Midtown Bike Lanes Extension Favored by Manhattan CB4

By Zachary Stieber On November 15, 2012 @ 11:43 pm In New York City | No Comments

A delivery cyclist rides across 46th Street in Times Square on Nov. 15. The Department of Transportation has proposed extending bike lanes in Midtown westward to meet the Hudson River Greenway. (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)

A delivery cyclist rides across 46th Street in Times Square on Nov. 15. The Department of Transportation has proposed extending bike lanes in Midtown westward to meet the Hudson River Greenway. (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)

NEW YORK—Crosstown bike lanes put in earlier this year may now be extended west to the Hudson River Greenway, according to preliminary plans shown to the public for the first time Thursday.

“Continuity is a big deal,” Nick Carey, project manager for the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT), told Manhattan Community Board 4’s (CB4) Transportation Planning Committee during the presentation.

Carey said it is much easier for bicyclists to use the same route, and that the lanes chosen would have direct access to the greenway, which goes along the Hudson River.

The lanes—39th, 40th, 43rd, 44th, 48th, 51st, 54th, and 55th streets—will be a combination of shared lanes (markings on the road) and bicycle lanes. They would extend lanes that were put in place earlier in the year by the transportation department that spans from First to Eighth avenues.

Community board members were largely supportive, but they and some members of the public, have said that some of the streets are unfit for bike lanes. Christine Berthet, co-chair of the committee, for instance, was opposed to the 40th Street bike lane extensions because of the “high volume” of buses from the Port Authority Bus Terminal, which has an entrance between Eighth and Ninth avenues.

The 39th and 40th Street lane extensions, unlike the other streets, which would extend further, would only continue to Ninth Avenue.

Another woman, a resident of Manhattan Plaza, said she was horrified by the possibility of extending the 43rd and 44th bike lanes, because the area is already “an absolute disaster” due to heavy traffic.

The dotted bike lanes, installed this year, could be extended westward to the Hudson Greenway, according to a proposal unveiled by the Department of Transportation Thursday. (DOT)

The dotted bike lanes, installed this year, could be extended westward to the Hudson Greenway, according to a proposal unveiled by the Department of Transportation Thursday. (DOT)

Yet several other people voiced overwhelming support, such as Andrea, who is pro-bike lanes in general.

“I mean if you could close down a street to cars, and just have bikes, I would approve of that,” she said.

Jay Marcus, co-chair of the committee, said the board is “a long-term supporter of bike lanes,” but he also expressed concerns that some of the lanes might not be safe.

“We’d like to hear what the data is on bicycle safety,” he told the DOT representatives, citing high car traffic and lots of buses turning in and out of the terminal. “Before we move forward, we don’t want to approve something that’s not safe.”

“Overall, whenever there are bike lanes, it’s been a safety improvement,” Carey, of the transportation department, told Marcus, though he said he doesn’t have specific data. The safety comes partly from the travel lane for cars becoming “skinnier” after a bike lane is installed, he said. Also, safety data is usually tracked after more than a year has elapsed.

No specific designs for the streets have been decided upon yet. The Department of Transportation will send a street team out to analyze the roads and present a detailed plan in several months, according to a spokeswoman at the meeting.

The Transportation Planning Committee passed a resolution in favor of the proposed lanes. The full board will vote on the proposal Nov. 24.

Carey said in the presentation that no parking spaces would be eliminated through the proposed lane extensions.

“Why not remove some parking spaces?” Asked one woman. “Then you would encourage people to use bikes.”

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