CB 7 to DOT: Unprotected Bike Lanes Still Not Good Enough for 110th Street

In June, Manhattan CB 7 rejected a DOT plan for painted bike lanes on 110th Street because it lacked physical protection. Last night, the agency came back with the same plan.

DOT says this is the best it can do for safety on 110th Street. Image: DOT
DOT says this is the best it can do for safety on 110th Street. Image: DOT

For the second time this year, DOT came to Manhattan Community Board 7 with a redesign of 110th Street that doesn’t include protected bike lanes. And for the second time, board members told DOT to go back to the drawing board.

In June, DOT presented a plan to the CB 7 transportation committee for painted bike lanes on 110th west of Central Park. The committee asked DOT to come back with a plan for protected bike lanes instead. But last night, the agency presented more or less the exact same plan [PDF].

Board members were not pleased. “We sent it back to you because the painted lanes we viewed as insufficient,” committee co-chair Howard Yaruss told DOT bike planner Patrick Kennedy. “I think we’re very disappointed because we saw this presentation and we asked you to come up with a more protected plan, and we expected you to come back with a protected plan. You caught us totally by surprise to show up tonight with the exact same plan.”

In public testimony, local resident Willow Stelzer said, “There’s a real false sense of security being on a painted bike lane.” She urged the committee to reject DOT’s design “until a proper plan can be made.”

Kennedy said protected bike lanes would be difficult to engineer on 110th Street because of bus stops and curb extensions at intersections. “It’s a very short corridor with several different impediments to having a protected bike lane,” he said. “This is something we looked at. We definitely tried to figure out a way to do it.”

Kennedy did not rule out a protected bike lane design but said DOT would need a year to work on it. “With time, we can come up with a proposal that addresses some of your concerns,” he said, “but that’s not something we can do before the spring,” when a painted lane could be striped.

Board members said they want to get the design right the first time.

“I think getting it right is better than getting it fast,” said committee co-chair Andrew Albert. “If you put something down, and you have a [subsequent] major improvement envisioned, and all the [community] boards support that, you then have to reeducate. I think people could get really angry at the first thing you do, and not be in favor of the next thing you want to do.”

Echoing its message at the June meeting, the committee passed a resolution calling on DOT to come back with a plan that improves safety the most, as quickly as possible.

  • “Kennedy did not rule out a protected bike lane design but said DOT would need a year to work on it.”

    So why did they waste 5 months by presenting the same plan twice?

  • dave “paco” abraham

    In every design, DOT should have detailed options of protected bike lanes. Not every CB will go for it, but when they ask for it… give it to them ASAP.

  • Danny

    https://streetmix.net/-/603054 Any reason not to?

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    I hate to jump on quotes from people caught on the spot (sorry toothpaste guy!) but also, 110th is not a short corridor. It runs river to river!

    I recognize the width/profile changes along the way, but that’s all the more reason to do consistent low-stress design for the full length. This could mean a protected lane where it is wider and filtered traffic/bike boulevard where it is narrower.

  • Max

    DOT definitely shies away from two-way curbside protected paths on two-way vehicular streets with lots of high traffic intersections due to all the possible conflicts.

  • KeNYC2030

    This was insulting to the board and to the many community members who came out expecting a new and improved plan. Kennedy made it clear that it’ll take a year to collect data, more than anything else, which means traffic data — data that DOT already should have — showing that loss of parking and/or travel lanes will or will not result in the end of civilization as we know it.

  • qrt145

    110th street may run river to river, but this project only concerns west of Central Park, so it’s only about 0.6 miles.

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    It’s a total failure to plan comprehensively if cycling projects are in too-short increments for cycling and can’t be combined.

  • Danny

    Thanks for clarification. So then is this what the CB was expecting? https://streetmix.net/-/603121

  • qrt145

    I don’t disagree; I just think that’s what he had in mind when he said “short”.

    Speaking of comprehensive plans for this street: my main gripe with 110th St. is the block between 5th and Madison that goes the wrong way. Getting all the way to the river (or back) is surprisingly difficult in East Harlem because of all the superblocks. 110th is a relatively major street which one would hope goes all the way, but it doesn’t because of seemingly random changes in direction.

  • Max

    Hard to say for sure, but I would expect the CB to not suggest an exact design, just the inclusion of protected bike infrastructure. I think the CB was expecting the experts at DOT to figure out a way to include a protected bike path. Whether that would be removal of a traffic lane or parking in certain places, it seems like CB7 was ready for something more ambitious.

  • JarekFA

    That’s what I was thinking. Could you imagine if we were just willing to get rid of a side of parking! Because otherwise, we’re literally saying we value private car storage over safety.

  • JarekFA

    That’s what I was thinking. Could you imagine if we were just willing to get rid of a side of parking! Because otherwise, we’re literally saying we value private car storage over safety.

