First Look at DOT’s Plan for Crosstown Protected Bike Lanes in Midtown

DOT will present the redesign at tonight's Manhattan Community Board 4 transportation committee meeting.

Most but not all of 26th Street and 29th Street are slated for parking-protected bike lanes. Image: DOT
Most but not all of 26th Street and 29th Street are slated for parking-protected bike lanes. Image: DOT

DOT plans to add protected bike lanes on 26th Street and 29th Street in Manhattan, with other crosstown routes in the works for Midtown. The agency posted a presentation this afternoon that project managers will show later today at Manhattan Community Board 4 [PDF].

Cycling in Midtown is on the rise, but there are a lot of gaps in the area’s protected bike network. Unprotected bike lanes aren’t enough — they’re frequently blocked by motorists, forcing cyclists to weave into car traffic. Last year alone, motorists killed five people biking between 14th Street and 59th Street.

After Dan Hanegby and Michael Mamoukakis were struck and killed by charter bus operators on West 26th Street and West 29th Street, CB 4, Transportation Alternatives, and City Council transportation chair Ydanis Rodriguez called for protected bike lanes on crosstown streets.

The redesign DOT’s presenting today will create parking-protected bike lanes on most blocks of 26th and 29th, with some gaps where the curbside bike lane will not have protection. DOT is also planning for two more crosstown pairs of protected bike lanes: one on 52nd Street and 55th Street, and another through the Times Square area (the exact street pair has yet to be selected). And last month, the agency announced plans to install a two-way protected bike lane on 13th Street ahead of the L train shutdown.

“Too many of the cyclist tragedies happened along Midtown streets without protected lanes,” DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said in a statement. “With its vibrant commercial activity, major transportation hubs and must-see tourist destinations, Midtown presents both great challenges and great opportunities for safer cycling.”

In DOT's redesign, most blocks of 26th Street and 29th Street will get five-foot parking-protected bike lanes. Image: DOT
In DOT’s redesign, most blocks of 26th Street and 29th Street will get five-foot parking-protected bike lanes with a two-foot buffer. Image: DOT

In DOT’s plan, the typical block of 26th Street and 29th Street will get a five-foot bike lane and two-foot buffer separated from car traffic by an eight-foot parking lane. It’s narrow for a protected bikeway, especially one with a lot of bike traffic, though there is a precedent on Jay Street in Brooklyn.

The redesign varies on blocks that are wider or narrower than the typical cross-section. On 26th Street between Ninth and Eighth avenues, for example, the extra width allows for expanded pedestrian space and a wider bike lane and buffer.

Between First Avenue and Second Avenue, the bike lane will run along the curb but won’t have any buffer or protection. And the five-foot unprotected painted lane on the westernmost block of 29th Street, between 11th Avenue and 12th Avenue, will not be upgraded.

Click to enlarge. Image: NYC DOT

At intersections, DOT is planning to use mixing zones to manage areas where turning drivers cross the bike lane. The agency recently added safer intersection designs to its bike lane toolkit but has been reluctant to use them widely.

With the protected bike lanes in place, double-parking on these streets would block car traffic. DOT’s presentation says more no-parking zones will be added to maintain through routes for emergency vehicles, and notes that existing loading zones will have to be kept clear of illegal parking to facilitate deliveries.

You can learn more about the project and weigh in with DOT and local officials at tonight’s Manhattan Community Board 4 transportation committee meeting, starting at 6:30 p.m. at Clinton Cameo Studios, 307 West 43rd Street.

  • Jeff

    The three block gap between the eastbound and westbound lanes will all but guarantee salmoning within this already cramped cattle chute of a bike lane.

  • AnoNYC

    Flex posts for the curbside lanes that are not protected?

  • r

    Crap design. Remove one of the car storage lanes and make the bike lane wider.

  • Critical critic

    For this daily bike commuter (who works at 7th Av.@29th), the redesign shows that W29th between 11th and 12th looks to remain an unacceptably weak link in the rest of the access route to the Hudson Greenway. That single, terrifying block and its narrow bike lane is lined on both sides with NYC Sanitation trucks, while cars, mail trucks, and UPS trucks race to make the short green light, a perceived danger which long ago compelled me to switch to a longer detour on the low traffic W27th from 9th to 12th Avenues, which has felt far safer in spite of its cobblestone section.

  • A 7 foot buffer for parking? A 17 (seventeen) foot travel lane?


  • jimpeeved

    Why not use West 28th as an Eastbound route? There is plenty of un-utilized “NO STANDING” (all day) parking spaces between WS Highway and 9th Avenue. Keep the cross bound lanes in closer proximity.

