DOT Proposes Road Diets for Two Uptown Avenues

Two dangerous uptown avenues could get road diets and bike lanes this summer under a DOT plan presented to the Manhattan Community Board 12 transportation committee on Monday [PDF]. A plan for Sherman Avenue received the committee’s support, while a design for St. Nicholas Avenue is headed for at least one more month of review.

Map: DOT [PDF]
The CB 12 transportation committee backs a plan for Sherman Avenue but wants more time to consider an identical proposal for St. Nicholas Avenue. Map: DOT [PDF]
There were 25 serious injuries on the 1.2 miles of St. Nicholas Avenue between 169th and 193rd streets from 2009 to 2013, according to DOT, putting it in the most dangerous third of Manhattan streets. Five intersections — at 175th, 177th, 178th, 181st, and 185th streets — are more dangerous than 90 percent of the borough’s intersections.

On Sherman, there were seven serious injuries and two fatalities from 2009 to 2013, according to DOT. Two of its intersections, at Academy and Dyckman streets, ranked in the top 10 percent of Manhattan’s most dangerous intersections.

Sherman and St. Nicholas are both 60 feet wide. Each would receive a road diet replacing two car lanes in each direction with one car lane plus a center turn lane and a striped bike lane. CB 12 had asked for bike lanes in the area in 2012. The projects do not include concrete pedestrian islands, though DOT says they could be added at a later date.

The biggest changes would come to the intersection of Sherman Avenue and Broadway, where the slip lane from northbound Broadway onto Sherman would be replaced by an super-sized curb extension that forces drivers to slow down when turning (see below). A median pedestrian island would be added on Sherman, and an existing triangle island on the north side of the intersection would be enlarged. DOT says pedestrian crossing distances will be shortened by 38 percent, from 118 to 73 feet.

“People didn’t really have issues with the proposal for Sherman,” said Liz Ritter, who attended the meeting and sits on the board but not the transportation committee. “It looks like that’s totally going to work out.”

The plan for St. Nicholas Avenue, which connects with additional bike lanes planned south of 170th Street, covers a larger area. The committee only began to discuss it late in the evening after considering a street co-naming for former Mayor David Dinkins. Board members also had questions about double parking on St. Nicholas, and DOT said it would look into studying additional commercial loading zones, Ritter said. The board ultimately decided to revisit the St. Nicholas proposal at its next meeting, scheduled for June 1.

Image: DOT [PDF]
At Sherman Avenue and Broadway, a high-speed turn lane is being replaced with a sidewalk and a new pedestrian island is being added. Image: DOT [PDF]
“It’s not that people were opposed to it or in favor of it,” Ritter said. “People just didn’t feel comfortable making that drastic a change without taking some more time and giving people a chance to give feedback.”

The projects are scheduled to be implemented this summer, according to DOT’s presentation. “By the time kids go back to school in the fall, this will be done,” Ritter said.

While the committee punted on St. Nicholas Avenue, it did advance a resolution in support of the Sherman Avenue plan. It now goes before the full board on May 26 at 7 p.m. at the Russ Berrie Pavilion, 1150 St. Nicholas Avenue.

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