The more than 1,600 bicyclists who ride in and around lower Manhattan’s Park Row can look forward to much-needed relief from extreme congestion along a half-mile stretch by spring.
Mayor Bill de Blasio last week announced that the New York City Department of Transportation, in collaboration with the NYPD, would enhance pedestrian and cyclist access to Park Row. The project is tied to Vision Zero, the de Blasio administration’s traffic safety initiative.
With the installation of a two-way bicycle lane set off by a concrete barrier, bicyclists will no longer have to pedal against road traffic or onto crowded sidewalks. The bike lane will enhance safe access to and from the Brooklyn Bridge without reducing roadway capacity, city officials said in a press release announcing the project.
“New York has so many cyclists,” said Liza Pausma, a tourist from the Netherlands. “These improvements will be useful for tourists, like us, because local cyclists seem to drift in and out of vehicle lanes.”
Not just tourists will benefit from the enhancements. Abigail Weinberg tends to avoid the Brooklyn Bridge altogether when making her commute into Manhattan. “There are so many pedestrians,” she said. “[The improved access] will definitely make traveling over the bridge more pleasant.”
Pedestrians will also benefit from a new crosswalk on the east side of Spruce Street. The crossings at Spruce and Beekman Street will be shortened by expanded median tips, curb extensions and extended medians.
“After years of effort, I am proud that we have arrived at a design solution that strikes the right balance: increasing access through this corridor while at the same time maintaining the safety around one of our most sensitive locations, One Police Plaza,” de Blasio said in the release.
The project also envisions reconnecting the Chinatown and Civic Center areas, which were divided in parts by security measures following the 9/11 attacks. Wayfinding signage will accompany the pedestrian space and bike path to better direct pedestrian traffic towards Chinatown and Lower Manhattan.
“Park Row remains an important artery for our community much like prior to 9/11 times, today’s new initiative is a right step toward that direction and we look forward to working for further improvements to enhance our accessibility and connectivity,” said Wellington Chen, the Chinatown Partnership’s executive director.
DOT also will replace streetlights in the area with brighter and more energy-efficient LED bulbs. The Park Row bike path will eventually connect with the existing bike network via Frankfort street, including the protected lane adjacent to City Hall and the Brooklyn Bridge.
“Park Row should be a welcoming, safe, walkable and bike-able gateway from Chinatown and Two Bridges to the Civic Center, the Seaport area, and the rest of lower Manhattan,” the Manhattan Borough president, Gale Brewer, said.
DOT expects to start work on Park Row from Worth Street to Frankfort Street this fall. Construction is not expected to affect bus service on the M9 or M103 lines.