Rejoice bikers! New York’s Department of Transportation (DOT) recently announced plans to install eight new bike lanes on several streets in Midtown Manhattan between First and Eighth Avenues. The east-west bike routes in Midtown should make it safer for commuters and bicyclists to reach the office, especially if they live in New Jersey or in Brooklyn. With the new lanes in place, not only will bicycling in Manhattan become safer, commuting crosstown will be easier in general.
The DOT will carve out eight new bicycle lanes, or four pairs of one-way routes: 39th and 40th streets, 43rd and 44th streets, 48th and 51st streets and 54th and 55th streets. Bicyclists may not be entirely satisfied because many of the lanes will alternate between shared and separated lanes. And these lanes will not extend all the way to the Hudson River, so some areas of town will still be underserved (attending a trade show at the Javits Center will continue to be a logistical nightmare and biking through Hell’s Kitchen will still be hell). Nevertheless, the new bike lanes send an important signal that New York is serious about becoming a bike-friendly city.
With the new bike share program rolling out in Manhattan this summer, getting to the office on time should be easier and even healthier. The plans for the midtown bike lanes are not quite finalized, however. Currently the DOT is presenting their plans at various community board meetings throughout Manhattan. Last year the city doubled bicycle commuting since 2007, a year ahead of schedule. The goal of tripling bicycling by 2017 could happen even sooner if these much needed bike lanes are laid out in time for the increase in bicycling that the bike share program will inspire.