Manhattan's Third Avenue to be redesigned with bike lanes

New York City's Transportation Department is set to unveil on Wednesday a plan to modify Third Avenue on the Upper East Side. NYDOT is looking at widening the sidewalks, adding bike lanes and limiting traffic. 

Transportation Alternatives Manhattan organizer Anna Melendez says they took complaints from Upper East Side residents who disliked the traffic and lack of a bike lane on Third Avenue between East 59th Street to East 96th Street and turned it into a grassroots campaign to fix what some refer to as a "car sewer." 

"All of the space here is dedicated to cars to vehicles," Melendez said. "So there's not really space for cyclists. When there's a lot of people, it's also complicated with outdoor dining and everything. So basically, we're all trying to fight for the same space and it's very narrow." 

Third Avenue is made up of four vehicle lanes, two parking lanes, and one bus lane. NYCDOT is looking at transforming the artery into two vehicle lanes, two bus lanes, a bike path, and widened sidewalks. 

In the past year, this stretch of the avenue saw three fatalities and 23 crashes involving injuries, according to Crash Mapper. 

Drivers say two lanes would make traffic terrible. Truck deliveries say they will still double-park. Cyclists say they're afraid of the cars. Pedestrians say they're afraid of the bikes. 

"It would be better, way better," said a resident. "I come here every day for work and I'm afraid every day that I don't make it and get hurt." 

The idea is there wouldn't be more parked cars on Third Avenue. Instead, there would be more pedestrians and paying customers. 

There's no timetable or price tag yet, but Melendez and her team are optimistic. 

"The easiest option should not be to drive your car. Other options, specifically public transit, should be the easiest option," Melendez said. "Those people who have to drive, I understand, but there would be less people on the road so it would be easier to drive. 

The plan will be revealed Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. here