It looks like major bike routes are getting cleared after the season’s first snow. This stands in stark contrast to the conditions four years ago, when it took days for bridge and greenway paths to be cleared of snow and ice. What did you see on your way to work this morning?
Posts from the "Manhattan Bridge" Category
After a seven and a half month detour, the time is finally upon us: Starting Monday, cyclists can return to the north side of the Manhattan Bridge, and pedestrians can go back to the south side. The days of biking on the harrowing Bowery detour are just about over, and knock on wood, there were no casualties (except for the credibility of the Daily News editorial page).
Some construction sheds will remain on the bridge paths until 2013 — read all about it in NYC DOT’s construction update [PDF].
It seems likely that the Manhattan Bridge detour hampered the growth of the city’s annual bike count, which measures cyclists crossing six points around the edges of the Manhattan CBD. So, will we see a rebound effect now that the bridge is going back to normal? Leave your forecasts in the comments.
The Manhattan Bridge bicycle path will return to its usual place on the north side of the bridge on March 5, according to a Department of Transportation spokesperson.
Since July, construction has forced cyclists and pedestrians to swap sides on the bridge. Bike riders heading into Manhattan have had to navigate a dangerous detour onto the Bowery. Though DOT painted a temporary bike route along Bowery for the duration of the construction, NYPD enforcement was almost non-existent and the lane was often unusable.
Flipping the bicycle and pedestrian paths on the bridge also led to some heightened conflict, not so much along the path itself but in the minds of the Daily News editorial board. The newspaper wrote a series of scathing editorials depicting cyclists as “illiterate, blind, or merely — this is our guess — oblivious to all man-made law,” one of the low points of last year’s media bikelash.
Today was the first day of a construction detour expected to send thousands of cyclists onto the Bowery from the Manhattan Bridge every day. A temporary bike route extending from the south side of Canal Street to Prince Street was constantly blocked by parked police vehicles, trucks, and cars during the morning rush, forcing cyclists to weave into the stream of Bowery traffic — full of buses and large trucks.
The detour is expected to last for at least six months. As a consequence of cable rehabilitation work, which according to the city will make the Manhattan Bridge bike path unrideable, DOT is directing cyclists to swap places with pedestrians and take the south side of the bridge. The announcement mapping the detour routes went out last Friday [PDF].
The Manhattan Bridge sees the second-most bike traffic of the four East River bike crossings — an average of about 3,000 cyclists each day, according to DOT’s 2010 counts. All was well on the Brooklyn side this morning, and the detour for bridge-bound cyclists on the Manhattan side doesn’t call for riding on any streets that might be especially hazardous for cyclists.
But the Bowery detour was hairy, to say the least. Some sort of physical protection, like Jersey barriers, will be necessary to prevent situations like this, just north of Canal:
New York Post columnist Steve Cuozzo, proponent of birther-style conspiracy theories about the growth of cycling in New York, might want to check out this YouTube clip that NYC DOT posted earlier this week, along with other information on how it conducts bike counts. It’s a time-lapse video of cyclists on the Brooklyn approach to the Manhattan Bridge during the morning rush last May. Real people riding real bikes — see for yourself, Steve.
Last year, the city counted 2,984 cyclists per day on the Manhattan Bridge, compared to 2,606 in 2009 and 2,210 in 2008, the last full year before the Sands Street bike path was built. Those counts come from averaging the number of cyclists using the bridge between 7 a.m and 7 p.m. on six days between April and October. Back in 2005 (when the city got its numbers from a single day’s observation instead of six, making comparisons to today somewhat indirect), 829 cyclists were counted on the Manhattan Bridge [PDF].
After the jump, bonus time-lapse footage from Tracy Collins, showing bike and car traffic over the Vanderbilt rail yard on Sixth Avenue in Brooklyn last August. By my count there are about 30 bikes and 80 motor vehicles headed toward Park Slope over the course of about 30 light cycles:
Canal Street, to put it mildly, is due for a makeover. The street is clogged with traffic from the Holland Tunnel and the un-tolled Manhattan Bridge. Pedestrians jostle for space on the packed sidewalks, and they’re especially at risk of getting hit by a car, according to the city’s Pedestrian Safety Study.
