CB 3 Committee Asks DOT for Protected Bikeway on Chrystie Street

Advocates’ concept for a two-way protected bike lane on Chrystie Street. Streetmix by Dave “Paco” Abraham

The community board covering the Lower East Side and Chinatown is set to ask DOT to transform the Chrystie Street bike lane from barely visible stripes blocked by double-parked cars into a two-way protected bikeway along Sara D. Roosevelt Park, connecting the Manhattan Bridge with the Second Avenue protected bike lane.

The transportation committee of Manhattan Community Board 3 voted unanimously Wednesday night to ask for the upgrades on the recommendation of Dave “Paco” Abraham and other Transportation Alternatives volunteers, who presented the idea last month [PDF]. The request is moving ahead now because Chrystie Street is scheduled for milling and paving this year, providing an opportunity to redesign the street.

DOT staff at Wednesday’s meeting welcomed the resolution. “We are looking to resurface the road this year, so we will come back to the community once a design is put together,” DOT Manhattan Liaison Colleen Chattergoon said.

At the southern end of Chrystie Street, the city is planning to rebuild the Manhattan Bridge bike path landing to include a pedestrian-friendly plaza space next to the bikeway. At Chrystie’s northern end, advocates hope a two-way bikeway on the east side of the street can eliminate the need for southbound cyclists on Second Avenue to maneuver across multiple lanes of car traffic in order to continue southbound.

Believe it or not, there’s a bike lane here. Photo: Google Street View via Brooklyn Spoke

Between Canal and Houston, the two-way bikeway would only cross automobile traffic at Grand and Delancey Streets, since other cross streets in the neighborhood form “T” intersections and do not continue through the park. The two-way bikeway alignment could also create opportunities for pedestrian islands on the crowded street.

The redesign request is supported by the Sara D. Roosevelt Park Coalition. Kathleen Webster, the group’s president, asked the committee to make sure the resolution noted the senior centers, schools, elderly population, and high pedestrian volumes in the area, including a senior center within the park itself. CB 3 District Manager Susan Stetzer asked the committee to request that DOT conduct community visioning sessions to inform the final design. Both requests were added to the resolution.

The resolution now goes to the full board, which meets on February 24 at 6:30 p.m. at P.S. 124, 40 Division Street.

The committee also considered a request from the Chinese Chamber of Commerce of New York to move the Citi Bike rack at Confucius Plaza to make room for a row of cherry trees. The chamber suggested moving the station to a nearby sidewalk or parking lane on Division Street, but DOT opposed moving the station and board members were also concerned that moving the station would in turn displace a commuter van drop-off zone on Division. The committee did not take up a resolution backing the chamber’s request.

The committee unanimously supported a request from parents at P.S. 110, the Florence Nightingale School, for a DOT school safety study. The school is located on Delancey Street, just south of the Williamsburg Bridge and Baruch Houses, and is bounded by narrow Cannon and Broome Streets, which are often used by parents with cars for drop-off. “These roads are tiny, tiny little roads,” said Chad Marlow, whose daughter is in kindergarten at the school. He hopes the streets could eventually be made car-free. “I think it would be wonderful if we did something before a kid got hurt.”

The Department of Design and Construction presented details of an already-approved Safe Routes to School project that will add five neckdowns at Strauss Square, which is bounded by Canal Street, Rutgers Street, and East Broadway near Seward Park [PDF]. Construction is set to begin this month and expected to be complete in the fall.

  • Adrian

    Brilliant news

  • Seth Rosenblum

    Excellent news.

    I’d love to see them try yield signs and bicycle speed tables at the pedestrian T-intersections. That way there wouldn’t be a worry about pointless ticketing for bicycle red-light running. I don’t think they’ve tried speed tables for crosswalks elsewhere in the city, but they’d be extremely effective for bikes and great for “extending” the park.

  • Danny G

    I hope that those pushing to make Chrystie Street a safer environment for bicycling keep up the momentum. Nice job!

  • BBnet3000

    Excellent, yes, do it now. Hopefully they won’t snub this CB that is asking for an improvement on one of the most important segments for cycling infrastructure in all of NYC.

    My only question is why didn’t they do this when they put in the 2nd Ave protected lane in the first place? A comprehensive approach would understand the importance of this half mile segment between 2nd Ave and the Manhattan bridge.

  • BBnet3000

    They have tables like this on the built out part of Allen Street as well as a similar painted treatment on Allen and Pike Streets.

