Ride On! Bike Lanes on 26th and 29th Streets in Manhattan Are (Mostly) Open For Business

After two deaths, the city made life-saving changes on two key crosstown streets.

Riders have started using the twin protected bike lanes on 26th Street and 29th Street in Manhattan. Here is some westbound traffic. All photos: Gersh Kuntzman
Riders have started using the twin protected bike lanes on 26th Street and 29th Street in Manhattan. Here is some westbound traffic. All photos: Gersh Kuntzman

We hyped the initial construction back in June, but cyclists are finally able to (mostly) use two key crosstown protected bike lanes on 26th and 29th streets in Manhattan — and I decided to get hot and sweaty with both of them:

The westbound lane, on 29th Street, begins in earnest at Second Avenue.

second avenue

And I had a nice run until entering Midtown, when I encountered the full miseries of urban life.

The first mixing zone is at Fifth Avenue — and like all mixing zones, it’s dangerous as left-turning drivers move into the intersection to intimidate pedestrians into creating a hole for them:

mixing zone 1

Closer to Broadway, these two roadhogs felt no compunction blocking the clean new lane:

blockers

For now, the 29th Street lane doesn’t extend past Broadway, near the location where cyclist Michael Mamoukakis was fatally struck by a bus driver in 2017. As a result, cyclists are forced into the roadway (though paint is coming soon, based on the partial milling seen below).

future work to be done west of bway 1

For the record, the police officer above did not give the white Jeep a double-parking ticket.

Conditions are far better on the eastbound 26th Street path, which features green lanes from 10th Avenue to Seventh Avenue — the stretch where cyclist Dan Hanegby was killed by a bus driver in 2017.

user 26th green lane

Of course, once at Seventh Avenue, all hell breaks loose again, with a blind Hilton Hotel entrance…

hotel entry on 26th

…a huge pothole…

huge pothole on 26th

…puddles…

puddles on 26th

…and this tire-snaring wide-wale grate just east of Lexington Avenue:

wide grate at lex on 26th

The bottom line: The new lanes will be far safer for cyclists, who are now mostly protected from buses and cars (with caveats for those mixing zones and several blind entrances for off-street parking). The Department of Transportation said the lanes would be fully completed by August (weather permitting).

For drivers, the success of this roadway, like any roadway in New York City, will depend on enforcement of double-parking by the NYPD so that auto traffic flow is not cut off by the selfish.

it will depend on enforcement

In other words: it will fail often, and drivers will likely blame the cyclists like they always do instead of blaming the real culprit — the other driver.

On the plus side, I filed a complaint against this guy with TLC via the Reported app. So there’s that, at least.

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Evidence That Split-Phase Signals Are Safer Than Mixing Zones for Bike Lanes

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When DOT presented plans for a protected bike lane on Sixth Avenue, one point of contention was the design of intersections. How many intersections will get split-phase signals, where cyclists and pedestrians crossing the street get a separate signal phase than turning drivers? And how many will get “mixing zones,” where pedestrians and cyclists negotiate the same space as turning […]