Fortunately, the funds are in place for an eventual reconstruction and re-imagination of the street, thanks to federal World Trade Center emergency relief aid. To help determine how to design Canal Street, which must strike a balance between serving the local community and the regional transportation system, NYMTC, the region’s metropolitan planning organization, has been engaged in a nearly decade-long process of studying the area and drawing up recommendations for the corridor.
In a report released last Thursday [PDF], NYMTC recommends making Canal Street friendlier for pedestrians by adding significant amounts of sidewalk space. But larger changes, in particular the creation of a carpool lane in the Holland Tunnel, weren’t included. According to the NYMTC report, NYCDOT has agreed to use the recommendations to inform its plans, though a DOT spokesperson said only that the agency was reviewing the findings.
The Canal Area Transportation Study process began in 2002, and the first phase ended with some relatively small improvements to the area, like high-visibility crosswalks, new signage, and temporary improvements near Allen Street. Since 2005, the second, larger-scale phase of the study has been underway, bringing together all the regional transportation agencies as well as others with a stake in the project.
The NYMTC team studied a wide array of congestion-busting ideas for the corridor. Some, like two-way tolling on the Verrazano Bridge or congestion pricing, were dismissed because they required legislative approvals well outside the project’s scope. Transit expansions, like bringing the PATH train north from the World Trade Center or building light rail on Canal, were rejected as too costly. Some ideas were nixed because they lacked community support or because they conflicted with New York City’s Street Design Manual. Other ambitious proposals, like keeping traffic off side streets including Pell, Doyers, Mosco, and Mulberry, were referred to the appropriate agency for further study.
What’s left still has a lot to like.
The Manhattan Bridge is held up by four major cables and hundreds of suspenders connecting the cables and the bridge deck; the cables need repairing and the suspenders will be replaced. Work on the two cables toward the center of the bridge -- "B" and "C" on the above diagram -- will disrupt some vehicular lanes but won't affect the bike or pedestrian paths.
Additionally, repairs along the southernmost cable, over the walkway, shouldn't be too disruptive. At a presentation to Brooklyn Community Board 2 [PDF], DOT reported a plan to cover the path with protective sheds under any active construction. The walkway would be a bit cramped, as the sheds are only three feet wide, but people could walk or bike across the bridge as normal.
However, when the northern cable is under construction -- a job that's expected to take almost a full year to complete -- both pedestrians and cyclists could see their trips disrupted. The sheds aren't wide enough for bikes to pass each other, so DOT is considering rerouting cyclists to what is normally the pedestrian side and putting pedestrians under sheds on the bike side. That could pose a number of problems for the city's second-most popular bike route over the East River.
The Manhattan Bridge officially opened on December 31, 1909. While its 100-year anniversary came and went with little fanfare a few months ago, city officials paid respects today.
At the ceremony, Clarence caught up with Gridlock Sam Schwartz, who heads the NYC Bridge Centennial Commission. In this clip Schwartz describes the nearly catastrophic deterioration of the bridge, which prompted a massive rehab that began in the 1980s and is just now concluding.
You'll definitely want to pause and take a close look at the 1:01 mark for a reminder of just how easy motorists have it today compared to 100 years ago.
A quick note about tonight's meeting on motorist-cyclist relations put on by Brooklyn Community Board 2. "Sharing the Road, Sharing the Responsibility" -- a panel discussion with NYCDOT, NYPD, Transportation Alternatives, and AAA -- is an important one for cyclists to attend.
This community district includes the approaches to the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges. If you ride those bridges, you'll want to turn out for what promises to be a substantive discussion of street safety. We hear that the panel will field written questions from audience members. Here's where to go to speak up:
St. Francis College - Founders Hall
180 Remsen St. (bet. Court & Clinton Sts.)
(2/3/4/5/M/R to Borough Hall)
Vehicles exiting the Manhattan Bridge have turned this block, often teeming with people waiting for the Fung Wah Bus, into a constant danger zone. Here's what an employee at the jewelry store across the street told the Tribeca Trib:
"Ever since I was a kid, trucks come flying off the bridge," he said. "It’s at least three or four times a year, this happens, and it’s always these trucks. They fly right off that thing like there’s no tomorrow."
After 10 years at the store, John said he no longer ventures across the intersection for his lunch for fear of becoming the next casualty.
Update: Reader Matt Hogan informs us that the truck bed was packed with what looked like 50-pound bags of cement at the time of the crash. The rear of the vehicle is outfitted with an apparatus for mixing and pouring out concrete.