Bike lane network growing

Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg discusses the bike lane expansion at a Flatiron press conference. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The Department of Transportation announced on December 19 that the city created 20.9 miles of protected bike lanes in 2018, expanding the bike network as cyclist fatalities also declined to a single-year-record low.

The DOT made the announcement with transportation advocates and local elected officials adjacent to the new crosstown protected bike lane on 26th Street, just north of Madison Square Park. The new protected bike lane on 29th Street is the westbound counterpart to the pair that includes the new lane on 26th Street, which heads eastbound. The two lanes are midtown’s first crosstown protected bike lanes.

Both new lanes, along with other treatments implemented by the DOT in 2018, were put in place in preparation for the upcoming L train shutdown (since cancelled!) and the majority of DOT’s projects on protected bike lanes in 2018 focused on preparations for the closure.

The new lanes on 26th and 29th Streets, which run from First to 12th Avenue, are among the new protected bike lanes that the DOT expects will be used heavily by displaced L train riders.

Other new protected bike lanes installed this year that are expected to benefit L train riders include the new lanes on East 12th and 13th Street from Avenue C to Eighth Avenue and on East 20th Street from Avenue C to First Avenue, as well as a lane downtown on Park Row from Frankfort Street to Chatham Square. The DOT estimated that two to three percent of the 275,000 L train riders who would have been displaced would have used bikes as an alternative, more than doubling current cycling volumes, especially on routes in Lower Manhattan and near the Williamsburg Bridge.

The expansion of the bike network in 2018 increased the mileage to 1,217, with 119.5 miles of on-street protected lanes.

As of the announcement in mid-December, there were 10 cyclist deaths in the year compared to 24 the previous year, with an average of 19 since the de Blasio administration began Vision Zero in 2014. The addition of 20.9 miles this year was second only to the 25 miles added to the bike network in 2017.

“From the north Bronx to Long Island City, and from Park Slope to here in Manhattan, where we installed four new crosstown protected lanes, our bike projects this year included important safety-focused projects and key network connections to make cycling in New York even easier and more enjoyable,” DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said of the improvements. “And while our Vision Zero work is far from complete, as we near the end of the year, we are grateful for the decline in cyclist fatalities we have seen this year.”

This article has been updated to reflect the governor’s announcement on an alternative to the L train shutdown.

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