WATERSIDE PLAZA — The Department of Transportation is planning to rework sections of the bike lanes alongside the FDR Drive service road between East 25th and East 34th streets following complaints from locals, according to a spokeswoman for the agency.
The changes would affect the portions of the bike lane that runs near the 34th Street ferry landing, the Water Club restaurant at 30th Street, and Waterside Plaza between East 25th and East 28th streets, where neighbors have raised concerns about unclear signage and traffic jams in shared lanes, according to the spokeswoman.
At 34th Street, which currently has no painted bike lanes and requires pedestrians and cyclists to navigate at their own discretion, the plan calls for a new, two-way shared pedestrian and bike lane with clear markings indicating where cyclists and pedestrians should travel.
Near the Water Club, where cyclists are currently forced to dismount and walk on the sidewalk, the plan calls for the removal of one travel lane from the roadway, moving the loading zone away from the sidewalk, adding a painted pedestrian walkway sandwiched between the bike lane and loading zone, and creating a two-way bike lane alongside the sidewalk.
The bike lane alongside Waterside Plaza is currently divided in two by a Jersey barrier, with southbound cyclists protected from traffic while northbound cyclists have to share the lane with cars and trucks, which can lead to the lane becoming blocked by large vehicles.
Under the proposed plan, DOT would shift the Jersey barrier to the traffic side of the bike lane, make the bike lane two-way, and reserve the current northbound lane for vehicle traffic.
Despite having some reservations about aspects of the plan, including the removal of a lane of traffic from the FDR Drive, Waterside Tenants Association President Janet Handal said she supports the DOT’s efforts to make the bike lanes in the area less confusing.
“We’re pleased to see they’re doing something about it,” she said. “Many cyclists travel at a high rate of speed along the pedestrian walkway, and we’re pleased they’re working to improve it.”
The transportation committee of Community Board 6 on Tuesday voted in favor of the plan, with the caveat that the committee is opposed to any part of the bike lane being a shared walkway with pedestrians.
Opposition to a shared bike and pedestrian walkway arose out of concerns from residents that bikes traveling at high speed and congestion in the lane would make it unsafe for everyone, according to committee chair Sandra McKee.
“We support the overall plan, but we think a shared lane is dangerous for both bicyclists and pedestrians,” she said.
It was not immediately clear if the DOT intends to take into consideration the committee’s recommendation with regards to the shared bike and pedestrian lane. The agency expects to begin work on the new bike lanes in early summer, a spokeswoman said.