NYC DOT Installs Controversial Bike Lanes On High-Traffic First And Second Avenues In Manhattan

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There’s more bike bedlam in New York City, now that the Department of Transportation has installed new bike lanes in heavy traffic areas.

Residents said they’re wondering what officials were thinking when they installed the lanes on First and Second Avenues from 34th to 59th streets.

It’s an area already so congested at rush hour that cars can barely move, reports CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer.

“I don’t think it’s going to work,” Bruce Silberblatt said.

Silberblatt’s group, the Turtle Bay Association, took pictures showing how the First Avenue approach to the 59th Street Bridge was already congested.

“It was bedlam,” Silberblatt said. “Anybody trying to ride a bike is taking their life in their hands. It’s that dangerous.”

CBS 2 scoped out the area and spotted other potential dangers. Buses come down 48th Street and travel one block to 49th to turn around. They have to cross the new bike lane twice within one block.

A Second Avenue bike lane is next to the Israeli consulate, leaving many wondering what would happen if a man on a bike were a terrorist.

There’s an even bigger problem on the stretch of First Avenue between 48th and 49th streets. The DOT’s own flyer said that there’s supposed to be a protected bike lane, with an additional lane where cars are supposed to be able to park.

However, for traffic coming from 48th Street and from First Avenue, there’s no place for cars to go.

When asked about the potential problems with that plan, the DOT backed off the idea.

“That’s a narrower section, and it’s going to be tweaked to fit in that section,” said Joshua Benson, director of bicycle and pedestrian programs for the DOT. “It’s not going to look exactly the same as the other portions.”

In the end, it may simply be about who the streets are for, what percentage of people who use the streets are bicyclists, and what percentage are driving automobiles.

“It’s a tough number to pinpoint, but where we’ve already installed the new bike path, we see somewhere around 10 percent of the traffic is bike traffic,” Benson said.

Opponents might argue that the 90 percent who use cars and buses should rule the road, especially in an area with such high levels of congestion.

Bike advocates said they’d like to see the bike lanes on First and Second Avenues extend all the way to 125th Street.

Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below.

More from Marcia Kramer
  • Lenny

    There’s no gentle way to say this so I’ll just say it straight out ARE YOU AN IDIOT?

  • Michael Borders

    Just make all the streets in Manhattan pedestrian and bike and forget the cars!

  • Eric

    This is laughably poor journalism and remarkably uninformed editorializing. I guess if I want non-absurdist local news, I’ll have to watch other networks to get it.

  • Richard

    I was going to write something but many people here have said it just as well as I would have. I just want to second all the comments that say Marcia Kramer is an idiot. (‘What if a TERRORIST rides a bike next to the consulate?’ Really?)

  • Andrew

    I understand that a lot of people are anti-bike because they see law breaking cyclists out there. Realize that bike culture is young in this city and will mature.

    But do you really love cars that much? Cars equal traffic, pollution, waste and noise.

    Bloomberg and the DOT are trying to move the city into the future. Millions of people taking individual cars to work is history. Get over it. Take a train, a bus, walk, or ride a bike.

    • Charles

      and it is cheaper to drive from most places close to the city….it costs me about $18 and about 75 minutes to make a round trip driving into nyc from bergen county NJ…..if I take mass transit, then it costs $20 for roundtrip bus ticket, plus $5 subway…and it would take 4 hours…..
      are you suggesting I spend 2-3 extra hours everyday and $7 more for the privilege of riding mass transit?……
      my time is more valuable than that….I would like to spend that time working and with my family…..but you liberals wouldn’t understand that, since you dont work and you hate families…

      • Ted Lemon

        If you live in Bergen County, the transit alternatives suck. You’re a New Jersey voter, and you vote in your local town’s elections. The fact that transit sucks is your responsibility. Don’t lay that at the feet of New Yorkers. And don’t make it New Yorkers’ responsibility to make life easier for you in your car just because you can’t be bothered to support and fund a proper public transit system in your county.

        FYI, there is a sidewalk on the GWB, so if you want to save a ton of money and time, you can bike across it. I don’t know what the access is like on the Jersey side, though.

    • Charles

      it’s about freedom, you commie moron….i pay for a car so i don’t have to sit next to people like you anytime i need to go somewhere….forgive me if i dont want to be spit on, or have teenagers harass me, or homeless people stinking around me, or hear some hi-hop music blasted in my face….or witness a stabbing, or get killed by a bus driver who is texting, or get pushed in front of a train by some pyscho…or get stuck on a bus or train and be late for work and get fired….no thanks…I will happily pay whatever it costs to avoid that whole scene….

