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Eyes on the Street: DOT Begins Filling Gap in First Av Bike Lane [Updated]

Photo: Stephen Miller
Striping for a protected bike lane, left, and markings where DOT eventually plans to install a concrete pedestrian island, center. Photo: Stephen Miller
Photo: Stephen Miller

The Pope has left town and the United Nations General Assembly is over, meaning it's time to make First Avenue a better place to bike and walk.

The gap in the First Avenue protected bike lane was baked into the initial plans for it, which called only for sharrows between 49th and 59th streets in order to accommodate motor vehicle traffic heading to 57th Street and the Queensboro Bridge. Now DOT is comfortable repurposing that space for a bikeway, telling Community Board 6 in May that it would start filling the gap this summer. The final few blocks approaching 59th Street would be installed later in the year, DOT said, once new traffic flows had smoothed out.

We found out last month that work would be delayed until after the departure of Pope Francis and the end of the UN General Assembly. The heads of state are gone now, and it looks like progress is afoot:

2015-10-08 10.22.11
The bike lane will go where the cars are parked. Photo: Stephen Miller

Crews working from south to north have erased markings and put down new stripes for the protected bike lane between and 49th to 56th streets. (The bike lane will have to find a way around a construction site between 52nd and 53rd streets; DOT says it is working to coordinate bike lane installation with the construction project.)

Stripes are also down where DOT will eventually install a concrete pedestrian island in the middle of First Avenue at 49th Street. The space was carved out of the shifting lane patterns where drivers exiting the First Avenue tunnel merge back onto the surface street.

DOT did not reply to inquiries about its progress on First Avenue, or whether it would be able to install the concrete island before cold weather puts an end to construction season. The agency has previously said it will return to CB 6 next year to talk about finishing the final few blocks north of 55th Street.

Update 5:15 p.m.: DOT says it will be installing islands along the route, between 47th and 55th streets, and expects to complete work by the end of November.

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