E. 20th St. already looks different due to new bike lanes, bus islands

The construction east of First Avenue is part of the traffic safety enhancement plan. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Sabina Mollot

This week, numerous readers reached out to Town & Village, asking about all the work currently going on at East 20th Street, east of First Avenue.

As we reported last month, the Department of Transportation was in the early stages of a traffic safety enhancement project on East 20th Street along the route to the ferry. The project also unfortunately included the removal of 12 parking spots.

Work, however, began in earnest last weekend, with bike lanes being built on the north side of the street adjacent to bus boarding islands.

Council Member Keith Powers said his office has also received many calls, including some complaints, from residents, mainly over the loss of parking at a time when East 14th Street has also lost dozens of spaces due to the L train related construction work. In response, Powers said he’s asked DOT officials to walk along the street with him.

“We want to find ways to put parking back in,” he said. Powers added, “Part of the reason they’re doing this is to make it cleaner and clearer while the L train closes down about where people should be going, but I understand why people are concerned with the changes.”

Powers said he is also personally concerned about people having to walk through the bike lanes to get to the bus, and has brought this up to the DOT already.

East 20th Street, east of First Avenue

The work is intentionally being done ahead of the L shutdown beginning at the end of April, so there will be time to make changes to the streetscape, should they prove necessary, Powers said. He also asked that anyone with concerns about the new street design call his office at (212) 818-0580.

As a reminder, details of the project include:

  • Bike lanes will be turned into a two-way parking protected bike lane along the north curb.
  • Two bus boarding islands for M23 and M9 stops will be installed and the M23 stop on First Avenue will be moved 145 feet to the east.
  • A curb extension and a pedestrian island will be constructed at Avenue C and 20th Street to shorten crossing distances.
  • Pedestrian ramps at Avenue C and 18th Street will be upgraded.
  • Signal timing at First Avenue and 20th Street will be updated.

9 thoughts on “E. 20th St. already looks different due to new bike lanes, bus islands

  1. There are two large, never-full-to-capacity parking lots under the FDR drive one block away. You can even see them in the distance in the picture that accompanies this article. However, they do charge modest fees for parking. So what these quoted residents are really complaining about is the loss of “free parking”. Let’s be perfectly clear: there is plenty of parking in the neighborhood, but getting a free spot is difficult. Everything has trade-offs and this project ought to improve safety and mobility for pedestrians and bikers coming from the new ferry stop along the river. Something should definitely be done to ensure bus riders are safe as well.

    • I’m pretty sure that most bikers use citi bike and won’t necessarily need to be biking there. Not to mention that we don’t yet know what kind of demand we will have for any bikers at all at this point..

      Parking usually means free parking and also, this location is much closer to those people who don’t live on Ave C..

      Or sidewalks are usually not that crowded ( which is nice) and hoping that won’t be changing. The traffic levels are ideal for children and the elderly as it is.

      Most people will be heading towards Union Sq so this will not be helpful to them, I think.. and has been a headache for those of us that need the bus to be where it was, and for the parking spaces to be there too.

      Between losing Petite Abeille ( who could have potentially benefited from the L shut down and had bigger breakfast, etc crowds from the ferry) and the bus stop and a dozen parking spots lost, this has become a bit of a bummer.

    • Steve it is obvious you do not own a car. There are a few dozen lost free parking spots that the city will never give back to the residents of the area. Just look at 12th an 13th streets. All those lost spots. They claim it is for safety but cars now race down the street because they have a wider road. So there is no safety. I can honestly say there will be more accidents on 12th and 13th streets due to this bike lane addition.

  2. This change in 20th street is the most ridiculous thing I have ever seen. The traffic was already backing up along 20th when it was two lanes. Now, forgetabout it. Why is the traffic department always making things worse????? Bring back the old days with no bikes or bike lanes, thank you.


  3. I’d like someone from the DOT to tell us how many deaths or serious injuries have cyclists incurred on this end of 20th street in the last several years.

    Oh wait, we can look that up ourselves!


    Answer? None! So, why the need for “safety improvements”?

    • T-Mac, please be aware that those are only the reported injuries and deaths. There have been many, many more deaths and injuries of cyclists on East 20th Street in the last three years than you will see in that database. A little sensitivity would be appreciated.

      • What? Oh, you mean all those “unreported” deaths and injuries?

        I guess EMS and NYPD decided to keep those “off the books”, right?

        • I agree with T-Mac the authorities must report all deaths. Perhaps Merrill is involved with something more sinister.

  4. Pingback: 20th Street re-design has residents ticketed, towed and just plain ticked | Town & Village

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.