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Eyes on the Street

Eyes on the Street: The Grand Concourse Bike Lanes Get an Upgrade

5:16 PM EDT on August 29, 2017

A painted bike lanes on the Grand Concourse. Sanchez would like the lanes to be protected. Photo: Erwin Figueroa

DOT has realigned the bike lanes on a section of the Grand Concourse and painted them green.

It's not as good as the physical protection local advocates are after -- the city plans to redesign the Concourse with protected bike lanes later -- but it's an upgrade on one of the Bronx's major north-south routes. From 166th Street to 171st Street, the buffered bike lanes are now aligned along the medians, not next to the parking lane where they were often obstructed by illegally parked cars.

Bronx advocates with Transportation Alternatives have been pushing for a "complete Concourse" with protected bike lanes and dedicated bus lanes since 2015. Every council member who represents a district touching the Grand Concourse has signed on to the campaign.

The city reconstructed the Grand Concourse between 161st Street and 166th Street back in 2008, before protected bike lanes had been normalized in DOT's street design toolkit. Three more phases, which will rebuild the Concourse up to Fordham Road, have yet to be completed.

These changes between 166th and 171st are interim treatments DOT is installing before the full reconstruction. The rebuilt Concourse north of 166th is slated to have bike lanes in the raised concrete median, but the glacial pace of capital construction means those improvements are likely years in the future.

Exit lane off the Grand Concourse main roadway near Elliot Place. Photo: Erwin Figueroa
The exit off the Grand Concourse main roadway near Elliot Place. Photo: Erwin Figueroa
Exit lane off the Grand Concourse main roadway near Elliot Place. Photo: Erwin Figueroa

There are still significant points of potential conflict in this interim design. Unlike on Queens Boulevard, where DOT squared the transitions for car traffic between the central roadway and service lanes and added stop signs, the transitions on the Grand Concourse rely on yield signs and shark's teeth to slow down motorists crossing the bike lane.

Entrance lane onto the Grand Concourse main roadway. Photo: Erwin Figueroa
Where drivers cross the bike lane to get onto the Grand Concourse main roadway. Photo: Erwin Figueroa
Entrance lane onto the Grand Concourse main roadway. Photo: Erwin Figueroa

The main benefit of the new design is the reduction in conflicts between cyclists and drivers accessing the curb. The old buffered bike lanes were so rife with double-parking that TransAlt volunteer Claudia Mena told Streetsblog she preferred riding in the painted median in the central roadway.

"I just feel like I’m always breaking the rules because there’s no other way," she said. "I either break the rules or feel unsafe."

The new alignment gets cyclists out of the way of double-parked cars, but a more substantial overhaul will be needed to make the Grand Concourse a truly low-stress street for cycling.

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