Summer 2004, p.4

Cycling News
Second Manhattan Bridge Path Opens

July 1’s Opening of the Manhattan Bridge’s fully-ramped bicycle path is a cause for celebration. Like other bike project openings, such as the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway, it’s a significant demonstration that the City of New York believes that bicycling is good for New Yorkers and good for New York City.

What’s sweeter about the Manhattan Bridge’s new bike path is that the Department of Transportation, prior to opening the path, created and implemented bridge access plans that provide safe (though not necessarily direct) access to both sides of the new path. Now that the DOT has opened the new bridge path and striped many good bike lanes around it, the bittersweet aftertaste is that the most dangerous and popular route to the bridge, northbound Jay Street in Brooklyn, has changed very little. Given the City’s enthusiasm and hard work to open the bridge hopefully it will continue with equal vigor to improve bicyclist safety and access on both sides.

Sweet: Safe New Lanes

Brooklyn access to the Manhattan Bridge is on the southeast corner of Sands and Jay Streets. The DOT striped a southbound bike lane on Jay Street, from Sands to Tillary, for cyclists exiting the bridge and installed one “Share the Road” sign with a bicycle symbol on the northbound side of Jay between the bridge’s off-ramp and Sands Street to alert motorists to the presence of cyclists. There is also a new westbound bike lane on Sands Street from Navy Street to Jay Street, connecting the bridge path to the Navy Street and Ashland Place bike lanes, Vinegar Hill and the Navy Yards.
In Manhattan, bridge path access is on the southwest corner of Canal and Forsyth Streets. The DOT striped new north and southbound bike lanes on Allen and Pike Streets between Houston and South Streets. The new bike lanes are two blocks from the bridge and connect it to the East River Greenway, as well as providing north-south bike connections to the East Village, Lower East Side and Chinatown, neighborhoods long popular with cyclists.

Bitter: Dangerous Access Must Be Better

Jay Street in Brooklyn is by far the most popular cycling route to the Manhattan Bridge, but cyclists must contend with drivers barrelling off the bridge onto Jay Street. T.A.’s 2003 “Manhattan Bridge Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Study” found that 80% of bicyclists and pedestrians use Jay Street to get to and from the path. Yet, after twelve years of requests from T.A. and three years of requests from elected officials and community groups, the DOT has done almost nothing to improve safety there. The agency installed a “Shared the Road” sign and erected barricades to limit bicyclist access. Rather than barricades, the DOT should improve the safety of bridge-bound bikers on Jay and install more signs, flashing traffic lights and a northbound colored bike lane at the foot of the bridge’s motor vehicle off-ramp.
In order to improve Midtown and Westside access for Manhattan-bound bicyclists, the DOT should work with the Parks Department to redesign the park path on the east side of Sara Delano Roosevelt Park, between Canal and Hester Streets, and the path that connects Hester Street through the park as multi-use paths. Many bicyclists already use these paths to avoid lengthy detours where Hester and Forsyth Streets are dead-ended by the park. Now that the new bridge path is open, many more cyclists will find these the most convenient routes to get to and from the bridge. The effective “go slow,” “shared path” and “respect others” signage developed by the Parks Department for the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway could be installed along these short routes to ensure pedestrian and bicyclist safety.

Take Action!Take Action!
Encourage the DOT to use “shared lane” markings to connect bike lanes, greenways and bridge paths.

Commissioner Iris Weinshall
NYC Department of
40 Worth Street
New York, NY 10013 

DOT’s Fencing Team Thwarts Bridge Users

Conjuring outdated and erroneous notions of bicyclist and pedestrian safety, the DOT recently installed barricades on Jay Street’s east sidewalk in Brooklyn to block off a ramp many people use to access the Manhattan Bridge path. Path user safety would be better served by slowing motorists and alerting them to the presence of bikers and walkers. The barricades do not improve the safety of the 80% of path users who bike on Jay Street each day to access the new path, but most certainly inconveniences them. Instead, the DOT should install signs, flashing traffic lights and a northbound colored bike lane at the foot of the bridge’s motor vehicle off-ramp that would more safely and effectively lead cyclists to the fine new path on the other side of the bridge.

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