A bicyclist on 110th Street. Photo via DOT.

By Hannah Reale

The city wants to add bike lanes on 110th Street to coincide with the expansion of CitiBike above 110th Street this August. Local leaders at Community Board 7 share that goal, but want the city Department of Transportation to flesh out its plan and make sure it’s truly safe for bicyclists and pedestrians.

On Tuesday, a representative from the DOT gave a presentation at the CB7 transportation committee’s monthly meeting. The DOT is working towards making all of New York City more bike-friendly, with 80 percent growth in daily cycling trips from 2010 to 2015. The cyclists, however, seem to move much more quickly than the DOT.

The representative cited data from 2010-2014 as the reason for needing to improve this particular street: 126 total injuries of pedestrians, bicyclists, and motor vehicle occupants, including one fatality. “There is no dedicated space for cyclists, despite the fact that there is a significant amount of people who are using this street already,” he commented.

He outlined the multi-part plan, with each segment customized to a particular portion of the street. (Parts of the plan can be seen on pages 18-25 of this document.) Currently, 110th street has some narrow and some wide sections — from 50 feet across to 80 feet across. The DOT plan would call for a concrete island for pedestrians in the middle of the 80-foot section (between Manhattan Avenue and Frederick Douglass Circle) and bike lanes on either side of the road.

This slide shows the plan for the section from Riverside to Columbus on 110th.

The committee agreed with the need to improve the current traffic pattern on 110th street, but mostly disagreed with how the DOT had gone about the plan. They did approve of particular portions, like the concrete island, as it seemed that it would improve safety of pedestrians, especially those who cannot travel as quickly.

The primary concern, however, was the bicyclists’ safety. The DOT would add a protected bike lane with a physical barrier between cars and bikes at the entrance to Riverside Park.

Another slide from the presentation.

But aside from that area, the rest of the bike lane would be painted lines, as opposed to a barrier.

Members of the committee and the community brought up specific problems with the plan, such as mixed zones for both buses and cyclists that may not be clearly marked and could cause danger to both groups, areas that are frequently occupied by double-parked vehicles and may therefore be unavailable to cyclists, and the fear that a painted bike lane would not do enough to protect the cyclists. Many called for a fully protected lane, which has a raised physical barrier between cars and the bicyclists, creating a boundary for safety.

Several specific suggestions were raised by the community and committee, such as putting loading zones on the block, creating a bi-directional bike lane on one side of the street, or simply swapping the parking lane with the bike lane so that the cyclists would not be directly dealing with vehicular traffic. The DOT representative specifically cited current standards and safety concerns with bi-directional bike lanes and swapping the parking and painted bike lane, but seemed receptive to other suggestions. “We generally try to keep bicyclists moving in the same direction as the rest of traffic. It makes their movements more predictable [to drivers and pedestrians].”

Many committee members were also clearly dissatisfied with the DOT’s presentation; namely, a visual representation of the planned changes to the Frederick Douglass Circle was not included.

“Judging by a lot of the comments, we would ask that you revisit this plan and come back to us with some other options that are deemed safer for cyclists, keep the traffic moving better, and we really need to see that channelizing map for [Frederick Douglass] Circle,” concluded Andrew Albert, a co-chairperson of the committee. “If you’re ready next month, we’d be happy to look at it again.”

“It’s a baby step in the right direction,” Howard Yaruss, the other co-chairperson added. “But, on the other hand, the perfect should not be the enemy of the good, so do the best you can. You clearly got a sense from the committee.”

The DOT representative mentioned that there was “a bit of a time crunch” because Citibike was expanding further uptown in August, giving the department and the project manager little time.

A portion of a slide showing Citi Bike expansion plans.

He suggested that he or another representative would be returning the following month to go over another plan. He further commented on other resolutions that the committee had submitted in the past, saying that the DOT would have a plan to address the current safety concerns with the traffic pattern at Columbus Circle in the fall.

“My concern is that, by painting a line on the road, we are suggesting to cyclists and everyone else that that is a safe place to be, and I don’t see that this, as presently presented, is safe,” one community member noted. “So, whatever you need to do… protect that cycling lane. Either that, or don’t do it at all, and let it be the free-for-all that it already is. To create the illusion that it’s safe, I think, is irresponsible.”

NEWS | 17 comments | permalink
    1. Stuart says:

      How about this proposal:

      In exchange for 2 bike likes on 110th Street, remove the parking lanes, return to two vehicle travelling lanes in each direction, and total police enforcement of traffic rules as it pertains to cyclists
      i.e.: ticketing speeding bikes, cyclists that run red lights, cyclists going the wrong way or not riding in the bike lanes, and every cyclist [including delivery people] is licensed.

