LOWER EAST SIDE — A two-way protected bike lane along Chrystie Street that was championed by community members and advocates is now complete, along with a host of safety improvements to a nearby hazardous intersection.
The Department of Transportation on Wednesday unveiled the freshly painted bike lane spanning between the Manhattan Bridge and Houston Street as Commissioner Polly Trottenberg led the charge in an inaugural bike ride.
"This is a project that so many in the advocacy community had been talking about for so many years, and we're so thrilled that we finally got this project in the ground today," said Trottenberg, who was joined by State Sen. Daniel Squadron and Paul Steely White, executive director of advocacy group Transportation Alternatives.
The new bike lane caps off a record year in expanding the city's bike network, said Trottenberg, noting the DOT had completed 80 miles of bike lanes overall, 18 miles of which were protected.
With the completion of the Chrystie Street lane, cyclists can now pedal all the way from Downtown Brooklyn across the Manhattan Bridge and up to The Bronx on connected bike lanes, said Trottenberg.
The bike lane was designed and installed in direct response to constituent concerns, beginning when a Transportation Alternatives advocate tweeted to Squadron's office about the need for a protected bike lane, the senator said.
From there, Squadron's office worked with advocates and members of Community Board 3 to put a plan into action, Squadron said. In March 2015, the board called on the DOT to initiate safety improvements in the area, citing an increased bike ridership on the run-down lane.
The agency responded with a plan to create a new, two-way bike lane protected by jersey barriers.
"It all started with a tweet — proof that Twitter can be used for good, not just ill," joked Squadron at Wednesday's unveiling. "And proof that when you have the kind of collaboration we see between elected officials, the community board, constituents, and a great agency like the DOT, you really can make the world safer and better."
The plan also introduced a bevy of safety improvements to a notoriously dangerous intersection where Canal Street meets the Manhattan Bridge near the Bowery. Between 2010 and 2014, over 147 people were injured at the intersection, with five pedestrians seriously injured and one pedestrian killed, said Trottenberg.
New traffic signals and concrete curb extensions have been installed, a pedestrian island was added on Canal Street to give pedestrians more room, and medians and triangles have also been widened and extended while some pedestrian crossings were shortened, according to the DOT.
A new crosswalk with signals was installed on the Bowery Slip for pedestrians who had previously dashed across the intersection unprotected.