Envisioning a “Complete Concourse” South of 162nd Street

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What the southern portion of the Grand Concourse could look like with curbside bus lanes and median bikeway. Rendering: Street Plans Collaborative/Carly Clark via Transportation Alternatives

Will DOT go big with its redesign of the Grand Concourse? Last week the agency said it will “replace and upgrade existing bike lanes” on the Concourse, which gives an indication of what’s in store north of 162nd Street, but not to the south, where the street has no bike lanes.

Transportation Alternatives’ “Complete the Concourse” campaign is calling for bus lanes, protected bike lanes, and pedestrian safety measures to improve transit and reduce the startling death toll on the Grand Concourse, which is one of the most dangerous streets in the greater New York region. So far nearly 1,900 people have signed the petition. Council members Ritchie Torres and Andy Cohen have joined the campaign, and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. recently called for better bike infrastructure on the Concourse.

The Concourse is the type of street that needs a major overhaul to achieve the city’s Vision Zero goal of eliminating traffic deaths. Last year, in its “Vision Zero Investment” report [PDF], TA released a design concept for the southern stretch of the Concourse that envisions curbside bus lanes and a median bikeway (above).

“Because of the high surface transit needs, we found the best way to incorporate a great bus/bike experience was to propose running a bikeway down a center median,” said Mike Lydon of the Street Plans Collaborative, who worked on the concept for TA. “The design, which is patterned after Sands Street in Brooklyn, is technically challenging from a signalization perspective, but worthwhile, as it gives pedestrians a refuge midway across the street and gives cyclists a truly robust place to be.”

The intersection of 149th Street already has a left-turn ban (below), so adding a median bikeway there doesn’t introduce new conflicts between cyclists and drivers. Other intersections would need separate signal phases to keep cyclists and turning drivers out of each other’s way. Lydon stressed that this concept would not apply to the whole Concourse, just the southern part, where there are currently no bike lanes.

Image: Transportation Alternatives/Street Plans Collaborative
Photo: Transportation Alternatives/Street Plans Collaborative

DOT said it plans to present its redesign of the Grand Concourse this spring. In the meantime, if you want to get involved in the Complete the Concourse campaign, TA’s Bronx committee puts on an “action ride” every month.

  • J

    Cool rendering, but the layout is backwards. The bicycle lanes, used for direct access to stores should be on the curbside, adjacent to the stores & building entrances. The bus lanes, used for longer distance travel, should be in the middle, where conflicts with deliveries, drop offs, turning vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists are much easier to manage. See this example from Amsterdam on a similar sized street:

  • BrandonWC

    Also this layout puts pedestrians in the median waiting for a walk signal right path of cyclists with a green light. There’s a huge conflict baked into the design.

  • BBnet3000

    I don’t quite follow why a more traditional configuration wouldn’t be possible, where the side of the street looks more like this design that is being built in Los Angeles: http://la.streetsblog.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2013/03/Fig+11th_v3_after.jpg

    I think the space required would only be too much if the bus stops were actually directly across from each other, rather than offset to the far side of the intersection for each direction. The bike lane might be narrow behind the bus stops but would be a decent width on the rest of the block.

    This would also have the huge advantage of being consistent with the existing and ideal future designs further up the Concourse.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    the LA solution is better

  • BBnet3000

    Also the chevrons across the intersection will wear off in no time, leaving people cycling to ride across the absolute center of a tremendous intersection at 149th without any assurance (see Allen St at Delancey).

    It’s better to be at the side of the street, and ideally if we are spending money on this we would eventually figure out green asphalt for the path to go across many intersections.

  • Jonathan R

    Yes, the consistency with the rest of Concourse is desirable as it would be a drag having to cross from medial lanes to lateral lanes at 161st St twice a day.

  • AnoNYC

    That median is too narrow for crossings at pedestrian heavy intersections like E 149th St. If the DOT does insist on using medians they should imitate Allen St throughout.

  • Nick Ober

    Definitely. But it would require that DOT or Sanitation purchase much smaller snow clearing vehicles.

  • BBnet3000

    There are already sections of protected lane narrower than plows. Grand St and a short section of Fort Hamilton Parkway (on the bridge over the Prospect Expressway) come to mind. They get plowed (I’m not sure how or by whom), but either way I’m more concerned about the other 340 or so days in the year.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    nearest I can undestand GC is 95′ wide; so roadway allocatiion could be;

    8′ Green Bike Lane
    3′ White striped Buffer (8+3=11′ for snow plows)
    6′ Raised Bus Loading Median (9′ wide total pedestrian zone )
    10′ Red Bus Lane
    20′ (2) North Bound Car Lanes
    20′ (2) South Bound Car Lanes
    10′ Red Bus Lane
    6′ Raused Bus Loading Median (9′ wide total)
    3′ White painted buffer
    8′ Green Bike Lane

    snow plows can be accomodated plus this creates a nice 9′ wide Bus Loading area. ( I’d even make the Car lanes 9 1/2′ wide and allocate the additional 1′ to the Bus Loading width to make it a gracious 10′)

  • Andres Dee

    It needs trees and wider sidewalks.

  • Mike Lydon

    The rendering is conceptual in nature and meant to illustrate one configuration that includes many elements that currently don’t exist. It’s not perfect from a signalization/conflict perspective, but neither are curbside bikeways (another option we explored but ultimately decided not to render). I agree that accessibility to businesses in important, but for conversation purposes, if you are on the north bound side of the street, and want to get to the east side, you’ll have to either stop. Dismount. And cycle/walk across many lanes as part of a two stage turn, or navigate making a left-turn from the right side of the street. Neither option is perfect. The median never puts you directly adjacent, but it also doesn’t leave you all the way across the street from any destination.

  • Mike Lydon

    Make that cross over to the west side…

  • HamTech87

    Unless the bike lane becomes an extension of the sidewalk, and gets clogged with pedestrians. Like the 8th Avenue bike lane in midtown.

  • J

    I understand that this is just a concept, but I think these things matter a lot, as they form the basis for future action. You make an interesting point about how cyclists must still cross the entire street to get to shops on the other side, and I don’t disagree with you. However, I would still argue that businesses will need deliveries, and crossing a bike lane with goods is much easier and less hazardous than crossing a bus lane. I’d also say that as a pedestrian, I’d much rather be adjacent to cyclists going by at 12mph than buses going by at 25mph. Finally, designed intersections to move everyone efficiently seems much easier to do with center running buses than with curbside buses. The most successful (read: high ridership) bus and light rail systems all have center-running alignments.

  • BrandonWC

    Here’s the plan: http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/downloads/pdf/grand-concourse-138th-158th-mar2016.pdf

    Extra-wide parking lanes and painted medians, the Trottenberg special!

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