This is part four of a five-part series by former NYC DOT policy director Jon Orcutt about the de Blasio administration’s opportunities to expand and improve cycling in New York. Read part one, part two, and part three.
Forging good cycling routes across the Harlem River represents a strong organizing principle for a multi-year program to deliver better cycling to Harlem, Washington Heights, and the Bronx.
Just as many of the bike lanes in Brooklyn north of Prospect Park and Manhattan south of 14th Street emerged around the bikeways on the Brooklyn, Manhattan and Williamsburg Bridges, the Harlem River bridges present natural focal points for bike network development. A comprehensive set of improvements here would be a major contribution to the “Bill de Blasio bike network” I began to outline in part three of this series. It could also go hand-in-hand with Citi Bike expansion into the Bronx.
While most of the pathways on the Harlem River spans are good or at least decent for cycling, connections from the bridges to Manhattan and Bronx streets run the gamut from inconvenient and unwelcoming to very dangerous. A bike network program for the Harlem River bridges would create safer, more attractive access and egress routes, linking the bridges to ongoing bike network development in the southern Bronx and upper Manhattan. A few examples:
- The connection from First Avenue to the Willis Avenue Bridge needs traffic calming, longer crossing times and more room for cyclists and pedestrians to protect them from heavy traffic turning from First Avenue onto 125th Street.
- The Bronx side of the Third Avenue Bridge is characterized by very heavy traffic coming from several directions, with poor design and inadequate signal time for pedestrians and cyclists getting to or from the path. The bridge itself still features “cyclist dismount” signs. Painted bike lanes on Third Avenue in the Bronx are severely worn and require cyclists to negotiate extremely intimidating traffic.