Eyes on the Street: New and Improved Allen Street Bikeway and Plazas

The new plaza space at Allen and Hester Street. Photo: Ben Fried

The construction barriers are down and the tables and chairs are out on Allen Street in Chinatown. While there’s still some planting and other work left to be done, the public spaces are already magnets for people. The median bikeway on the three-block stretch between Hester and Delancey is also open and rideable again.

The Allen Street capital project — an upgrade to a 2009 DOT redesign which itself followed years of grassroots community activism — has been in the works since last year. (Another upgrade to the same corridor, on Pike Street, is still fenced off.) Pedestrian injuries fell 60 percent where the initial 2009 project reclaimed space from motorized vehicles, according to DOT.

The finished median has replaced low-cost surfaces like gravel and paint with nicely-textured pavers for pedestrian spaces, sidewalk-grade bikeways, and new plantings. Chairs in the two plazas, at Broome and Hester, have been packed each time I’ve passed through around dusk. Since parks and public space are so scarce in Chinatown, these plazas are precious stuff.

With the bikeway open for business, a gap in the downtown bike network that lasted more than a year has now been mended. Reader @J_uptown got the first picture of the newly useable median and bikeway:

Photo: @J_Uptown

It’s not a space for fast biking, and where the bikeway crosses the plazas, pedestrians and cyclists have to do some negotiating. It does feel like a very safe place to ride.

More photos after the jump…

The plaza at Allen and Broome. Photo: Ben Fried

Construction on Pike Street between Madison and South Street is still underway. Photo: Ben Fried