DOT Replaces a Block of the Fifth Avenue Bike Lane With Sharrows

Bye bye, bike lane. Hello, sharrows in a turn lane. Photo: Stephen Miller
Bye bye, bike lane. Hello, sharrows in a turn lane. Photo: Stephen Miller

DOT’s recent design tweaks to Eighth Street have come with an unwelcome change on Fifth Avenue. As the Fifth Avenue bike lane approaches Eighth Street, it now morphs into sharrows that overlap with a turning lane for motorists. The dedicated space for cycling is gone, and the new design is incompatible with the protected bike lane that advocates and the local community board have called for on Fifth Avenue.

While the southern end of Fifth Avenue doesn’t carry much car traffic, as the street approaches its terminus at Washington Square Park, many drivers turn left onto eastbound Eighth Street. The left-side bike lane was sacrificed to make way for a new design to handle this turning traffic.

The intent of the design is to separate the turning motorists from people crossing Eighth Street, who now have “a split-phase leading pedestrian interval,” giving them a head start before drivers receive a flashing yellow turn arrow. But it also calls for cyclists to do a non-intuitive merging movement around turning drivers, including many MTA buses and tour buses. Since bus drivers swing right before making tight left turns, the bike stencils direct cyclists to take a path that could conflict with the path of buses.

An earlier version of the plan, presented to Manhattan Community Board 2 last November, added the turn lane but kept the bike lane [PDF].

DOT says it will finish markings and signal work by the end of the month.

More than a year ago, DOT committed to studying protected bike lanes on Fifth Avenue and Sixth Avenue, in response to local elected officials and community boards, but hasn’t produced anything since then.

This section of Fifth Avenue, with its low volume of traffic, would be an ideal location to begin building out protected lanes on these important north-south streets. With its corner sidewalk extensions, however, the new intersection design won’t work with a protected bike lane:

The new intersection design at Fifth Avenue and Eighth Street is incompatible with a protected bike lane on Fifth.
  • BrandonWC

    Well that is lame.

    I haven’t been down 5th in a while. Are they repainting any more of it or just right before and after 8th St?

  • Reader

    Was the bike lane change approved by the community board and subject to a 90-day community notification process, as the City Council requires? The post says an earlier version presented to the board kept the bike lane. Was this version not presented to CB2?

  • ohhleary

    Not only that, NYC DOT moved the bike lane into the middle of the street south of 8th… to buffer the parking lane.

  • J

    Ladies and gentlemen, DOT presents the complete opposite of a protected intersection.

  • Was an Environmental Impact Study conducted? Removing the bicycle lane could and will result in higher emissions as people stop biking

  • Alexander Vucelic

    poor motor vehicles – with the number of bikes on this stretch now ‘owning’ one full lane – going to be be tough for Motörheads to use these blocks at all.

  • suburban_war

    i like how the “sidewalk extensions” here on 5th and also on 6th ave after the repave are just some paint. We’re supposed to cross our fingers and hope that drivers obey and don’t use these areas for dangerous passing.

  • Reader
  • BBnet3000

    For further reference

    They seem to be doing illegal removals all over the city at this point.

  • BBnet3000

    More like “getting owned” in the door zone, which is where NYC paints sharrows. NACTO recommends putting them in the center of the lane, which is where you will find sharrows when they are used in bike-friendlier US cities.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    dude – Sharrows in a Lane mean we own The entire Lane.

  • BBnet3000

    It seems to me (and there is some limited academic evidence to support this in addition to the NACTO recommendation) that the positioning of most riders (as well as that of cars in relation to them) is affected by the positioning of the sharrows.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    true – but not as fun


DOT’s Latest Missed Opportunity for Protected Bike Lanes

Eighth Street, which cuts eastbound across Greenwich Village just above Washington Square Park, had two traffic lanes until recently. A road diet by the Department of Transportation dropped it to one lane and added new pedestrian crossings. Left out of the redesign: bike lanes. Instead, there are “extra-wide parking lanes” that also accommodate double-parked drivers. Last November, the plan […]