      • Jay says:

        The NYPD should start with enforcing car traffic first. They don’t seem to be able to handle that seemingly simple task.

      • Zulu says:

        Change is tough I know.

        You can go back to riding a horse if it makes you feel better.

      • Josh says:

        so youre saying two vehicle lanes, one bike lane per side, no parked cars? give me dedicated traffic lights and i’ll gladly let cops line the sidewalks…..proper infrastructure makes it much easier to follow the rules.

      • Mark says:

        OMG – I think I agree with you!
        I’m totally in favor of getting rid of street parking.
        You have car? You pay for parking.
        And totally in favor of traffic supervision of all wheeled vehicles.

    2. LS says:

      Sorry but really wondering how it is that there is expansion of the bicycling infrastructure while subway and bus service declines and becomes more expensive?

      Subway issues are well known.
      Bus service has also declined.
      For example, since 2010, West Side bus routes have been reduced or limited – for example, change in M104, rerouting M7, cutting the M10 into two buses (M10 and M20) and same thing most recently, cutting the M5 into two segments, M5 and M55. So now, no uninterrupted north-south bus service on the West Side.

      • DenMark says:

        Bike improvements are not at the expense of subway/bus infrastructure.

        • RK says:

          Aside from the blindingly obvious fact that bike infrastructure cost has nothing to do with mass transit budgets (city DOT vs NY State MTA)…

          Bike infrastructure takes a few gallons of paint and is usually done in a few days (Amsterdam bike lane took about a week to paint)

          Bike infrastructure will reduce the load on mass transit, making your subways and buses ever so slightly less crowded.

          If you actually studied the 21st century problems facing the subway system, you’d quickly realize that there are no simple answers, even if funding were easily available, so alternatives like bike infrastructure, SBS bus lanes, and ferry service are the simplest and cheapest ways of easing the burden on the subways.

    3. Chrigid says:

      We need to allow motor vehicles into the bike lane to pick up and drop off the ill, the infirm and the elderly. If you use access-a-ride and there is more than one rider, you’re taking your life into your hands trying to get out on the passenger side into moving traffic on an avenue that has lost one lane to bikes.

      • Woody says:

        What an illogical and poorly-conceived suggestion. How did they get into vehicles before there were bike lanes if cars were parked at the curb?

    4. Frances says:

      You are planning as if there are many bikes using the lanes?
      Better do a survey as I see very few bikes on the bike lanes at least here on Columbus Avenue. Mostly used by delivery bikes.
      Really, this bike lane plan is NOT working. All that money
      spent could have gone to our schools now wasted on
      imaginary bike traffic, causing traffic nightmares on
      reduced car lanes, frightening elder pedestrians as bikes
      do not heed traffic signals. ITS NOT WORKING GIVE UP

      • Woody says:

        The bike plan is working fine – do you monitor the entire bike lane 24/7 to measure its usage?

        And what do you have against delivery BIKES using the BIKE lane? Are they not entitled just like anybody or do you suggest there be a class system for using the bike lane?

        Please explain how imaginary bike traffic frightens elder pedestrians if no one is biking.

        Just because biking is not your thing and you’re probably jealous of people who do activities that you don’t participate in, biking will continue to increase in NY. Would you rather they just ride randomly in all the traffic lanes?

      • Sid says:

        Over 500,000 adult NYC’ers use their bikes more than once a month. Not sure how this is “made up”

    5. Jeffrey says:

      it is about time to highly regulate cyclists in the City. They need to be licensed and insured due to an increasing liability. I am handicapped with limit mobility with one arm due to a cyclist going too fast, going the wrong way and without a light at night. As I was lying on the bike lane I called 911 and both the EMS and police never showed up. At the police station the police treated it as if it were a joke.

      I want to thank the cyclists and the City for not taking the responsibility of regulating an increasing danger to both pedestrians and vehicles. Bike cyclists are an increasing arrogant group of people that break traffic laws and refuse to be regulated.

      • Sid says:

        Could say the same about drivers who drive drunk, text while drive, drive recklessly. However in their case, they’re operating a vehicle weighing several thousand pounds, and which ultimately results in death many times more than cyclists cause.

      • josh says:

        Yes, I will have my 9-year old daughter register and get insurance to ride in a protected bike lane. Of course, then we should have runners register, and lock up jaywalkers wearing headphones for breaking the law and acting as a hazard to everyone around them…

        • David says:

          …and let’s give a ticket to those pedestrians who don’t keep on the right hand side of the sidewalk, and ticket tourists who stop in the middle of the sidewalk yo consult a map.