Super Sidewalks Come to UWS, Pedestrians Cheer, Drivers Not So Much

The recently completed super sidewalk on Ninth Ave. is also said create a protected bike lane. Pedestrians and bikers are loving it, but drivers say it is making West Side congestion worse.

| 02 Apr 2023 | 09:40

The first ‘Super sidewalk” on the Upper West Side was opened by the Department of Transportation on March 21 expanding pedestrian lanes along 9th Avenue from West 59th St. to West 50th St. As expected, pedestrians say they love the idea while drivers in autos say the elimination of a lane has made congestion worse.

The Department of Transportation said the new layout alos offers a protected bike lane.

“The redesign of 9th Avenue creates a new balance that much better reflects the way the corridor is actually used, giving a healthy dose of new ’super sidewalks’ to residents, workers, and tourists who for far too long have been squeezed to the margins while motor vehicles have dominated the streetscape,” said Eric McClure, Executive Director of StreetsPAC.

Many local residents are praising the city’s improvements as many travel by foot or cycling due to the lack of parking and find the additional lane necessary during rush hours while making walking more enjoyable.

Walking back from school, Sarah Torpey finds the neighborhood to be more peaceful after they added a new walk lane and “feels safer for both the bicyclists and pedestrians to be a little bit more walled off in the streets, especially with the way parked cars are oriented”, she said.

These new guidelines are all a part of the city’s push towards a Vision Zero future in NYC, eliminating fatalities of cyclists from cramming and traffic induced vehicle accidents. The labeling on the pavement and directions allow for a clear signal to all to decrease the risk for confusion, the DOT maintains.

“When we reconfigure our streets to prioritize safety over speed, we can save lives while making our pedestrian spaces more welcoming for residents and visitors alike,” said Congressman Jerrold Nadler.

Sheina Llanos who was walking to an office job, said she believes the lanes will make for a positive impact as warmer weather approaches. “When there’s a lot of people on the sidewalk, [the super sidewalk] gives us more space,” she said, adding, “I think less people should be driving anyway.”

Drivers, on the contrary, weren’t so happy with the removal of a lane of traffic. One driver said, “I rarely notice pedestrians using the extended path and the buildup of cars has been crazy, I’ve had to leave my house 20 minutes earlier.”.

But it looks like the super sidewalks are here to stay—and as DOT monitors the situation, the agency said it is considering rolling them out to other neighborhoods.

Further improvements to look out for include similar upgrades to the sidewalks and enforcing parking-protected bike lanes from West 14th Street and 52nd Street. With painted islands and offset crossing, commuters will experience improved visibility, slow turns, and shorten crossing distances, along with signal phases at key intersections, the DOT maintains.

“When there’s a lot of people on the sidewalk, [the super sidewalk] gives us more space. I think less people should be driving anyway.” Sheina Llanos, west side walker.