    The only problem is they don’t actually paint or pave the bikeway differently so people tend to stand in the way of bikes while waiting for the walk signal. They’ve ignored important details of the design that could make a huge difference.

  • William Farrell

    It’s very encouraging to see this idea being to materialize, and with such strong support from the Community Board, no less! If anyone is interested in coming out to the Full Board meeting to show your support for this proposal, I believe it is on Tuesday, February 24, 2015 at 6:30pm, Public School 124, 40 Division Street.

  • Eric McClure

    Great work, Paco. This is an absolute no-brainer, that will make everyone on Christie safer and greatly improve bicycle commuting.

  • Mr Cogsworth

    This has got to be one of the most appropriate locations for a two-way protected bike lane. Great news.

  • AnoNYC

    Very happy, I often use this route.

  • Hilda

    This is such a fantastic story. This is one individual getting fed-up, an albeit very knowledgable, persuasive and charming individual, and making something happen. Perhaps Streetsblog could create a timeline of the work Paco did so that we could all take that good idea we have to the local community board to make this happen.
    Well done Paco.

  • Hilda

    Sorry, meant to say one individual group. Kudos to all the advocates that communicated so well the necessity for this improvement.

  • J

    This. It’s incredibly frustrating that the “experts” at DOT are consistently installing crappy bike lanes, often with major gaps (Lincoln Square, Port Authority, Times Square, Christie Street, etc. etc.). Meanwhile, the ordinary people and advocates are proposing far superior designs, which DOT then adopts. Maybe we need some new talent at DOT.

  • Jonathan R

    Seems unpleasant to be heading downtown, sandwiched between noisy, smelly uptown-bound motor vehicles on the right and swiftly moving uptown-bound bicycles on the right. And SDR park is not designed for this kind of border treatment so there’s nowhere to pull off to the side; a largely impermeable park wall to the east and moving traffic to the west.

    And where are the uptown-bound bicyclists going, anyway? Do they take Rivington to Bowery and head west on Prince? I know there are some people who do that, but if I am going north of Houston Street, I personally have always found it more pleasant to use Allen Street to go uptown, continuing onto 1st Avenue, and turning left on 3d Street if I need to go to the West Side.

  • Steven Higashide

    Frustrating, but that’s a regular part of the dynamic between city staff and advocates. I think we all know that as a staffer (even as a senior official) you can only get so innovative before you run into pushback from internal and external opponents. Advocates are almost always going to be the ones in front proposing better designs — which gives staff needed political cover to implement them.

  • BBnet3000

    It’s hardly the best design ever but couldn’t be much better considering the constraints. There’s still frequent crossings where people could pull off, and not all of the park has the wall on the side. Keep in mind that this is only a half mile long. The Allen Street bikeway is also way too narrow and doesn’t have the option to use the opposing direction to pass, and also has limited room to pull over. I can’t emphasize enough that you can’t force desire lines, you can’t make people take Allen Street who clearly already want to take Chrystie.

    As far as northbound biking on Chrystie, for those continuing past Rivington ideally they’d add a protected lane across the south side of Houston (much of which already has a painted bulbout or buffer of some sort) to a protected box where people could turn onto 1st Ave northbound. This is where DOT could one-up the CB’s proposal, but they won’t.

  • pelican58

    How wide will each lane be? This is a route heavily used by bike commuters and recreational cyclists, both fast and slow, and there’s sure to be a lot of passing. Each lane needs to be at least wide enough to accommodate that.

    Unfortunately, the east side of Chrystie tends to collect water and ice up during the winter, so cyclists may be forced out into traffic lanes then.

  • Yield to Peds

    Because bikes are supposed to yield in that space- not the other way around.

  • BBnet3000

    There’s a difference between bikes yielding to pedestrians crossing the bikeway and pedestrians gathering in the bikeway because they don’t even know there’s a bikeway there.

    I have no desire to bike through a pedestrian plaza but by not marking the bikeway through it that’s exactly the situation they have set up.

  • J

    I think it is a regular part of the dynamic right now because the DOT is incredibly timid regarding bicycle infrastructure. Advocates are left to shoulder the burden of pushing for good design, often against the DOT’s proposed plans. This sort of works, but it is incredibly slow and results in MANY missed opportunities. Not every neighborhood has strong advocacy, so people on bikes in those areas simply get nothing. More often, there is some advocacy, but it is not super strong, so the DOT does the dreaded “sharrows + double-parking lane combo”, which is largely worthless in most parts of NYC, and can even be harmful, since opponents can easily point to empty (poorly-designed) bike lanes. Bicycle networks, like transit systems, don’t work well unless the network is complete, well-designed and connected, and it’ll take decades to get a decent bike network with the current approach to building that network.

