Bus Bulbs Are Blooming

bus_bulb.JPG

According to a more-than-a-little-snarky post on Curbed, the first of Lower Broadway’s hotly anticipated bus bulbs has been constructed on Broadway south of Spring Street.

As Streetsblog wrote when the DOT announced the plan to construct the bulbs back in March, this is a noteworthy development for several reasons:

The benefits of bus bulbs include preventing buses from being delayed, reducing sidewalk congestion, providing space for bus shelters and other amenities, and reducing pedestrian crossing times.

In a small but very tangible way, bus bulbs may single-handedly change the pecking order on Lower Broadway by forcing other vehicles to wait behind or detour around loading and unloading buses rather than the buses having to defer to them.

Most promising, DOT appears to be taking a far more experimental approach in this particular project. Rather than allowing itself to become bogged down in complicated, expensive street engineering, it sounds like the agency will be creating the bus bulbs by putting down temporary curbs, filling them in with concrete, and just gerrymandering the drainage. The results might not look particularly pretty but advocates have, for years, been calling on DOT to show more willingness to conduct quick-and-dirty street design experiments.

And now that it’s done, this one doesn’t look half bad after all.

Photo via Curbed

  • Isn’t the rightmost lane in Soho already a bus lane? Does this mean that the rightmost lane will become a mixture of bus bulbs and parking, and that buses will be in the second-rightmost lane, mixed in with the ordinary traffic that’s usually not moving? That hardly seems like a win.

  • Dave

    You mock Curbed, yet steal their photo?

  • Damian

    What’s needed now is a fully-dedicated bus lane with a bus-level platform. Full BRT provides incredibly fast service at a tiny fraction of the cost of digging subways.

  • I hereby give Streetsblog permission to “steal” Curbed’s photo, based on half dozen photos they’ve run that my boyfriend donated to tips@curbed.com. Also, Curbed has been happy to take photos directly off his weblog, and he has been happy for the occasional links back. Long live the internets!

  • And, really, that email address does not need to be a link you annoying text processing algorithm. It was anecdotal.

  • P

    I asked the same question the first time this idea was brought up here. I got the same answer.

    The best I can tell from the map is that the bus lane must not truly start until south of Canal. That’s not how I remember it though…

  • P

    (That was directed to Mike…)

  • P: There is *definitely* an existing bus lane from Union Square to Houston, and it appears there’s one below Canal as well. I’m not as positive about Soho.

    And P: What do you mean by “the same answer”? I don’t see any answer here.

  • crzwdjk

    On that map you can distinctly see the thick solid white line bounding the right lane, which is a good sign that it is (or was) a bus lane. You can even make out a diamond just above Canal. I guess they decided to get rid of the bus lane in favor of bus bulbs and more parking. And there is definitely a considerable amount of bus traffic on Broadway, with most of the Brooklyn and SI express buses running from Midtown to Downtown.

  • P

    I guess they decided to get rid of the bus lane in favor of bus bulbs and more parking.

    That’s what Mike and I are saying. I’m waiting for someone to tell me how this is not a horrible decision.

    If the bus lane was clogged with traffic: enforce the law!

  • P,

    Why wait? Give DOT or the CB a call and ask them. It’s a good question. We don’t have the resources to chase it down right now.

  • I’ve got a call in to DOT for a clarification, but I think I’ve got it right after sitting through the DOT presentation on the Lower Manhattan Traffic Priority Plan last month.

    Here’s a paragraph from the Downtown Express:
    “Under the primary plan, the D.O.T. hopes to prioritize mass transit and local deliveries by turning Broadway’s westernmost southbound lane into a bus-only lane from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday to Friday. To complement the bus lane, the D.O.T. would construct bus bulbs at Houston, Spring, Grand, Walker and Franklin Sts. “

  • I meant to add – the curb lane will continue to be parking (except where the bus bulbs are placed).

  • jimbob

    The difference is that a moving lane is almost always a moving lane – it is rarely outright blocked. On the other hand, all it takes is one car blocking a curbside bus lane per block to render the bus lane all but useless. That is the situation with the current curbside bus lane on Broadway. At least if buses are allowed to stop in the moving lane they are already in (because of the bus bulbs) then they don’t have to waste their own time and cause traffic friction by merging in and out.

    Even though a curbside bus lane might be being eliminated, it’s basically a useless lane that only hinders bus mobility in its current state. I think the non-dedicated moving lane for buses is an improvement even if buses don’t have a dedicated lane, as now they won’t have to merge in and out of traffic due to a constantly blocked bus lane.

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    So essentially, Jimbob, they’re taking a former traffic lane and turning it into a standing zone (to keep standing cars out of the way of buses) and sidewalk extensions? Sounds like it might work.

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