A long-planned and much-awaited major safety improvement project is finally complete, according to the City’s Department of Transportation (DOT).
The stretch along Third Avenue from East 59th to East 96th Street has been redesigned at every intersection and now boasts wider bike lanes, offset bus lanes, and speed limit reductions. The changes were made to address serious safety issues that saw 37 crashes with severe injuries and seven deaths between 2016 and 2022.
“This transformative redesign of Third Avenue will make the street safer for everyone—whether you are walking, biking, or driving—and helps prioritize the tens of thousands of bus riders who rely on this street every day for safe bus service,” said NYC DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez.
Third Avenue sees 150 buses during “morning peak hour” from 8:00-9:00 a.m. between the M98, M101, M102, and M103 bus routes. However, these buses travel at below-average speeds during both the morning and evening rush hours. The new offset bus lanes will “use the lane adjacent to the parking lane” and keep the bus lane clear while “retaining space for parking and loading.”
The changes to the bike lanes along the nearly two-mile stretch were made to meet the demand of “record high bike ridership and expected future growth.” Most city bike lanes are six feet wide with a five-foot buffer. The new lanes are nine feet wide with a three-foot buffer, according to the DOT press release. Even bigger spaces were created at uphill areas between 64th and 66th streets and between 80th and 82nd streets (11 feet) – as well as at eight intersections that permit left turns at the light (10 feet).
The project also implemented some upgrades to improve pedestrian safety. These include the addition of pedestrian islands, offset crossings, and “left turn lanes with dedicated turn signals to reduce conflict between turning vehicles and cyclists and pedestrians.” Delivery workers now also have dedicated spaces “to rest or wait for deliveries.” Those are located between 84th and 85th streets and between 86th and 87th streets.
Though some intersections currently have temporary plastic bollards in place, the DOT Department of Transportation intends to monitor and make adjustments as needed, according to Patch.