DOT Will Fill in Most of the Second Avenue Bike Lane Gap in Midtown

The current bike route on Second Avenue goes under these delivery trucks. Image: Google Street View

DOT will present plans this spring to fill most, but not all, of the remaining gaps in the north-south protected bike lanes on the East Side of Manhattan. Significantly, DOT intends to create a physically protected bike lane on Second Avenue between 59th Street and 43rd Street. Combined with the bike lane extension coming to the Upper East Side after surface work on the Second Avenue Subway wraps up, the project would close most of the remaining gaps on the avenue but leave the approaches to the Queensboro Bridge and the Queens Midtown Tunnel exposed.

DOT Manhattan community liaison Colleen Chattergoon shared the news with the Community Board 6 transportation committee last night. The remaining gaps, she said, will be addressed in future projects but not this year. Chattergoon also said that DOT expects Select Bus Service on 23rd Street to launch later in 2016.

Since putting in protected bike lanes on First and Second south of 34th Street in 2010, the city has added segments in East Harlem, the Upper East Side, and Midtown piece by piece — leaving the most traffic-choked blocks for last. As of now, from Houston Street to 125th the only gaps in protection on the First Avenue bike lane are between 47th and 48th streets (it’s a curbside buffered lane for that block) and between 56th and 59th streets (currently sharrows). Both of those gaps are in line to be protected later this year, said Chattergoon, with DOT expecting to present a plan in May or June.

The Second Avenue bike route has the bigger gap, with no protection between 105th Street and 34th Street. In January, Manhattan CB 8 endorsed DOT’s plan to install a parking-protected lane on Second Avenue above 68th Street after subway construction is finished. The project DOT will present in the spring will call for a protected lane between 59th and 43rd. That would leave two significant gaps — one leading up to the Queensboro Bridge and another leading up to the tunnel. DOT intends to fill those gaps at some point, the only question is when.

The committee did not vote on a resolution regarding the new protected lanes, instead sending a letter to DOT pointing to previous resolutions on the topic. Committee member Larry Scheyer told Chattergoon the community board had requested bike lanes on those blocks in 2010, when it endorsed DOT’s proposal to redesign First and Second avenues.

“We’ve got on record several resolutions in which we had advised about the problems of providing a shared lane, which you’ve adopted, and we indicated it was going to cause conflicts between vehicles and bicycles, which is what has come to pass,” said a frustrated Scheyer.

In other news from the meeting, DOT will unveil a plan for 23rd Street Select Bus Service in April. It’s not clear if the project will include continuous dedicated bus lanes or mostly go without them, like 86th Street SBS. Chattergoon also said DOT will be presenting improvements to the East River Greenway, but did not provide further details.