The city is looking to make major upgrades on the 13 Harlem River crossing that connect Manhattan and Bronx, to drastically improve pedestrian and cyclist connectivity between the two boroughs. The New York Times first reported on this plan, which is outlined in a new report published by the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) titled, Connecting Communities; A Vision for the Harlem River Bridges.
The city will look to do with these Harlem crossings, what it did with the East River crossings back in 1990s and early 2000s. In the years since making those bridges more cyclist-friendly, bicycle traffic on the crossings has gone up from 3,000 daily cyclists in 2000 to 22,000 daily cyclists in 2017, according to statistics shared by the DOT.
This newly released report is the culmination of work that began in the spring of 2015; the city began hosting meetings with local residents in both the boroughs to come up with this vision. Most pedestrians and cyclists hesitate to use the crossings due to the danger posed by car traffic, and now the city is finally looking to fix that.
On six bridges—Broadway, Madison Avenue, 145th Street, Macombs Dam, University Heights, and Washington—the city plans to install bike lanes. Work will first get started on the 145th Street and Broadway Bridges, and is expected to be complete by 2021. The Third Avenue Bridge will become a pedestrian-only bridge, and the rest will get more upgrades like widened sidewalks and crosswalks.
Work is already underway on the overall project; the city is working to install new protected bike lanes and crosswalks along East 138th Street in the Bronx, which leads to the Madison Avenue Bridge.
“The 2015 re-opening of the High Bridge illustrated the enormous demand for walkable and bikeable crossings over the Harlem River — and also demonstrated just how much work we have to do to better connect Manhattan and the Bronx,” said Polly Trottenberg, the DOT Commissioner, in a statement. “After closely consulting local communities, we believe our vision can tie together the vital neighborhoods on both sides of this river.”