An increasing number of bicyclists have taken to the streets of New York City as an alternative to trusting the unreliable subway system and perpetually gridlocked streets. While the city has worked to increase rider safety by implementing more protected lanes, crossing Midtown Manhattan still brings cyclists dangerously close to traffic – this won’t be the case for much longer.
Transportation officials in New York City recently announced that they plan to install protected bike lanes, with parked cars on one side and a sidewalk curb on the other, going from east to west, the first of their kind that would allow cyclists to travel from the Hudson River to the East River in Manhattan.
One of these lanes will travel west on 29th street, replacing an existing bike lane protected only by paint, and the other will travel east on 26th street, where there is no bike lane. Each lane will be about 1.8 miles long, and city officials expect them to be completed in 2018.
While recent deaths certainly helped push the construction of these new bike lanes along, including the first death of someone using the city’s ride-sharing Citi Bike program in June of last year, city officials have planned for them for years.
“We clearly feel an urgency on the safety, but we’ve been working on this for several years,” Polly Trottenberg, the city’s transportation commissioner, told the New York Times in an interview. “We’ve long known this is a key part of the cycling network we need to build out in Manhattan.”
23 cyclists died in the city in 2017, an increase from the 18 who died in 2016, and 14 who died in 2015. This trend runs counter to the overall number of traffic deaths in New York City – according to officials, 2017 saw the lowest number of traffic deaths since 1910.
The city currently has 451 miles of protected bike lanes, and 1,180 miles of bike lanes in total, and the plan is to add another 50 miles every year, at least 10 of which will be protected.