amsterdam lanes1
A portion of a DOT slide showing the proposed reconfiguration of Amsterdam Avenue.

The city has released some initial details about its plan to transform Amsterdam Avenue, creating a protected bike lane and reducing one lane of traffic, while adding left-hand turn lanes and changing parking rules. The plan is expected to be rolled out in two phases, with the section from 72nd street to 110th to be constructed as soon as Spring 2016. The Department of Transportation will hold a meeting on the changes on Tuesday (tonight!) at 6:30 p.m. at at Redeemer Church, 150 West 83rd Street (Amsterdam-Columbus Avenues).

Below is the city’s press release on the changes. We’ll have a more comprehensive report and post the DOT’s full slideshow following the meeting.

The New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) announced that it will to Manhattan Community Board 7’s Transportation Committee this evening a detailed plan to redesign Amsterdam Avenue on the Upper West Side. The first phase of the proposal includes a northbound parking protected bike lane from West 72nd Street to West 110th Street and pedestrian safety islands to improve crossing along the corridor. The proposal comes following requests from local elected officials and the community board to study the corridor for safety improvements and to provide a northbound pair for the southbound Columbus Avenue protected bike lane. Overall, the proposal will present a redesigned corridor that will be at a neighborhood scale, fit for the Upper West Side.

“NYCDOT is proud to unveil our proposal for a safer and more livable Amsterdam Avenue, including a protected bike lane and other safety designs,” said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. “We look forward to working with the local community and elected officials in the coming months to make this vision a reality on the Upper West Side.”

DOT extensively studied the Amsterdam Avenue corridor as part of this proposal with a look at how Upper West Siders used the roadway:

  • From 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.on weekdays, approximately 16,000 yellow taxi trips start or end within the boundaries of Community Board 7.
  • 50% of these yellow taxi trips are 1.5 miles or under, and 44% of the trips travel only within Community Board 7 boundaries.
  • Yellow cabs account for 32% of the afternoon traffic volume on Amsterdam Avenue (about 400 per hour).
  • Cycling is already growing in the Upper West Side; even without a protected bike lane, Amsterdam Avenue saw almost a three-fold increase of cyclists from 2007-2015. At the same time, Columbus Avenue cycling volume grew almost by half.

Citi Bike expanded to the Upper West Side this year and plans to expand north to West 130th Street by the end of 2017. There is great potential for these taxi trips to shift to Citi bike rides, especially given the existing growth of cycling in the neighborhood. So far, data shows that these new stations are already popular for local trips as well as for trips travelling to/from the Upper West Side, demonstrating the need for this addition to the bicycle network. With the addition of a protected northbound bike route, the DOT expects that ridership volume will increase.

From 2009-2013, this stretch of Amsterdam Avenue saw 36 severe injuries and two fatalities. The first phase if the project, which will calm traffic, includes a curb side protected bike lane, left turn lanes, pedestrian safety islands, and updated curbside regulations. The proposal will give pedestrians shorter and safer crossings. DOT is also proposing left turn lanes at West 79th, 86th and 96th Streets, along with split phase traffic signal, which give pedestrians a leading phase as they cross north/south, and cyclists a head start to continue north before cars turn left.

Amsterdam Avenue is a busy commercial corridor and the DOT is also proposing to update curbside regulations to complement the bike lane. This will include paid commercial parking regulations on the east side of Amsterdam Avenue, from West 72nd Street to West 96th Street, between 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays and at select locations on the west side. Doing so will maximize curb space for truck unloading and loading and reduce the likelihood of double parking during peak traffic times, processing traffic more efficiently.

“A major street change like this one merits careful, thorough study for its impacts on local businesses, truck deliveries, buses, and parking, but the Upper West Side wants and deserves a protected bike lane and pedestrian improvements for Amsterdam Avenue,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “Previous studies and experience have shown that protected bike lanes can lead to increases in safety and retail sales without meaningfully impacting the flow of traffic. I look forward to working with Community Board 7, the Department of Transportation, and local businesses and residents to strike the right balance for the future of this busy, vital avenue.”

“The Department of Transportation’s proposal brings a complete street redesign to Amsterdam Avenue, including a proposed northbound protected bike lane. I am grateful to Commissioner Trottenberg and her team at DOT for their comprehensive response to the call for an Amsterdam Avenue redesign, and I look forward to hearing the input of the community at tonight’s community board meeting and in future conversations around the new plan,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal.

