New Columbus Avenue Design: Protected Bike Lane By David H. Koch Theater

To provide a better connection to the Ninth Avenue protected bike lane, NYC DOT is now proposing a protected bike lane on Columbus Avenue by Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater. Image: NYC DOT

The Columbus Avenue bike lane will provide a more continuous protected route past Lincoln Center under a revised DOT proposal that got a thumbs up from Manhattan Community Board 7’s transportation committee Tuesday night [PDF].

Currently, there is no physical protection for people biking between 69th Street and 59th Street. An earlier version of the project narrowed the gap to the five blocks between 67th Street and 62nd Street. The new plan calls for a parking protected bike lane south of 64th Street and some additional safety measures leading up to the “bow-tie” at 65th Street, though the three blocks between 67th and 64th will remain exposed to traffic. The project includes a number of pedestrian safety improvements as well.

Below 67th Street, the plan has cyclists merge across a lane of motor vehicle traffic turning left onto 65th Street. New to the proposal is a line of flexible posts between 66th and 65th that will shield cyclists from through traffic. The bike lane continues for one block without separation through the Lincoln Square “bow-tie” before the parking-protected design resumes south of 64th Street.

The expansion of the protected lane got applause from the audience when DOT presented it, reports Transportation Alternatives organizer Tom DeVito. The CB 7 transportation committee voted in favor of the plan 11-0, with committee member Ken Coughlin adding an amendment calling on DOT to more strongly delineate the bike lane through the bow-tie.

Left: current conditions. Right: DOT’s revised proposal. Click to enlarge.

Coughlin called the new plan “a great improvement over the earlier one,” but he remains “very concerned about the plan for a block-long mixing zone between 67th and 66th, where cars intending to turn left at 65th are supposed to trade places with cyclists emerging from the protected bike lane. DOT is going to put in green lanes and green-backed bicycle markings to indicate where the cycle lane is but I don’t think this will prevent the occasional encounter between car and bike.” 

The bike lane upgrades reflect critiques of the previous plan, presented in December. “Overall, it’s great to see that the DOT was responsive to the demand they were getting from the community for better, bolder, more equitable safety infrastructure,” said DeVito.

It’s taken nearly five years since the city first proposed a Columbus Avenue protected bike lane to reach the point where it will form a reasonably continuous route through the Upper West Side. Still missing: a northbound protected lane for the neighborhood. While Community Board 7 has mustered votes asking DOT to study a protected lane on Amsterdam Avenue a couple of times in the past six years, the agency has yet to present a plan. Time is running out to fill this critical void in the bike network before Citi Bike expands to the neighborhood.

  • BBnet3000

    Great that this will be happening, but it underlines the lack of commitment to comprehensive infrastructure that they didn’t propose this in the first place. The marquee protected lanes have horrendous gaps in Manhattan.

    It’s no surprise that we only have a 1.3% commute share. The only surprise is that this number is used by the city for self-promotion rather than introspection.

  • M to the I

    I agree with the concern about the mixing zone. If cyclists are supposed to merge to the right of the lane, why doesn’t the proposal show the sharrows in the middle of the lane instead of off to the left? With this configuration, drivers will try to overtake cyclists who are moving to the right side of the lane. Now that the speed limit is below 30, all sharrows should be placed in the middle of the lane so that drivers know the lane is shared and they should only pass when it is safe to do so. I would also put another flexible bollard or two south of the crosswalk at 65th St, where it won’t conflict with crosstown traffic, to keep drivers from turning from the non-turning lane because we all know how drivers like to change their mind and turn from the middle of the road.

    I was once yelled at by a driver in the mixing zone on 1st ave. I don’t ride on the sharrows there because drivers overtake me to make their turn and have almost caused me to crash several times. In any case, I was honked at and yelled at because I wasn’t “in the bike lane” when I merged into the center of the mixing zone. Yet, DOT tweeted that cyclists are supposed to merge behind cars in these mixing zones and not try to pass on the left where the sharrows are. This needs to be clearer with the markings!

  • Mike

    I wonder if David Koch will be pleased about a non-fossil fuel form of transportation being encouraged in front of the theater named for him.

  • Bluewndrpwrmlk96

    First and foremost, this is definitely an improvement from the last proposal and a step in the right direction. My only gripe is the whole mixing zone, as in why is it there at all? The lane before it and after it is Class I, why not be consistent and swap places with the turning lane and the bike lane? I.e. W 33rd Street & Av of the Americas, each lane has their own signals. In my opinion, this better removes the conflict between the auto and bicycle, leaving an uninterrupted lane through Broadway.

  • BBnet3000

    The mixing zones exist for fiscal reasons. Putting in a signal is expensive. Of course, making the protected lanes narrower than they were originally and putting the sharrows all the way at the edge sends the wrong signal, particularly to drivers, about safe conduct and safe passing and makes them less comfortable to use.

  • J

    Seriously, this is at least the third iteration of this project, and it still doesn’t have a continuous protected bike lane. It’s like pulling teeth with this DOT.

  • J

    Are NYCDOT bike planners the only people in the world who haven’t seen this?

    The new design is better than what was there before, but still a LONG way from a Dutch design.

  • BBnet3000

    That site seems to be having a problem fyi (but I know what the reference is and its a very good point).

  • UWSer

    BTW, if anybody looks back at the old links about previous UWS projects, Co-Chairs Albert and Zweig are obstacles to safe streets in every one of the stories.

    We all knew this was the case, but it’s always striking (and gross) to see just how long they’ve been at it.

    They need to go.

  • Maggie

    Yup. At this meeting, if I’m not mistaken, Dan Zweig spoke up twice on the Lincoln Square Bow-Tie Pedestrian Safety Plan and IIRC, both his contributions on the pedestrian safety plan were aimed at having less pedestrian safety. Actually less drivers’ safety too. To listen to him, he is totally oblivious to the thousands and thousands of people on foot who live, work, visit, dine, and shop in CB7. I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt at this meeting, but I walked out thinking he really doesn’t get the community’s safety concerns. I totally get why after ten years of his style – actively undermining pedestrian safety and being oblivious to everything but drivers’ convenience – residents are fed up and have had enough. He is a retrograde impediment to safety. I hold myself back from going all Susie Essman on him! We need leadership that looks at a slide with 8 identified community safety objectives, and speaks to support those objectives; not to weaken or ignore them.

    Anyway, thanks to the committee for passing this excellent plan!

  • A turn for the better

    It is undoubtedly an improvement. But the problematic mixing zone also raises a question: why are permissive left turns across bike lanes and crosswalks allowed from avenues at all? Pedestrians and cyclists would be much better off if these turns were banned altogether or restricted to protected signal phases.

  • BBnet3000

    Separate phases cost money they don’t have to install new signals, but I have no idea why they haven’t explored turn restrictions like those that already exist on some cross streets solely for the purpose of promoting traffic movement (“no left turns till Xth Ave”, etc).

    It could really help out the protected bike lanes if there was a mixing zone every 800 or 1600 feet instead of every 400 feet.

  • J

    Correct link:

    Basically, if the design isn’t safe and comfortable enough for an 8 or 10 year old to use, it’s not a very good design.

  • Andres Dee

    Motorists will yell at cyclists when there is no clearly marked bike lane. Motorists will yell at cyclists when they’re in the bike lane. I’ve had stuff thrown at me by passing motorists when I was minding my business in an unambiguous bike lane. Bottom line is that motorists like to harass cyclists.

  • I’d call 911, isn’t it a misdemeanor?


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