The Bike Lanes Got Approved

Sorry to dribble out the posts about last night’s meeting of Community Board 1’s Tribeca Committee, but it was a doozy. The first item was actually a joint meeting of the Tribeca, Quality of Life, and Planning Committees, and it was about the Department of Transportation’s plan to add bike lanes connecting Warren Street and Union Square. (Since CB1 ends at Canal, the discussion was limited to that part.) You may recall that at CB1’s full meeting in July, the bike lanes were shot down. I don’t go to the full meetings, but the word last night was that several-to-many members wanted the DOT to rethink certain parts and present again.

But first! While the DOT was making up bike-related statistics around here studying the area, it decided to go ahead with one “improvement” and propose another. Already instituted, as noticed last month: Instead of one free-for-all signal where Varick meets W. Broadway (by the New York Law School), one street gets a green, then the other. Personally, whatever. Although I do wonder about the effect of red pedestrian signals alongside green traffic lights—I’ve been known to see green and go.

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CB1 DOT bike lane Varick and WBway signal change18The second change is shown nicely in the renderings below (the second one is just to demonstrate the aesthetics). That pedestrian plaza ending mid-block on Church, below Franklin, was a real safety risk (despite the lack of accidents?), so the DOT wants to bollard it off and paint the asphalt (hopefully not in godawful blue). I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure I’d feel all that safe anywhere in the green area. The DOT doesn’t plan on adding curbs or concrete slabs yet, but it will eventually.

CB1 DOT bike lane ped plaza proposed7CB1 DOT bike lane ped plaza example8Now, on to the bike lanes. I’m just going to run the slides in order (minus the ones above), because they tell the story well enough. Generally, the DOT alternates one slide on existing conditions with one on the proposed changes. And remember, the overall idea is to give cyclists a continuous bike path up Church and Sixth, and down Varick and W. Broadway. At one point, in CB2, cyclists will have to toggle west on Broome, which strikes me as wildly unlikely. Cyclists are like crows; they take the straightest route. And they make a lot of noise. Transportation Alternatives had rallied supporters to come to the meeting—tell me, what is it about cycling that makes people so self-serious?

Sorry, got distracted there. Bear in mind that the DOT uses “facilities” to mean accommodations for cyclists and not, say, racks. These all enlarge upon clicking.

CB1 DOT bike lane project map1CB1 DOT bike lanes facilities list2CB1 DOT bike lane Church and Duane existing3CB1 DOT bike lane church proposed4Here’s an example of a “buffered lane”:

CB1 DOT bike lane buffered example5And now we’re on Sixth Ave., heading uptown.

CB1 DOT bike lane lower Sixth proposed9CB1 DOT bike lane upper Sixth proposed10By “shared lane,” the DOT means a lane that cars and bikes both use. There are lots of markings indicating such, because we all know that drivers in New York don’t remotely treat lane markings like they’re playing Pac-Man. Gobble, gobble, gobble….

CB1 DOT bike lane shared lane example11Now we’re heading downtown. This next stretch—by Albert Capsouto Park—was a problem last time because of the cobblestones. Cyclists tend to ride on the sidewalk, so the DOT wanted to make the sidewalk a bike lane, which CB1 found upsetting. The DOT says its solution “preserves the historic character” of the area, which is kind of amusing given how that block isn’t exactly Olde Tribeca.

CB1 DOT bike lane Varick and Canal existing12CB1 DOT bike lane proposed granite pathway13Heading further down Varick…. Of note in the next two slides: Two of the the traffic lanes will be just 10 feet wide. The DOT says—of course it does!—says that narrower lanes are proven to make people drive go more slowly.

CB1 DOT bike lane Varick and Laight existing14CB1 DOT bike lane Varick Laight to Beach proposed15CB1 DOT bike lane Varick and NMoore existing16CB1 DOT bike lane Varick Beach to WBway proposed17CB1 DOT bike lane WBway and Duane existing19CB1 DOT bike lane WBWay Beach to Warren proposed20Once the full CB1 board approves it—and I have no doubt it will (the vote last night was 5-1), implementation will start, and it could be as soon as next month—except for the granite path part by Capsouto Park, which will come in the spring.

CB1 DOT bike lane summary of benefits21



  1. Eric,

    although I appreciate your comments regarding many things, I think your sarcasm is way off base in this article.

    Narrower lanes do slow traffic. Do you propose repaving that block of Varick in asphalt because its not Olde Tribeca? Are bicyclists any more or less prone to use lanes than cars? If you don’t feel safe in the green area, then wait for the light.

    CB1 seems to be doing its best to try to make fair compromises between peds, cars, bikes, residents, and businesses, are you have decided to take a needlessly provocative tone. Maybe you need to rethink your editorial strategy by reporting the debate on CB1, and editorializing in a separate article.

    I hope its not “so hard to get through to you.”


  2. @Cross: That was nothing (and the DOT brings out the worst in me and the neighborhood — to wit, the blue asphalt on Franklin and the since-discontinued bus bulbs on Broadway).

  3. Your dispatch on DOT’s bike-lane presentation last night is tremendously informative on the proposed new street alignments, lane stripings, etc. So why sully it with gratuitous and often false swipes such as “Transportation Alternatives had rallied supporters to come to the meeting” and “Cyclists make a lot of noise.”?

    Only two bike-lane supporters spoke from the gallery. I was one, and I learned about the meeting only from my wife, who saw it previewed on this site (for which: thanks). By the way, we’ve lived here twice as long as you and have raised a family, to boot. The other supporter works for TA. That’s hardly packing the meeting.

  4. @Charles: Glad you found it informative. I didn’t say TA packed the meeting; I said it rallied supporters, which it did (or attempted to do). So how is that false? And cyclists *do* make a lot of noise—every time I write something, they get snippy. (So maybe I like to provoke them….) I never said they made a lot of noise at the meeting.

    I recall your speech very clearly.

    Maybe I should’ve also mentioned when the TA representative said that the group had had its bike ambassadors go canvass the neighborhood for its opinion on the bike lanes, and how he said that every respondent thought they were a good idea. And only when pressed by the chair did he say that maybe one or two disagreed with them.

  5. What’s with the “pedal rage?” Why are bikers so angry? Is it the ultra-tight shorts too ultra-tight on the goods?