“Today, Amsterdam Avenue is based on a design that is at least a half century old. In order to make this thoroughfare safer for all–motorists, cyclists and pedestrians–we need to modernize it,” said Council Member Mark Levine. “I am pleased that DOT has proposed several options to make Amsterdam Avenue safer, and I look forward to hearing input from all members of the community.”

The proposal tonight for Amsterdam Avenue will primarily address the first phase of the project, between West 72ndStreet and West 110th Street. If there is an expeditious community process that supports the proposal on Amsterdam Avenue, DOT can begin implementation of Phase 1 of the project as early as Spring 2016. At the same time, DOT will continue to work with the local leaders and community to discuss bicycle connections south of 72nd Street for the second phase of the project.

Amsterdam Avenue Northbound Bike Route CB 7 20151110 Final 27

Amsterdam Avenue Northbound Bike Route CB 7 20151110 Final 20

NEWS | 52 comments | permalink
    1. Mark says:

      I’m really glad the city is doing everything it can to make the streets safer for pedestrians. It’s terrible the amount of people who have been killed by cars in just the past 24 months alone and the pain families of loved ones have had to experience. That being said though, I really hate these adjustments they make to the avenues. Columbus is a huge pain in the butt now and these changes haven’t kept me from almost being hit by either cars or bikes. The only difference is those bike lanes are now hidden by parked cars which means you can’t see anyone coming until you’ve stepped into the bike lane. Sometimes directly in front of someone speeding by without a second to think. These changes make it harder for everyone and complicates getting around, but it is nice knowing they’re trying. I’m glad the issue of pedestrian safety is being taken seriously, but I just wish this wasn’t their solution.

      • robert says:

        I know, its awful. You actually have to turn your head slightly to look if a bicycle is coming before you step off the curb. Its so very imposing and burdensome! Ah, the gold ole’ days when you could step blindly into the street without looking or paying attention…

    2. Jeremy says:

      I don’t know if this is a good thing or a bad thing. That’ll be figured out over time.

      What we do know, however, is that Helen Rosenthal absolutely does not “look forward to hearing the input of the community at tonight’s community board meeting and in future conversations around the new plan.” I mean, c’mon. She and her team couldn’t care less what we think.

    3. Sydney says:

      What a disaster. Outer lanes are for double parking, so basically going from 2 lanes to 1 and giving bike riders (who don’t follow the laws) their own lane to run red lights.

      • Andrew says:

        You realize, I trust, that any motorists who double-park can count themselves among those who don’t follow the laws?

        (also, those who exceed the speed limit, and those who turn without yielding to pedestrians, and those who turn or change lanes without signaling, and those who block crosswalks and intersections, and those who honk for reasons other than danger, and those who fail to exercise due care, etc., etc., etc.)

        • Sydney says:

          In most situations, a driver may stand a commercial vehicle alongside a vehicle parked at the curb at such locations and during such hours that stopping, standing, or parking is not prohibited, while expeditiously making pickups, deliveries or service calls, provided that (1) there is no unoccupied surb space within 100 feet on either side of the street that can be used for standing, and (2) that the standing is in compliance instructions from police officers and flagpersons.

    4. Steve says:

      Looks fantastic! But why are they cutting the design off below 72nd?? Thanks DOT, thanks Helen, Mark, and Gale!!!

      This will save lives and improve walking (and biking) in the neighborhood!

      • Jeremy says:

        Don’t you think it’s because they really haven’t thought through the bowtie? Dunno why they couldn’t pick it back up at 69th, but that intersection is a rat’s nest.

        • Anon says:

          They don’t know what to do at the bowtie. Ignoring it and continuing the lane below 69th would encourage cyclist to ride up Amsterdam, then basically wish the “good luck” as they navigate the Boston their own with no lane, and put them back into a protected land if they make it through.

    5. s says:

      This is great. My wife works up there and having a safe way to ride that’s paired with Columbus Ave is a relief.

      Hope it’s installed immediately.