      • Ted Lemon

        Well, on the one hand, not having you next to me when I’m riding my bike would be nice, because you are a bit of an obnoxious loudmouth (I hope you don’t take offense—you seem to be willing to own it). But if you want freedom, why not move to New Hampshire, where you can have all the room you want on the road? Just by moving to New York, you are buying into a bunch of things you clearly don’t like, not the least of which is communal living.

        Anyway, I’m sorry your experience of New York is so unpleasant. I spend most of my time in New York on foot or in the subways, or occasionally on a bicycle, and it seems like a very different city to me than the one you seem to live in. All kinds of cool people on the sidewalk wearing interesting clothes and listening to interesting music. Shops with an absolutely amazing range of stock. Lots of local color, like the stencils people paint on the sidewalks with whatever crazy view they happen to want to espouse.

        I can’t imagine why you’d want to live in New York if you don’t see any of that. Maybe you need to get out of your car after all, and let go of a little of that fear. The overwhelming majority of New Yorkers you meet on the street are really great people, and you’re more likely to be hit by a meteor than to meet one of those psychos you’re so afraid of.

    • Nick 1975

      Oh puleeze, these cyclists are just self important yuppies who don’t think the laws apply to them because they are riding $3,000 road bikes. If it were so good as you say, why not bike lanes in Nassau/Suffolk counties or even in Queens. I guess people walking and taking subways aren’t as important because they aren’t these young Manhattan yuppie bike riders with those idiotic plastic helmets

  • Tom Hughes

    The whole article is offensive, beginning with “bike bedlam” as the lead-in. There is no attempt at balance or even investigation. This is a new low. I happen to think these bike lanes are a great idea and long overdue, but, however you feel about them, this kind of chuckleheaded non-journalism only diminishes the debate.

  • JACK H

    Let me know how those bike lanes work out this winter. Or as soon as it gets cold,rains or is just a bad ozone day this August…

    • Ted Lemon

      Biking in New York in the winter is just fine. There are some days when it’s not as practical, of course, but most of the time it’s quite nice—not too cold, and the roads are generally well-cleared, at least in Manhattan. It’s actually nicer than in summer, because you don’t necessarily arrive sweaty. Biking in heavy rain is a drag, but most of the time if you just wait a half hour it clears up. Honestly, do you melt when your hair gets wet or something?

      When I lived in Manhattan back in 1999-2000, there weren’t nearly as many bicycle facilities, and I had a great time anyway. It’s improved tremendously since then. You’re lucky to live in a place like New York! (Not that I’m complaining about Vermont! : )

    • Travis

      #2 city in the country in terms of percentages commuting by bike is Minneapolis, MN, which is colder and snowier than NYC.

    • Steve

      I seem to remember a lot of cars getting abandoned in the street during the last big blizzard.

      Anyway…let me know how that convertible works out this winter.

  • jack h

    We need that cop who took down that crazed bicyclist and was fired for it. I want to make him the new bicycle safety traffic director or better yet the new Transportation Director for NYC.

    • Troll Hater

      ^ Moron

  • B

    Ha! I think the real question is WHAT WAS MARCIA KRAMER THINKING? Hahahahaha! This ‘report’ is one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard. I don’t even live in NYC anymore, but this was compelling enough to comment. What if the man on the bike was a terrorist? Well, what if the terrorist is walking, or riding a motorcycle or was in a car or truck? And of course, the proportion of cyclists to vehicles will remain low as long as vehicles are allowed to ensure riding a bike in what would otherwise be an ideal environment (as well as the most environmentally friendly choice) is a terrifying, dangerous proposition. And of course it takes a special kind of genius to think the best solution to problems, you know, like traffic congestion in limited spaces and pollution, is to not change a thing. I really wonder who the biggest moron is in this: Kramer, the editor/producer who put this intensely stupid piece on the air, or the station that employs them. Truly astonishing. But hilarious! Keep up the good work!

  • BikerNYC

    This woman should be fired from her job for sheer stupidity.

  • Fire Kramer

    If Marcia Kramer devoted her energies to helping the needy instead of fomenting fake outrage over non-issues, the world would be a better place. By the way, Marcia, you can fit a lot more explosives into a car than you can on a bike, so by your logic we should just ban automobiles outright.

