1st/2nd Avenue Plan Offers Double Benefit: Faster Buses, Safer Cycling and Walking

One of three designs for 1st/2nd Avenue bus improvements includes an offset bus lane (on the left side of the rendering, in red) and a separated bike lane.

Last Thursday, MTA and NYCDOT officials released a first look at the design for the M15 “Select Bus Service” on First and Second Avenue in Manhattan, winning praise from advocates. The plan would revamp First and Second Avenues by adding a physically separated bike lane along much of the length of both avenues and on-street bus lanes. Riders would pay before boarding, and below Houston Street M15 buses would get signal priority, with traffic lights changing to keep buses on schedule. The bus improvements are expected to cut travel time by 25%, while the bike lane and traffic islands will create a safer cycling experience and reduce crossing distance for walkers. The agencies want to begin upgraded service this October.

At the community meeting where the design was announced, the Pratt Center for Community Development’s Elena Conte noted the large number of older residents along the corridor who would benefit from safety improvements. Advocates including TSTC, the Straphangers Campaign, Transportation Alternatives, AARP, and others applauded the plan in a release, calling it “a sea change in ‘complete street’ design, with huge benefits for pedestrians and bicyclists as well as bus riders.”

Elected officials along the corridor also responded positively, but suggested that the plan could be improved to further speed bus service. A public open house is planned for next month.

More specifics after the jump:

"Design A" combines a separated bicycle lane and includes an on-street, "offset" bus lane that maintains parking and includes bus bulbs so buses do not need to pull over while boarding. Click image for a larger version.

"Design B" maintains the separated bike lane and puts buses in an on-street curb lane. Click image for a larger version.

"Design C" maintains the curb bus lane but replaces the separated bicycle lane with "shared lane" markings. Click image for larger version.

NYCDOT currently plans to switch between these designs depending on road width and traffic conditions, as follows. No changes will be made to the street in the Second Avenue Subway Phase I construction zone until construction is finished:

Click image to enlarge.

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4 comments to 1st/2nd Avenue Plan Offers Double Benefit: Faster Buses, Safer Cycling and Walking

  • Rob B.

    I know plenty of apartment seekers who never look east of 3rd Avenue because of the lack of fast transit. This new plan would enhance the value of this real estate.

  • Rebel

    25% increase in travel time is really not a lot unless you are traveling a significant distance. Assuming the 25% quicker service is even true.

    10 minute trips become 8 minute trips.
    15 minute trips about 11.5 minute trips
    20 minute trips become 15 minute trips.
    30 minute trips become 22.5 minute trips.

    All of those are meh.
    1 hour becoming a 45 minute trip is cool, but still not spectacular.

    You really have to appreciate the green aspect of this whole deal to really like. Its not that fast, and thats assuming that their projections aren’t ambitious, which they probably are.

    However, If they can find a way to have these buses move up and down at normal speeds during bumper to bumper traffic, those are where the real speed gains can be achieved and where the customers can get the most out of the service.

  • In NYC, every second, every minute counts. And the whole ideas is to give priority to the buses, as they carry a significant number of passengers.
    This effort is a first step to what I hope will be many more steps in alocating the street space in a more balenced way – allowing people, not necessarily cars, to move more efficently and offer true choices like biking.
    And stats can make anything look bigger or smaller:
    10 to 8 minutes saves 17 hours a year
    15 to 11.5 minutes saves 30 hours a year
    20 to 15 minutes saves 43 hours a year
    30 to 22.5 minutes saves 65 hours a year.
    So do you want to save 2+ days a year on your commute?

    Minutes may not seem to be a lot, but

  • Great website. A lot of helpful info here. I am sending it to some friends ans also sharing in delicious. And certainly, thank you on your effort!

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