DOT Has Ruled Out a Crosstown Bike Lane on 72nd Street [Updated]

Image via Google Street View

DOT is studying routes for crosstown bike lanes on the Upper East Side, but it looks like 72nd Street, which could provide a seamless route across Central Park, won’t be one of them.

With the arrival of Citi Bike, neighborhood advocates have been pressing DOT to add more crosstown bike connections on the Upper East Side, which currently has only a single east-west pair on 90th Street and 91st Street. During a recent “street scan” to assess potential bike routes, 72nd Street was one of three options that volunteers with TA and Bike New York considered.

The transportation committee chairs of Manhattan Community Board 8 revealed at a meeting last night that DOT has ruled out 72nd Street as an option, according to a resident who attended. (Streetsblog has asked DOT to confirm.) They delivered the news to about two dozen people who had just testified against the specter of making 72nd Street safe for biking. A petition had been circulating before the meeting in opposition to “the 72nd Street bike path.”

Neighborhood resident Joe Enoch was among the smaller group of people who testified in favor of a bikeway on 72nd Street. “When I tried to explain that 72nd Street might make sense because it’s a natural connection to Central Park and the West Side, there was literally a chorus of boos and then my time was up,” he told Streetsblog via email. “I was literally booed off the stage at a community board meeting.” One woman shouted “Boloney!” at him, he said, and later apologized.

Putting good bike infrastructure on 72nd Street, which is also a bus route, would be more of a challenge than smaller side streets, but the payoff would also be more substantial. It would link up to the only direct two-way bikeway that crosses the interior of Central Park, and it would reduce injuries on a dangerous street.

From the beginning of 2012 through the middle of this month, there have been 128 traffic injuries on East 72nd Street — 40 pedestrians, 25 cyclists, and 63 car occupants, according to Transportation Alternatives organizer Tom DeVito. “Residents that we’ve talked to want to highlight the fact that precluding a dangerous street from even being studied for safety improvements deprives them and their neighbors of the basic information they need to make life-or-death decisions about their neighborhood,” he said.

Update: DOT says it does not “have plans for 72nd Street bike route at this time, but we will be presenting to CB 8 several proposals for east-west, crosstown lanes, and the expansion of the protected path on Second Avenue early next year.”

  • Zero Vision

    With friends like Polly Trottenberg, who needs bike-hating community boards?

  • I use 72nd street nearly every time I go to the Upper East Side or Upper West Side. It’s much the best crosstown route and links the route across the park to the best route onto the Hudson Greenway between 59th St and 125th St. The broader cross streets would be the perfect places for crosstown bike lanes. It should be perfectly simple to put in floating bus stops and create curb-running bike lanes. But, if it’s not going to happen on 72nd St – where there’s no need to do anything for three blocks because they’re already in the park – it’s hard to imagine where it can happen.

  • Ollie Oliver

    Or perhaps a center running bike lane like D.C. has on Pennsylvania? I mean let’s talk about possibilities before we just throw up our hands.

  • Geck

    My experience exactly. East and West 72nd is a perfect link through Central Park and on to the Hudson River Greenway, with plenty of room for protected bike lanes.

  • Reader

    Other cities have figured this out. Here’s Chicago’s solution in a far denser area.

    It is beyond depressing that DOT just throws up its hands at the first sign of trouble. The agency is guided by fear these days. I miss the innovation of the last administration.

  • Vision Zero means never making the tough decision even if it’s the right one.

  • We don’t know if this works, yet!

  • Alexander Vucelic

    this will take a while to flesh out. The pearl clutchers have lost on UES, tgey just don’t know it yet. Citibike has enormous success on UES with 3,500 daily UES trips in first month ! Expansion of Citibike from 86th to 106th by next year’s cycling season will only generate thousands of more riders. These riders will be demanding safe streets.

    Come Springtime, we can expect routine 5,000 Citibike daily trips just on UES and by August there will be a few peak days of 10 000 UES trips. Rough Citibike to private bike is 1:4. Imagine next summer when UES experiences routine 20,000 daily bike trips !

    Fifth avenue has plenty of bikes all day every day, easily 10% of roadway traffic. This will grow to 15% by August. The protected bike lane on first avenue is easily saw 500 bikes an hour during evening rush hour in Oct/Nov. This spring, we’ll easily see 750/ hour on first at peak.

    At some point soon enough, the Pearl clutchers will realize that bikes have taken over motor lanes on UES and they’ll start demanding creation of bike lanes to keep motor lanes free of bikes 🙂

    72nd is a natural crosstown route from River to River.

