Protected Bike Lanes Coming to Washington Heights After CB 12 Vote
Washington Heights will get protected bike lanes and major pedestrian upgrades after Manhattan Community Board 12 endorsed a DOT proposal last night.
Sections of 170th Street, 158th Street, and Edgecombe Avenue will get protected bike lanes, and pedestrian crossings will be improved on Edgecombe Avenue and at the complex intersection of 158th Street, Riverside Drive, and Edward Morgan Place [PDF]. The street redesigns will make for safer connections between the Hudson River Greenway and Highbridge Park, where the rehabilitated High Bridge will provide a car-free link between Manhattan and the Bronx.
The plan encountered resistance earlier this month from CB 12 members who objected to the loss of approximately 20 parking spaces. DOT revised its plan to reduce parking losses to just eight spots, through offsets elsewhere in the neighborhood. The bike and pedestrian improvements in the plan remain intact.
While a couple of board members, including Jim Berlin, were still upset by any loss of parking, meeting attendees said opponents were outnumbered last night by approximately two dozen high school students from the George Washington Educational Campus, located in Fort George. The students, who participate in “I Challenge Myself,” a program that teaches youth in the Bronx and Manhattan about cycling, brought signs to show support for the plan, and one spoke to the board.
“Almost half the people there were young people, students from our program. It was really impressive, just how strongly they felt,” said Ana Reyes, a Washington Heights resident and executive director of I Challenge Myself. “I think that made a huge difference.”
While no official vote tally was available, Reyes said only a few board members voted against the proposal. The project is a welcome development for an area of Manhattan where the bike network is lacking.
“It’s a really good thing that DOT is putting protected infrastructure in Upper Manhattan, where so far the infrastructure doesn’t look like it does in the other parts of the city,” said Transportation Alternatives Manhattan organizer Tom DeVito.
Additional bike lane projects have recently received support from community boards in Brooklyn and Queens:
- Middle Village bike routes: The Queens Community Board 5 transportation committee voted last night to support bike routes in Middle Village, Glendale, and Ridgewood [PDF]. The first phase, installed last year, included bike lanes on Onderdonk and Woodward Avenues. The second round, identified as part of a planning process DOT launched with CB 5 in 2013, will consist mostly of sharrows but also adds striped bike lanes on a handful of wider streets. The committee endorsed bike routes on Eliot Avenue, 69th Street, and Metropolitan Avenue, which would feature New York’s first green-backed sharrows. A second route, to the east, would follow 63d Avenue, 80th Street, and Cooper Avenue. The bike routes will be installed this year, likely during the summer.
- Protected bikeway in Maspeth? DOT presented a third route, connecting Maspeth to Ridgewood using primarily shared markings on Rust Street and Fresh Pond Road, but it faced opposition from Jean Tanler, a CB 5 member who also represents the Maspeth Industrial Business Association, and did not get the committee’s endorsement. The route would connect with bike lanes planned for Long Island City. DOT said last night it is considering a protected bikeway through Maspeth using Review Avenue, 56th Road, and Rust Street, but said the plan needs additional study and consultation with industrial business owners.
- Reconfiguring the Greenpoint Avenue bike lane: The Brooklyn Community Board 1 transportation committee voted last Tuesday to support DOT’s proposed modifications to the Greenpoint Avenue bike lane between McGuinness Boulevard and Kingsland Avenue, where Greenpoint Avenue becomes the J.J. Byrne Bridge. Underutilized parking on Greenpoint would be replaced with wider curbside green bike lanes and a new, second westbound car lane. Between Provost Street and McGuinness Boulevard and at the eastbound approach to the J.J. Byrne Bridge, the existing bike lane would give way to sharrows [PDF]. According to notes from Transportation Alternatives volunteer Becca Kaplan, the committee recommended that CB 1 support both the Greenpoint Avenue tweaks and a proposal for bike lanes on the J.J. Byrne Bridge at its full board meeting next month. The bridge bike lanes are also on the agenda at adjacent Queens CB 2 on April 1.
- Upgrades to the Williamsburg Bridge approach: The Brooklyn CB 1 transportation committee also backed a plan to add a two-way bike lane between parking and moving traffic on South 5th Place, which connects South 4th Street to the Williamsburg Bridge bike path entrance. The plan would redirect cyclists from the sidewalk, add a curb extension near the path entrance, and widen curb ramps for easier transitions between the bike path and the street. It will also add sharrows to eastbound lanes of South 4th Street [PDF].
In Manhattan, DOT is proposing an eastbound bike lane on Spring Street in Soho [PDF]. Word on the street is that the plan has drawn the ire of Soho Alliance director and neighborhood crank Sean Sweeney, who devotes his time to opposing everything bike-related, from bike lanes to bike parking. The more sane voices the better when the Manhattan CB 2 transportation committee takes up the proposal on April 2.