The Cross-Borough Bike Lane Revolution


Montreal. Now that’s a city that knows how to do a bike lane

Bridge-bike sabotage may be on the rise, but city planners are taking concrete steps to protect non-car traffic in a flurry of projects that reduce car-space on roads for the sake of pedestrians and bikes—throughout the city, plans are underway to eliminate or narrow car lanes.

A recent high-profile project, coming on the heels of Mayor Bloomberg’s plan to close down seven miles of Manhattan streets in August, would overhaul traffic on Broadway in Midtown. The “Fashion Corridor” [pdf] plan would close two whole lanes of traffic to create pedestrian plazas and a protected bike lane in the midst of some of New York’s most visible real-estate.

Further South in Chinatown and Little Italy, two different approaches to fostering non-car traffic are underway. On Lafayette between Spring and Kenmare Streets, Petrosino Square—the awkward fenced-in park sandwiched between Lafayette and Cleveland Place— will expand to take over a lane of traffic in Lafayette St.

Lower on the island, the city’s Department of Transportation and Community Board 3 have come to an agreement on a plan [pdf] to expand cycling surrounding the Manhattan Bridge in Chinatown, with more bike lanes on Canal and Chrystie Streets to support bike traffic leaving the bridge. The proposal would make Chrystie a two-lane road with bike lanes and traffic calming devices, down from four full size lanes now. Much of the plan overlaps with the area’s bus-service depots, which are primarily located on or around Canal, E. Broadway and Chrystie Streets.

Transportation Alternative’s Greenway Summit, held earlier this summer saw DOT also roll out new plans for the outer boroughs. Plans in the works include car lane and parking reducing plan for Vernon Ave. in Long Island City, bike lanes for Kent Avenue in Brooklyn, and new paths along the Broadway Bridge to connect the Bronx to Manhattan.

For the bike paths at least, the question of enforcement remains. Groups such as TimesUp! have challenged the DOT and NYPD on lax bike lane enforcement, in an effort to reduce the use of the extra space as double parking and loading/unloading areas. By any account, the elimination of car-lanes in city traffic will overhaul the look and feel of the New York rat race for years to come.