Eyes on the Street: Flex Posts Keep Drivers Out of 158th Street Bike Lane

Photo: Alec Melman
Photo: Alec Melman

Reader Alec Melman sent these before-and-after pics of the bikeway on 158th Street in Manhattan, which is now protected with flex posts. The lane is part of a package of Upper Manhattan bike improvements intended to make biking and walking safer between the Hudson River Greenway and the High Bridge.

As you can see in the photo below, before DOT added the posts the lane was vulnerable to incursion by drivers, many with placards, who commandeered the space for parking. The lane runs beneath a Riverside Drive viaduct where NYPD has a fleet service station.

This is the type of low-cost, high-impact improvement that could also make it safer to ride on streets like Chrystie Street, where safety advocates who call themselves the Transformation Department put traffic cones to keep drivers out.

“Now this actually feels safe to bike on,” Melman wrote.

Photo: Alec Melman
Photo: Alec Melman
  • NYC DOT learns that if you block a bike lane from cars, cars won’t go in bike lanes. What a stunner.

  • BBnet3000

    The contraflow lane on 177th coming from the George Washington Bridge needs this very badly. It’s often blocked and is wearing off the road, and just like in this case, being forced into traffic going in the opposite direction from cars is a very bad thing.

  • Matthias

    I’m glad the flex posts are working here. In many places, drivers have figured out that they can just run over them. The other day, I was standing in a painted sidewalk extension when a driver honked at me. He was coming slowly, but startled me and I stepped back on the curb. He drove over the flex posts and parked in the pedestrian area. The police and traffic agents do absolutely no enforcement. My 311 complaints are still open–I haven’t even been given “those responsible were gone” or “observed no evidence of the violation” boilerplate responses.

  • J

    Yes, We need much more of this!

  • AnoNYC

    The city should be towing all these cars on a regular basis. Cash cow.

  • AnoNYC
  • Komanoff

    Terrific pics. Is Melman a pro or just a guy with a sharp eye?

  • Alexander Vucelic

    next time just stand there – it’s happened me me and I simply stand there staring the driver down – like no f’g way you are going to run over those bollards man

  • Miles Bader

    I wonder how they’d react to clear video evidence… with the license plate, and the driver (as he gets out of he car), clearly visible, wouldn’t that be a slam-dunk?

  • A study would conclude that the bollards are dangerous to cars and must be removed.

  • Bollards are good. Cement is better (and keeps road debris and salt from the bikeway and reduces problems of rain/snow wakes from cars).

  • BBnet3000

    We only spend capital funds on streets that will remain totally dominated by cars and noise (Flatbush Ave Extension, 4th Avenue, Atlantic Avenue).

  • KillMoto

    Smash the window, take the placard, call the tow truck.

    And smile all the ready of the day

  • Alexander Vucelic

    this is the core problem $1.4 billion DOT budget and less than $5 million annually earmarked for protected bike lanes

  • ahwr

    A few years ago the Queens plaza redesign made the Queens side of the QBB much better on a bike, if sometimes a little slow with multiple lights and pedestrian crossings. I rode through there just a handful of times before it was rebuilt. It wasn’t comfortable. With the redesign it was one of the better parts of twice weekly bike commute to work in midtown a couple years ago. 25 miles round trip was more than I wanted to do everyday, took the subway the rest of the week. It would have been subway five days a week if Queens plaza hadn’t been improved. That project cost $45 million.

    http://www.nycedc.com/project/queens-plaza-bicycle-and-pedestrian-improvements

    There was more to the project than a protected bike facility of course. How relevant is your $5 million figure?

  • BBnet3000

    That was a project of the Economic Development Corporation, not DOT. It’s not likely to be widely replicated.

  • ahwr

    Wasn’t the Randall’s island connector part of one of EDCs projects? I think at least part of the east river esplanade was too? Will there be any bike facility as part of the Staten Island Wheel project, or only pedestrian walkways along the harbor? Isn’t EDC part of the Willets point project? If that isn’t dead and there’s an improved way to bike from the marina to the rest of flushing meadows or within the new development would that bikeway be paid for out of the $5 million DOT spends? How about the rebuilt rockaway boardwalk?

  • Alexander Vucelic

    maybe 1% of the cost was pure bike

  • ahwr

    What counts as a ‘pure bike’ cost?

  • Alexander Vucelic

    only a miniscule portion of the cost appears to have been for the protected bike lane. the roadway medians, 1.5 acre plaza, pedestrian protection, and street lighting composes the vast majority of the costs.

    Generally urban protected bike lanes in the US cost between $200k and $1 mill per mile. I use the $1 million mile figure because it is NYC and there is a fair amount of vigorish here.

    A useful illustration might be the cost of closing the first age gap. This is nearly all protected bike lane with very little other items

  • ahwr

    Generally urban protected bike lanes in the US cost between $200k and $1 mill per mile.

    When you have an already built road and sewer system to handle the runoff, so you only have to put in a few curbs to keep cars out, maybe a coat of paint? Or when you’re designing and constructing a road and drainage system from scratch?

  • Alex

    The DOT seem to paint only the protected lanes. Is that implying that this is considered a protected bike lane? These are huge, but there is enough space for a Jersey barrier there and I hope they go the full way towards protecting this if it’s a green painted protected lane in their map.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    Does NYC have any place where there isn’t a existing street network ? $1 million per mile for protected bike lanes is a defensible number in NYC. Protecting Chrystie street bike land might cost 1/10 of this, but for comparing a $1.4 billlion DOTbudget with cost of protected bike lanes – its safe to use $1 million per mile as a starting pojnt.

  • Jonathan R

    May I suggest considering the 158th Street protected bike lane photographed here as part of a larger project, including the hairpin ramp at the western end down to Fort Washington Park. Just because the ramp is used by people on both foot and bike doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t count for bicycle infrastructure; together the lane and the ramp provide a better alternative than the narrow catwalk over the railroad tracks at 155th St.

  • Shelly Gibson

    I live on this street and these huge lanes have made the street a dangerous nightmare. I ride a bike on this street.and want bike lanes. But to take more than a full traffic lane and to shove the speeding-just-off-or-on-the HHP traffic practically onto the south sidewalk is going to kill someone. The north, and practically unused sidewalk needs to be utilized to give the traffic more space. The fire department is very upset about this too as their trucks can’t fit on this very important entrance to the highway. One half of the sidewalk needs to be used for a bike lane, one half of the side walk for pedestrians and ONE lane painted on the street will take care of the bikes, pedestrians, and keep those of us who live on the south side safe. Oh, and yesterday a U’Haul truck hit the scaffolding on the building next door to me. It was driving ON THE STREET, but the truck’s tires on literally one inch from our curb (and our very narrow sidewalk) so the top of the trucks can actually hit a scaffolding. They can also brush your hand as you walk down the street. This has to be corrected IMMEDIATELY. I video taped a police officer pulling over a car today…and literally shutting down the entire street because the abundant highway traffic had no place to go. Try getting out of a cab…that shuts down traffic too. Push the traffic back into the center of the street and narrow that bike lane. This is the entrance to a highway! This is a terrible plan and those who thought it up were certainly not considering some very important safety issues.

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