Manhattan CB 3 Asks DOT for Protected Bikeway on Chrystie Street

In a unanimous 35-0 vote last night, Manhattan Community Board 3, which covers Chinatown and the Lower East Side, asked DOT to study a two-way protected bikeway for Chrystie Street, an important link to the Manhattan Bridge bike path.

This doesn’t cut it, says CB 3. Photo: Justin Pollock

The vote follows months of dialogue between bike advocates and community groups, and comes on the heels of a unanimous vote supporting the plan by the CB 3 transportation committee earlier this month.

The plan, which would replace faded bike lanes with a protected bikeway alongside Sara D. Roosevelt Park, is receiving consideration now because the bumpy street is scheduled for milling and paving, offering an opportunity to refresh its layout. “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 transportation committee meeting.

“The community board has spoken,” said State Senator Daniel Squadron spokesperson Danny Weisfeld, “and it’s important for the DOT to follow up on the request.”

The last major changes on Chrystie Street came in 2008, when DOT striped bike lanes as part of an effort to improve access to the Manhattan Bridge bike path. In 2010, protected bike lanes opened on First and Second Avenues. Second Avenue feeds directly into southbound Chrystie Street.

Bicycling levels have increased rapidly since then, but Chrystie Street remains a mess. “Current conditions on Chrystie Street all but guarantee hazards for cyclists and drivers alike,” the board said in its resolution [PDF]. “Chrystie Street’s road design has not been adjusted for seven years.”

On Second Avenue, cyclists heading to Chrystie have to jump across several lanes of traffic to get in position on the west side of the street. That could be eliminated with this plan, which would place the Chrystie bikeway on the east side of the street.

A two-way bike lane should also make it safer to walk on Christie. The street’s sidewalks are crowded with people, including large numbers of children and seniors, so CB 3 is asking for pedestrian refuge islands. The request has gained the support of the Sara D. Roosevelt Park Coalition.

Transportation Alternatives volunteer Dave “Paco” Abraham thanked Squadron for working with advocates to advance the proposal. “This project could improve pedestrian crossings, park access, and provide a protected bike lane,” he said. “Sometimes you’re lucky to see just one of those things happen.”

  • Rabi

    Bravo, CB3. Putting a two-way on the east side of Chrystie makes so much sense on every level. It’s going to be a huge benefit not just for cyclists, but for walkers and drivers as well.

  • BBnet3000

    Yes, yes, yes, yes. Jay Street next (can you see the relationship with Chrystie?) but with paths on each side of the street and bus stop islands.

    I know that CB hasn’t unanimously begged for it, but why are more than 1.3% of people going to ride Chrystie if they have to put up with Jay? Answer, they won’t and they don’t. That’s why we are stuck with hardly anyone biking.

    Also, is there any consideration of a 3-block protected lane on Houston eastbound from Chrystie leading to a left turn box onto the 1st Avenue protected lane northbound? Lets actually connect this to stuff! BE THE 2007 DOT AGAIN!

  • jooltman

    This kind of improved connectivity between safe, protected bike lanes and bridges is an essential key to increasing share of commuters by bike. So glad all our work is paying off!

  • J

    Seriously, a disjointed series of protected bike lanes isn’t going to result in large numbers of people starting to bike places. FIll the gaps, fix the intersections. Do it right!

  • Larry Littlefield

    I’d certainly use it.

    Today I head south on Broadway, Bleeker, Mott (believe it or not) and the Grand Street (cough) bike path.

    Put this in and I’d head over to Second Avenue and then just ride south.

  • Roz Moskowitz Bielski

    I love how citizen action results in positive change. we are fighting our own battles here in West Orange — people will eventually embrace complete streets design because it works.

  • carma

    i regularly ride on Chrystie. its a mess with all the potholes. There is a particularly nasty speed hump also when crossing Delancey southbound. so this would be great news along with the street milling and repaving.

  • carma

    theres a bike lane on grand street? really?

  • AnoNYC

    I’m happy to see this push for making the street safer for all users.


    I just don’t understand why the city fails to establish a comprehensive network of protected bicycle lanes? I would like to see all the wide avenues in Manhattan reconfigured like 1st and 2nd Avenue. I would also like these networks to extend far beyond the city’s core. Why doesn’t the 1st Ave protected bicycle lane continue onto Willis Avenue for example? What about the Grand Concourse and Southern Blvd?