  • Biker Ben

    A Second Avenue [car] lane is next to the Israeli consulate, leaving many wondering what would happen if a man [in a car] were a terrorist.

    • deets

      I keep trying to think of reasons why neither she nor any of her editors pieced this one together and sheer, blinding idiocy is the only conclusion I can reach.

  • J.D.

    How did Marcia Kramer get this job? It sure wasn’t by being a diligent journalist or a competent writer.

  • brian

    this woman is a moron. her logic is it’s dangerous to rides bikes now, so adding a bike lane increases that risk? and a terrorist threat? what if someone, um, walked by the israeli embassy with a bomb? i don’t have high expectations for local news, but this is like something from the onion.

    • Connor

      Before I saw that this was CBS I assumed it was an Onion article

  • One side, chubby!

    The city needs to widen the sidewalks to accommodate the slow-waddling obese.

  • Ryan

    I think they should take out the sidewalks. We all know terrorists spend most of their time perambulating with impunity.

  • Keith Snyder

    As far as terrorism goes, I’m actually more worried about the proposed tank lane.

  • Daily Biker

    Terrorists? Shameless fear-mongering. Cars kill 35,000 people in the US every year, and hundreds of those people are NYC pedestrians. Watch the clip and you can see her edging out into the street and almost getting hit by a cab herself.

    • chris

      It’s a shame that she didn’t get hit by a cab herself. She’d be doing the world of journalism a favor.

  • David M

    Even people who write articles and post messages attacking bicyclists and efforts to make urban bicycling safer know deep down that an world where able bodied solitary individuals go about their affairs in multi-ton polluting vehicles is not sustainable.

  • Anonymous

    I think you’re all missing the bigger problem here: First the militant leftist zealots add bike lanes, next they’ll be adding Segway lanes. Can you imagine how much damage a Segway terrorist could do? Welcome to the new America.

  • Opus the Poet

    The OKC bomber was not riding a bicycle, the first WTC bomber was not riding a bicycle, the Dallas bomber was not riding a bicycle… The only cases to “terrorists” using bicycle bombs I have been able to find were people attacking checkpoints in war zones, which is why I used quotes around the word “terrorists”. It actually reduces the ability of terrorists to attack the Israeli compound by installing a bike lane as it provides an additional buffer space to reduce the impact of a bomb.

  • DFG

    10% bikes/ 90% cars – did you forget the walkers? There are 6 times as many people on foot and bike as cars, but you’d rather keep trying to shove more cars into the city. The cars that KILL people every week, and pollute the air.

    Oh dear, a little space is used to make it easier and safer for people that don’t drive. There isn’t any more room for cars unless you make 1st Avenue a highway – we need to make it easier to get around without single passenger cars. Jesus, didn’t we go over this in the Robert Moses era?

    Yeah, yeah there are a lot of asshats on bikes. But the every complaint I hear about a bike, someone DIES because of a car. Ticket the bad ones, hard, bikes and cars alike.

  • Jym Dyer

    =v= Marcia Kramer is obviously auditioning for the Onion News Network. Too bad that takes some, you know, wit.

  • Hells Angels

    Those bike lanes are reserved for Harleys only.

  • Sam goater

    If you build bike lanes then people ride bikes and congestion goes away you morons.

    • Chris O'Leary

      Sorry, Loser Troll, that’s not warped logic, that’s been proven by traffic engineers for decades. It’s a very simple fact based on the theory of supply and demand. Ever heard of it?

    • Opus the Poet

      Bikes use 1/16th of the space of private motor vehicles, so you can replace 16 private motor vehicles with bicycles and only use the space of one private motor vehicle. If all the traffic in NYC was trucks, yellow cabs, and black town cars plus bicycles, there would be a heck of a lot more space on the streets.

  • Ted Lemon

    Man, this is a weird article. Terrorists on bicycles? Congestion on the way to the 59th street bridge? Well duh! Nobody goes that way during rush hour because of the congestion. The congestion is caused by the bridge; if you want it to go away, you need to add lanes on the bridge. Traffic is going to be stopped there whether there’s a bike lane or not.

    I’ve got to agree with the person who said that this traffic is all out-of-towners. I live in Vermont, and I drive to New York when I visit because the train service is too slow and expensive. New Yorkers who ride their bikes to and from work shouldn’t have to suffer if I’m too dumb to stay off First Avenue with my car during rush hour.

