DOT and Ydanis Rodriguez Break Ground on Uptown Bike Lanes

Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez and local high school students celebrated new bike lanes near the High Bridge in Washington Heights this afternoon. Photo: Ben Fried

Don’t underestimate the importance of this development: Today, Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez announced the groundbreaking for new bike routes linking the Hudson River Greenway to the restored High Bridge, which connects Upper Manhattan to the Bronx.

The shovels-in-the-ground moment and its sibling, the ribbon-cutting-with-oversized-scissors, are irresistible to elected officials everywhere. Usually, this feeds into the political incentive to push for big, dumb road projects. One way to flip this dynamic: start holding groundbreakings and ribbon-cuttings for smart transportation projects, too.


The new uptown bike routes will consist of two-way protected lanes on 170th Street and segments of 158th Street and Edgecombe Avenue. Other segments will consist mainly of sharrows. The routes will provide safer and more direct connections between the Hudson River Greenway, Washington Heights, and the High Bridge, which reopened to the public this week after being off limits for 45 years.

Rodriguez pointed out that a lot of families have moved across the river from Washington Heights to the Bronx in the last 20 years, and these projects are going to connect people who have relatives on the other side of the river.

“Not only are we connecting both sides of the river,” said Assembly Member Guillermo Linares, “but we are making it easier to get to the bridge if you are walking and if you are riding a bike.”

The officials were joined by high school students from I Challenge Myself, a program that promotes fitness in NYC high schools. “It’ll be a lot safer and more people will be able to come down here,” said Brian Zarzuela, a sophomore at the High School for Media and Communications in Washington Heights. “With the lanes, it should be a lot easier to navigate.”

In related news, DOT announced that it will begin holding public workshops for its Harlem River Bridges Access Plan starting next week. Currently, people biking or walking across the bridges have to contend with hostile street conditions. Safer routes across the river could make biking a much more attractive travel option.

DOT says the workshops will inform a set of recommendations that will be released in spring 2016. Here’s the description from the agency:

DOT will host a series of community planning workshops in both Manhattan and the Bronx to discuss safety and mobility improvements at intersections and along corridors connecting the two boroughs across the Harlem River. The end result of this effort will be the Harlem River Bridges Access Plan report, which will describe community preferences for improving neighborhood access to parks, schools, and commercial areas on both sides of the river. The report will also be used to guide future investments and seek additional funding for short and long-term transportation enhancement projects.

Check the Streetsblog calendar for locations and times for next week’s workshops.

This is what the groundbreaking for a bike lane looks like. Photo: Ben Fried
This is what the groundbreaking for a bike lane looks like. Photo: Ben Fried
  • SteveVaccaro

    The two-way protected lane on 170th Street would be huge, making Edgecombe just as convenient as Riverside and St. Nicholas as a route downtown from Washington Heights.

  • Matt

    “This is what the groundbreaking for a bike lane looks like”

    Literally read the question out of my mind before I asked it. Hah.

  • Jonathan R

    Counselor, downtown is not a problem as 170th is eastbound and feeds right into Edgecombe in front of 33d NYPD precinct. For uptown suggest St Nicholas which has a smoother gradient, as Edgecombe is one-way downtown between 155th and 137th. I also advise uptown riders to bear right onto Audubon at 165 to avoid snarled traffic at 169 intersection between St Nick and Bway.

  • SteveVaccaro

    For those coming off the GW Bridge, Haven is the best route southbound, but 160 reverses direction at B’way and can’t be used crosstown to access Edgecombe. I usually take 168 past Amsterdam, then double back uptown behinbehind the precinct. Amsterdam is nasty around 170, I try to avoid iit.

  • Jonathan R

    Aha, never thought of GWB riders!

  • Jonathan R

    As implemented, this is useless. The bike lane is on the north side of West 170th east of St Nicholas, and on the south side of West 170th west of Broadway. There is no bike lane (or even sidewalk ramp) across the median/parklet that is nestled in the V between St Nick and Broadway. So folks have to pick up their bikes and carry them up onto the median. Stupid design.

  • Page 12 here suggests that will be taken care of:

  • Jonathan R

    My kvetching has had an effect! I rode by there yesterday evening and the concrete had been torn up to make a bike path along the northwest edge of the square, as in the slides. Thanks for linking to the presentation.

  • Shelly Gibson

    West 158th Street is now a dangerous nightmare. The representations of the work are not accurate. The pedestrian side of the road, where the residents live and many others use the sidewalk, is a FRACTION of the width represented. It is difficult for even two people to walk side by side on the sidewalk…forget about the four people (one with a cane) and large dog. The cars from the highway now speed by inches from pedestrians and from my front steps. This plan is not safe to anyone but the very rare cyclist who has the use of two lanes and a huge unused sidewalk. We can’t get out of a cab now, or have a delivery or service because of this incredible waste of space. Keep the bike lane, make it a reasonable size. This is a highway entrance ramp for crying out loud!!!! Firetrucks race down this street for accidents on the highway. Use some common sense on this street. Someone will be killed, or my house will have a car plow into it (again). Give the people who live on this dangerous and chaotic street some safety. Use the huge sidewalk on the OTHER side of the street (and all the space that goes with it!) for this project. A U Haul truck on the street just hit the scaffolding next door because there is NO ROOM on the street anymore. This was so ill thought out I can’t believe it.

  • Penny

    Accurately described and well-said!


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