125th Street, Manhattan

125th is a heavily congested commercial destination in Harlem, as well as a critical connector for bus riders, bike riders, and people accessing bridges to other boroughs.

Why we chose this site: The problem here is a street plagued by an inequitable distribution of street space. What results are long commutes for bus riders, insufficient infrastructure for cyclists, widespread air pollution, and high rates of traffic violence.

💡 We say: It doesn't have to be this way

New York City’s buses are the slowest in the nation, but when the new 14th Street Busway in Manhattan was implemented, it increased bus speeds by as much as 24 percent and ridership by as much as 30 percent. 125th Street is reimagined as a true commercial backbone with this recent win in mind. We embrace a center-running bus lane which makes room for a two-way cycle track on the south side, while still retaining one travel lane in each direction in addition to delivery and loading zones.


📣 Actionable design recommendations

Based on the needs and problems that we heard from Transportation Alternatives members in Manhattan, here are the top three implementation-focused strategies we recommend for this site — explored above in the video and below in more detail.

rendering of 125th with a center bus lane

1. Center-running bus lanes

Bus lanes ensure that disproportionately low-income and BIPOC bus riders aren’t stuck in the traffic created by private vehicles. We propose the city install center-running bus lanes to minimize double parking and delays by private vehicles, and allow for a cycle track.

2. Greenery to combat high pollution and asthma

In times of extreme weather, trees increase a city’s resiliency. During summer heat, their shade can lower surface temperatures by up to 20°C, and during heavy rain, a single street tree can reduce runoff by around 60 percent. Throughout the year, they also clean the air: one tree can remove 26 pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere annually.

rendering of protected bike lanes and more green space
rendering of bike parking and secure bike storage

3. Containerized trash and secure bike storage

A parking space which once stored a single car can instead hold waste receptacles or secure bike parking. Moving trash from piles on the sidewalk to sturdy containers in the street will increase pedestrian space, ease the work of sanitation workers, and reduce rat populations, while creating secure bike parking will expand access and reduce maintenance costs for bike owners.

If you believe in this future for New York City, join TA today.

Your donation enables TA to harness the power of the grassroots to make our streets safer, more livable, and more vibrant for all New Yorkers.