Wanted: Better Protection for Thousands of Cyclists Dumped Onto the Bowery

Cyclists exiting the Manhattan Bridge this morning were immediately greeted by a parked NYPD van in the new temporary bike lane on the Bowery. Photo: Ben Fried

Today was the first day of a construction detour expected to send thousands of cyclists onto the Bowery from the Manhattan Bridge every day. A temporary bike route extending from the south side of Canal Street to Prince Street was constantly blocked by parked police vehicles, trucks, and cars during the morning rush, forcing cyclists to weave into the stream of Bowery traffic — full of buses and large trucks.

The northbound detour sends cyclist up the Bowery from just south of Canal. Image: NYC DOT

The detour is expected to last for at least six months. As a consequence of cable rehabilitation work, which according to the city will make the Manhattan Bridge bike path unrideable, DOT is directing cyclists to swap places with pedestrians and take the south side of the bridge. The announcement mapping the detour routes went out last Friday [PDF].

The Manhattan Bridge sees the second-most bike traffic of the four East River bike crossings — an average of about 3,000 cyclists each day, according to DOT’s 2010 counts. All was well on the Brooklyn side this morning, and the detour for bridge-bound cyclists on the Manhattan side doesn’t call for riding on any streets that might be especially hazardous for cyclists.

But the Bowery detour was hairy, to say the least. Some sort of physical protection, like Jersey barriers, will be necessary to prevent situations like this, just north of Canal:

Photo: Ben Fried
Photo: Ben Fried

North of Hester Street, the route consists of curbside sharrows until you hit Prince. Curb regulations apparently call for no standing in the shared lane from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. on weekdays (that is unofficial — Streetsblog is trying to confirm the rules). Even when the regulations were in effect this morning, the lane was constantly blocked and impassable for cyclists:

Photo: Doug Gordon

Streetsblog has a request in with the Manhattan Bridge community liaison about further steps to protect cyclists. If the Bowery is going to be the northbound Manhattan Bridge bike detour until January 2012, more must be done to clear the route of obstructions and keep cyclists safe.


Manhattan Bridge Bike Path Detour to End on March 5

The Manhattan Bridge bicycle path will return to its usual place on the north side of the bridge on March 5, according to a Department of Transportation spokesperson. Since July, construction has forced cyclists and pedestrians to swap sides on the bridge. Bike riders heading into Manhattan have had to navigate a dangerous detour onto […]

Safer Bowery, LES Bike Lanes Clear Manhattan CB3 Committee

New bike routes will provide safer connections on the Manhattan side of the Williamsburg Bridge, in an attempt to divert cyclists from Delancey Street. Image: NYCDOT NYCDOT unveiled a slate of pedestrian and bicycle improvements to the transportation committee of Manhattan Community Board 3 last night. Presenters asked for votes on two street safety projects: […]

Monday: No More Detour on the Manhattan Bridge

After a seven and a half month detour, the time is finally upon us: Starting Monday, cyclists can return to the north side of the Manhattan Bridge, and pedestrians can go back to the south side. The days of biking on the harrowing Bowery detour are just about over, and knock on wood, there were […]

The Daily News Has Got to Stop Printing Cyclist Stereotypes

One of the enduring mysteries of the NYC transportation media landscape is how the Daily News opinion page can be so on-target with its transit pieces, and so far off the mark when the topic turns to bicycling. Last week, the opinion writers published this excellent takedown of the joint John Liu/Tom DiNapoli MTA audit […]