DOT Has Set a Date to Fix the Infamous ‘Second Avenue Gap’

Welcome to hell: The gap in the Second Avenue bike lane forces cyclists into a scrum of car traffic. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman
Welcome to hell: The gap in the Second Avenue bike lane forces cyclists into a scrum of car traffic. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman

The Department of Transportation said on Thursday that it will finally fix one of the most terrifying routes for cyclists in Manhattan, the dreaded “Second Avenue Gap.”

Work will begin “in the next couple of weeks” to better protect riders along the popular Second Avenue protected bike lane between 68th Street and the Queensboro Bridge,” said Sean Quinn, the agency’s senior director of the bicycle pedestrian project.

“We’re really excited, you know,” Quinn added.

He would certainly not be the only one feeling a little exuberant. Second Avenue’s “degeneration gap” creates a scary situation for cyclists, who are forced into traffic the worst possible place: the spot where drivers get increasingly frustrated — and reckless — as they get stuck in traffic of their own making new the 59th Street Bridge entrance.

It's a dangerous area. "KSI" means "killed or seriously injured." Source: DOT
It’s a dangerous area. “KSI” means “killed or seriously injured.” Source: DOT

The nine-block safety improvement [PDF] was supposed to be completed last year, but was delayed. That delay resulted in substantial carnage: Between Oct. 1, 2018 and April 1, 2019, there were 231 reported crashes along just that short stretch, resulting in injuries to three cyclists, nine pedestrians and 14 motorists, according to city stats.

Activists say the DOT plan is by no means perfect because cyclists will not be “protected” by parked cars during rush hour.

Instead, the DOT will allow cars and trucks to use the southbound lane directly next to the bike lane rather than make it a parking lane (see DOT diagram below):

2nd Ave gap plan

But many cyclists cheered the fact that the improvements will come in weeks, not months.

Another regular user of the lane said she would remain optimistic for now.

Quinn also added that DOT will eventually work on the similar gap “by the Queens-Midtown Tunnel,” but did not offer a date for when that treacherous gap will be fixed. DOT spokesman Brian Zumhagen added more details:

The Department of Design and Construction is implementing important infrastructure upgrades south of 42nd Street that preclude additional street work at this time. DOT continues to work with DDC and the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority [which operates the tunnel itself] on a timeline and will bring a proposal to the community to extend the bike lane south as that project nears completion.

  • I see that, at the very end, you squeezed in the other gap that is just as bad

  • Sidney Jenkins

    “as they get stuck in traffic of their own making new the 59th Street Bridge entrance.” lots of typos in the past few articles.

  • vnm

    I was hoping BOTH gaps were being resolved, but I’m glad that at least one of them is.

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    If money isn’t an issue (according to https://nyc.streetsblog.org/2016/05/18/rodriguez-wouldnt-dot-like-more-vision-zero-funding-trottenberg-nope/) why not add a curb here to at least attempt to protect people cycling from incursions and illegal parking?

  • crazytrainmatt

    Hallelujah! This is one of the worst gaps in the entire bike network.

    But the QMT gap is even worse because you can’t bypass it on York/Sutton or the greenway. DOT should have done 43rd to 37th as part of this project since the water main work is south of there, and that would at least get people safely to where the greenway starts again.

  • Simon Phearson

    Nowhere mentioned here is the fact that the DOT’s solution to the gap at the bridge is highly inadequate and will be disregarded by most cyclists, no doubt giving the NYPD a rich opportunity to ticket-trap cyclists.

  • Knut Torkelson

    Wait wtf, I thought this was about the QMT gap at first. HOW are they not addressing that.

  • bushwicken

    because there wouldn’t be enough width for a raised separation to be ADA complaint outside of rush hour when it would be against the floating parking/loading

  • bushwicken

    gersh’s mouth froth drips onto the keyboard making it hard to type with accuracy

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen
  • AMH

    Now do the PABT gap on 8 Av.

  • Rider

    I use the parking protected sections all the time and vastly prefer them. I find them quite safe when traveling at a reasonable speed for a dense urban neighborhood with lots of pedestrians around, and the main danger comes from “experienced” cyclists who ride too fast for conditions. MO you should be allowed and encouraged to use the car lanes if you are that type of cyclist.

  • Simon Phearson

    Maybe you should stop at stoplights, and see if you’d still ride that way.

  • david

    2nd ave from 42 to 34 is not safe!

  • bushwicken

    nope

  • When does this segement become “live”? I was there last weekend, and, while the paint is down, people are still parking in the lane as though it is not there.

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