During rush hour in Manhattan, you’re likely to encounter just as many pedestrians using Eighth Avenue’s protected bike lane as you will cyclists.
The problem isn’t necessarily that people are unwilling to walk on the sidewalk; it’s that the sidewalks on this busy midtown avenue cannot accommodate the volume of pedestrian traffic, especially between Penn Station and the Port Authority Bus Terminal. This creates a rather chaotic — and potentially dangerous — environment for both pedestrians and cyclists, as the video illustrates.
The situation on Eighth Avenue should be instructive for the New York City Department of Transportation as a study on protected bike lanes and pedestrian improvements for Fifth and Sixth Avenues moves forward.
The City has been making steady progress on creating a robust network of bike routes that minimize conflicts between cyclists and vehicular traffic. The next step is to ensure that street redesign projects also provide ample sidewalks to accommodate New York City’s most prevalent travel mode — even if it means losing vehicular travel lanes. Doing so would discourage people from using protected bike lanes as extensions of the sidewalk, thereby minimizing conflicts between cyclists and pedestrians.