DOT Unveils Plan for Protected Bike Lane on Seventh Avenue South

Parents and teachers at PS 41 want DOT to do more for pedestrian safety so kids can safely walk to school.

The DOT plan for Seventh Avenue South covers several irregular intersections, like the convergence of Bleecker and Barrow. Image: DOT
The DOT plan for Seventh Avenue South covers several irregular intersections, like the convergence of Bleecker and Barrow. Image: DOT

Last night, DOT presented the southern segment of its plan for a Seventh Avenue protected bike lane, from 14th Street to Clarkson Street [PDF], to the Manhattan CB 2 transportation committee, which voted for it unanimously.

Back in 2013 and 2014, parents and teachers at PS 41 campaigned for improvements, including safer crossings a protected bike lane on Seventh Avenue, to make streets less of a threat to students walking to school at Greenwich Avenue between Seventh and Sixth Avenue. This DOT project follows a round of sidewalk extensions near West 4th Street in 2015, but it doesn’t do as much for pedestrian safety as the PS 41 community had hoped.

Like DOT’s plan for Seventh Avenue in Chelsea, the core design feature is a parking-protected bike lane on the east side of the street, which replaces a through lane for motor vehicle traffic. But below 11th Street, Seventh Avenue gets more complicated. The street was laid down during construction of the West Side IRT in the 1910’s and cuts at a diagonal across the irregular streets of the West Village. No two intersections are alike.

Concrete islands will narrow crossing distances at some intersections, but not others.

There are none at the multi-legged intersection with Greenwich Avenue and 11th Street, for example. The DOT plan calls for realigning the southern crosswalk, which gives people walking on Greenwich a straighter path. Crossing time will be increased to account for the longer crossing distance. On the east side of the street, a split-phase signal will allow bicyclists and pedestrians to proceed ahead of motorists turning left from Seventh onto Greenwich Avenue.

The intersection of Greenwich Avenue, 11th Street, and Seventh Avenue South has high volumes of schoolchildren crossing to get to and from P.S. 41 down the block. Image: DOT
Many students cross at this intersection to get to and from P.S. 41 on Greenwich. Image: DOT

The design at Waverly Place and Perry Street includes more robust pedestrian safety improvements, with two concrete islands and a painted curb extension at Perry, and a new signalized crossing at Waverly with a concrete island to slow turning drivers:

Seventh Avenue South, Waverly Place, and Perry Street. Image: DOT
Seventh Avenue South, Waverly Place, and Perry Street. Image: DOT

At Clarkson and Carmine, where Seventh Avenue South becomes Varick Street, DOT plans to remove 12 parking spots to make room for concrete triangle intended to reduce conflicts between right-turning motorists and cyclists heading straight:

The project's terminus. Image: DOT
Image: DOT

“When we came three years ago, the primary concern was how do we make sure the students who come to our school are safe,” said P.S. 41 Principal Kelly Shannon. She said the school community still had “pressing concerns” about pedestrian safety on Sixth Avenue. A protected bike lane and pedestrian islands installed last year have narrowed crossings on Sixth, but those treatments don’t extend south of 8th Street yet.

“More needs to be done, and I hope it’s not three more years,” Shannon said.

Other attendees criticized the treatment of pedestrian crossings for not reflecting desire lines and the shortest possible path across the street.

“People in the Village don’t follow the crosswalk,” one woman told DOT project manager Nick Carey.

The committee unanimously endorsed DOT’s plan while requesting a signalized crossing at Leroy Street and expanded pedestrian space, especially at Grove Street, where committee members said motorists often collide with the existing concrete median. They also asked for the project to be extended down to Canal Street.

Carey said the agency hopes to extend the protected bike lane south sometime in the future.