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    It’s 2018, time to make an attempt at protecting this. Top image is from presentation page 24. On an avenue with a parking lane at the right side it would be possible to do fuller protection from right-turning drivers off the side street, but this is already better than you get on Chrystie St at Grand, Hoyt St at Atlantic, and numerous other places.

  • Vooch

    FDNY requires 14‘ clear for their equipment instead of 12‘.

    It’s plain stupid that FDNY endangers millions of NYers every day because they can‘t acquire the same equipment other FDs have. My guess its graft and kickbacks involved

  • JarekFA

    Marilyn Dershowitz was killed on 29th between 9th and 10th ave by a USPS truck. So yes, your fear is justified. Should’ve been criminal charges too.

  • Brian Howald

    My guess is that 26th and 29th have signalized intersections at West Street, allowing for better connections with the Greenway, but 28th Street does not.

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    Yeah there’s a hard median at 28th and no way to cross. The Greenway needs a lot of work and the opaque State DOT are probably the last people who should be in charge of it.

  • HamTech87

    On that unbuffered lane between 2nd and 1st, DOT still can install flexposts, right?

  • jaxbot

    My favorite part of this ordeal was that the only complaint against the plan at CB4 was the mixing zones. Not safe enough. DOT says they’re studying mixing zones and will release the results of the study, and CB4 pressed them to install whatever the safe option from the study is, or, at the very least, extend the green line through the intersection.

    (Actually, there was one other complaint at CB4, by a woman who lives on 29th and said removing a lane would increase traffic. DOT could not convince her that there is, in fact, only one lane on 29th.)

  • J

    It’s a good step and I’m loath to let the perfect be the enemy of the good, but come on DOT! Why does every single piece of progress have to come with DOT kicking and screaming at making improvements? Why aren’t protected intersections standard? Why aren’t buffered curbside lanes protected? It’s not rocket science.

  • Boeings+Bikes

    Not saying that they should or shouldn’t, but the complication would be sanitation access to the bike lane for sweeping and snow removal. Cities with serious support for cycling have equipment capable of accessing bike lanes and pedestrian areas, but NYC seriously lags.

  • AnoNYC

    Heard that one but it’s crazy that the city would construct infrastructure around that problem.

    At the same time, I thought the DOT treated the mixing zones with a curbside lane with flex posts at one of the intersections on 1st Ave in the East Village as an experiment.

  • AMH

    Insane, their equipment needs to be designed for city streets, not the other way around.

  • AMH

    I think flex-posts have outlived their usefulness. Drivers have figured out that they can run right over them.

  • AMH

    Not to mention that people will still have to ride on dozens of other unprotected midtown streets. This is a very small start.

  • Exactly. Flex posts were installed at the corner of Water and John Streets when the sidewalk was extended with paint. After several instances of the posts being destroyed and replaced, the City evidently said “f it”, and quit replacing them, effectively ceding the newly reclaimed sidewalk to turning cars.

    We need posts that will do damage to cars. And, when drivers complain, we need the authorities (the police as well as the mayor) to tell them “that’s your fault”.

  • AMH

    These painted sidewalk extensions have become loading zones for the likes of FedEx and UPS (and USPS too) which makes crossing the street dangerous because of ZERO visibility. We need REAL loading zones and REAL sidewalk expansions with REAL bollards!

  • ortcutt

    I guess part of the problem is that by going from a 18ft travel lane to an 11ft travel lane, you make going around double-parked cars and trucks basically impossible. We essentially now have 2.5 parking lanes, two real parking lanes, and one-half for the people double parking everywhere. The solution isn’t wide travel lanes though. It’s cracking down on double parking.

  • jaxbot

    Well double parking needs to be enforced, but there’s also a reality that doesn’t work that got us here in the first place: if people can always park at the curb, they will, and that leaves zero room for deliveries, uber pickups, etc. Often when people double park, there’s not much of an alternative, since the curb space is used up. The DOT is proposing converting curb parking to loading zone space, which fixes this issue but has angered many CB5 folks.

  • ortcutt

    There’s no room for deliveries because we allow free long-term storage of personal cars on the street. A group of people have convinced themselves that free long-term storage of cars on public streets is a birthright and we’re all supposed to suffer because of it.

  • jaxbot

    Yep, my point exactly. And DOT has finally taken a stand that says no, streets are for moving people, not storage. It’s funny, though, that business owners are freaking out, because the reality seems to be that people store cars long term (just look at any snow day), not drive to the grocer for 30 minutes and recycle the spot. But I’m preaching to the choir here.