At Long Last, DOT Proposes Bike Lanes for Upper Manhattan

DOT recommends “future study” for bike infrastructure on upper Broadway and the Broadway Bridge, background left.

Responding to years of citizen advocacy and a resolution from Manhattan Community Board 12, DOT has proposed bike lanes for a number of streets in Upper Manhattan.

Most of the lanes, concentrated in Washington Heights [PDF], would be installed next year, after a consultation with CB 12 this fall. One would be protected by parked cars.

The plan also acknowledges but does not set a timetable for the highest priority of local livable streets advocates: a bike route on Dyckman Street to connect the Hudson and Harlem River Greenways, first proposed by Inwood residents in 2008.

Among the proposed bike routes are:

  • W. 177th Street between Broadway and Cabrini Boulevard (2013 installation)
  • Cabrini Boulevard between W. 177th Street and W. 178th Street to the George Washington Bridge (2013 installation)
  • W. 179th Street between Amsterdam Avenue and Cabrini Boulevard (179th serves as a motorist access point to the GWB)
  • W. 180th Street between Cabrini Boulevard and Amsterdam Avenue
  • Ft. George Hill between Fairview Avenue and Dyckman Street (parking protected)

The proposal, presented to the CB 12 transportation committee in May, includes two to four miles of lanes on Amsterdam Avenue, possibly interrupted at intersections with “prohibitively high traffic volumes,” and on St. Nicholas Avenue between Fairview Avenue and Broadway.

In Inwood, bike lanes on Seaman Avenue, which connects the Hudson River Greenway to the Bronx, would be rehabbed. Photos: Brad Aaron

Bike lanes would be refurbished for the full lengths of Ft. Washington Avenue, which runs from W. 160th Street to north of W. 190th, and Seaman Avenue, which parallels Broadway from Riverside Drive to W. 218th Street.

On W. 180th Street, DOT would simply paint in a bike lane to the right of moving auto traffic. On W. 179th, the proposal would convert a motor vehicle lane to a bike lane and a two-foot buffer, while also maintaining parking on both sides.

Thanks to residents who have advocated tirelessly on behalf of safer streets, CB 12 has seen a pretty remarkable turnaround. While still protective of free on-street parking, in 2011 board members unanimously passed a resolution asking DOT to explore bike infrastructure improvements for Washington Heights and Inwood.

At the top of the board’s wish list was the project known informally as the “Dyckman Greenway Connector.” The proposal is one of a dozen potential bike routes DOT recommends for “study” at an unspecified date, along with Broadway between W. 168th Street and W. 218th Street and the harrowing Broadway Bridge.

West 218th Street, which connects Broadway and Inwood Hill Park and is part of a marked and mapped bike route for cyclists headed to and from Van Cortlandt Park, in the Bronx, is deemed “insufficient width for upgrade.” The street has two lanes of parking and had bike lanes until they were recently downgraded to sharrows by DOT.

Shortcomings aside, the DOT proposal is a big step forward for a large swath of Manhattan that has scant bike infrastructure, and it has safe streets advocates ready for the next step.

“Now that there’s a plan, we definitely support the bike lanes and moving forward with them,” says Jonathan Rabinowitz of Bike Upper Manhattan. “We will be discussing this with each other and with the transportation committee in order to refine our response and let DOT know where we think their basic plan can be tweaked and improved, and also where we suggest bike share stations could go.”

Adds Rabinowitz: ”I am quite pleased to finally have a bike lane on my block, personally.”