Citing FDNY Concerns, DOT Removes Two-Block Protected Bike Connection

The W. 170th Street bikeway before …

The W. 170th Street bikeway before …

DOT has erased a short contraflow protected bikeway that linked the Highbridge neighborhood to the car-free High Bridge in response to FDNY concerns about the movement of emergency vehicles. The project was part of a package of biking and walking improvements in the Bronx and Upper Manhattan implemented last year, timed to coincide with the re-opening of the High Bridge to the public [PDF].

To meet FDNY’s demands, DOT will shift the parking on the south side of the street over to the curb. Instead of an eastbound contraflow protected lane and sharrows on the westbound side, DOT says this stretch of 170th Street will get a westbound buffered bike lane. The street will retain two lanes for parked vehicles.

… and after. Photo: Jonathan Rabinowitz

… and after. Photo: Jonathan Rabinowitz

So, when confronted with a street determined to be “too narrow” for bikes and cars, the DOT response was to weaken the bike infrastructure while leaving parking untouched. From what I’ve seen this is a matter of DOT priorities, and not a lack of asphalt.

The other issue is the absurdity of designing streets and cities to accommodate emergency vehicles, rather than the other way around.