Biking home is a dream. I get to take the 9th Ave separated bike lane to the Bleecker Street lane which, while not physically separated, is curbside so you don’t have to worry about car doors. The care that went into this stretch is evident everywhere along it (see 9th ave slide show). Separate lights regulate cars wishing to make left turns through the bike lane; striping continues through intersections so that cross traffic anticipates bicycles; where cars might be tempted to infringe on the bike lane, like around curves, the bike lane is painted green. The lights even seem to be timed at the speed of a fast bicyclist – something like 20 mph. Apparently a small number of parking spaces on Bleecker had to be sacrificed to ensure this continuity (view slideshow), and boy is it worth it. All the way from 23rd and 9th to Bleecker and Bowery – 2 continuous miles – the biking is smooth and feels safe. Then there is a 0.8-mile period of no-good-options from Bowery and Bleecker to the Williamsburg Bridge, then a safe 1.5 miles over the Williamsburg Bridge, then a tolerable mile in slow traffic down Driggs and Lee.
While my ride features mostly really well designed bike lanes, there is a glaring flaw in the area around the Manhattan side of the Williamsburg Bridge. If you continue along the bike route, you will take a left on Bowery and go a half block out of your way north to E. 2nd Street, and take this to Allen Street, and then take that to Delancey, which is murder. The bike map suggests you take Houston to Suffolk, which seems stupid to me because Houston is a terrible street to bike on.
One solution might be to have a separated bike lane on Delancey from Allen to the current entrance to the bike lane, at Clinton. I like this idea because I think it asks too much of bicyclists to immediately find a side street as soon as they exit the bridge. Knowing you can head in the direction of the bridge and you’ll find the bike lane, as you would if there was a lane for a few blocks along Delancey, rather than expecting to find a dangerous maze where there is one entry point makes it a lot more user-friendly, especially for new bicyclists. Then Allen could be striped with a buffered lane. It currently has a lane, but it is needless narrow, fading, and as you can see in the picture, populated with buses more than bicycles. You’ll still have to go out of your way to take 2nd Street, but at least it will be for a better purpose.
Another option would be to create a separated bike lane on Christie Street along Sara D. Roosevelt Park from Houston to Canal St. This would be great for anyone who uses the Manhattan Bridge, and it would also be useful for Williamsburg Bridge Riders. Of course, then Williamburg Bridge riders would need a bike lane along Delancey all the more.