Bike Lanes Scaled Back on First and Second Avenues -- at Least for Now

Email a Friend

Rendering Courtesy of NYC DOT

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) In announcing construction will get underway shortly on the First and Second Avenue Select Bus Service lanes, the city is acknowledging publicly that bike lanes, once planned to run from the Battery to Harlem, will now only go as far north as 34th Street. City Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan says it will be "impossible" to get the routes extended to Harlem in this year's construction season, but that she hopes to build the full bikeway in the future.

Even before the announcement was made public, it was causing consternation among city cycling advocates, who were once so thrilled with the designs for First and Second Avenue they were dubbed "bike rapid transit."

The name is a riff on Bus Rapid Transit, the technical forbear for the city's select bus service. The First and Second Avenue bus routes will include many of the features of Bus Rapid Transit: there will be dedicated lanes, fewer stops, and passengers will pay of- board. Officials say that will save passengers about twenty percent on their travel times.

But BRT experts are disappointed the city hasn't fully segregated the bus lanes, as cities like Milan, Bogota, and Mexico City have done, and won't build dedicated stations, which give BRT stops more of a "train-like" feel. Sadik-Khan has said those cities have the luxury of much wider boulevards than Manhattan.  (To listen to WNYC's full series on BRT, click here.)

Still, the city's plans are seen as significant advance over current buses, and are being cheered by transit advocates as relief for east side commuters, who have been waiting half a century for the Second Avenue subway. (With additional reporting by Matthew Schuerman)