Before the snow hit the city yesterday, city officials and transportation advocates rode across the Williamsburg Bridge, ending up on the Lower East Side to unveil new protected bike lanes on Delancey Street. It’s part of the city’s plan to deal with the shutdown of the L Train tunnel, happening in the spring.
The Department of Transportation believes half of all commuters who would have used the L Train will travel over the bridge by train, bus or bicycle. The Williamsburg Bridge is already the busiest for bicycles of all of the East River crossings (averaging 7,300 cyclists each day). That number could double or triple during the 15-month L Train shutdown.
More from the city’s press release:
By connecting the Williamsburg Bridge bike path with the Allen Street/1st Avenue/Pike Street lanes and the Chrystie Street/2nd Avenue protected lanes, new riders expected during the L train tunnel closure are expected to make safer and more seamless connections to and from most of Manhattan. As part of the project, DOT added a Jersey barrier to protect the lane along the south side of the median between Allen and Clinton Streets, as well as a first-of-its-kind “bike island” at the intersection of Allen and Delancey Streets. Delancey Street remains a focus of Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative to prevent traffic deaths and injuries around the five boroughs. Between 2012 and 2016, Delancey Street saw 24 serious traffic injuries and two fatalities, both pedestrians. A major element in the Vision Zero toolbox, protected bike lanes have proven to reduce crashes and increase street safety for all street users — pedestrians, cyclists and motorists.
Concerns are already being raised about the design of the new bike lanes. Gothamist explained:
Under the current configuration, cyclists traveling east are supposed to enter the bridge by riding for a few bone-jarring feet next to the automobiles screaming up the bridge’s approach, then taking what is essentially a 90-degree left turn up the steep, narrow ramp meant for bicycles, while avoiding the pedestrians congregated on the island. The spot is just a few feet from where 12-year-old Dashane Santana was fatally struck by a minivan driver in 2012, one of two pedestrians killed and 24 others seriously injured on Delancey Street between 2012 and 2016.
A DOT rep noted that not much could be done to address the concerns right now. The passageway can’t be widened because the concrete barrier around the bike path entrance is a post 9/11 security feature. A longer-term solution is possible through the Delancey Street capital plan, but that’s years away from implementation.
The L Train tunnel will be closed for repairs starting April 27.