Eyes on the Street: Upper Manhattan’s First Protected Bike Lane in Progress

First markings for the new protected bike lane on Fort George Hill. Photo: Jonathan Rabinowitz
First markings for the new protected bike lane on Fort George Hill. Photo: Jonathan Rabinowitz

Reader Jonathan Rabinowitz sent this photo of Upper Manhattan’s first protected bike lane, now under construction on Fort George Hill, a one-way street that connects Dyckman Street in Inwood with Fairview Avenue to the south, along the western border of Harlem River Park.

This project will give cyclists a north-south route between Inwood and Washington Heights by allotting 11 feet of the 60-foot-wide street to a bi-directional bike lane and three-foot painted buffer between the lane and angled car parking. The plan was announced in the spring of 2014, and work was originally scheduled to be completed last summer.

With a protected bi-directional lane, southbound cyclists traveling uphill won’t have to worry about motorists passing them from behind, and the easy downhill is now a legal option for northbound biking.

Bike Upper Manhattan lobbied Community Board 12 to support the Fort George Hill lane, along with a number of less ambitious projects proposed by DOT for Washington Heights and Inwood last year.

After picking up an endorsement from CB 12, DOT is planning a series of protected bike lanes in Washington Heights that will ultimately make bike travel safer between the Hudson River Greenway and the car-free High Bridge linking Manhattan and the Bronx.

Image: NYC DOT
Image: NYC DOT
  • Theres 10 feet of wasted space in this design (13 foot parking lane, what?). They couldnt use 2 of them to build a 10 foot bicycle lane, rather than an uncomfortable 8? Really? What design school did these people go to?

  • Reader

    The school of Don’t Touch Parking Ever.

  • Tyler

    But it’s a door-free buffer zone. I’m assuming they took that into consideration.

  • Jonathan R

    Would you recommend that DOT tear this up and do it again? My son, who’s in the picture with the scooter, was not born when we proposed this to the Community Board. How long would you like us to wait for bicycle infrastructure?

  • ahwr

    Trucks can extend far past the back wheel. You can see that a bit in the picture. If anyone has a trailer hitch…

  • ahwr

    Because you need to have a double parking zone. And room for people angle parking. Can’t have that interfere/calm the moving lane.

  • J

    This is an incredibly steep street that will get almost no use going uphill and maybe some decent use going downhill. 8ft + 3 foot buffer is a good start, and can always be made wider later, relatively easily. In the mean time, it is a big win for the area, way better than the previous condition.

  • c2check

    What absurdity. In street view there are hardly even any cars parked in the angled parking.

    Tip: there’s apparently been a car wash here since at least August 2013! https://www.google.com/maps/@40.859016,-73.926731,3a,75y,303.87h,70.1t/data=!3m5!1e1!3m3!1sIjgtGWCQRRCcjexDR4MOWA!2e0!5s20140901T000000

  • c2check

    Why not just do it now? Making the uphill side wider will give room for faster bikes to pass slower ones, too.

  • Jonathan R

    There are two carwashes on the hill, but they use vans fitted with water tanks to wash the cars. The problem with the carwashes is that the workers poop in High Bridge Park because there are no latrines.

    As far as the parking density on Fort George Hill, it is pretty much near 100% overnight and on the weekend. The street view buggy must have gone by on the afternoon before ASP, when people seek to park on the non-ASP side.

  • ahwr

    You can also see that cars back in right up to the curb. The buffer will be taken up by crown vic trunks and SUV bumpers and trailer hitches. An eight foot bike lane is an improvement. And moving the parking stoppers a few feet out later on won’t be thaaat much work. And it’s good for pedestrians who don’t have a third of the sidewalk taken up by SUVs whose wheels are still in the street.

  • Thats the thing though. A car is 6-7 feet wide. More parking is 8 feet wide. Here, theyre dedicating 13 feet for parking. Why not use 2 of those unneeded feet for a properly designed bike way?

    For the angled, cars are no longer than 18 feet. The angled area is providing for a 15 foot lane (way too wide) and a 21 foot parking area (slightly too wide). Why?

    Theres enough room to build a whole second 8 foot cycle track and not remove any parking!

  • Jonathan R

    Yes, the city also fixed the sidewalk under the buildings on Fort George Avenue, so pedestrians can now walk all the way up the east side of the hill on a decent sidewalk.

  • Agree with Jass

    This is a bit puzzling, there is plenty of room to widen the bike path. Parking lanes need not be more than 10′, angled parking can be 20′ and a moving lane can be 12′ and that is being quite generous. With such generous space allocation there would still be 7′ to make that a nice wide bike path. The narrower space for cars would further calm traffic and improve overall safety.

  • AnoNYC

    I agree, way too much space dedicated to the moving and lanes.

  • c2check

    Delightful 😀

    There are street view shots from 5 dates since 2011; only one shows any significant angled parking being used (maybe ~50%). I’m not personally familiar with the area, though. A curious discrepancy in any case.

  • Daphna

    I agree. There is still a huge amount of space on this street given to parking. The protected bike lane could have been a bit larger than 4′ in each direction, especially since 1.5′ of it is the gutter along the curb which is not bikeable and should not be counted as part of the 8′.

  • AnoNYC

    Would love to see this extend the entirety of Amsterdam and 10th Avenues.

  • BBnet3000

    In The Netherlands they put wider bike paths on hills specifically because people will be going faster than normal coming down. The designers of the Manhattan Bridge bike path could have learned from them.

  • J

    Agreed. This seems pretty lazy. They might have been worried about people driving in it, which would also be really bad. The upshot is, though, that no one knows why they designed it to be so narrow, and that is perhaps the biggest shortcoming of the current DOT.

  • Matthias

    This is exciting–can’t wait for Highbridge to open!

  • Jonathan R

    The lane (unpainted area to the left of the curb) is 11 feet wide, not eight. I measured.

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