DOT Proposes Complete Street for Second Ave Above 68th Street

DOT plans to add a protected bike lane and bus lane to Second Avenue north of 68th Street. Image: DOT

With the conclusion of Second Avenue Subway construction on the horizon, DOT is preparing to move forward with a 2010 plan to add a bus lane and protected bike lane to Second Avenue on the Upper East Side. The project will close a gap in the Second Avenue bus lane and extend the protected bike lane on the avenue from 105th Street to 68th Street. Construction should begin this summer if the MTA meets its schedule for restoring the street.

The plan, which DOT presented to the Manhattan Community Board 8 transportation committee yesterday, promises to create a much safer neighborhood street and nearly 60 blocks of continuous protected bike lane stretching from East Harlem to the UES, but between 68th Street and the Queensboro Bridge, the bike lane will give way to sharrows. For now, DOT has no proposal to extend the Second Avenue protected lane to 34th Street and close a dangerous gap remains in the east side bike network.

After subway construction no longer impedes the surface of Second Avenue, DOT will paint a bus lane for M15 Select Bus Service, filling a gap between 105th Street and 60th Street. Like other M15 bus lanes, these will be enforced from 7 to 10 a.m. and from 2 to 7 p.m. Midday and in the evening, the bus lane will be used for metered parking, and overnight it will be free parking.

The new protected bike lane segment will run from 105th to 68th, though there will be a one-block gap in protection between 69th Street and 70th Street to accommodate a wider sidewalk and new subway entrance. Intersections with one-way streets where car traffic turns across the bike lane will get the “mixing zone” treatment, while at two-way streets, signals will give cyclists and pedestrians a head start on left-turning drivers. At other crossings, pedestrian islands will be installed between the bike lane and car traffic.

From 68th Street to the Queensboro Bridge, a “transitional design” will only add sharrows, providing no protection where traffic becomes most intense. DOT Acting Director of Bicycle and Greenway Programs Ted Wright said at last night’s meeting that a protected lane was too much to tackle in this project since congestion on Second Avenue is so severe, but that a future project could extend the protection.

Between 68th Street and the Queensboro Bridge, the protected bike lane gives way to sharrows. The curb lane on the east side of the street will be a shared lane during rush hours and a parking lane at other times. Image: DOT

DOT has gradually filled in other gaps in the protected lanes on First Avenue and Second Avenue over the past few years, though none have been as long as the one that remains on Second. In addition to claiming space on blocks with lots of car and truck traffic, fixing the Second Avenue gap will require design solutions for complex intersections with the approaches for the Queensboro Bridge and Queens Midtown Tunnel.

Committee co-chair A. Scott Falk highlighted the conspicuous gap and implored DOT to make the streets by the Queensboro Bridge safer. “I want you to look a creative ideas because we know that there’s not an easy solution at the Queensboro Bridge,” he said.

Falk joined with advocates and committee members in commending the overall plan. “I don’t believe that the right thing to do following construction is to try to restore the highway that used to be there to get people from Harlem downtown,” he said. “I believe that this design makes everyone in this room safer.”

On the block between 69th and 70th, the sidewalk will be widened to accommodate a new subway entrance and the bike lane will not have protection. Image: NYC DOT

While there was a smattering of comments about “dangerous cycling,” licensing cyclists and bikes, and other standard bikelash fare, the room was generally in favor of the plan. Only a few safe streets advocates were given the chance to speak, but their statements in favor of the proposal received a noisy and positive response from the audience. “There are benefits for cyclists, for motorists and pedestrians,” committee member Sharon Pope said of the plan. “I would ask if we could please separate the behavior [of some cyclists] from the specific and actual benefits of this program because we need it.”

CB 8 approved the initial plan in 2010, and DOT intends to move ahead with implementation as soon as the MTA restores Second Avenue, which DOT anticipates to be in the late summer.

Speaking before the meeting, Council Member Ben Kallos was supportive of the proposal. “I am for a complete street proposal that provides a protected bike lane to provide pedestrians, cyclists and motorists a safe way to use the street,” he told Streetsblog.