    6. lmr says:

      This plan can’t come soon enough. I ride a bike on the UWS almost every day. This alone will make riding much safer. however if only the pedestrians would not step into the bike lane against their light without looking, cars would not park in the bike lane and would look for bikers before making their turns across the bike lane, everything would be all the better.

      • 92nd street says:

        I disagree, as a Cyclist that commutes to work everyday on a bicycle, I avoid Bike Lanes at all costs. Pedestrians treat them as an extended sidewalk and that makes them too dangerous. I’d prefer a green colored lane on the main street instead, at least it would remove blockages by people and cars would easily be able to identify it.

        • Menachem Goldstein says:

          92nd Street: If you don’t like bike lanes, you are still free to legally use ANY of the other avenues which don’t have bike lanes.

          But for those who don’t relish the thrill of riding a bike while being tailgated by a 6,000 lb SUV with a half-asleep Uber driver who’s been on the shift for 48-hours straight all the while checking his iPhone for incoming ride requests, ONE safe bicycle lane on ONE street is sufficient.

      • 9d8b7988045e4953a882 says:

        I agree–I think this will be a nice improvement to Amsterdam Avenue and will add some balance. The current arrangement of 6 lanes for motorists (2 parking lanes + 4 traffic lanes) makes it feel like a highway going through a residential neighborhood.

        Cyclists and pedestrians are taxpayers too and deserve a fair share of the street.

    7. Stuart says:

      Are the existing bike lanes a success? I think not? There’s a bike line on 77th Street between Columbus and Amsterdam – a block that also has two school buildings. Yet a dad was on his bike (with a kid in back) on the wrong side of the street (i.e.: not in the bike line) between 8:00am and 8:30am when there are school buses and vehicles dropping off kids. I also saw a bike rider going against traffic on the same street during the same time frame (but on a different day – this cyclist was in such a hurry the my son started to hum the music from when the school marm on a bike in the Wizard of Oz becomes the Wicked Witch on a broom during the twister scene). And let’s not forget cyclists and delivery people that breeze through red lights, don’t yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, etc.

      Until the city begins to ticket bike riders for not obeying traffic laws and subjecting them to the same penalties and drivers of motor vehicles, DO NOT INSTALL ANY MORE BIKE LANES.

      Both phases mention incorporating or gathering feedback. And then what? Probably ignore it.

      More important – immediately re-pave the entire length of Amsterdam Avenue, and 10th Avenue, especially in the West 40s and near Roosevelt Hospital.

      • Jim Zisfein says:

        There are wrong-way cyclists in the Columbus Avenue bike lane because there’s no safe way on the UWS to bike northbound. A protected bike lane on Amsterdam will fix that.

        • s says:

          This response is spot-on. If people want safer, more predictable cyclists then they need to start supporting bike lanes. And not just a few here and there that don’t connect to anything, but a real network.

        • CKH says:

          There is an uptown bike lane on Central Park West.

          • BMAC says:

            “there’s an uptown bike lane on Central Park West”… which is narrow, unprotected, frequently swerved-into by cabs and buses, full of double-parked cars, and makes you prone to getting doored by careless people in parked cars. Gimme a protected lane on Amsterdam any day of the week.

      • Kevin says:

        I saw a car BACKING UP a one way street at nearly 15 mph the other day. I see drivers make left on reds in the city. I see pedestrians dart in front of buses with basically no warning. I see bicyclists booking it through intersections at high speed while blowing a whistle to scare people out of the way. Just the other day a bus driver killed someone and drove away from the scene.

        The bottom line is that there are bad actors on many different forms of transportation. These types of anecdotes are just red herrings to distract from the bigger question – will most people be safer under the new design? Will traffic still be acceptable?

        I do think these types of designs are safer for everyone. The question of whether or not traffic will be acceptable is really an engineering question for the DOT.

      • lmr says:

        Why not simply push for more ticketing? I am an avid bicyclist and I say “Bring on the ticketing!” and put in the bike lanes. The ticketing needs to go on all front…bicyclists whom do not follow the rules of the road, cars that block bike lanes and do not respect the bikers in those lanes and pedestrians whom want to step off the crub into bike lanes and then blame the bicyclist for the accidents.

    8. LC says:

      This is great news…can’t wait to see it implemented.

