November 15, 2018
New bike lane along major Lower East Side corridor to the Williamsburg Bridge is expected to handle thousands of new daily cyclists in the spring
NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced the official opening of a new two-way protected bike lane along Delancey Street on the Lower East Side, which provides a safer route for bicycle commuters traveling to and from the Williamsburg Bridge. The bridge, already the busiest for cyclists among all East River crossings, is expected to play a central role during the shutdown of L train service between Brooklyn and Manhattan – when half of L train riders are expected to travel daily over the bridge by train, bus or bicycle.
“We are doing critical work now to help mitigate New Yorkers’ pain during the L train repairs,” said Mayor de Blasio. “We look forward to welcoming thousands of daily cyclists to the new protected bike lane down Delancey Street, which will be a key link in our transportation network when the L train tunnel shuts down.”
“Increasing access for cyclists will help make the Williamsburg Bridge a showpiece for how we can and will keep New Yorkers moving during next year’s challenging shutdown,” said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. “Delancey Street serves as the bridge’s front door, and the new bike lane there will play an outsized role as a vital connector for thousands of new bicycle commuters, joining more than 100,000 new daily train and bus commuters on the bridge when the L train tunnel closes. We are confident that the 115-year old ‘Willy B’ is ready for her close-up.”
New Delancey Street Bike Lane – The new quarter-mile-long two-way bike lane closes a notable gap in DOT’s protected bike lane network in Lower Manhattan. Bike travel volumes over the Williamsburg Bridge remain the highest of the four East River Bridges with an average of nearly 7,300 cyclists each day. Estimates are that daily volumes will double or even triple during the 15-month L train tunnel closure.
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.
About the Williamsburg Bridge
Opened in 1903, the Williamsburg Bridge was the second major East River bridge crossing to open, after the Brooklyn Bridge in 1883. It was originally built to accommodate trains on its central tracks, with trolleys and other vehicles on its outer roadways. Neglected for much of the 20th century, the bridge was deemed unsafe in 1988, when it was forced to close for two weeks for emergency repairs. Over the last thirty years, over $1.2 billion of Federal, State and City investment led to comprehensive repair or replacement of every element of the bridge, bringing the bridge from being rated in “poor” condition to currently being rated in a “state of good repair.” Operated and maintained by the New York City Department of Transportation, the bridge accommodates about 100,000 vehicles every day, along with hundreds of MTA trains.
With the closure of the L train tunnel, about half of the 225,000 displaced L riders are expected to commute over the Williamsburg Bridge on a daily basis: according to MTA estimates, 32 percent of L riders are expected to travel on the J, M and Z lines, which will increase frequency over the bridge; another 17 percent are expected to ride on L-Alternative buses over the bridge (which will have HOV3 restrictions during the tunnel closure) that will connect subway transit hubs in Brooklyn and Manhattan; another 2-3 percent are expected to bicycle or walk over the bridge.
“If we’re going to keep the L train shutdown from becoming an L-pocalypse, we need a creative, multi-modal approach with every tool on the table. Improving and expanding cycling infrastructure has to be part of that,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “This new protected bike lane and related street and bridge improvements will help thousands of new cycling commuters get where they need to go.”
“The opening of this highly-anticipated new two-way bike lane is an exciting improvement for the thousands of cyclists who cross the Williamsburg Bridge every day,” said Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez. “Not only will the Delancey Street bike lane improve convenience for those traveling on two wheels, it will greatly promote safety and wellbeing for all at a time when local bike ridership is expected to surge due to the L train repairs. I would like to especially thank NYC DOT and members of the community who came together to make this bike lane a reality.”
“The long-awaited, two-way protected bike lane on Delancey Street will facilitate safe travels of thousands of cyclists, especially when the L train tunnel closes in April and many more New Yorkers will have to rely on bicycles to travel over the Williamsburg Bridge,” said State Senator Brian Kavanagh. “We need to continue to look for ways to expand and strengthen our multi-modal transit system, but this is a good step forward.”
“The safety of everyone sharing our roads must be our number one priority, which is why I am happy to welcome the latest dedicated bike line along Delancey Street in our growing community,” said Council Member Margaret S. Chin. “I thank the Mayor and Commissioner Trottenberg for their commitment to Vision Zero, and look forward to continuing to work together to ensure a safer City for all.”
“I’ve said since the beginning of this process that mitigating the L-Train shutdown is going to take an all-of-the-above approach that includes more accessible streets for New Yorkers who want to travel by bicycle,” said Council Member Stephen Levin. “This new protected bike lane connecting the Lower East Side to the Williamsburg Bridge is a much needed fix and will provide riders with a safer route for their commute and help alleviate congested roads by giving commuters more options. I commend the Mayor and DOT for listening to residents who insisted on a comprehensive vision for the L-Train shutdown that included better protections for pedestrians and cyclists.”
“Mayor De Blasio and Commissioner Trottenberg’s commitment to improving our city’s cycling infrastructure allows everyone — from Citi Bike riders to working cyclists to pedestrians — to benefit from safer streets,” said Citi Bike General Manager Kris Sandor. “During the L train shutdown we know this infrastructure will be appreciated more than ever, and we look forward to working closely with the administration to make Citi Bike part of the solution.”
"Bike traffic is going to skyrocket when the L train shuts down next spring, and the Department of Transportation deserves credit for proactively closing gaps in the city's network of protected bike lanes," said Chelsea Yamada, Transportation Alternatives' Manhattan Organizer. "These cyclists, many of whom will be new to this commute mode, are going to need safe, convenient options for connecting between the Williamsburg Bridge and Manhattan's existing north-south bike routes."