  • BBnet3000

    Can’t wait for the one way pairings that you’re going to have to memorize before you set out, connected to Terrace Drive via sharrows on Central Park West.

    Anybody who thinks this is Polly’s fault hasn’t paid attention. This is exactly how we planned the bike network during the JSK days.

    If we wanted to do this right we’d be looking at 72nd and the transverses, which at least have room to squeeze in a narrow protected lane in each direction in the near term.

  • Joe Enoch

    I like your optimism! I hope to see you at the next community board meeting!

  • Joe Enoch

    Who knows why DOT has precluded 72nd St from the study, but one thing many of us who participated in the street scan noted is that around 2nd ave, there is a TON of obstacles due to the subway construction. For about a block, the street narrows to one lane each way. 72nd st would be my first choice but a cross town bike lane ANYWHERE on the UES is in desperate need.

  • Reader

    There are versions of this in other cities that do.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    If I had known it was a bike agenda, I’d have been there yesterday

  • Alexander Vucelic

    right lane of 72nd on the West Side is already owned by cyclists ( & double parkers ). Rider volumes, mainly due to Citibike, will grow enough that in 12 months, the UES and UWS crosstown routes will simply be taken over by cyclists.

    Once cyclists reach 15-20% of roadway traffic, their critical mass is enough to consistency dominate an entire motor lane.

    For example, much of 2nd avenue in Midtown currently has enough cyclists to dominate the left lane for many blocks.

    We’ll never attract the ‘interested but comcerned’ with this dreadful infrastructure but the numbers of ‘strong & fearless’ plus ‘enthused & confidents’ are likely large enough to change the roadway landscape permanently.

  • Nick Ober

    Man, those bollards look so much better than our flexiposts.

  • The biggest problem is that there’s so much double-parking outside the fancy apartment buildings near the park. A decent protected bike lane would get one away from that.

  • The expansion of the 2nd avenue bike lane – which is non-existent for two-and-a-half miles above 34th St – is very welcome. But, from my point of view, it’ll be of limited usefulness until they’ve devised a way to get it round the on-ramp for the Queensboro Bridge and the traffic into the Queens-Midtown Tunnel.

  • Jesse

    I love the irony of using a petition to oppose a change. Shouldn’t there be a different site for that?

  • BBnet3000

    A long term goal would be to sink either the onramp lanes or the bike lane (onramp lanes in case of the tunnel, bike lane perhaps in the case of the bridge) for total grade separation. Short term I don’t see why it couldn’t be achieved via by time separation like any of the other major left turn lanes (ie 14th St).

  • BBnet3000

    What do you mean? Protected bike lanes or this particular design?

  • JudenChino

    This would be particularly harmful on E 72nd street to the families with small children, the elderly, the doctors offices who will have wheel chair access impeded.

    You already have buses, trucks and cars that use this street?!?! Oh, and bikes too! All this does is bring some order and stability.

    This is about (not really free) free parking.

  • It opens Sunday. After a while we’ll see if it works.

  • BBnet3000

    What do you mean by “works”? It’s definitely narrower than any cyclepath behind a bus island that I’ve seen, and the railing is odd and will not allow pedestrians to filter naturally across the bike lane to the sidewalk.

  • AnoNYC

    Would love to see the transverses made bus and bicycle only.

  • BBnet3000

    We do have those bell bollards on our capital project median islands.

  • Nick Ober

    Fair — the bell bollards are pretty nice. I wish they were standard on DOT projects. The flexis get really beat up — especially the ones surrounding Citibike stations.

  • Walter Crunch

    Whatever happened to the skyscraper car parks? We let them park on the street for free gumming up traffic and preventing complete streets. Car parking on major arterials has to go.

  • Maggie

    Do community boards really take ridiculous petitions seriously?

    72nd Street is always a little nutty. On the west side, these are the residents who urged against granting a permit for a sidewalk cafe because online daters were unacceptable to them.

    The need for crosstown bike lanes stands… hopefully DOT isn’t taking potential solutions off the table to cater to the lunatic fringe.

  • JK

    Stagnate.NYC is available for $25.88/year. Too bad somebody snapped up or you could link them.

  • Trottenberg’s DOT won’t even offer bike lanes when CB’s and local electeds are begging for them, so I’m guessing those potential solutions were never on the table at all. The community boards are just a scapegoat on which Trottenberg and de Blasio can deflect the blame for keeping New York a pedestrian and cyclist meat-grinder.

  • J

    Instead of ignoring the curb usage problem, DOT could start to actually address the issue by properly pricing parking and installing delivery zones.

