DOT Presents ‘Bike Boulevard’ Project For Jackson Ave. in Mott Haven

The current Jackson Avenue and East 149th Street intersection that would soon become a one-way street. Photo: Fiifi Frimpong
The current Jackson Avenue and East 149th Street intersection that would soon become a one-way street. Photo: Fiifi Frimpong

The Department of Transportation’s bike boulevard proposal for Jackson Avenue in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx would make cycling safer by breaking up the current two-way roadway into three one-way segments that will dramatically reduce thru-traffic, the agency said.

The DOT presented its plan for the .8-mile bike priority route between East 138th Street and Westchester Avenue  [PDF] to Bronx Community Board 1 earlier this month, calling it a key strategy for improving safety along a stretch that includes parks, schools, at least two Vision Zero priority intersections, as well as an existing open street that is currently overrun with car traffic.

“The goal of this project is to enhance the bike network along with open street and park access, while improving safety for people walking and biking by reducing through-traffic in this Vision Zero Priority Area,” said DOT spokesman Brian Zumhagen.

It’s the second bike boulevard presentation DOT has made in the last few weeks, following up on a promise made by Mayor de Blasio in his State of the City address in January.

Current conditions

To understand the full breadth of the DOT plan, one must first understand the current conditions on Jackson Avenue between East 138th Street and Westchester Avenue:

This is how Jackson Ave. currently exists
Photo: NYC DOT

The two-way roadway features sharrows in both directions — but in addition to sharing a narrow space with car drivers, the roadway itself is frequently blocked by double-parked vehicles, forcing cyclists and drivers to swerve into the oncoming lane.

City data shows that in 2019*, 22 people — including five pedestrians and 17 motorists — were injured in 70 reported crashes on just that .8-mile stretch.

The main problem with Jackson Avenue is that drivers use it as a shortcut between East 138th Street and Westchester Avenue. Amazon vans, delivery trucks and sedans routinely double-parked on the street. Meanwhile, the segment between East 143rd and East 147th streets on the east side of St. Mary’s Playground and I-Am-Park was designated as an open street, but there are no signs or barricades enforcing the open street program; as such, the roadway is filled with thru-traffic.

Meanwhile, Jackson Avenue is a key route for cyclists heading to and from the Triboro Bridge on Willow Avenue and the Randalls Island connector. Citi Bike also recently expanded into the area, making it easier for South Bronx residents to get to recreation areas on Randalls Island.

As such, activists hailed the potential of the DOT plan.

“It’s is another great step to boost bicycling and bike safety in the city,” said Bike New York’s Jon Orcutt. “It is especially needed in the South Bronx, where safe bike routes are in short supply.”

The DOT plan

Between 138th Street and 143rd Street (also known as St. Mary’s Place), the DOT plans to convert the two-way street to one-way northbound. Southbound traffic would be mostly redirected to Concord Avenue, one block to the west. A two-way bike lane will be installed on the west curb.

Proposed changes from East 138 St. to East 143 St.
Proposed changes between East 138th and East 143rd streets. Graphic: DOT

The currently two-way segment between 143rd and 149th streets would be converted to a one-way southbound street, with the two-way bike path remaining on the west curb, along the park. New crosswalks would be added at East 145th Street and East 147th Street.

The current two-way stretch between 149th Street and Westchester Avenue would be converted to a one-way northbound street — and the protected bike lane would shift to the eastern curb. Bike riders would get their own signal to allow them to cross sides without conflict from car drivers (see below):

Here's what would happen for cyclists at the intersection of Jackson Avenue and East 149th Street. Photo: DOT
Here’s what would happen for cyclists at the intersection of Jackson Avenue and East 149th Street. Photo: DOT

New crosswalks would be added on East 151st Street and Pontiac Place.

The DOT says the changes on Jackson Avenue will reduce the congestion caused by double parking.

Lane changes on Pontiac Pl.
Lane changes on Pontiac Place.

DOT says it can start implementing the plan in the fall. It follows a similar presentation of a bike boulevard on 39th Avenue in Sunnyside, Queens, that was recently approved by the local community board.

* Streetsblog is using 2019 data as the last “full-year” data because of the 2020 pandemic.