    9. Jim Zisfein says:

      Kudos to DOT and Community Board 7 for planning to fix Amsterdam Avenue. We UWSers don’t need or want this autobahn bisecting our neighborhood. Instead, we want Amsterdam to become a well behaved, traffic-calmed neighborhood street with safe travel for pedestrians, cyclists, and motor vehicles.

    10. Reed Rubey says:

      I strongly support a plan with protected bike lanes, shorter crosswalk distances, fewer car travel lanes, and a reduction in street parking spaces (I own a car and live in the neighborhood). Safety is the most important thing for me and my family. And, if the opponents of this plan are correct in their beliefs it can be changed back. However, I am not aware of any such removal of bike lanes since the 20th century.

    11. Brian says:

      Looks like a great proposal. Pedestrians are in harms way every time we cross Amsterdam Avenue. Simply crossing the street shouldn’t involve a risk just because you’re walking or cycling. More than any other avenue, Amsterdam needs to be made safer. We can’t wait until we lose another life.

      • Lynn says:

        I’m all for this if it makes everyone safer, but I would really like to see the city educate cyclists when it comes to traffic regulations. This goes for the bridle path in the park AND the streets of the UWS. I’m fed up with cyclists screaming and cursing at pedestrians to get out of their way because they’re going too fast to slow down or stop at an intersection. I’ve been injured twice and also had my bags knocked out of my hands just last week when a cyclist cut in front of a bus to make the light. Has the city ever specifically addressed this problem?

        • Woody says:

          I would really like to see the city educate pedestrians when it comes to traffic regulations. Where do pedestrians come off thinking they’re above all other modes of transportation?

          If you’re concerned about the behavior of cyclists, start protecting yourself by not crossing the street until you have the right of way. That includes stepping off the curb and waiting in the bike lane until the light changes.

          As for cyclists going the wrong way, that shouldn’t be an issue if you’re not standing or walking in the bike lane when you shouldn’t be. Many countries in Europe have a far more extensive network of bike lanes that don’t have a specific direction yet they work very well because pedestrians respect the bike lane and cyclists respect each other.

          I almost hit someone today while I was mid-block in the 8th Ave bike lane and a pedestrian stepped off the curb without even looking in my direction. When I called him out on this, he angrily replied that the light was red. Yes, the light was red AT the crosswalk which he was clearly far away from. People suck.

          • Anon says:

            @Woody much of what you say makes sense but not the bit about bikes going the wrong way not bothering pedestrians. When a pedestrian with a walk signal steps off a curb they generally only look in the direction of oncoming traffic. If the bike is going the wrong way they don’t see them. And since the cyclist can’t see the stop light facing the other way he isn’t slowing his momentum for the pedestrian. Defending the actions of these people traveling the wrong way in a bike lane weakens the rest of your post.

    12. GerryK says:

      Since Amsterdam is a bit narrower than Columbus but also a major commercial traffic artery, this has been a much tricker undertaking, so compliments to the Dept of Transportation for not flinching. This seems like a vast improvement, speaking both as a cyclist who almost never ventures onto Amsterdam because of its obvious dangers and as a pedestrian who avoids it not just for safety reasons but because it is such a harsh, noisy and chaotic streetscape, akin to walk on the side of a highway. I will not miss a street dominated by speeding trucks, chronic honking as motorists react to being cut off and cabs swerving across 3 lanes because they think they spotted a fare. Calming Amsterdam down and adding features that give it more human scale might actually make it a pleasing environment. And it likely won’t even slow down traffic in the process.

    13. John says:

      About time that DOT comes back with a design! While I’m unhappy that there is currently nothing south of 72nd Street, I’m glad that they’re still planning for incorporating it into the capital project upcoming for Sherman Square. We’ve needed this for so long, and I’m so happy it’s finally here! Thanks so much to our Councilmembers Rosenthal and Levine for their leadership.

    14. David says:

      I am very supportive of this plan, but hope that phase II is not far down the road. The phase I will only include the residential neighborhood, with no connection to the commercial district to our south. As a regular bicycle commuter, it is the connection to the south (phase II) that is most important.

    15. Charles says:

      Thank you NYCDOT for this long-awaited and absolutely vital plan. The current state of affairs in Amsterdam is frightening and out of sync with our neighborhood. This full plan will make it easier to get to shops and restaurants and safer for everyone using the busy avenue. Yes!!!

