The thoroughfare that connects the Bronx to Washington Heights recently received a major upgrade with the addition of a combined bus and bike lane project along E.L. Grant Highway in Highbridge.
On Nov. 20, the Department of Transportation (DOT) and elected officials held a ribbon cutting celebrating the completion of the work. The project features a combined 2.4 lane miles of dedicated bus lanes and protected bike lanes, each running in both directions. The bus lanes will serve 56,000 riders every day on three different bus routes.
Data showed that E.L. Grant Highway had seen 44 injuries on average per year from 2013 to 2017, including eight severe injuries.
Riders Alliance Organizing Manager Stephanie Burgos-Veras praised the DOT and the city for the initiative and felt the completed project would make the roads safer for cyclists and bus riders.
“Bus riders are the backbone of New York,” said Burgos-Veras. “Nearly half of bus riders are front line workers. In the Bronx, 95 percent of bus riders are New Yorkers of color, with an average income of $20,000 per year. Buses should be engines of opportunity, but for far too long, bus riders have been left stranded in slow traffic. Bus lanes like the ones on E.L. Grant Highway finally give riders the priority we deserve on our streets.”
According to the mayor’s office, the E.L. Grant bus lane is only the second center-running bus lane in the city, with the first being the Bx6 SBS bus lane. The bus lane aims to “enhance a high-ridership corridor that has been plagued by double parking.” New features of the bus lane include five new boarding islands with benches and leaning bars for riders, with elements to slow traffic, shorten crossing distances and improve overall pedestrian safety.
The 1.2 miles of protected bike lane replaces the standard buffered bike lane that was previously in the area. Five intersections along the bike lane feature shortened crossing distances at Jerome Avenue, 170th Street, Shakespeare Avenue, Nelson Avenue and Plimpton Avenue. University Avenue also features new signalized crossing and there are left-turn restrictions at Plimpton Avenue, 169th Street and Nelson Avenue. The DOT also added metered parking to commercial areas and expanded meter regulations.
Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson, who represents Highbridge, said that the project will ultimately make the roads safer, especially when people begin returning to work in the future.
“The renovations completed by DOT now provide a dedicated bike lane and bus lane to allow buses to move faster while keeping cyclists safe from vehicle traffic,” Gibson said. “There is also enhanced safety for pedestrians at crosswalks and major intersections, such as on 170th Street a few blocks from my district office. This is a tremendous step forward to providing shared streets and ensuring that pedestrians, cyclists, and those using mass transit are kept safe while traveling to their destination.”