‘Death Trap’ for Upper Manhattan as DOT Refuses to Install Long-Sought Protected Bike Lane

The agency is moving forward with painted, unprotected lanes -- despite requests for more from Manhattan CB 7.

Bike lane markings on West 110th Street between Columbus Avenue and Manhattan Avenue. Photo: Mendy Haskel
Bike lane markings on West 110th Street between Columbus Avenue and Manhattan Avenue. Photo: Mendy Haskel

The residents wanted a protected bike lane. The city didn’t listen.

The Department of Transportation is going ahead with a less-safe plan to add painted bike lanes on West 110th Street approaching Central Park [PDF], despite repeated demands from the local community board for a properly protected — and safer — lane.

“They gave a presentation that did not have a protected bike lane and we turned it down because safety is incredibly important,” CB 7 Transportation Co-Chairman Howard Yaruss told Streetsblog. “They came back three months later with the identical presentation. I don’t know what they were thinking.”

Agency reps later told CB 7 its request for a protected bike lane was not feasible, but did not give an explanation as to why, Yaruss said.

The city declined CB 7's requests for protected bike lanes on 110th Street, and is moving forward with this design. Image: DOT
The city declined CB 7’s requests for protected bike lanes on 110th Street, and is moving forward with this design. Image: DOT

Unprotected bike lanes are more likely to attract illegal double-parking, which can have deadly consequences. In August, 23-year-old Australian tourist Madison Lyden was killed on Central Park West after being forced into traffic by a double-parked taxi that had pulled over into a painted lane.

CB 7 has since requested a protected lane for that route, but the city has not committed to it yet.

“Painted lanes may look like a quick and cheap way to accommodate cyclists, but these lanes are easily ignored by motorists and can quickly turn into literal death traps, as we tragically learned this summer on Central Park West,” CB 7 member Ken Coughlin said.

“In light of this, it’s hard to fathom why DOT would continue to move forward with a plan for an unprotected painted lane. Haven’t we learned anything?”

The DOT has long said that protected lanes are far safer than unprotected lanes, reducing crashes and increasing cycling, which is a stated Vision Zero goal.

The Department of Transportation issued this statement to Streetsblog, which we are printing verbatim because otherwise readers may think we are making it up:

“This phase of the project completes the installation of bicycle facilities along 110th Street from the east side to the west side of Manhattan,” spokeswoman Alana Morales said. “The new design will benefit cyclists and pedestrians by calming traffic and providing dedicated space for biking. The Department will continue to work with stakeholders on potential additional enhancements to the corridor in the future.”

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    A Class II lane might be considered space for cycling, but it is definitely not DEDICATED space.

  • HamTech87

    Where is Columbia University in all this? It is not doing enough to protect its students.

  • eastphilliamsburg

    Ridiculous. This street is 3′ narrower than 9th Street in Park Slope, which just got protected bike lanes. Guess nobody’s died up here yet, so DeBlasio doesn’t feel like he needs to take action.

  • Jacob

    Like everywhere else, DOT is waiting for someone to actually be killed before it jumps into action.

  • 3748a

    I’m a Columbia student and I cycle quite a bit in the area. I agree that 110th St is pretty dangerous for cycling, especially going uphill (cars get impatient and try to overtake you). Yet it’s the best route to Central Park from Columbia (every other street terminates at Morningside Park). What can I do to get Columbia to support the protected bike lane?

  • Benadoo B

    I think that NYC needs to begin to follow a more Dutch approach. Like systemic safety.

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Tomorrow: Speak Up for Safer Streets on the Upper West Side

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Tomorrow night, the transportation committee of Manhattan Community Board 7 will take public input on the possible expansion of protected bike lanes on the Upper West Side. On the agenda is a request from the board that DOT complete a proposal for protected lanes and other changes to the streetscape, including pedestrian islands, turning lanes […]