New York City’s first crosstown bike lanes proposed for Midtown

January 18, 2018

Photo via Wikimedia

Crosstown protected bike lanes may finally come to Manhattan’s Midtown neighborhood, the first of its kind in New York City. The city’s Department of Transportation presented on Wednesday a series of proposals to create bike lanes that stretch from the East River to the Hudson River, traveling east to west instead of north to south. The first two protected lanes are proposed to run east on 26th Street and west on 29th Street, where an existing lane will be replaced. Officials are also looking to add a lane moving west on 55th Street and east on 52nd Street. DOT’s move to add more protected bike lanes in Midtown comes after the city experienced an increase in the number of cyclist deaths in 2017, despite it being the safest year on record for traffic fatalities.

Courtesy of DOT

Last week, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the city saw a record-low number of traffic fatalities at 214. But, the number of cyclists killed in crashes increased to 23 from 18 in 2016. According to DOT, none of the deaths occurred in protected lanes. The department had already released joint plans with the MTA to create Manhattan’s first two-way 1.5-mile protected crosstown path on 13th Street, to mitigate problems from the L-train shutdown in 2019.

“Too many of the cyclist tragedies happened along Midtown streets without protected lanes,” DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said in a statement. “With plans already in place to add new protected lanes for the L train closure next year, we look forward to consulting closely with Midtown Manhattan’s community boards and elected officials to address the need for bike lanes farther uptown.”

Courtesy of DOT

Courtesy of DOT

DOT’s plan for 26th and 29th Streets, both of which have one lane of traffic, calls for a five-foot bike lane separated by an eight-foot parking lane. More designated loading and unloading spots will be added to both streets. In between Ninth and Eighth Avenues, the redesign of 26th Street calls for a pedestrian space and wider bike lane and space between the curb. Each new lane will cost roughly less than $500,000.

According to the city, the number of cyclists in Midtown has increased dramatically, with more than 25,000 bikers crossing 50th Street each day. To expand the city’s biking infrastructure, the city announced last summer its plan to add 10 miles of protected bike lanes and allocate 50 miles of regular bikeways annually.

Following DOT’s presentation to the Midtown community boards, the agency will most likely adjust and update their design. All crosstown routes are expected to be implemented by the spring or fall of next year.


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