    • Ted Lemon

      Right, that’s exactly my point. There’s no way to solve this problem without adding capacity in a place where no capacity can be added. So there’s no downside to putting bike lanes in on First and Second avenues.

      The source of the congestion is the limited capacity of the 59th Street bridge and the midtown tunnel. You could add four more lanes for cars on 1st avenue (if there were room, which of course there isn’t) and you’d still be stuck waiting in traffic for the same amount of time, because 1st Avenue’s capacity is not the problem.

      If adding bicycle lane capacity emboldens some citizens to get out of their cars and ride their bikes, that might actually *reduce* the delay for you in your car. So if you want to see less congestion, you should be cheering this initiative. The point of bike lanes isn’t to punish people who drive—it’s to make better use of limited resources.

    • Tom Terrific

      Marcia Kramer IS an out of towner. She is not a New Yorker. She should be fired. She is the worst reporter in the history of NYC.

  • Chris O'Leary

    I was going to ask Marcia Kramer if she had any shame, but I think this lousy piece of sham journalism answered that question for me.

  • M to the I

    LOL! I love this article! I actually can’t stop laughing. Better than anything the Onion could have come up.

  • NYC driver

    I’m a NYC driver and this is insane. Why shouldn’t bikes have space too?. Better to keep them away from cars rather than having to weave in and out of traffic. You really think someone on a bike is more likely to be a terrorist? You have got to be kidding me. This is really a stretch.

    • r

      Knowing NYC bicyclists, they won’t use the new bike lanes anyway. They much prefer to shoot through traffic lanes the wrong way, force motor vehicles to slam on their brakes, ignore traffic signals, and whine about being victims.

  • steve

    Marcia, Thanks for reminding me why I never watch CBS News, or anything else on CBS any more.
    I’m a driver, with a high income, but I won’t be watching any of your news, shows and advertisements, as long as the CBS management encourages genocidal maniacs like Kramer.
    Is there any memory of Edward R Murrow at CBS?

  • Mike

    Is this Fox News? “…leaving many wondering what would happen if a man on a bike were a terrorist.” Well “some people say” that this reporter is extremely clueless.

  • Bill

    The intent of CBS’ anti-bike (read: anti-common sense) objective is fairly obvious.

    A considerably portion of ad revenue comes from auto makers and sellers. Just look at the fact that the word “cars” in paragraph three has a hyperlink to a car advertisement.

  • chuck

    Nothing I love more than whiners – usually not even residents of NYC – who drive their cars in the city and then complain about congestion.

    I actually live in the city. I ride a bike. And I will get there faster… Bike lanes or no bike lanes.

    PS- Marcia Kramer is an effing moron.

  • Todd

    This is moronic. “bikes break the traffic rules constantly”… Cars don’t??? This city is full of people who drive like idiots, run red red lights etc., etc. Why are automobile operators elevated to the status of saintly do gooders any time the bike discussion comes up???

    I don’t ride in NYC cause I don’t want to die on a bike.

    I love how there “journalists” complain about the bike lanes and blame them on officials when the community boards ask for and approve these projects most of the time.

    • Keith Snyder

      You think Marcia Kramer is a journalist?

  • Oh No, Terrorists on Bikes!

    “what would happen if a man on a bike were a terrorist.”

    That’s nothing. What if a terrorist were wearing ROLLER SKATES???

    Yeah, I know. It blew my mind too.

  • pd

    Marcia brings up one good point: Who are the roads for? I would bet that close to 100% of the cyclists are residents of NYC. Any guesses on the owners of vehicles… .If the drivers are already willing to drive in and out of the city at rush hour, what’s the big difference in congestion, the amount of time to wait for one more light maybe. As I always say to impatient drivers…if your time is so important, why are you driving yourself?

  • chris

    Do you talk to your mother with that mouth? You should be ashamed of yourself.

  • Brian Van Nieuwenhoven

    This is baseless inciteful hate speech. Bicycles have killed nobody in the past 2 years. Cars in NYC have killed 4 bystanders in the past WEEK. SAFE CARS OR NO CARS.

    Also, you know what’s ruining NYC?: People who complain about things ruining NYC. This is a fine city with good neighbors. Have some pride and tact. I am bewildered and insulted that people among me feel like someone using a bicycle is ruining their lives, enough to post on a message board about it, when they live in the greatest city in the world with the best living standards in the world. What toxic, spoiled bourgeoisie attitudes.

