CB 4 Committee Endorses Protected Bike Lanes for 26th and 29th Streets

DOT will present the project to Manhattan community boards 5 and 6 in the following weeks.

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

The Manhattan Community Board 4 transportation committee unanimously endorsed DOT’s plan for crosstown protected bikes lanes on 26th Street and 29th Street last night.

The redesign calls for a five-foot parking-protected bike lane with a two-foot buffer on most blocks, with variations where the street is wider or narrower [PDF]. It’s one of four crosstown protected bike routes DOT is planning for the area between 14th Street and 59th Street. There are currently no significant on-street crosstown protected bike lanes north of Soho and south of Washington Heights.

Midtown clearly needs safer crosstown bike routes. Last summer, charter bus drivers killed Dan Hanegby and Michael Mamoukakis on West 26th Street and West 29th Street in the span of just a few weeks. Afterward, CB 4 called for crosstown protected bike lanes.

“This is a huge, huge deal for us,” said Lisa Sladkus, a parent at the Avenues School at 10th Avenue and 26th Street, where Dan Hanegby was also a parent. “We’re very excited about the plan.”

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

The primary point of contention was DOT’s use of mixing zone designs at intersections where drivers turn across the path of passing cyclists. DOT has been piloting a different intersection treatment that slows turning drivers more and makes cyclists more easily visible to them, but did not include that in its plan.

DOT Bicycle Program Director Ted Wright argued that mixing zones would be safer on crosstown routes than avenues, because car traffic already moves slower and there’s more pedestrian traffic to catch the eye of turning motorists. That didn’t resonate with committee members, who urged DOT to provide some sort of painted delineation for cyclists through intersections and to reconsider the mixing zones once its study of bicycle intersection design wraps up later this year.

Image: NYC DOT
Image: NYC DOT

The project will be presented to community boards 5 and 6 in the following weeks, and DOT says implementation would be implemented in the spring and summer.

In addition, DOT is working on protected bike routes for 52nd Street and 55th Street and for a to-be-determined pair of crosstown streets in the Times Square area. Those would be designed and implemented over the course of this year and next. A two-way protected bike lane on 13th Street is also part of DOT’s L train shutdown plan.

  • r

    In most of the current mixing zones, there’s usually more than enough room to create space where a driver can wait to make a turn. The only reason they’re as wide as they are is because DOT needs to give cars extra space to make turns at a relatively high speed, or at least without having to come to a full stop. That’s incompatible with sharing space with people on bikes.

    I’m not sure why DOT can’t create turn bays that force drivers to slow down, wait, and then make a sharper turn. Just extend the green paint and add some pylons up to the crosswalk so cars and bikes don’t have to mix.

    If traffic volumes are lower on side streets, as DOT says, then surely it wouldn’t be a big deal to have drivers slow down a bit more or even stop to avoid crushing people on bikes.

  • Those mixing zones look like uber pickup zones to me

  • Guest

    Does DOT even bother to observe how people actually use their infrastructure? This design is a sad joke and CB4 should have demanded better. Two feet is not even close to an adequate buffer. The narrow bike lanes will be junked up with debris, garbage bags, non-cyclists and salmoning cyclists, and the mixing zones will be occupied by TLC and NYPD vehicles and trucks making deliveries.

  • JarekFA

    Right, so instead of a dozen bikes “shoaling” at the light. It’ll be a dozen bikes surrounding an Uber. This shit is so weak.

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    The inherent problem is that without removing parking, there’s no room for a decent protected lane. The mixing zones are helpful for anyone cycling to be able to pass anyone else. On Jay you’re at least only in single file for a short time. Beyond that, people tend to move down Schermerhorn and Hoyt in much more natural swarms (as they used to on Jay, not that doing so in traffic was desirable).

    Both these cross streets (in fact, many more cross-streets) as well as Hoyt Street in Brooklyn should probably be bike boulevards, with automotive through-traffic forced to turn off every few blocks. People cycling could then get the full width of the travel lane.

  • r

    Sorry, but out of 190+ east/west streets in Manhattan, we can not take 2 or as many as 4 of them and turn them into bike boulevards. That would be completely unbalanced.

  • qrt145

    Another reason we cannot do that is that we wouldn’t want those streets to become magnets for terrorists! https://nyc.streetsblog.org/2011/07/08/bin-laden-is-dead-but-the-second-avenue-bike-lane-lives-on/

  • Hilda
  • crazytrainmatt

    A lot of the comments focus on the shortcomings in the DOT plan, but I think this is still going to be a huge improvement, especially since it seems the 26th/29th pair will be implemented early this year.

    Right now getting across midtown feels more dangerous than the avenues. When you’re not squeezing between parked cars and dump trucks, the streets are too wide to take the lane but without any safe space between the door zone and traffic. One psychopath trying to get to the next red light finds some room to accelerate, and it’s game over. It’s hard to recommend to anyone but the most hardened cyclists. This should be a big step forward.

  • Wilfried84

    And it’s bad for business. Who’s going to shop or eat if they can’t park?

  • J

    True, but why can’t DOT just make a good plan from the start? It’s a bit dispiriting to see a presentation for a much needed project and think, “I can’t wait until they revisit this in a few years to make it a good bike lane from end to end.”

  • J

    They might as well mark them as pick-up/drop-off in the presentation. Real question, does anyone at DOT ever look critically at the streets they design? Do they really think mixing zones are working?

  • Sam

    There are good reasons to do these lanes right the first time. If you don’t, you lose people. Tragically, you lose them to death and injury. You also lose them to frustration.

    I commuted for about a decade across midtown from the far west to the far east side of Manhattan. Although I used an official bike route, I barely noticed. There were some blocks with Class II lanes but they were usually filled with parked cars. There were other blocks with sharrows where I slithered through a few feet of open space between parked and moving vehicles. Then there were blocks where the “infrastructure” just disappeared because my life was less important than free parking for the personal cars of some guys in a union.

    As dedicated as I was, I finally said “why bother?.” This is dangerous. Every commute is like a fistfight. I arrive at work frustrated; I get home frustrated. I gave up.

    These lanes DOT has proposed should make things a little better. But, like others have mentioned, they’re not great. The mixing zones will be used for delivery, livery, and placard parking. And, a third of the route on 29th Street and a quarter of the route on 26th are just Class II “double parking” lanes. There’s still a fair amount of danger and lots of room for frustration.