What Protected Bike Lanes on Midtown Cross Streets Might Look Like

dc_1st_street
The 1st Street bike lane by Union Station in Washington, DC, via Streetfilms

We reported yesterday that DOT is exploring the potential for crosstown protected bike lanes in Midtown. Currently, the painted crosstown bike lanes on Midtown cross streets tend to get blocked by cars. Here’s how one reader put it:

My main complaint as a crosstown cyclist in midtown during the workday are streets that are so calm that nothing moves, but are also so packed that you can’t even filter through. There are two types of (one-way) streets in midtown: those with two traffic lanes, and those with one; both with two parking lanes… The result is that it’s impossible to filter through stopped vehicles in the two-lane streets and it is faster to walk on the sidewalk (I wouldn’t bike on it!).

So how might a protected bike lane work on streets that are narrower than the wide avenues where most of the protected bike infrastructure in NYC has been added? In Manhattan, the main example is the parking-protected bike lane on Grand Street, first installed in 2008. But you don’t need a whole parking lane of street width to protect a bike lane.

Readers pointed out that a concrete curb can do the trick just fine. There’s a great example of this treatment on 1st Street by Union Station in DC, which Clarence Eckerson recently highlighted with a short Streetfilm.

Another reader shared this example from Vancouver:

Streetsblog readers are thrilled at the prospect of protected lanes like this running across Midtown Manhattan. Image: Dylan Passmore
Photo: Dylan Passmore

And here’s a reader-submitted example from Buenos Aires:

Image: Google Maps
A bike lane protected with what looks like parking stops at the corner of Arenales and Suipacha in Buenos Aires. Image: Google Maps

(For more about how Buenos Aires is changing its streets, check out Clarence’s Streetfilm from last year.)

Making these designs work in Midtown will require repurposing some parking spaces and reworking how vehicles access the curb. As you can see, New York would hardly be the first city to pull off changes like that.

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