    Also, why can’t we ever remove a lane of car parking. I was riding in this bike lane in BK Heights over the weekend and frankly I was amazed that there ever was the political will to remove a lane of parking for a bike lane. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/93ed0108ddc600656ed93ce3ebdb6532e7d3bb82efd4888bc6cae89246872492.png

    But sadly the bike lane just disappears a few blocks later because we need to provide street storage for the minority of households that own cars https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/04e2e4681c6c3110e1918e46d1f6d279acadeeb22a7de3381c789433e921efcb.png

  • J

    This! What DOT is doing is lazy and detrimental to cycling and safety in the city. Under JSK/Bloomberg, the city was pushing for protected bike lanes, despite community opposition. THey would have killed for this kind of support. Under Trottenberg/DeBlasio, the city is actively opposing protected bike lanes and not even giving communities the option, EVEN WHEN THEY ASK FOR IT!!!

  • Also, who cares if it’s a short corridor? Does a person’s need for protection change based on the length of the street?

  • J

    Newark, NJ somehow figured it out. Why is it so hard to do this in NYC? https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c44237294cc630ffdfa05fc26a9fcb9d768e46ea281caa11dfbd887e3910dad1.png

  • Andrew

    That block needs to be westbound to allow the Madison Avenue buses access to the West Side (without having to zigzag to 111th and back).

    Perhaps all of East 110th should be westbound. Flip 109th, 108th, and 107th, too.

  • HamTech87

    “protected bike lanes would be difficult to engineer on 110th Street because of bus stops and curb extensions at intersections” . I don’t understand these impediment. Floating bus stops and curb extensions replaced by ped refuge islands are all over the city, right?

  • Just wanted to add a few notes here (I wish I attended the meeting the other night but was feeling sick). I lived at Frederick Douglass and w110th street (right next to the high rise that replaced the BP gas station) for 6 years.

    1) I used to own a car and parked it on central park for free. It was a decision my wife and I never would have made if it weren’t for free parking. That is *exactly* what induced demand is and I was part of the problem. Either remove parking entirely or price it so it isn’t a rounding error on a driver’s monthly expenses. I never understood how the heck the city just gives away parking like that for free. Get rid of curbside parking along 110th, there is zero reason to allow that.

    2) For those of you who haven’t spent much time up in this area, 110th street is so insanely scary for anyone not in an armored vehicle. It is the route that commercial trucks must take through the city. THey come down from adam clayton and (often violently) turn onto w 110th then turn onto Columbus. (Those intersections are incredibly scary too) If you stand by FD circle during rush hour and look east on 110th, you’ll see basically an entire avenue length filled with nearly all gigantic trucks (I’m talking tractor trailers with 18 wheels, not box trucks), garbage trucks, cement mixer trucks, huge dump trucks. The street is a disaster area. These aren’t small (though equally deadly) private cars. I think all those vehicles should be banned from entering the city. I don’t need to mention here about the unlicensed truck driver who just killed the cyclist in the East Village… I’m sure saying “I didn’t see her” will allow him to avoid all charges, but I digress.

    3) Painted lanes are literally worthless. They provide zero protection, potential cyclists are not fooled into thinking they’ll now be protected and they will not change anything from driving behavior, speed, double parking, or encouragement for cyclists. You have central park – how is this so difficult? Put a protected bike lane next to the park on all sides (110th, 5th ave, CPW, 60th). Not sure how many times we need to say this: protected bike lanes, protected intersections.

    4) I commute by citibike from ACP and now from the 111th/Lenox dock, so I ride at least 1 to 2 blocks on 110th. I ride on the sidewalk. Yes, I’m a cyclist who rides on the sidewalk. Horrible! It’s literally the *only* time in the entire city and all the riding I’ve ever done where I make a conscious choice to not ride in the street. It’s that dangerous. I don’t like that I’m mixing with pedestrians but I go slow and am very careful, especially near the M3/4 bus stop where there’s a ton of people. But a painted lane will absolutely have no impact on my behavior. I value my life and want to continue to live to see my family. Paint is a joke.

    5) Saying this project is “hard” is the whole point. What is the point of doing easy things that are ineffective in their goals? (ie safety for cyclists and passing the “would I let a child ride a bike there” test) Vision zero principles are about making conscious decisions that prioritize people and safety over cars and traffic speed. If it means removing parking, so be it. If it requires bulb outs for buses, plan it. Make this project stand out as something the rest of the city should aspire to copy.

  • Daphna

    Let’s remove parking on one side of that block and have a contra-flow bike lane such as is on 47th Street between Broadway and 7th Avenue.


CB 7 asked DOT to do better than painted bike lanes on 110th Street, depicted above. Image: DOT

This Week: DOT’s Revised Plans for 110th Street Bike Lanes

In June, DOT proposed painted bike lanes for 110th Street between Riverside Drive and Frederick Douglass Circle, at the northwest corner of Central Park. Members of Manhattan Community Board 7 said that wasn't good enough, asking DOT to come back with a design that protects cyclists from motorized traffic. On Tuesday, DOT will come back to CB 7 with its revised design. If you want 110th Street to be safe for New Yorkers of all abilities to bike on, it's important to show up.