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Protected Bike Lanes

Wider Crosstown Bike Lanes Coming on 2 Midtown Strips

It's the latest effort to take advantage of the predicted reduction in vehicle traffic from congestion pricing and increase cycling.

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The current condition on the 39th Street bike lane in Manhattan is not exactly what you want.

Time to stretch your legs.

The Department of Transportation plans to widen a pair of crosstown bike lanes in Midtown, another pre-congestion pricing effort to take advantage of the predicted reduction in vehicle traffic to better accommodate cyclists and increase their numbers.

This summer, the DOT will double the size of the protected bike lanes on 38th and 39th streets between Eighth and Madison avenue, stretching them from four feet wide at some points to eight feet wide, the agency told the Transportation and Environment Committee at Manhattan Community Board 5 late last month.

The bike lanes on 38th and 39th streets were installed in 2021, but the city chose a narrow design in order to retain place for car storage, which too often led to dangerous road conditions as people parked and left obstructions in the bike lane and the painted buffer.

To fix that issue, the city now plans to widen the bike lanes, slightly narrowing the parking lane next to it and turning an 11-foot wide parking/rush hour travel lane into an eight-foot wide parking lane.

The new design coming to the 38th and 39th street bike lanes.DOT

Widening the bike lanes makes sense even outside of the context of congestion pricing. Cycling is an increasingly popular option for getting into and out of Manhattan, with the DOT recording 26,000 daily cycling trips into the Central Business District in 2023. As the DOT showed in its presentation to CB5, after the installation of the crosstown bike lanes in 2021, hundreds more cyclists began using the lanes on a typical day. At the same time, vehicle traffic decreased and traffic speeds stayed about the same.

And crucially, the new design will add No Standing zones, a design that matches the crosstown lanes on 26th, 29th, 52nd and 55th streets. On the crosstown blocks where the DOT installed No Standing Zones on both sides of the street to provide quick curbside access for drivers who needed it, the agency found that half of the drivers who used them spots stopped for five minutes or less.

The Transportation and Environment Committee neglected to take a position on the bike lane proposal. The DOT plans to present the project to the full Community Board 5 later this spring, and then install the wider bike lane this summer.

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