West Harlemites Put Bike Lanes Back in the Picture for Broadway Redesign

West Harlem residents succeeded in getting NYC DOT to consider adding bike lanes to a road diet project for Broadway between W. 153rd and W. 135th. But they had to fight for it during Thursday night’s Community Board 9 transportation committee meeting.

DOT’s proposal for a road diet with no bike infrastructure didn’t cut it at last night’s CB 9 meeting. Click to enlarge. Image: DOT

DOT had shown a design for the street this summer with wider medians and parking lanes, fewer traffic lanes, but no bike lanes. At a town hall hosted by Assembly Member Denny Farrell last week, several residents called on the agency to add bike lanes to the project. Last night, residents and board members were quick to point out that despite updating its plans to reflect feedback since the summer, DOT’s redesign still didn’t include bike lanes.

“This is a unique opportunity to bring Broadway into the 21st century by bringing bike lanes into the mix,” said neighborhood resident Rose Seabrook. “Bike lanes do nothing to hamper traffic but it helps to organize road traffic by creating that structure.”

At first, the DOT officials argued that cyclists would be fine using a 13-foot-wide parking lane. But board members and residents cited the prevalence of double-parked cars and trucks that would get in the way of cyclists.

Responding to pressure from Seabrook and others, a DOT official said, to much applause, that the agency would consider adding bike lanes in the project.

The safety improvements on Broadway are part of DOT’s Vision Zero action plan for Manhattan. On this stretch, there were 455 traffic injuries between 2009 and 2013 and 6 deaths since 2007, according to DOT. The current design with three traffic lanes in each direction encourages speeding: DOT clocked drivers frequently traveling 45 mph, significantly higher than the 25 mph speed limit. The danger of these high speeds is exacerbated because of the large concentration of senior citizens in the area. In surveys, people told DOT that the top problems on the streets are unsafe crossings, speeding, drivers not yielding, and double-parked vehicles.

Residents and community board members generally expressed satisfaction with the plan, especially after DOT agreed to consider bike lanes. Several board members and West Harlem resident Glenford Jeffrey, a volunteer with Transportation Alternatives, requested that DOT also amend the plans to include loading zones, to help cut down on double-parked cars and trucks.

DOT will also change one of the left-turn bans in the plan. Instead of a turn ban from northbound Broadway onto 138th Street, which feeds into the Henry Hudson Parkway, the agency agreed ban lefts from southbound Broadway at the same intersection.

With all of these suggestions in mind, DOT is expected to return to Community Board 9 in December to present a final plan.

  • J

    “the DOT officials argued that cyclists would be fine using a 13-foot-wide parking lane.”

    Just about sums up how NYC DOT feels about cycling and Vision Zero. Infuriating!

  • Zero Vision

    I can’t imagine that these cyclists would be fine using a parking lane.

  • Wilfried84

    Is this a sign that there is in fact a growing constituency of cyclists? Are NIMBYs turning into YIMBYs?

  • JudenChino

    “the DOT officials argued that cyclists would be fine using a 13-foot-wide parking lane.”

    Said no cyclist ever. Yah, totally fine with an “extra wide parking lane” instead of a bike lane? Are these people on drugs? Like WTF — an extra wide parking lane = door zone + double parking lane.

  • Tyson White

    What about closing the entire north bound side of Broadway and putting in a bus lane, a 2-way bike lane, and some fucking trees? You know, just to make it consistent with the rest of Broadway which is southbound only.

  • J

    Yep. out of touch with what cyclists want, out of touch with best practice in bicycle planning and design safety, and out of touch with Vision Zero.

    The only thing this is at all in touch with is the desire for there to be as much cheap parking space as humanly possible.

  • Matthias

    Really disappointing to see this coming from DOT. They’ve taken about 20 steps backward in recent years.

  • JK

    Great work TA volunteers and organizers getting local folks to turn out and speak up for bike lanes and other design changes. Very heartening to see this energy and activism. Not so great is seeing DOT go from a leading the way with livable streets to following whoever shouts loudest — and that’s not the way to make streets safer and useful for more than driving and parking.