  • AnoNYC

    One lane? It’s currently 4 moving lanes wide with parking removed at sections for turns.

    Dropping it to three moving, one bus lane/parking, one parking protected bike lane and resynchonizing the lights for bus and bike only crossings would have little impact on the congestion that already exist. Toll the bridge and watch the Queens-Midtown Tunnel absorb a ton of that traffic.

  • AnoNYC

    The city can and will eventually extend the bike lane to the bridge. They’re playing the same game they played on 1st Ave.

  • Bernard Finucane

    Also very few curb extensions or protective bollards at intercections for pedestrians. I wouldn’t hold my breath on protected intersections.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    Ridership will skyrocket throughout UES & UWS in 2016. Note, the 3,500 Citibike trips per day on UES were recorded in Oct, immediately after the rollout of a paltry 20 blocks of Citibike stations stopping at 86th. Next year citibike expands North. The early adopters of ’15 will be joined by thousands of new riders in ’16. going to 7,000 trips on UES by August ’16 is low prediction.

    think how easy it is to commute from say, 90th to 50th – 2 miles ~15 minutes. What would a commuter rather do – ride a Citibike for 15 minutes to work or battle traffic in a honking smelly cab ride or suffer vageries of the IRT ?

    Also note, TA traffic counts indicate a 4:1 ratio Citibikes to private bikes. This suggests UES total trips was on order of 13,000 a day last October.

    I predict that motorists will soon be screaming at DOT demanding those #%^#*% bikes be corralled in protected bike lanes. There will be so many bikes owning the lane on 2nd, 5th, 72nd and 6th; that motorists will beg DOT for protected bike lanes.

  • J

    Fair point. Not useless, but the subway comparison is still valid. The disjointed subway would still be useful as well, but only to a small fraction of the number of people who’d ride the connected line. Same with the bike lane.

  • Spin

    I agree about the tolls, that’s MoveNY. But don’t fool yourself that congestion can’t get worse. It could be much worse. E.g.. GWB when Christie shut lanes.

  • Noobs_R_Us

    Well, no. Traffic lights don’t mean very much in NYC. Pedestrians and cyclists alike usually don’t follow lights. When they see no traffic, they go. That could be a huge issue if bikes are allowed to travel down 2nd ave on the east side of the avenue around the bridge entrance/exit. Better to route them to the west side with pedestrians where they’re not a danger to themselves or traffic.

  • BBnet3000

    Bikes are already allowed and indeed encouraged, to travel down 2nd Ave on the East Side of the avenue. Is there any indication that this has created a conflict with cross traffic exiting the bridge?

    If people won’t follow lights, why would they follow this silly inconvenient detour you’ve cooked up? A detour which, by the way, would require two traffic lights to regulate their crossing and recrossing of 2nd Avenue.

  • Geck

    I’m not sure it is reasonable to expect/require bicyclists to show up in big numbers before they are given a safe and comfortable place to ride. “If you build it, they will come.”

  • Noobs_R_Us

    First of all, I don’t see many cyclists crossing in front of the bridge. In fact, most cross on the west side of the street just as I’ve suggested. In addition, once the dedicated bike lanes are created and Citibikes comes to the UES, you will see accidents/traffic jam galore if you allow cyclists to continue to transverse a 7-8 lane crossing. That’s just a fact.

    Also, a detour of what I suggested requires no additional lights as the bikes would just follow pedestrian lights to cross 2nd ave.

  • BBnet3000

    I’ve never seen anyone who is using the left lane already cross over and back. If so, do you really think they’re avoiding the stopped cars coming off the bridge rather than avoiding having to take the lane with moving cars entering the bridge?

    The bridge exit is narrower than Houston and Delancey Streets, which thousands of people cross on bicycles every day.

  • Noobs_R_Us

    I’m not sure what you’re asking? In any case, you have to consider that the east side of the avenue is just plain unsafe to cross. Would you let your kids try to cross it? There’s no median that would allow you to stop. If the lights turn yellow as you begin the crossing you could be dead before you even reach the far side of the bridge. Imagine if there are 50 citibike cyclists trying to cross there. Pandemonium!