    Back in the early JSK days, it was the other way around, and the DOT was leading the way, pushing the envelope on good design, even when local advocacy was not there. Why? Because it’s good policy and needed a comprehensive approach to be successful. The current approach misses that important point.

  • Geck

    Clearly the main benefit is for those heading South from 2nd Ave. But a right on Stanton to Allen works for Northbound cyclists going past Rivington. Southbound cyclists on Second Ave. could also much more easily use Stanton to continue South on Allen with this change.

  • BBnet3000

    I can’t stress enough that you can’t force desire lines. There’s already decent bike traffic continuing past Rivington north on Chrystie. Are you actually suggesting that we REDUCE connectivity by removing the northbound bike route here?

  • Geck

    Not at all. I was just suggesting that someone who does not want to ride on Houston St. could still find this Northbound protected route useful.

  • ralph

    Now that Hudson has a bike path the whole way up, it’s pretty nice to use that if you’re going up the west side. So yes, Chrystie to Rivington across Bowery to Prince all the way to Hudson. Hudson becomes 8th so you can skip the whole West Side Highway unless you’re going way into midtown or beyond.

  • ralph

    This is an absolute no-brainer that would fix one of the most ridiculous gaps in the bike lane network! You’ve got the 2nd ave path that anyone heading for a bridge takes down to 2nd street, and then Poof! It just disappears, and you have to play Frogger with about 4 lanes of traffic just to get right to use the double parking (“bike”) lane on southbound Chrystie.

    I sure hope they make it wide enough – I can easily see them bungling the two-way path by making it far too narrow for the heavy volume of bike traffic that Chrystie already gets. There should definitely be no parking on the East side of Chrystie all the way from the bridge to Houston.

  • ralph

    Allen’s great if you’re going to the East Village, but that’s about it. Most people are going to/from West of the bridge. Chrystie and Allen are a full crosstown block apart. The bridge entrance is at Chrystie/2nd ave. Do you really want to go out of your way East to Allen/1st ave just to make a slightly safer approach?

  • Geck

    Not particularly, but given the current state of Chrystie Street it is tempting.

  • Bluewndrpwrmlk96

    The bike lanes should be no less than 5′ each with a broken yellow line and a 3′ buffer. The flush median may have to be removed and the parking lane between Delancey and E Houston will have to be floating given the current widths of the vehicular travel lanes remain the same.

    If the NYCDOT is going to mill and repave the street, and if they are to implement a two-way bike lane on the east side of the street, they’ll have to move the two existing pedestrian islands at Delancey St over, otherwise the distance between the east curb and the island will be too short. Also, they should consider making the path controlled by a bike signal at Delancey St, with a separate red turn signal for vehicles turning towards the Williamsburg Br.

  • Jonathan R

    It’s only 576 feet along Canal to Allen from Forsythe, where the bridge path ends, less than a full city block. I’ve been going out of my way like that since the Allen lanes opened. And using third street instead of Rivington and Prince means I avoid the dogleg at the Bowery. Try it!

  • thomas040

    This is SO overdue. That stretch coming down from 2nd avenue onto Chrystie is a nightmare. Suddenly you go from protected so absolute mayhem in the blink of an eye.

  • kevd

    “where are the uptown-bound bicyclists going, anyway”
    In may case, work!

    I generally head up Chrystie to Houston, then left on Houston and right on Bowery. Many people take the left at Prince – but that lane is inevitably blocked so I don’t.

    The biggest issue with this design is that there is no sidewalk outside of SDR park, so everyone walking south walks in the northbound bike lane.

  • IlIlIl

    I’m sure local residents will be totally respectful of this lane and not treat it as another sidewalk as they do the dedicated entrance to the Manhattan Bridge and the bike lanes at every f’ng light in Chinatown.

  • Tyson White

    This is awesome! Getting to Brooklyn by bike will be less death-defying than as is.

  • jackson

    Because the locals here are so respectful of anything . . . LOL


After Unanimous CB 3 Vote, Chrystie Street Protected Lane Scheduled for Fall

DOT’s plan for a two-way protected bike lane on Chrystie Street [PDF] got a unanimous vote of support from Manhattan Community Board 3 last night. The project is scheduled for implementation in the fall. The project will place a two-way bike lane protected by parked cars and concrete barriers on the east side of Chrystie from Canal Street to Houston Street, improving connections between the […]