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Bike lanes approved for Upper Concourse

The city’s Department of Transportation is set to paint bicycle lanes on the Grand Concourse above E. 171st Street. According to DOT borough commissioner Constance Moran, the lanes will link the northwest Bronx to a citywide bike route and result in a safer street.

“I’m glad,” Community Board 7 Transportation Committee chair Lowell Green said. “We hope people will use the new lanes. We hope the city will close the Concourse to cars on a Sunday and invite the neighborhood out to bike, walk and run.”

In 1999, Concourse service roads between E. 165th and E. 170th streets were narrowed. The DOT removed one lane of traffic on either side, widened the medians and added bike lanes headed north and south. Since then, the number of crashes on that section of the Concourse has plummeted. In 2000, there were 90 vehicle, 18 pedestrian and two bike crashes reported between E. 165th and E. 170th. In 2007, there were 24 vehicle, 8 pedestrian and one bike crash.

When the DOT adjusted the service roads in 1999, it positioned planters outside each median, a nod to the Concourse’s former splendor. The DOT recently landscaped the Concourse between E. 161st and E. 166th, beside Joyce Kilmer Park.

“Sidewalks become more enjoyable when traffic moves away from housing and storefronts,” Moran said.

The project north of E. 171st will be utilitarian; no planters, no landscape work. Apparently, there’s no money or time.

“Safety cannot wait for the ultimate beautiful enhancement,” the DOT commissioner said.

Moran hopes that northwest Bronx pedestrians and cyclists will welcome the 6.4-mile project. It will make the Concourse easier to cross. The project will improve connections between Mount Eden, Mount Hope, Fordham and Bedford Park, she said. It will encourage Bronxites to pedal downtown or north to Mosholu Parkway. Moran called cycling “a low-cost, convenient and healthful transportation option.”

Signs and pavement paint will mark the change. The DOT will connect the bike lanes to Mosholu Parkway. Moran didn’t address the affect the change could have on Concourse traffic above E. 171st Street. It will not affect street parking.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s 1,800-mile bike master plan is an initiative designed to reduce traffic and reduce particulate pollution. According to Green, there is a bike safety guide on the DOT’s website.

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