The DOT's plan for a two-way, protected bike lane on Chrystie Street is set to become a reality: it received a unanimous vote of support from Manhattan's Community Board 3 on Tuesday night, Streetsblog reports. CB3's vote was purely advisory, but the DOT has a pattern of acquiescing to community pushback against safety improvements. After some Clinton Hill residents rallied against the DOT's plan for a two-way lane on Clinton Avenue, the department went back to the drawing board.
In this case, demand for the bike lane came from CB3 itself, which asked the DOT last year to consider making a number of street safety improvements to Chrystie Street, including a protected two-way lane. In a letter to DOT's Manhattan Borough Commissioner Margaret Forgione sent last March, a number of elected officials similarly expressed their support for the plan.
At Tuesday night's CB3 meeting, three people showed up to speak in favor of the proposal, and no one spoke against it—a marked contrast to the proposals for lanes on the Upper East Side and in Clinton Hill, which have drawn vocal crowds of naysayers in recent weeks.
"It's really exciting," said Caroline Samponaro, who's deputy director of Transportation Alternatives, the organization whose volunteers were largely responsible for mocking up a plan for Chrystie Street and getting the DOT onboard. "The idea grew from our community, so I think now that it's happening it kind of seems like a no brainer. This touches a large number of bike commuters throughout the day and it's a natural place to build a protected piece of infrastructure for them."
The DOT added unprotected bike lanes to Chrystie Street in 2008, but since then, cyclists have said that the lines have faded and offer hardly any protection from motorists. 38 cyclists have been injured on Chrystie Street since 2012, according to NYPD crash data, with the numbers increasing each year.
Brandon Chamberlin, who was one of the three to speak in favor of the plan on Tuesday, said that currently, what nominal bike lanes do exist barely get the job done: he said that "the bike lanes are constantly blocked by double parking, there is no protection from heavy commercial traffic, the roadbed is a patchwork of potholes and hummocks, and heading south, you have to fight your way across four lanes of traffic approaching Houston Street just to fight your way back at Canal. This project will fix all of those problems."
The now-greenlit plan will create a two-way protected bike lane running from Houston Street to Canal Street, along the length of Sarah Roosevelt Park. The southbound lane will go on for a few more blocks, to 2nd Street and Houston Street. A parking lane will separate cyclists from traffic between Canal and Grand Streets, and flexible delineators will do the job between Grand and Rivington, which is a narrower stretch of road.
Because installing this lane won't require any major changes such as removing a lane of traffic or changing a street from two-way to one-way, the fix can be made relatively quickly. DOT will also have to add four new pedestrian islands and resurface the road, which it estimates will take about two or three weeks of overnight work. A DOT spokesperson said today that they expect to install the lanes late this summer.
— Bahij Chancey (@Bahij) May 25, 2016