A plan to add a two-way protected bike lane on Delancey Street in 2018 was enthusiastically received by the transportation committee of Community Board 3 last week.
The proposal was first hinted at by the city this past fall. The presentation on Wednesday evening by the Department of Transportation was, however, the first detailed public look at what the agency envisions. The addition of a bike lane is just one of several steps DOT and the MTA will be taking to soften the blow of the looming L Train shutdown in 2019.
The city plans to remove one eastbound traffic lane to create the two way bike path between Norfolk Street and Allen Street. It will run along the south side of the median. A one-way (eastbound) bike path between Chrystie Street and Allen Street will also be installed.
DOT will be improving the connections from cross streets to the Williamsburg Bridge and to the new bike lane. A two-way painted bike path will be created in the center of Delancey (from Suffolk Street). At Allen Street, a two-way bike lane will be added along the south side of the median.
Beginning in April of 2019, the MTA will shut down the L Train tunnel between Brooklyn and Manhattan for repairs. The work is going to take 15 months. In the past, mass transit interruptions (example: Hurricane Sandy) led to huge increases in bike traffic over the bridge. Transportation planners believe the L Train stopage will have a similar effect.
During the presentation, DOT Senior Planner Shawn Macias said about 7500 bicyclists used the bridge daily in 2016. Around one-thousand bicyclists use Delancey Street on an average day. In the past, the city has resisted pleas for a Delancey Street bike lane, preferring to route bicyclists onto Clinton, Suffolk, Rivington and Stanton streets.
Macias pointed to statistics from other major thoroughfares in the city, showing that bike lanes save lives. On Delancey Street, three pedestrians and one bicyclist were killed between 2010-2014. After safety improvements (longer signals, larger pedestrian plazas) were implemented on Delancey in 2012, the number of total automobile crashes dropped by 48%.
The Essex Crossing construction project has forced the closure of one lane on Delancey Street between Essex Street and Norfolk Street. The bike lane project won’t begin until next spring, when the work is completed.
For the most part, members of the committee and the general public praised DOT’s plan. It creates a more direct route between the bridge and the new Chrystie Street protected bike lane and to the heavily used 1st Avenue bike lane.
DOT reps were asked if anything could be done about the chaotic situation (bicyclist/pedestrian conflicts) at the base of the bridge. They said there aren’t a lot of obvious solutions because no capital funds have been allocated for the bike lane project. The concrete barriers in the area were installed as a anti-terrorism measure several years ago, and cannot be removed, they added.
A committee member raised another issue — the sorry condition of the roadway. Even during routine rain and snow storms, big puddles form in the intersections of Delancey Street. DOT was asked whether repaving the street could be part of the project. The question was taken under advisement.
You can see the full presentation below. The board won’t vote on the plan until next month.