  • jack h

    When i see Blumberberg riding a bike daily in these new lanes i will then buy into them. Until then i await the first casualty as the Bloomberg administration tries to prove….You can fit ten pounds of doo doo in a five pound bag…

  • Keith Snyder

    As the bicycle infrastructure grows, the law is going to have to stop treating bicycles as though they’re cars. They have different characteristics and really need to be treated differently, just as pedestrians are. The official state sport of New York notwithstanding (that would be “Complaining”), these are just growing pains.

    • Just sayin

      Agreed. Bike haters like to complain about bicylcists breaking laws but that is only because the law doesn’t make sense as is. Juat as the NYPD (for good reason) does not give tickets to every jaywalker, it can’t give tickets to bicycliists for ever lnfraction, e.g. running a redlight at 5 miles on hour when it is perfectly safe..

      The law shoudl be changed to a reckless standard.and only go after people who are being dangerous on bikes.

  • Steve

    Brilliant, logic! Over 75 people have been killed by cars this year, zero by bikes. But I’ve only lived in New York for 30 of my 45 years, so what do I know?

  • crankmychain!

    Of course, car drivers never break the rules in NYC and it’s not bikes that are causing the congestion – it’s cars that take up 10x the space of their drivers..

    Since when did the car drivers buy the exclusive right to our right of way?

  • Steve

    A terrorist might use it? Have you never heard of car bombs? If that’s the best you can do, Marcia, I hope to see your report calling for all cars to be banned from anywhere near the embassies. You ought to be ashamed of yourself and CBS ought to be embarrassed for having you on the payroll. What a total joke!

  • bobbyshades


  • kdt

    Really? You are so desperate that you were forced to play the terrorist card? And on top of the Israel card, no less? Do you think we’re morons?

    • Keith Snyder

      Yes she does. See comments for evidence.

    • Stan

      Yes, that comment was an 11 on the stupid scale.

      You know what? There is a sidewalk and a road near the consulate too! What if a terroist decides to walk or drive?

  • VLM

    @Ronny: Yeah! How dare they make streets safer for everyone else and more urban friendly! Move to New Jersey if you want soul-crushing congestion and fumes as your norm. Do you actually live in Manhattan or just pretend to?

  • Ronny

    Thank GOD Bloomberg and this idiot traffic commissoner will be gone soon.

  • Michael

    I think all New Yorkers know that cyclists simply do not follow the rules of the road, putting everyone else in real danger. It’s really, really stupid to install more mike lanes without setting up any process to ensure lawful riding first.

    • Chris

      That logic is backward. I think making cycling safer and more accessible should make cyclist obey laws more, and not the other way around. however a healthy dose of traffic law enforcement against cyclists who ignore laws (especially during rush hour) would help too

    • Brian Van Nieuwenhoven

      I think a lot of New Yorkers make generalizations that are at odds with reality. There are a lot of cyclists who follow the rules of the road strictly (especially because it’s deadly for them not to do so), and there is an active, constant process that ensures lawful riding for those who do not.

      I don’t expect you to stand around all day counting cyclists and pedestrians who do and don’t follow the law. But I also don’t expect you to make absolute, authoritative statements that could only be validated by such careful, dedicated observation. Hey, I’ve seen a couple of dogs bite people… surely that means we all know that dogs tend to bite people. GAS THEM ALL…

    • Stan

      I think all cyclists know that cars simply do not follow the rules of the road. They speed, they drive carelessly, they fail to yield and they run red lights. All cyclists know that harmless rule violations like “jaybiking” help to protect cyclists against outlaw drivers.

  • More Bike Lanes

    It makes no sense to have intermittent bike lanes. Why not target aggressive drivers of cars and bikes. As soon as a light is green too often drivers speed ahead not giving anyone room.

  • Frostie

    The same rules of the road that are for cars, should apply to bikes – but bikes
    don’t seem to have any rules – or none that are enforced.
    Bikes come speeding out from all directions, they don’t stop for red lights, they come way out into the middle – they are a menace and hazard.
    Add to that now the skateboarders – its nothing but a big playground – this
    is the worst the city has ever been.

    • Renegade Unicyclist

      Worst the city has ever been? Fewer people die on the city’s streets today than any point in the past 100 years. I’d call that success. What metric are you using?

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