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Eyes on the Street: The Shrinking Second Avenue Bike Lane Gap

Fresh green paint at 45th Street. Photo: David Meyer

DOT's project to shrink the Midtown gap in the Second Avenue bike lane is nearly complete.

When finished, Second Avenue between 59th Street and 43rd Street will have a protected bike lane [PDF]. That will leave gaps between 68th and 59th, and between 43rd and 34th.

The markings are down, separating the bike lane from moving traffic with a parking lane along much of the new segment, and DOT crews have painted the lane green. All that's missing are the plastic "tuff curbs" to keep cars out of the bike lane during hours when parking and commercial loading between 52nd Street and 43rd Street is restricted.

Drivers seem to be acclimating and learning to avoid parking in the bike lane, but Second Avenue, like the rest of NYC, is not immune to the cops-in-bike-lanes problem:

It's been more than seven years since the city first announced plans to build protected bike lanes on First and Second avenues. Today there's still no uninterrupted southbound bike route on the East Side, but after an extended period of fitful progress, this 16-block project brings a continuous north-south pair of protected bike lanes connecting Manhattan to the Bronx and Queens close to completion.

The remaining sections of Second Avenue without protected lanes are also the blocks with the heaviest auto traffic: the approaches to the Queensboro Bridge and the Queens-Midtown Tunnel. The city has hesitated to claim space from car traffic in those areas, but it knows how to design protected bike lanes at high-traffic intersections with lots of turning vehicles.

Thousands of people already bike each day on Second Avenue, despite it being one of the most dangerous streets in Manhattan. Once people know they can use protected bike lanes to travel the length of the East Side, many more would probably choose to do so.

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