  • BBnet3000

    Again, how is that different from Delancey or Houston? How is that worse than making those cyclists cross the avenue twice? I wouldn’t let my kids ride on any of New York’s existing godawful bike infrastructure, much less what you’re proposing, which no bicycle planner in the world would implement.

  • Noobs_R_Us

    How is that different? I already answered that. They don’t have to traverse 7-8 lanes at once. The Queensboro entrance/exit doesn’t have a median for anyone to stop. On Houston and Delancy you only have to worry about traffic from one side at a time as you cross because they have medians. At Queensboro you have to first look both directions as you cross 60th, then, you have to look to the left as you cross the next 3, then you have to look right as you cross the next 3-4. It’s like a game of Frogger. Seriously, this isn’t rocket science.

    I’ve seen bikes routed all over the place in Amsterdam. In fact, at every intersection the bike lanes are exactly what I suggested for the Queensboro section. Every street intersection in Amsterdam, there are bike lanes that bisect the avenue allowing bikes to cross the street. You can go back and fourth down the avenue on every damn street corner if you wish! There’s no difference between what I’m suggesting to what a cyclist do when they have to cross the avenue. Again, not rocket science.

  • BBnet3000

    The key phrase in your post is “if you wish”. Where in Amsterdam do they have a bike path that forces users to cross a major street twice in two blocks to avoid crossing another major street once?

    If a little median would make you happy, putting one at the bridge exit while keeping the bike path consistent seems like a much easier solution.

  • Noobs_R_Us

    No it wouldn’t. That area is a choke point. They need to minimize the cyclists traffic there and that’s why the bike lane ends at 68th st. Have you ever seen the bridge entrance during rush hour? If you have you would know that there’s no way you can put anything there or allow cyclists to cross there. There are only two options here: One, you can build a skybridge which would move cyclists over the traffic from 68th to 58th. Or you can reroute to the east side. There are no other choices if you wish to cyclists to stay on 2nd ave. There’s no way that they would allow, fund, or build a skybridge. That leaves rerouting which is the simplest and cheapest solution.

  • AnoNYC

    Extra congestion may convince more drivers to just use the 3boro+Q-M Tunnel.

  • Spin

    That’s not a good model of actual driver behavior. Drivers *will* change their route to avoid a toll. Conversely, drivers will tolerate a lot of congestion to save a few bucks on tolls. Forced congestion is not a good way to change behavior, nor is it sound environmental or fiscal policy. The best way to make traffic flow more rational is to adjust the cost (via tolls) of transportation in a way that gives people a reliable and transparent way to plan.

  • Spin

    Only serious cyclists and thrill-seekers will ride through the Bridge Access blocks on the east side. It’s scary. Us regular noobs will look for a safer-feeling route.

  • Spin

    Agree, but typo: you meant reroute to the west side.

  • BBnet3000

    This is a false economy, and completely ignores safety.

  • AnoNYC

    The purpose of the bicycle lane is not to increase congestion (and it usually doesn’t make much of an impact. However, if it were to dramatically alter traffic, many regular drivers may choose alternative routes.

  • neroden

    Given the very high number of deliveries on the side streets which have commercial businesses, I think that’s not an effective plan. Some of the side streets in the commercial areas should arguably be converted *entirely* into loading zones.

  • neroden

    Community boards are bullshit. If they were elected they’d have some legitimacy, but since they’re *appointed*, they’re absolute bullshit.

    Make them elected or get rid of them entirely.

  • drloosen

    Hope for better results than the SBS bus I just took on First Ave at 2:30 pm. Local youths out of some secondary school commandeered the middle part of it for their loud horseplay. Driver did nothing about it, nor summoned cops by the time I got off 50 blocks later. Bus had nearly emptied of regular passengers by then.

  • gregwtmtno

    Yeah! Let’s get those horseplaying child ruffians involved with the criminal justice system! That’ll show em for having fun after school!


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