DOT plans new UWS bike lanes

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Amsterdam Avenue, Columbus Circle slated for reconfiguration under proposal


  • One lane of traffic on Amsterdam/10th Avenue between 52nd and 72nd Streets would be removed to make way for a protected bike lane if a new DOT proposal is implemented. Image: NYC DOT

  • A new bike lane would be added to Columbus Circle under a recently announced DOT proposal. Image: NYC DOT

Manhattan bikers could soon have a much safer route between the Upper West Side and Midtown.

Amsterdam Avenue and Columbus Circle would be redesigned to accommodate new bike lanes under a proposal recently announced by the city’s Department of Transportation.

Columbus Circle’s current configuration makes the iconic intersection extremely difficult to navigate for cyclists. Bikers must share traffic lanes with vehicles for much of the circle and contend with cars changing lanes to exit on Broadway, Central Park South and Central Park West.

The DOT’s redesign would create a dedicated bike lane hugging the island in the center of Columbus Circle, which cyclists would access via new bike lanes near pedestrian crosswalks. The measure would not require the removal of a vehicle lane.

The DOT’s vision for the West Side also includes a proposal to install a northbound protected bike lane on 10th Avenue beginning at 52nd Street. The protected lane would continue past 59th Street, where 10th Avenue becomes Amsterdam Avenue, and connect to the existing protected bike lane on Amsterdam Avenue that begins at 72nd Street and runs to 110th Street.

Expanding the city’s network of protected bicycle lanes, in which a curbside bike traffic is separated from moving vehicles by a parking lane, have been a top priority in recent years for DOT, which has added over 70 miles of protected bike paths since 2006.

The Amsterdam/10th Avenue lane would provide a new northbound protected bike route connecting Midtown with the Upper West Side. (There is currently a southbound protected lane on Columbus Avenue, but no northbound protected route that runs the length of the Upper West Side other than the Hudson River Greenway within Riverside Park.)

DOT officials hope the measure will improve safety along this stretch of Amsterdam/10th Avenue, which has proven a dangerous thoroughfare for cyclists, pedestrians and motorists alike. The corridor was the site of 277 traffic-related injuries from 2012 to 2016.

Bikers currently share the road with six lanes of vehicle traffic during peak travel hours. Two cyclists were killed in collisions with vehicles on Amsterdam/10th Avenue last year, one at 55th Street in June and another at 72nd Street in October.

During off-peak hours, 79 percent of vehicles exceed the citywide speed limit of 25 miles per hour, according to a speed study on the corridor conducted by DOT last year. According to DOT, the removal of one vehicle lane to make way for the protected bike lane will have a calming effect on vehicle traffic. In addition to making the road safer for cyclists, DOT officials say the bike lane will improve safety for motorists and pedestrians. New pedestrian islands at corners would shorten the crossing distance on the wide avenue, where 109 pedestrians were injured in collisions from 2012 to 2016.

DOT statistics indicate that injuries to pedestrians and motorists drop 15 and 21 percent, respectively, on streets after a protected bike lane is installed.

The Amsterdam/10th Avenue redesign will necessitate the removal of 44 parking spaces along the corridor to make way for pedestrian islands and turning lanes.

DOT officials presented the plans to Hell’s Kitchen residents at a Community Board 4 meeting June 20 and will share the proposal with the Upper West Side’s Community Board 7 in July. The community boards play a non-binding advisory role in the process.

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