Cyclists will be able to bike midtown during the UN General Assembly

Next week, the city will, for the first time, reserve space for cyclists alongside those chauffeuring dignitaries during the annual General Assembly, Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said.  Photo Credit: Todd Maisel

The city will create temporary bike lanes for the first time during one of the most congested periods of the year in Manhattan.

Next week, the city will, for the first time, reserve space for cyclists alongside those chauffeuring dignitaries during the annual General Assembly, Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said. 
Next week, the city will, for the first time, reserve space for cyclists alongside those chauffeuring dignitaries during the annual General Assembly, Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said.  Photo Credit: Getty Images/Jim McIsaac

Every year, the city restricts cars and bicycles from streets near the United Nations, clearing a path for the slew of diplomats bound for the annual General Assembly.

But next week, the city will, for the first time, reserve space for cyclists alongside those chauffeuring dignitaries, Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said. 

Trottenberg announced Monday that during the General Assembly, from September 23rd to 30th, the city will accommodate cyclists who pass through a security checkpoint on temporary bike lanes on First and Second avenues between East 39th and East 57th streets. She said providing a path for the thousands of cyclists who traverse the area on a typical day is a crucial way to prevent them from taking taxis and snarling traffic in nearby neighborhoods. 

"The U.N. General Assembly sees some of Manhattan’s most congested days of the entire year, and we want to get the word out early to ask drivers to use alternatives,” Trottenberg said in a statement.

This rendering shows where the city plans to direct cyclists, as shaded in green, along Second Avenue between East 53rd and East 42nd streets..
This rendering shows where the city plans to direct cyclists, as shaded in green, along Second Avenue between East 53rd and East 42nd streets.. Photo Credit: New York DOT

Under the plan, vehicles will drive close to the curb and near the permanent bike lane along First Avenue, but will not be allowed to turn between East 40th and East 49th streets. Northbound cyclists will be routed along a temporary bike lane closer to the center of the road, the city Department of Transportation said.

Along Second Avenue, DOT said vehicle traffic will be restricted, but the permanent bike lane will be used by emergency vehicles. So southbound cyclists will rely on a temporary bike lane established on the avenue between East 57th and East 41st streets. 

The temporary bike lane on First Avenue will be open all day and night from September 23rd to 30th. The Second Avenue route will be operational during the days, but closed from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. during the General Assembly.

When the U.N. is not in session, the avenues collectively see a combined average of 6,000 cyclists a day, according to DOT.

Making accommodations for those bikers is solid policy, according to Marco Conner, the deputy director of the nonprofit advocacy group, Transportations Alternatives. 

Trottenberg announced Monday that during the General Assembly, from September 23rd to 30th, the city will accommodate cyclists who pass through a security checkpoint on temporary bike lanes on First and Second avenues between East 39th and East 57th streets.
Trottenberg announced Monday that during the General Assembly, from September 23rd to 30th, the city will accommodate cyclists who pass through a security checkpoint on temporary bike lanes on First and Second avenues between East 39th and East 57th streets. Photo Credit: Todd Maisel

"Walking, biking and public transit are the safest, healthiest and most environmentally sustainable transportation options, and we encourage more New Yorkers to leave their car at home during the General Assembly and beyond,” Conner said in a statement.

Citi Bike administrators are also encouraging New Yorkers to switch to pedaling. Throughout the General Assembly, it will offer a 50% discount on its three-day pass for anyone who uses the code GRIDLOCK19 in the CitiBike app. 

Ivan Pereira