  • knisa

    All the more reason for some good people to infiltrate the agency and offer pushback against deBlasio and Trottenberg’s pro-motorist agenda from the technical side.

  • ahwr

    Several board members and West Harlem resident Glenford Jeffrey, a volunteer with Transportation Alternatives, requested that DOT also amend the plans to include loading zones, to help cut down on double-parked cars and trucks.

    All of the DOT documents on this project have included loading zones. The only question has been where they are located.

    From the most recent one

    http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/downloads/pdf/2015-broadway-w135-w153-cb9.pdf

    DOT would like to work with CB, community and local businesses to identify good hours and locations for truck loading zones

  • Walter Crunch

    Who needs a 12 foot parking lane? The max width of any vehicle is 96 inches or 8.5 feet.

    Time to start removing funding for any new project that does not include a protected cycle lane at least 6 feet wide.

  • Miles Bader

    Just get rid of the parking lane entirely, use the space for a cycle lane and maybe a wider sidewalk…

    Who are these morons at the DOT that a 13′ parking lane was ever considered acceptable….?

  • ahwr

    Businesses want loading zones on the truck route. If you have a floating truck loading zone away from the curb to make room for a bike lane along it then you’ll have the problem you have now where people have to walk 20 feet off the curb to see if it’s safe to cross. If you put in a refuge aligned with the offset loading/parking lane you’ll magnify the traffic impact, which DOT is generally very reluctant to do, and make it difficult for trucks to turn off the street. Putting in a bike lane here will come at the expense of DOT’s proposal to make the street safer for people crossing it on foot.

  • Miles Bader

    “Loading” is an occasional activity, and should not dictate the design. Trucks delivering goods can stop in the right-most traffic lane during slow hours and schlep their stuff across the bike lane and sidewalk (that will interfere with the bike lane, but it shouldn’t be a huge issue during slow hours).

  • ahwr

    Like I said, a floating truck loading zone is dangerous. It reduces visibility of and for pedestrians significantly.

    http://i.imgur.com/ehzmNMn.jpg

    http://i.imgur.com/gyzRMnw.jpg

    DOT proposed to reduce this safety issue that has contributed to a few deaths recently by getting trucks to the curb. TA objects because it doesn’t have a bike lane.

  • Miles Bader

    The situations aren’t analoguous though—that video seems to be talking about a “floating loading zone” in addition to a parking lane, but I’m saying they should get rid of the parking lane. Thus any blocking of pedestrian views is equivalent: a truck parked in a “floating loading zone” blocks pedestrians’ views to exactly the same degree as a truck parked in a parking lane which occupies the same real-estate.

    If you’re planning to have bulb-outs and so hope to eliminate the effect of a parking lane near intersections, then you can achieve a similar effect by simply banning any loading activity near intersections. Mid-block-only loading should be perfectly adequate.

  • rao

    Why do they feel the need to maintain left turns anywhere on this stretch? The volume of vehicles turning left from Broadway at any given intersection can’t possibly justify the danger and congestion they cause. And if you got rid of lefts, you could put the bike lanes in the middle of the street, avoiding cycle/delivery conflicts.

  • rao

    That was an appallingly revealing comment. It’s evident that DOT staff have totally forgotten that the goal of cycling infrastructure is not to accommodate the risk-takers who already cycle, it’s to get more people cycling for a healthier city.

  • Jonathan R

    Nice when opened door doesn’t completely block bike lane, also bear in mind that automobiles of today have to stop first and back in to parking spaces in order to achieve minimal standards of parking.

  • celticfrostythesnowman

    @waltercrunch:disqus
    Buses are capped at 102″, but I agree that 12′ parking lanes are an inefficient use of space.

    @Johnathan R
    “Nice when opened door doesn’t completely block bike lane”

    That’s why we aim to have the bike lane on the sidewalk side of the street.

    “automobiles of today have to stop first and back in to parking spaces in order to achieve minimal standards of parking.”

    Don’t we deal with that routinely? That’s why the driver wishing to park hits the blinker as he looks for a spot–so drivers behind him slow down and/or pass him when safe.

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