NYC proposes revamped Second Avenue with ‘offset’ bus lane and wider bike lane

March 6, 2024

New York City wants to redesign a three-mile portion of Second Avenue to improve bus service and make it safer for cyclists. During a presentation to Manhattan Community Board 6 on Monday, the city’s Department of Transportation revealed a proposal to revamp the avenue from East 59th Street to Houston Street with a new “offset” bus lane in the center of the street, to allow for buses to maneuver around commercial curbside loading and unloading. The plan also includes widening bike lanes from six to eight feet, and even 10 feet at some sections.

“Our proposed redesign of Second Avenue would make commutes faster and more reliable for 57,000 daily bus riders, better protect the increasing number of cyclists, and improve safety for all road users,” Ydanis Rodriguez, DOT Commissioner, said in a statement to The Daily News.

The bus route affected by the proposed changes, the M15 and M15 SBS, is the busiest in New York City, carrying 16.4 million riders in 2023.

The corridor features curbside bus lanes, which operate weekdays during rush hour from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. DOT proposes making the bus lane operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, as opposed to its current rush hour schedule.

The lanes are frequently blocked by parked commercial vehicles that are loading and unloading, as well as NYPD vehicles, according to Streetsblog. These obstructions have proven detrimental to the M15’s service, with speeds that average just 5.5 miles per hour along the selection of Second Avenue in question, according to DOT.

According to data from DOT’s Automated Bus Lane Enforcement (ABLE) program, which collects information on parking violations through cameras on buses, the highest number of violations occur where Second Avenue intersects with East 18th Street and East 20th Street.

With an offset bus lane, the existing lane would be repainted one lane over, moving it out of the way of parked vehicles and improving service dramatically.

East 59th Street to Houston Street is also home to one of the city’s busiest bike lanes, serving more than 6,000 cyclists and micro-mobility users daily. The current bike lanes are narrow and unable to adequately serve the number of existing riders.

To account for projected growth in micro-mobility and bicycle usage and to improve the safety of existing riders, the plan calls for the widening of the lane by at least 8 feet, and up to 10 feet in certain sections. The widened lanes would allow for more riders, accommodate riders of different speeds and abilities, and provide a safer experience.

The plan would also fortify existing painted pedestrian islands with concrete, improving the safety of both pedestrians and cyclists.

Following community feedback, DOT officials plan to begin work on the project in the spring.


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