City transportation officials gathered along a once-hellish stretch of Eighth Avenue on Tuesday to celebrate its transformation into a corridor that "works more harmoniously for pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles.”
According to DOT, the recently-implemented road diet between 38th and 45th Street has reserved half of Eighth Avenue for pedestrians and cyclists. Non-motorists, who make up 85 percent of the area's road users, were previously squeezed into less than a third of the street space.
"By giving pedestrians a full half of the space along 8th Avenue, this project is a prime example of how we can rebalance our streets and efficiently allocate space for those who need it and use it the most,” DOT Manhattan Borough Commissioner Ed Pincar said in a statement.
The project involved eliminating left turns from 8th Avenue onto 42nd Street and installing painted sidewalks and curb extensions. A gap in the protected bike lane between 39th and 42nd Street was also filled.
“For the bike riders of New York, there couldn’t be a better holiday gift than a continuous 8th Avenue protected bike lane past the Port Authority,” said Jon Orcutt of Bike New York.
The corridor has long been one of the most dangerous in Midtown. As Streetsblog noted earlier this year, the seven-block stretch between 38th and 45th Streets saw one death and a total of 220 total injuries between 2013 and 2017. Cyclists Chaim Joseph was killed by a hit-and-run truck driver on 45th and 8th Avenue earlier this year.
Council Speaker Corey Johnson, who was also present at the ribbon-cutting on Tuesday, framed the change as part of his larger project to break the car culture.
"What we need to do is rebalance, reorient, and reprioritize our city streets, where even when there is a lot of congestion, we need to make sure it’s safe for pedestrians and cyclists," he said. "I think that is what this project accomplishes."
Correction: A previous version of this article misidentified the cyclist killed on 8th Avenue earlier this year. We regret the error.