Cobblestone streets are beautiful to walk around and add charm to historic neighborhoods, but biking down these bumpy thoroughfares is another story. New York City has solved that problem with a new design treatment to a block-long cobblestone bike lane along Varick Street in the city’s Tribeca neighborhood.
NYC Department of Transportation Bicycle Program Project Manager Nick Carey explained the new lane to Streetfilms this week. He said the project is part of a major north-south route in Lower Manhattan, the south leg following Varick Street. “The thing with cobblestones is, you can ride a bike on cobblestones, it’s just not very comfortable,” Carey said. “So naturally, a lot of cyclists were using the sidewalk,” which is illegal in the city if you’re over the age of 12.
Carey said the granite lane was installed to preserve the historic nature of the street. In house crews saw cut the path for the granite pavers out of the cobblestone road bed, laid down the bike lane with an asphalt base, and hand-fit stones around it. The smooth path is narrow, as it only has to fit a bike tire, but the overall bike lane is six feet wide, delineated with offset cobbles. The granite bike lane is located just south of Canal Street.
“It’s a new tool we have in our toolbox,” Carey said. “Just like green paint, or bollards, or signage.”