L-train non-shutdown fallout: Bike lane battle shaping up along 12th and 13th streets

[Photo on 13th Street near 4th Avenue from early January]

The newish unprotected bike lanes on 12th Street and 13th Street have become a battleground following Gov. Cuomo’s sudden cancellation of the L-train shutdown.

The lanes arrived back in late October and early November, part of the city’s plans to help move people when the L-train was to shut down in April 2019 for 15 months for Sandy-related repairs between Eighth Avenue and Bedford Avenue.

Now, though, there’s a movement afoot to get the city to remove the bike lanes via the 14th Street Coalition. (The group is also calling for the removal of the newly painted dedicated bus lanes on 14th Street.)

Streetsblog was first to report this past Thursday that someone spread broken glass along parts of the bike lanes on 12th Street and 13th Street on the west side. Per Streetsblog: “[C]yclist Jonathan Warner noticed that the lanes on 12th and 13th streets were covered in patches of broken glass, which he believed was an intentional attack on cyclists.”

Gothamist has a good recap at this link. Read Streetsblog’s follow-up report here.

At the same time, Transportation Alternatives launched a petition drive to retain the bike lanes (as well as the 14th Street bus lanes). Per the petition:

With M14 buses traveling at barely above walking speed, 14th street sidewalks fill to the brim with pedestrians, 12th and 13th street bike lanes adding a safe way for people to bike crosstown and upcoming infill expansion of Citi Bike, these improvements were needed before the announcement of the shutdown, are going to be needed during the partial shutdown, and will be needed after the repairs are finalized.

These improvements will help provide faster, safer and more efficient modes of transportation for New Yorkers to travel crosstown and alleviate congestion in our streets.

There were also signs up along the bike lanes… an EVG reader shared this photo from Thursday night on 12th Street between Fifth Avenue and University Place…

Per the EVG reader: “Funny thing is, the NYPD does a shit job of policing the lane so there were, as usual, many cars parked right in the green stripe on several other blocks, rendering the bike lane unusable. But that’s normal, whereas broken glass and nasty NIMBY notes are a little more novel.”

The arrival of the broken glass and signs drew a strong response from city officials…

In a statement to Streetsblog, the 14th Street Coalition said they “had no involvement in, nor condoned, the defacing of bike lanes.”

Meanwhile, also on Thursday, someone painted “Bring back our parking” on 13th Street just east of Avenue A…

The DOT painted over the message on Friday morning, as these photos via Steven show…

Last Tuesday, Andy Byford, CEO of the New York City Transit Authority, told attendees of CB3’s Transportation, Public Safety, & Environment Committee meeting that the fate of the bike lanes is up to the Department of Transportation while the future of the 14th Street Select Bus Service will be a joint decision.

In other post-L-train-shutdown developments… residents are asking what impact Cuomo‘s new plan might have on the construction on 14th Street between Avenue B and First Avenue.

One longtime 14th Street resident, who has spoken out on the numerous quality-of-life issues the construction has created in the past year, told me this:

“We’re not sure if this will affect us at all much. We do hope, however, that the pols will call for an immediate stop to the night time and weekend work. There is no need to subject our neighborhood to these hours now.

Also, the MTA needs to be pressured to finish [the new entrances on] Avenue A. There is no reason it can’t be finished now. They were just stalling the use it as the entry/exit for their infrastructure. An exit doesn’t take three years to build.”

Town & Village has more on this story here.

T&V also noted that workers removed some of the L-train renderings from 14th Street after Cuomo‘s announcement. A few remain for good measure, though…

The MTA is now holding an emergency public meeting tomorrow to discuss the L-train’s reconstruction future.

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