Not good enough.
    And we STILL do not have a way to connect the bike paths on the west and east sides, though Upper Manhattan would be the best place to do so.

  • Brad Aaron

    Forgot to mention this, but Seaman is the only north-south street that runs the length of Inwood west of Broadway, which makes it the only such north-south street in the Inwood Slow Zone*.

    As chaotic as Seaman is with rampant double-parking and *unregulated speeding, it’s much less scary than Broadway and as such is a natural alternative for biking (and walking, as far as I’m concerned). It’s the connector between the greenway and points north.

    Seaman could be a major cycling corridor if it had decent infrastructure. But at least there’s plenty of free parking, including in unmarked crosswalks.

  • r

    ” That wouldn’t work, DOT said, because the street isn’t wide enough for separated bike lanes and two lanes of parking.”

    Easy solution. Get rid of at least one lane of parking.

  • Matthew

    It doesn’t matter if the bike lanes are striped or not. Cars are either double parked in the travel lane or double parked in the bike lane. It makes no difference what’s painted on the road, sadly.

  • Brad Aaron

    Yeah, I don’t disagree. But doing everything but painting the bike lanes, and then refusing to say when they’ll be back, sends the message that people on bikes are still an afterthought at DOT.

    If half a block of parking disappeared you can bet we’d know when it would be back, to the hour.

  • JDC

    I walk the length of Seaman with a stroller pretty frequently and I’ve been wondering when those guide lines would become actual bike lanes. Could it be that it’s too cold to lay the thermoplast now?

  • JDC

    Also, because most of my walks up to Inwood Hill Park are during the early afternoon (paternity leave!) I’ve noticed that during after-school pick-up, they put up barricades to close Isham Street to cars, which provides a nice little spot for parents to sit in their idling SUVs: the crosswalk along Seaman.

  • Reader

    Yes, that’s generally the answer from DOT. Striping season ends in late Oct or early November, so any lanes they don’t get to by then have to wait until the Spring. So if you bike between November and April, good luck!

    The excuse every spring is that the last winter was very harsh, but the problem cascades and builds with every successive harsh winter. The City Council needs to allocate more money toward this program, otherwise DOT will never catch up.

  • JamesR

    Seaman is a sh*tshow of double parked cars half the time. The fact that it’s actually an improvement on Broadway is a sad commentary on Bicycling Magazine’s ‘Best Cycling City 2014’.

    Riding from the Bronx to the Hudson River Greenway, I used to cross the Broadway Bridge, took a right in front of the Columbia facilities, and then a left on to Seaman. Now, I much prefer heading over to Spuyten Duyvil, across the Henry Hudson Bridge, and through Inwood Hill Park to Dyckman. It’s way out of my way, but I feel my chances of survival are higher this way.

  • A similar situation is occurring in Newark with the Mount Prospect bicycle lane in Newark’s North Ward. Business owners are complaining that ever since it was placed, that their patrons can’t double park anymore and that they’ve lost a significant amount of business as a result. Initially, as reported by the Star Ledger, Councilman Anibal Ramos, Jr., who represents the Ward, seemed to support keeping the lane but as of the 18th, he wrote a request to the City of Newark’s Engineering Department to pull it. I wrote a letter to him in protest, but we’ll see where that takes us. It’s such a shame to see the priority placed to cater to the motorists rather than making our streets safer.

  • BBnet3000

    Kicking athletic and recreational cyclists out of Central Park and offering them nothing but shit routes to get to other Greenways. Sound about par for the course.

  • Inwood Motorist

    Please DOT, put cyclists back in the door zone where they belong. I’m tired of crawling behind one occupying the lane when I’m trying to get somewhere in my car.

  • Brad Aaron

    That block of Isham is barricaded (most) every day during the school year for Good Shepherd kids to use as a playground. With the school using it and the farmers market there on Saturdays year-round it really should be converted to a play street. But that would never happen, because for one thing Good Shepherd staff who park there would likely lose their shit.

    I hate that the parents use the crosswalks to park, but they are unrepentant about it and it’s not as if NYPD will stop them.

  • BBnet3000

    Same goes for the southern tip of Manhattan. Getting between the East River and the Hudson River paths is a 5 minute ride that feels like an hour in hell, and when you think you’ve finally made it the Hudson River path is closed.

  • BBnet3000

    Why are there separate crews to paint different features on the road? This seems like a serious “one hand doesn’t talk to the other” problem.

  • red_greenlight1

    Sarcasm I hope.

  • red_greenlight1

    I’ve found that in Brooklyn the actual persence of bike lanes actually encousrges double parking.

  • Andres Dee

    I see a bicycler in the middle of the road. Ban them all!

  • Alex Gonzalez

    There’s needs to be a camera system that automatically penalizes cars for parking in the bike lanes or cars that are double parked. Many of these people that drive cars are unhealthy and out of shape bodies that only wish they had the legs is steel that cyclists have.

  • iSkyscraper

    It’s technically not legal to cross the HH bridge on a bike, nor to ride in Inwood Hill Park, is it? That’s another part of the problem. IHP is huge and certain routes could easily be marked for bike use without disrupting the other park uses, but DOT and Parks can’t get their act together and so simply ban bikes instead.

  • jzisfein

    Let’s give thanks that Seaman has been (mostly) repaved. For years, the smoothest parts of the road were the speed humps.

  • NYerGirl

    hmmm, ” the street isn’t wide enough for separated bike lanes and two lanes of parking.” How about just moving the bike lane over to the sidewalk side of the street to give bikes a small amount of extra protection? Plus with all the double parking on Seaman, we usually have to drive into the oncoming lane anyway.

  • NYerGirl

    Seaman is a residential street, so there would be no loss of business. It would also give the delivery people a safer way to travel.

  • JamesR

    The Henry Hudson bridge pathway does not allow bicycles, per the signage on the path itself. However, MTA Bridge and Tunnel does not enforce this prohibition, nor does DPR enforce a prohibition on bicycles in Inwood Hill Park.

    Also, considering that the city is rehabbing the stairway on the bridge over the Amtrak ROW that connects the two sides of the park and recently installed rails on the stairway for bike access, I think bikes actually are allowed in at least the portion of the park pathway connecting the Amtrak bridge to the HH bridge.

  • iSkyscraper

    I’ve never been clear on that detail but you’re right, and in practical terms it is insane not to have a broad connection straight up the western shoreline, over the tracks, and then up through the park to connect to the bridge. There should also be a connection to W218th (via the northern path under the HHB).

    Another alternate to hook into the new greenway ramp on Dyckman would be to use the Bolton Road, which is very wide and much more suitable for sharing with bikes that many of the other trails. Would add safety to the middle of the park also (eyes on the street). Currently access to the Bolton Road from the toll plaza is gated off. Such potential, unrealized.

    http://myinwood.net/wp-content/uploads/2008/11/1970-s-inwood-hill-hikers-map1.jpg

  • iSkyscraper

    Believe me, I’m with you, but not practical in Inwood.

  • neroden

    Judging by that picture, the street is plenty wide enough for two protected bike lanes and two lanes of parking. The driving lanes might be a little narrower than DOT likes it, but that’s good, it’ll act as traffic calming.

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