  • JudenChino

    If the CB agrees with the petition, then it’s evidence of the communities view. If the CB disagrees, it’s just cyclists.

  • Dr. Bones

    We also need a safe and legal way to cross the park in both directions on bike at 86th Street, 96th Street, (without having to push your bike a third of the way) and a few other places. Central Park is 50 blocks or so north to south. You can’t expect bicycle riders to all ride down or up to 72nd street in order to cross safely and legally.
    Sure it’s fun and nice and good exercise to do the loop but that one direction loop has nothing to do with commuting.

    Bicycle riders belong in the park, not in the dangerous traverse lanes,which are designed for vehicular traffic, have no shoulders, and are inherently dangerous for us. We should be accommodated in some way so that at least every 10 blocks they can use the actual park to cross the park from west to east and from east to west, just like pedestrians and drivers.

  • Willy Voet

    Outrageous. Why can’t DOT make a bike lane system so that cyclists can ride safely from the West Side bike path to Central Park?

  • walks bikes drives

    I use the 96 and 86 transverse every day. They are ridiculously dangerous for two reasons: 1) the extreme speed drivers travel (estimating about 40mph based on my 25mph on bike or car and the apparent speed of separation) and 2) the curvature of the road where cars have literally sandwiched me between them and the curb, where if I didn’t jam on the brakes as they pass, I would have been knocked onto the sidewalk.

  • Joe R.

    Situation #2 happens to me on a regular basis in this location:,-73.7712654,3a,75y,299.66h,63.17t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1s_v2Yq2l2zfJMx0e8nhi4jQ!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

    As a result when there’s fairly heavy traffic I just go up on the sidewalk. Never any pedestrians there so no big deal. The alternative is to get stuck between the curb and speeding cars with literally no place to go. It’s also an upgrade. I really can’t hold much more than 16 or 17 mph while the cars are often going 40+ mph.

  • Wilfried84

  • Because its more important for people to drive 4,000 pound machines only.

  • Wilfried84

    “Sure it’s fun and nice and good exercise to do the loop but that one direction loop has nothing to do with commuting.”

    I commute at least once a week up to Inwood using the loop, going up one side, and later coming back down the other. The loop is useful for transportation, and not everyone on is riding aimless circles. I agree with your general point, that it would be more useful with more places to cross the park.

  • Nathan Rosenquist

    Harlem Hill makes for a pretty brutal commute.

  • Dr. Bones

    It makes sense if you’re going uptown or downtown and don’t care whether you arrive there drenched in sweat….those hills …..

  • Dr. Bones

    Another thing I’d add is the presence of steel gratings at the side of the road, often mixed in with potholes delivering a kind of pothole/grating effect. On 86th street there’s one grating that even my wide wheels can get caught in if I don’t look behind me to make sure no-one’s about to run me over before I swerve out into the roadway to avoid it.

  • walks bikes drives

    I’m usually OK with the grates, but I try to avoid them none the less. And I have thin tires. Pot holes are a different story, but honestly, I have found DOT very responsive and when I call in the pot holes, they are usually patched in under 48 hours. But it’s when I get around to calling them in…

  • Dr. Bones

    That’s great to hear that potholes get treated that fast….
    Something I’ve never tried. All I know is that I once nearly crashed on the grate/depression nearest 86th street going east. They are all kind of bumpy if you take them straight on but this is the only one that you can’t avoid by going close to the curb. An unsuspecting citibike first timer could meet with disaster here.

  • Dr. Bones

    I once asked a bus driver about how he felt about the bike riders that took the transept, and he said they were crazy, and he was always concerned about hitting them, but he was pretty sure they were supposed to use the sidewalk, not the road. Maybe that’s why I often get honked at by citibuses there….

  • walks bikes drives

    Ah, I don’t take 86 going east, just west. I use 96 eastbound and 86 westbound. If you take 86 westbound, you might remember the two large potholes from this fall, one right after the precinct, and one just after the drive overpass. Kept annoying me for months, especially dealing with having to go around them with cars. I finally put them in one night at 11pm using the Internet 311 page, as well as a handful on west 96th. The next morning, there was a crew out there patching 96, and on my homeward commute, the transverse holes were already patched. Officially, they say it takes up to 10 days for them to get patched.

  • BBnet3000

    I’d rather deal with the hill than with the many traffic lights and turning cars on any of the Avenues.

  • BBnet3000

    Pretty good example location of interstate highway geometry on a surface street.

  • Dr. Bones

    good to know!

  • Dr. Bones

    That’s true….


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