Eyes on the Street: Breathing Room for Pedestrians on Eighth Avenue in Midtown

DOT used planters to expand the sidewalk on one block near the Port Authority Bus Terminal.

Photo: CHEKPEDS
Photo: CHEKPEDS

There’s more room to walk near the Port Authority Bus Terminal after DOT implemented a quick sidewalk expansion.

According to CHEKPEDS, the city added nine feet of walking space (a 40 percent increase) to the west side of Eighth Avenue between 42nd and 43rd streets, north of the bus terminal. Planters line what used to be a parking lane next to a buffered bike lane, which remains intact:

The pedestrian barricade [a metal sidewalk fence] has been removed, the Times Square Alliance maintains the planters and there is no reason for pedestrians to use the bike lane.

The plan includes flex posts to separate the bike lane from motor vehicle traffic on this block.

In May, Mayor de Blasio signed a bill requiring DOT to identify and improve six locations with heavy foot traffic. Eight blocks of Seventh Avenue in Midtown are in line for a sidewalk widening using the same materials.

On Eighth Avenue, several more blocks would benefit from similar fixes. Heavy foot traffic on inadequate sidewalks regularly spills over into the protected bike lane. The block between 42nd and 43rd didn’t have a protected bike lane to begin with (it could still use some physical separation from traffic), but the same basic approach of expanding pedestrian space so people walking and biking have room to maneuver should apply throughout Eighth Avenue in Midtown.

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The wider pedestrian zone is separated from the bike lane by planters, and the bike lane is separated from motor vehicle traffic by inexpensive bollards and low-profile barriers. Photo: NYCFreeParking/Twitter

This Block Now Has a Protected Bike Lane *and* a Wider Sidewalk

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Midtown Manhattan avenues have a problem: The sidewalks aren't wide enough for all the people walking on them. People have to walk in the roadbed to get where they're going. On avenues with protected bike lanes, this means people on foot spill over into bikeways, rendering them all but impassable for cyclists. Now there's a single Midtown block with a protected bike lane that also has a wider sidewalk.