Tonight: See DOT’s Plan for the Second Avenue Bike Lane Approaching the QBoro

The DOT design is expected to include parking protection, but not during rush hour, when cyclists need it most.

Without anything to keep cars out, the Midtown section of the Second Avenue bike lane often looks like this during rush hour. Photo: Macartney Morris
Without anything to keep cars out, the Midtown section of the Second Avenue bike lane often looks like this during rush hour. Photo: Macartney Morris

Tonight, DOT will present a plan to close the gap in the Second Avenue bike lane approaching the Queensboro Bridge to Manhattan Community Board 6. Like the Second Avenue bike lane in Midtown, however, DOT’s design leaves some stretches of this bike lane without physical protection during rush hour, when cyclists need it most.

The segment north of the Queensboro Bridge is one of two remaining gaps in the Second Avenue bike lane, which DOT has been incrementally since 2010. The other gap is near the Queens-Midtown Tunnel, from 42nd Street to 34th Street. Until these gaps are closed, the only north-south protected bike route on the East Side remains incomplete.

Last summer, DOT filled in an 18-block stretch of the Second Avenue bike lane in Midtown, with one glaring omission: During rush hour, most of those blocks aren’t protected.

When traffic is most intense, the parking lane next to the bikeway is a travel lane for motor vehicles. So there’s nothing to keep drivers out of the Second Avenue bike lane between 52nd Street and 43rd Street in the morning and between 48th Street and 43rd Street in the afternoon until 7 p.m. Without the parking lane providing separation, delivery vehicles obstruct the bike lane, as Astoria resident Macartney Morris has documented.

In 2016, DOT said it planned to install “low-profile tuff curbs” — plastic barriers — along the bike lane to keep motorists out when the parking lane isn’t in effect. But when the bike lane went in the next summer, the tuff curbs were nowhere to be found. DOT said they had to be nixed “due to safety and accessibility concerns raised during additional design review and product testing.”

Some or all of the new nine-block bike lane segment will function the same way, exposed to traffic and illegal parking during rush hour, according to a source who’s been briefed on the plan.

Tonight’s meeting starts at 7 p.m. at the NYU School of Dentistry, 433 First Avenue.

A second presentation to Community Board 8, which includes almost all of the project area, is scheduled for next Monday. Advocates will focus on that meeting to make their case for better protection.

  • Simon Phearson

    About the best I’m hoping for, at the QB hellmouth itself, is a split-phase signal along the left side, continuing the bike lane, but stopping cyclists for long periods of time. But I wouldn’t be at all surprised, given the drift in design quality we’ve seen over the past few years, if they decide that cyclists should zag over to the right side for that bit.

    Fingers crossed.

  • Daphna

    There is no plan to fill the gap between 34th Street and 42nd Street yet? This plan is being presented to the CB6 Transportation Committee? DOT has not yet posted a link to this presentation on their website?

  • BrandonWC

    Gap leading towards tunnel starts at 43rd St, not 42nd.

  • BrandonWC

    CB8 presentation (next week) will also include crosstown bike routes (unprotected lane/sharrows) on 65th/66th and 84th/85th.

  • Guest

    I stopped cycling a few months ago in part because the streets around this bridge, which I had to cross every day, were too stressful. Here’s hoping they give us a better way to get to the bridge path entrance from Second Avenue.

  • cjstephens

    Thanks for the heads-up. I can’t make it to the meeting, but I’ll send a note to the chair of the transportation committee. Last time there was so much FUD from the “bikes are dangerous!” crowd that DOT backed down and only installed one or two of the proposed lanes. I’m hoping that people will realize that the lanes have been in place for a while and the world did not end.

  • AnoNYC

    2ND AVE UPDATE
    New York City Department of Transportation
    Presented by the Bicycle and Greenway Program to Community Board 6 on July 2, 2018

    http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/downloads/pdf/2nd-ave-update-july2018.pdf

  • Guest

    Highly, highly misleading use of stats in that presentation to dramatically under-state the amount of blockage that occurs in the 2nd Ave bike lane. *Someone needs to call them out on this at the next meeting.*

    They claim the 2nd Ave bike lane is clear 97% of the time by taking an average of how often individual segments are blocked (which they measured using time-lapse camera data). All that means is that _each segment_ is clear, on average, 97% of the time. But if you are cycling that lane, you are not just traveling on one segment. If you add up the percentages, there is a blockage 20% of the time. That’s what matters. And that’s only on the segments they actually studied. No doubt the segments they didn’t study are also blocked periodically.

    Even more egregious is the statement that the left turn mixing zones are “only” blocked 25% of the time by averaging the amount of time that each left zone is blocked. Two of the zones were blocked nearly 50% of the time. That means that a cyclist traveling the lane is likely to encounter a blockage nearly 100% of the time.

  • qrt145

    Agreed, although from a glass half-full perspective, having an average 3% chance of blockage on each block is still an order of magnitude better than for “class II” bike lanes! (Class II: on-street bike lanes are defined by a painted stripe.) I estimate that it’s around 50% per block for the class II bike lanes that I frequent.

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DOT will present plans this spring to fill most, but not all, of the remaining gaps in the north-south protected bike lanes on the East Side of Manhattan. Significantly, DOT intends to create a physically protected bike lane on Second Avenue between 59th Street and 43rd Street. Combined with the bike lane extension coming to the Upper East Side […]