    The city should promote these as complete streets. Mentioning the bicycle lanes but emphasizing the improvements to pedestrian and driver safety first. The city should always introduce protected lanes where applicable when considering a reconfiguration. That’s why we need a citywide plan.

    Is there any enthusiast or organization that has created their own citywide bicycle lane plan? This is a good time considering the impending Citi Bike expansion. There’s going to be a whole lot of new cyclists on the streets following the coming expansions.

    Further, the Vision Zero safety plan will hopefully add some miles of protected lanes, but it’s just not enough proposed. This should be automatic, considered in every reconfiguration where they make sense. Hence the need for a citywide plan.

  • ohhleary

    Agreed about Jay, but there really isn’t a need for a lane on Houston when you’ve got a lane on a much more bike-friendly Stanton Street a block away. Not to mention that putting a lane on a traffic sewer like Houston isn’t going to encourage anyone new to bike.

  • BBnet3000

    Putting a real protected lane on Houston is exactly what encourages people to bike. In Dutch standards the infrastructure used largely depends on the level of auto traffic, and Houston would require fully segregated bike infrastructure.

    Taking Stanton to Allen is not protected the whole way and requires you to “take the lane” mixing with left turning cars for the final block of Allen, before crossing a massive and poorly marked intersection to find your way to the left-side protected lane on 1st. Its pretty bad.

  • BBnet3000

    I would like to see all the wide avenues in Manhattan reconfigured like 1st and 2nd Avenue.

    1st and 2nd are great examples of the non-comprehensiveness of the network today. There’s long stretches in Midtown with A LOT of auto traffic where you have to “take the lane”. This will not allow more than a tiny percentage of people (currently 1.3%) to bike in the city.

  • Joe R.

    Not to mention that the lanes on 1st and 2nd are problematic even putting aside the gaps. You have the stupid mixing zones instead of just outright banning turns on all but major streets (an approach which would also benefit pedestrians). And then you have traffic signals every 250′. Closing off the minor side streets to thru traffic on the side with the bike lane could mean eliminating the traffic signals (in the bike lane only, not the car lanes) for the entire stretches between major cross streets. That gives ~10 block runs where a cyclist won’t encounter a red light. That’s good, but then you can put bridges over the major cross streets to make a continuous run with no red lights. It would be nice if a cyclist could go all the way from Harlem to lower Manhattan without stopping. That plus safety would get a lot of people riding.

    The bottom line is slapping paint on the street, even if it results in a protected bike lane, doesn’t mean squat unless you make other changes to the street to make it more favorable to cycling. Of course, it’s even more important to make sure there are no gaps. 10 blocks of great bike infrastructure surrounded by a hostile car sewer won’t attract all that many new cyclists.

  • thomas040

    Yes. They’re finally done fixing the initial stretch from soho to Chinatown. It’s actually quite nice now.

  • Another big problem is that there’s no southbound protected lane on 2nd avenue for around three miles from the Upper East Side to the south end of midtown and no protected bike lane on 1st Avenue between the United Nations and 59th St. The mixing zones are also a joke – but the big gaps are awful.

  • The Grand St lane has been transformed and is one of the best in the city for much of its length. It’s just unfortunate that at present a lot of it is full of snow and ice.

  • Taking a protected lane on the south side of East Houston Street would pit bicyclists against motor vehicle operators coming uptown on Eldridge Street and turning right at the stop sign onto Houston Street.

    Let’s instead make Second Avenue two-way, with a protected bicycle lane and a bus lane in each direction, and a single downtown private-vehicle lane in the middle.

  • BBnet3000

    That sounds like asking for $5, being turned down and asking for $1000 instead.

    Going back to 2-way avenues would be great, or at least having contraflow bike lanes. The good news is we’ve already reserved space for the contraflow bike lane by putting the existing protected lanes on the wrong side.

  • Val Prism

    This is so important. That street is a mess. I never understood why, with a park in the middle, the bike lane heading south was on the sidewalk side of the street. Glad to see it’s being addressed.

    I ride Chystie as my commute home most nights and not only are you barely able to ride in the bike lane (the slant, the road repair bumps, the potholes, the cars and trucks in the lane) the cars and trucks in the road race to each red light and on nicer days there are upwards of 20 bicyclists on the road. Which is actually better since we can then ride as a pack but as a main route to both the Williamsburg and Manhattan bridges, not to mention dozens of LES shops, restaurants, pubs, Chrystie is a menace and needs attention tout de suite.


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