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No Bike Lanes for Grand Concourse South of 158th Street — For Now

DOT plans to signficiantly expand pedestrian space at 153rd Street, where the Grand Concourse runs along Franz Sigel Park and Cardinal Hayes High School. Image: DOT
DOT plans to expand pedestrian space at the Grand Concourse and 153rd Street, alongside Franz Sigel Park and Cardinal Hayes High School. Image: DOT
DOT plans to signficiantly expand pedestrian space at 153rd Street, where the Grand Concourse runs along Franz Sigel Park and Cardinal Hayes High School. Image: DOT

DOT's redesign of the Grand Concourse below 158th Street includes pedestrian safety measures and traffic calming treatments but no bike lanes. The agency says this stretch of the Concourse could get bike lanes in a future capital project, but it's not clear how long the Bronx will have to wait for that.

This is shaping up to be a big year for the Grand Concourse. Transportation Alternatives' "Complete the Concourse" campaign to redesign the street has collected almost 2,000 signatures and won the backing of council members Andy Cohen and Ritchie Torres. Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. has called for better bike infrastructure on the Concourse. A full reconstruction is slated to begin as part of the de Blasio administration's “Vision Zero Great Streets" initiative.

So far, DOT has indicated that the buffered bike lanes north of 162nd Street will be "upgraded" -- presumably to protected lanes. South of 162nd Street, where the Grand Concourse is narrower and there are no bike lanes, has been more of a question mark.

On Wednesday, DOT presented a safety plan for the Concourse between 138th Street and 158th Street to Bronx Community Board 4 [PDF]. The project will not reconstruct the street, relying on low-cost techniques to repurpose space for pedestrians.

There were 24 pedestrian injuries in the project area between 2010 and 2014. At the intersection of the Grand Concourse and 149th Street alone, 13 pedestrians were injured and two were killed. Speeding is a major threat. DOT clocked 82 percent of northbound drivers between 153rd Street and 156th Street exceeding the speed limit.

To reduce speeding and improve pedestrian crossings, DOT's plan calls for wider median islands and other expansions of sidewalk space, narrower motor vehicle lanes, and simpler intersections with fewer conflicts between drivers and people on foot. Between 140th and 151st Streets and 156th and 158th Streets, for instance, the proposal would expand the medians from five wide to 13 feet.

The proposal does not include bike infrastructure, just extra-wide parking lanes that, as DOT puts it, "accommodate bicyclists" (and double-parkers). However, DOT's presentation says that "future capital plans would incorporate bicycle facilities on this section of the Grand Concourse."

Since the current plan will be built mostly with paint and gravel, it shouldn't interfere much with a later project that includes bikeways, although new concrete islands could complicate matters. But how long will it be until this section of the Concourse gets safe bike lanes? We sent a query to DOT about the timetable for that future capital project and have not received a response.

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