East River Greenway Links, Third Ave Bus Lane Upgrades Go Before CB 6

Dotted blue lines show new shared lane markings, the dotted purple line indicates a new two-way bikeway, and the dotted green line shows improvements to the existing greenway route. Map: NYC DOT

From sudden collapses to botched repairs, the current condition of the East River Greenway is a far cry from the vision of a continuous path on Manhattan’s eastern shore. While filling in the greenway’s gaps could take at least a decade, there are some small, short-term gains on the table. On Monday, Community Board 6’s transportation committee backed a slate of bike improvement that aim to make accessing the greenway from Murray Hill a little bit easier.

The East River Greenway could get some upgrades in Murray Hill. Image: DOT
The East River Greenway could get some upgrades and better connections in Murray Hill. Image: DOT

The plan, first reported by DNAinfo, aims to improve access to Glick Park, a Citi Bike station on the greenway, and the 34th Street landing for the East River Ferry. After presenting the plan to the committee on May 5, DOT held a walk-through of the project with committee members on May 19.

The proposal [PDF] would improve the greenway surface and markings between 34th and 37th Streets, and add a short, two-way bikeway on the north side of 37th Street between the FDR Drive service road and First Avenue. It also adds shared lane markings on a pair of crosstown streets and converts one block of the First Avenue protected bike lane to a two-way path.

Southbound cyclists looking to avoid the chaotic Queens Midtown Tunnel entrance at Second Avenue and 37th Street would be able to turn right at 38th Street, which would have shared lane markings for one block until First Avenue. From there, they could turn right onto the two-way block of the First Avenue protected bike lane before making a left onto the new two-way path on 37th Street to connect to the greenway.

Shared lane markings would also be added to 35th Street from the greenway to Second Avenue to route westbound bicyclists. In addition, cyclists could connect with the existing crosstown bike routes on 39th and 40th Streets, which start at First Avenue.

The new protected bike lane on 37th Street will be between the Manhattan Place and Horizon condominium towers, which use the area for pick-up and drop-offs. The bikeway, which would cross garage entrances on the north side of the street, would stripe two travel lanes and a loading zone on the southern side of the street, but would remove a loading zone on the north side of 37th Street. The street surface is currently smooth brick pavers, but could be paved with asphalt in the future.

The resolution in support of the project is headed to CB 6’s general board meeting on June 11. Pending support from full board, DOT said it plans to implement the project this summer.

A new pedestrian island in the middle of Third Avenue at 57th Street would double as a bus stop. Image: DOT
A new pedestrian island in the middle of Third Avenue at 57th Street would double as a bus stop. Image: DOT

CB 6 is also considering a proposal from DOT to make adjustments to the Third Avenue bus lane [PDF]. The lane was established in 1982, and today it handles 59,000 daily riders on three local bus routes and more riders on 12 express routes. It would be converted from a curbside lane to an offset lane, creating room for a new loading zone on the east side of the avenue. In its presentation, DOT noted that the curbside bus lane is frequently blocked by parked trucks and that Third Avenue has more car lanes than needed to handle the amount of traffic on the street.

At 57th Street, DOT is proposing a new pedestrian island in the middle of Third Avenue to separate right-turning traffic from the bus lane and other northbound traffic. The island would extend south for most of the block between 56th and 57th, providing space for passengers to board buses stopped at 57th Street. The island also shortens distances for pedestrians crossing Third Avenue at 57th Street, where there were 39 non-fatal pedestrian injuries and one pedestrian fatality from 2008 to 2012, according to DOT.

If supported by CB 6, DOT says it will implement this project in September.