White Plains Road redesign extension underway, bringing bike lanes and bus platforms

White Plains Rd and E 222 Street
A protected bike lane and bus boarding island at East 222nd Street on White Plains Road give a look into what the more northern part of the corridor will soon resemble.
Photo courtesy NYC DOT

The open roadway next to the big columns on White Plains Road between East 226th and 241st streets that have served as a sort of Wild West for drivers is in the process of getting a new purpose.

The road was reconstructed last year from Burke Avenue to East 226th Street, and construction is underway to extend the new design northward.

The corridor, which runs below elevated subways tracks, has columns in between the driving lanes and what have been wider-than-necessary parking lanes that invite double parking and other unpredictable vehicular movements.

A diagram shows how the roadway lanes are being redesigned. Photo courtesy NYC DOT

The continuation of this design, which is meant to improve safety conditions, was requested by the local Community Board 12 and the area was targeted as a priority in the city’s Vision Zero initiative.

The project brings protected bike lanes in both northbound and southbound directions, more commercial loading zones, bus boarding islands at East 228th, 236th and 239th streets and a new signal and pedestrian crossing at East 228th Street. Prior to the redesign, bus riders had to cross in front of the ambiguous road space between the columns and parking lane, (see photo below) but the new design will bring concrete islands riders can exit onto.

Pedestrians getting off the bus on White Plains Road have had to cross in front of ambiguous road space. Photo courtesy NYC DOT

The bus boarding islands are under construction with repaving underway on a portion of the corridor, according to NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) spokesperson Scott Gastel. Markings are expected to begin later in September and there is no anticipated completion date for the project yet.

Community Board 12 voted 23-0 with four abstentions in support of the project extension on April 28 after the board’s Transportation and Capital Projects Committee voted by a slim margin of 3-2, on April 14, with members Luke Szabados, former board chair Michael Burke and committee chair John Isaac in support while members Norbert Bryan and Ted James opposed the plan.

According to DOT estimates, about 114 parking spots will be lost along the corridor due to the project.

According to the city agency, the White Plains Road corridor from East 226 Street to East 241st Street — the strip the project extension covers — was the setting of 325 injuries from 2015 to 2019, 76 of which involved a pedestrian. In 35% of pedestrian crashes, a vehicle did not yield to a pedestrian who was crossing the street with the signal in their favor. The ambiguous open space was identified by the agency as a source of collisions, with 22% of vehicle crashes being sideswipes from vehicles merging to and from the open space.

The safety improvements and bike network expansion have shown to be priorities for CB12, a body whose members have previously had concerns over losing valuable parking spots. Road redesigns haven’t been welcomed as warmly in other parts of the borough, with Community Board 8 opposing a road diet on Riverdale Avenue and similar outrage for the now completed Morris Park Avenue road diet.

A DOT map of the corridor shows total injuries in yellow and severe injuries and fatalities in orange from 2015-2019. Map courtesy NYC DOT

DOT street ambassadors surveyed people on White Plains Road this past winter, and respondents expressed a need for bike lanes, citing the e-scooter pilot in the area, according to the agency. Businesses on the road expressed a desire for more loading zones and said double parking is a consistent issue.

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