Eyes on the Street: The First Avenue Bike Lane Gap Is Shrinking

DOT tweeted a status report this afternoon on the First Avenue protected bike lane gap. Green paint is down on the newly protected section between 49th Street and 56th Street:

This project will close most of the 10-block gap in the First Avenue protected bike lane in Midtown. The last few blocks up to 59th Street, where left-turning motor vehicle traffic heading to the Queensboro Bridge is most intense, will remain unprotected for now. DOT has said it will return to the local community board with a plan to protect those blocks after this phase has been completed.

In addition to the green paint, DOT will be adding pedestrian islands on these blocks this fall. That should prevent fatalities on a very dangerous stretch. Since 2009, the pedestrian death rate on First Avenue along the 10 blocks without a protected bike lane has been much higher than on the rest of First Avenue, according to DOT.

  • SSkate

    Some other nice improvements to First Ave recently: repaving of spots with bad pavement. They repaved the block btw 14th and 15th a week or two ago, and they’re prepping to redo the terrible block btw 60th and 61st any day. Now if they would just repave the mess at the intersection of 34th St.

  • AnoNYC

    Once 1st Ave gets fully filled in I hope that the city creates a parking protected bicycle lane along Willis Ave in the Bronx.

    Makes sense!

  • BBnet3000

    They have to go back to the CB AGAIN to finish a 10 block stretch that is within a single CB?

    How many times in total have they been back to this CB with this lane since the CB first approved it in 2009?

  • Alexander Vucelic

    Latent demand for cycling is overwhelming in Manhattan. We can expect to see peak 1st avenue demand grow from current 500 riders/hour to 750 within a 6 months. This will only increase need for 2nd, 5th, and 6th ave. protected lanes. Installation of protected lanes & complete streets to Central Park needs to be accelerated to keep ahead of exploding demand.

    BdB should direct Trottenberg to allocate $50 million of the $1.4 billion NYCDOT budget to install 5 miles of complete streets in Manhattan in each of next 3 years. This will barely keep ahead of cycling demand.

    I counted 1,400 cyclists during a typical hour in the lower central park loop this summer before cars were partially banned. 60% were women and children. Peak traffic must be over 2,000 and hour. Protected and Safe lanes bring not only out the ‘enthused and confident’ but also the ‘interested but concerned’

  • Mathew Smithburger

    Absolutely spot on in your analysis. I would add the CP serves cyclists as the hub from which the rest of the city can be accessed efficiently and safely from messengers to commuters to recreational rider and, come to think of it, even tourists.

    However,one important aspect of fostering this success will be to completely close CP to vehicular traffic. The last vestiges of cars in that part of the park is both dangerous and idiotic. It remains from a decision dating back to the administration of Mayor Beame, whose wife got stuck in traffic. Just prior to her complaint the entire park had
    been permanently closed to traffic. So the solution was to leave that
    part of the park open to traffic and it has remained in place ever

    Now if you spend any time in the lower loop of CP during the summer days (as I do) you have likely seen a typical daily sight of a small
    child making his or her way along on a tiny training wheel bike accompanied by a mother and or father also cycling along and next to giant SUVs and pickup trucks as both cyclists and cars share the lower CP loop. Our current mayor should close this loop NOW!

  • Alexander Vucelic

    everyone should read the DOT presentation on opening the Central Park loop to people. It is a extraordinary mypoic document presenting a long discredited traffic analysis methodolgy. The presentation illuminates just how primitive the DOT approach is despite 8 years of JSK.

  • I bike North on 1st Avenue on my commute home, and this is a welcome improvement. But the area they haven’t protected yet is by far the most dangerous.

    If you want to survive that section during rush hour on a bicycle you have to leave the bike lane to go to the middle of the road, run a red light, and go as fast as you can to escape the cars behind you before they get a green light. Going uphill, of course. Then to get onto the bridge to cross to Queens you have to get back over to the left just after you cross 57th street and all the cars behind you have created a shield by turning left. It’s very nerve racking and not fun at all. I’m surprised I’ve managed to survive doing this for the past 6 years.

    The fundamental problem is, as the article says, tons of cars going North are trying to make left turns before the bridge. You can’t stay in the bike lane on the left because cars will turn left into you. The most dangerous aspect are the cars who can’t merge into the left turn lanes. They end up making a left turn anyway, even from the straight-only lanes. It would be nice to prevent them from doing this. You missed the left? Just go North an extra few blocks, then turn. You can go South a couple blocks once you’ve gone West a bit.

    I suggest eliminating the on-street parking for the whole section. You can put the protected bike lane where the parking spaces currently go. There’s really no reason to let people park directly on 1st Avenue. They have plenty of one-way side streets to park on.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    it will be most interesting what the solution for the section 57th to the bridge. this is one of those insanely wide manic dangerous stretches of roadway. there is more than enough width to create safe pedestriaan space as well as safe bike lanes, and have calm division of motor traffic going to bridge

  • J

    This started in 2010, and it is still not connected. It still has no southbound pair.

    NYC builds disjointed infrastructure and then very slowly fills in the gaps.There is still no plan for a network Each project is still a bruising one-off battle. It’s a ridiculously inefficient and ineffective way to build a transportation network.

    Imagine if each bikeshare station was proposed individually. Or if the subway system was built in 5-10 block segments with no plan to link them all together. Absurd.

  • Matt

    Now they just need something to keep cars from parking in it.

  • Matt

    Also that part with the construction right before the bridge, if you’re far over to the left, as you have to be because cars want to make a left and they don’t care if you’re there so they’ll box you against that fence, is riddled with giant wheel-snagging potholes. That’s the worst fucking part.

  • I’ve been riding a Citi Bike since May 2013, and leaving my creations at home on Long Island. True, I have a Cycle-n-Ride permit from the LIRR, but the regulations have gotten burdensome.
    I will have to try the first avenue bike lane , when I get a chance.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    I own the lane by that construction and the insane potholes – always