    16. Kevin says:

      As someone that lives on 75th & Amsterdam, I’m really excited about this plan. I hope it comes to fruition.

      I don’t bike in NYC because of the patchy network of lanes, it just feels too unsafe to me to be on a 4 lane wide avenue riding next to a bunch of trucks. When there are divided lanes it feels a lot more reasonable. If we added this lane I would definitely get a citibike subscription and bike a lot more often.

      • Mark says:

        If you bike or not, this will be an incredible improvement for residents of the area. This traffic calming redesign will engage drivers with their surroundings – inducing them to slow down, yield to pedestrians, etc. Amsterdam feels like a freeway north of 72nd and drivers treat it as such. Drivers that are not engaged with their environment are more dangerous (there is ample research behind this theory). Talks of congestion are likely overblown – 72nd will still backup since two roads converge there – this won’t make that any worse. Amsterdam sees less traffic than Columbus on a daily basis, which has 3 lanes.

    17. Willow says:

      I’m excited to see this happening, finally. Though I wish it would have happened earlier, I’m happy to see the plans and know much-needed improvements are on the way.

    18. Henry says:

      The UWS cannot wait any longer to have Safe Street redesign. 80% federal transportation dollars are available to us to make our streets safer for all users AND THEY ARE GOOD FOR OUR BUSINESSES.

      We cannot delay any longer. If we do not embrace these resources then they go to other communities. The UWS used to be a community of social justice leaders. Our time is now.

      CB7, led by our dear Penny Ryan, and the CB7 Transportation Committee, led by Andrew Albert and Dan Zweig, have a duty to our community to ensure that we get these important infrastructure assets installed as soon as possible.

      Save lives, improve quality of life, enhance the business climate and all for 20 cents on the dollar. Everywhere these designs have been installed, the outcomes have been win-win-win even while there are challenges as we all learn new ways of moving around our communities.

      We all are challenged by change and change to our transportation design is a huge challenge. But we can all learn to live with these changes that bring sanity to our streets and save lives.

    19. gene says:

      do not care one way or another about the bike lanes, but my terrace/windows face Columbus and since its inception all I see is VERY sporadic use of this bike lane.

    20. AC says:

      As a frequent pedestrian of Amsterdam Avenue; an engineer involved in traffic studies; and having witnessed the successful implementation of bike programs in other major European cities . . . here are my thoughts as a resident of the neighborhood for over 48 years: Manhattan Island because of its small size and large population (71 thousand people per square mile), is not a conducive place for a bike program. I’m not even taking into account the number of vehicles that travel within the borough, which just exacerbates the complexities involved. While a nice idea, it just does more harm than good. One must keep in mind that the number of cars/trucks/buses is not being reduced – the ‘conga line’ would just be getting longer. Traffic and congestion will solely back-up.

      Several years ago (under Bloomberg’s DOT Administration) alternative studies were reviewed and studied, such as: limiting vehicles South of 96th Street; alternating entry into Manhattan between Even & Odd numbered plates on vehicles; and banning vehicles all together. The results? It does NOT work on a small and over populated island.

      Sadly, the accidents, congestion, and pollution will get worse within the next 15-20 years, as more & more buidings are being demolished to be replaced with taller residential buildings, resulting in more cars and pedestrians.

      Again, a good concept in ‘suburban like places’ like Brooklyn where the density is nearly half of Manhattan (37,000 residents/square mile) – it just doesn’t work in a small, constrained, and over populated area.

      The money being spent on this study and the future construction of this design, should be spent on traffic enforcement officers who would have the sole responsibility of enforcing the laws: ticketing the speeder; ticketing the bikers going against traffic; ticketing the delivery boy riding on the sidewalk; ticketing the commercial truck for driving on West End Avenue; etc. Lets Enforce the Laws!

      • Andrew says:

        Am I understanding this correctly? Because Manhattan is small and dense, there is no room for … bicycles?!


      • Msd says:

        I agree. I have spent time in the Netherlands and the bicyclists there are licensed and are ticketed if they bike in the wrong direction or go through a red light. It’s the sense of entitlement that bicyclists (mostly young men, from the look of it) have that make them so dangerous to pedestrians. Enforce the existing laws and do it vigorously.

