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Ben Kallos

Second Avenue Bike Lane Gap Won’t Be Filled This Year

4:13 PM EDT on October 17, 2018

The city did not meet its projections for protected bike lanes this year, partly because it failed to close the gap on Second Avenue. Photo: DOT

The de Blasio administration has put off a widely supported improvement to a dangerous stretch of the Second Avenue bike lane near the 59th Street Bridge — the latest in a growing list of delays of street-safety projects.

The project will now have to wait until at least next year, according to correspondence between the Department of Transportation and Council Members Keith Powers and Ben Kallos. In July, DOT said implementation would happen in November. Community Board 8 backed the plan back in September.

The delay has frustrated Josefina Bahamondes, who rides up Second Avenue daily on her commute from Jackson Heights to the Guggenheim Museum and is appalled by the current gap.

"It's really a bad design, and I was telling everyone [at work about the redesign]," she told Streetsblog. "We were so happy that this would happen. Now I need to share this with them and they will be so disappointed."

The plan would extend the Second Avenue protected bike lane southward from 68th Street to 59th Street, though the lane will only be "protected" by parked cars during off-peak hours.

Nonetheless, last week, Powers and Kallos "implored" DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg to finish the work by the end of the year [PDF]. Trottenberg said installation would begin this year, but promised only that her workers "expect to complete this design next year."

Of course, the plan does not create a true protected bike lane because cars will only be allowed to park during off-peak hours — similar to segments installed further south in 2017. The lack of protection means lower rates of people biking: Since the redesign, the number of people biking is up just 36 percent, compared to 105 percent where protection is in effect at all times.

Image: NYC DOT
Image: NYC DOT
Image: NYC DOT

"It's beyond frustrating to see DOT repeating and expanding a fundamentally broken design," said Transportation Alternatives Queens co-chairman Macartney Morris, who personally lobbied the mayor to make the protection permanent. "DOT knows that without physical barriers, cars and trucks will park in the bike lane."

Mayor de Blasio's commitment to street safety improvements has been inconsistent since he defied a Queens community board to bring paired protected lanes to Sunnyside. Second Avenue is now on the delayed-projects list with Dyckman Street, where the mayor has yet to decide whether to reinstall lanes that DOT removed; phase four of Queens Boulevard, which is stalled despite being the administration's signature street safety project; and Morris Park Avenue in the Bronx, where the city has apparently shelved its bike lane plan.

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