Bike Lane Bolstering Begins — But it Won’t Be Done in 100 Days, As Promised

The Clinton Street bike lane between East Broadway and Henry streets is frequently blocked. File photo: Michelle Kuppersmith
The Clinton Street bike lane between East Broadway and Henry streets is frequently blocked. File photo: Michelle Kuppersmith

The protecting of protected bike lanes has begun … slowly.

Roughly 48 days into the Adams administration, the Department of Transportation has begun making good on its promise to bolster 50 percent of bike lanes that are technically protected, but are only secured with plastic or paint. DOT Commissioner had promised to do all 20 miles or so in the first 100 days of his term, but that promise no longer applies, according to a DOT press release.

“With 40 existing miles of delineator-protected bike lanes, the DOT plans to harden 20 miles of those lanes by the end of 2023,” the statement read.

Rodriguez did not make any mention of his broken 100-day promise. Nor did DOT mention that at least two of the bike lane stretches announced on Friday had previously been promised:

“New York City’s cyclists deserve to be safe everywhere, but especially in protected lanes – where drivers will too often disrespect and block that critical space,” he said in a statement. “We have an actionable, concrete plan to protect cyclists and we are going to deliver on this work to keep our lanes clear. We thank our friends in the advocacy community for helping us identify top targets – and we know that these 20 miles of barriers will make a real difference.”

For now, here is the list of stretches to be strengthened. They comprise 5.5 miles:

  • W. 40th Street between 11th and 12th avenues, plus 11th Avenue between W. 40th and W. 39th streets in  Manhattan (already completed, though both segments had been promised last year)
  • Clinton Street between Delancey and South Street in Manhattan
  • Crescent Street between Queens Plaza North and Hoyt Avenue in Queens
  • Vernon Boulevard between 46th Avenue and 30th Road in Queens
  • Queens Boulevard between 73rd Street and Yellowstone Boulevard.
  • Broadway between Barclay and Morris streets in Manhattan (which was begun on Thursday night, as Timmy Shea reported below):

Initial reaction seems favorable — at least among people benefitting from the improvements.

“They’re real and they’re spectacular,” tweeted legendary street safety advocate Christine Berthet earlier this week when the Hells Kitchen barriers went in.

Last month, members of Community Board 3 on the Lower East Side specifically asked Rodriguez to bolster Clinton Street, which is a key stretch of plastic-protected bike lane linking South Street and the Williamsburg Bridge bike path.

“I am thrilled that DOT took our suggestion seriously to harden protection along the Clinton Street bike lane,” said Michelle Kuppersmith, who is vice-chair of the CB3 Transportation Committee. “This is an example of how quickly positive changes can happen if there is political will.”

A host of elected officials cheered the move, especially Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, whose borough is benefitting the most from the initial list.

“These enhanced safety measures will provide bicyclists with the solid protection they deserve and will help unclog our roads and reduce pollution by encouraging more people to travel by bicycle,” he said. “I look forward to seeing the hardening of the bike lines at three high-volume locations in Queens in the coming weeks. … We must do all we can to make biking a safe and enjoyable activity throughout our borough and city.”

It’s not the first time in the last six weeks that the Adams administration has had to back away from a big promise. Earlier this month, the DOT admitted that it would not create dedicated space for pedestrians on the Queensboro Bridge by the end of this year, but had pushed it off until the end of 2023.

This is a breaking story and will be updated later.