      • richard says:

        Excellent points AC. If everyone would just stop feeling entitled and learn how to share and follow the existing rules, things would be much better – not perfect, but much better.
        Bike riders need to use the existing bike lanes in the correct direction, pedestrians need to simply pay attention – look BOTH ways and don’t stand in the street or bike lanes while waiting for the light, and vehicles need to slow down and pay attention.
        How freakin hard is it? If it takes the NYPD to blitz the area with ticket for everyone in violation (yes that includes jaywalkers), so be it – behavior needs to change. If the delivery guys get a $100 ticket for riding the wrong way – that pretty much wipes out the nights earnings and maybe they’ll think twice.
        Just for giggles I suggest people youtube – Saigon Traffic videos to see how crazy that situation is, but I can tell you first hand it works because everyone sort of cooperates.

      • CKH says:

        I am without your qualifications to weigh in (though I am a car owner/street parker, mother, bicycle rider, and resident of the neighborhood for 10 years), I very much agree with your points. I have noticed the increase in traffic snarls on Columbus in the 80s-90s since the lane went it; if they were used more it would be worth it, but I walk 20 blocks along Columbus every week day to/from work and rarely see them being used by anyone except delivery people. The number of cars is not decreasing; perhaps if the city implemented some kind of resident only parking permit, a disincentive to car ownership, this might eventually happen, but as it is it is hard to imagine how three traffic lanes on a stretch of road where double parking is rampant (this looks very similar to the parking restrictions on Columbus and double parking is still a huge issue) is going to improve traffic flow.

      • Menachem Goldstein says:

        It seems to be working just fine on 8th & 9th Avenues where the crowds are much denser than the UWS.

    21. Jeremy says:

      Jeez Louise, the TA astroturf is extra turfy tonight.

    22. Stef says:

      Since the number of bikers is miniscule compared to the number of pedestrians and motorists, I have to believe the city has been installing bike lanes to make traffic worse so that people will support congestion pricing.

    23. ls says:

      AC makes important observations.

      I am a non-driver – but am opposed to an Amsterdam bike lane.

      Development, construction and delivery-generated commercial traffic has skyrocketed, especially over the past 10 years. Amsterdam Avenue, especially 60-72nd is already a parking lot much of the time.
      There is already delivery double-parking impacting lanes.On concert days, behind the Beacon, a lane is taken up to accommodate equipment vans. A traffic lane will be taken once construction starts on the former Lincoln Square synagogue site. Many other examples.

      Reducing a lane will also slow M7 and M11 bus transit not to mention the many school buses that use Amsterdam’ Long distance buses also.

      Perhaps if there was no more development and folks stopped Fresh Direct/Google/Amazon delivery there’d be a way to address vehicular traffic – but obviously development will continue unabated and folks will continue to order stuff.

      Scarce transportation resources should be used for bus and subway mass transit. And there are other ways to work on important safety issues.

      • Brandon says:

        Interesting point about the Beacon. If those trucks us the parking lane they’ll still be unloading and moving whatever they take off the trucks through the bike lane. That’s going to be a mess. Maybe the bike lane should be on the right (east) side of Amsterdam.

    24. grandmasterbeta says:

      I’m a cyclist but don’t think the bike lane on Columbus is very effective and expect the same mess on Amsterdam. First there are not that many bikes. A much narrower lane would have worked. But the biggest problems come from the double parked trucks making deliveries. If two are across from each other there’s just one lane to drive. Getting down Columbus ave by Taxi is impossible and has only moved more traffic to CPW, which just moves the congestion problems from once place to another.

      • Menachem Goldstein says:

        “The same mess on Columbus”?
        Columbus Av always had only 3 lanes traffic lanes before the bike lane, and that has not changed with implementation of the bike lane. The biggest change for vehicles was adding a turning lane by removing a couple of parking spaces. That eases congestion. To blame Columbus Ave congestion on the bicycle lane just isn’t logical.

    25. Ben says:

      It has nothing to do with what you propose and everything to do with what you enforce.

    26. Daniel Weiss says:

      Enough with these fucking bike lanes! I’ve had enough of them getting a free ride. No sense of decency & the city does nothing it encourage bad behavior.

      Also, sick of traffic because the city takes out lanes. All I deal with is bicyclists & doubleparkers.