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Posts from the Bicycling Category

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The Port Authority’s Missed Opportunity to Make a Bike-Friendly GW Bridge

Weissman's proposal would put 10-foot bike lanes to the side of the existing paths. Image: Neile Weissman

A proposal from former New York Cycle Club president Neile Weissman would put 10-foot bike paths below existing paths on the GWB, which would be reserved for pedestrians. Image: Neile Weissman

Next year, the Port Authority will begin a seven-year, $1.03 billion renovation of the suspension cables on the George Washington Bridge [PDF]. Announced in March 2014, the project includes new ramps to the bridge’s bike and pedestrian paths, eliminating stairs and a hairpin turn. But it won’t widen a bike path that is already too small for the amount of cycling traffic it receives.

When both paths are completed, pedestrians will be directed to the south side of the bridge, while cyclists will take the north. At eight feet wide (6.75 feet at pinch points), both paths fall short of the 14 feet preferred by the Federal Highway Administration and the 16 feet recommended by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.

Neile Weissman, a former president of the New York Cycle Club, has been campaigning to make the paths sufficiently wide. “They’re taking these paths apart and they’re putting them back together,” he said. “This is a once-in-90-years project, and they’re not building it out to modern standards.”

The George Washington Bridge gets more than 500 cyclists and pedestrians during its peak weekend hours, by Weissman’s count. And cycling on the bridge is on the rise, increasing 32 percent from 2010 to 2014, even with today’s substandard conditions.

Weissman is not convinced that the Port’s plans for separate bike and pedestrian paths will work in practice — witness the frequent presence of pedestrians on the Manhattan bridge bike path. As the number of cyclists and pedestrians crossing the bridge continues to grow, Weissman is concerned that conflicts between the two will also increase. A path less than seven feet wide at pinch points won’t be good enough.

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Jay Street Protected Bike Lane Construction Begins Next Week

Good-bye to all that: with a protected bike lane, Jay Street will (hopefully) be rid of its notorious double-parking.

On Jay Street’s painted bike lanes, double-parking and placard abuse are rampant. A protected bike lane aims give cyclists a clearer path.

Work on the protected bike lane on Jay Street in Downtown Brooklyn — including a new signalized crossing at the foot of the Manhattan Bridge — begins next Thursday, July 28.

With around 2,400 cyclists a day, Jay Street is one of the busiest bike routes in the city — cyclists account for 34 percent of vehicle traffic during rush hour. But people on bikes have to deal with chaotic street conditions and rampant parking placard abuse.

The painted lanes on each side of Jay Street will be replaced with parking-protected bike lanes between Fulton Mall and the Manhattan Bridge [PDF]. That should make conditions much less stressful for cyclists, though at five feet wide with a two-foot buffer, the bike lanes will be narrower than design standards recommend.

At the Manhattan Bridge off-ramp north of Nassau Street, a new signalized crossing will enable pedestrians and cyclists to proceed without having to worry about traffic coming off the bridge. A section of fence around the plaza at the foot of the bridge will open up access for pedestrians at the crossing.

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Streetsblog USA
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Report: As Cities Add Bike Lanes, More People Bike and Biking Gets Safer

safety_in_number_charts

Cities adding bike infrastructure are seeing a “safety in numbers” — more people on bikes plus lower risk of severe or fatal injury. Graphs: NACTO

The more people bike on the streets, the safer the streets are for everyone who bikes. This phenomenon, originally identified by researcher Peter Jacobsen, is known as “safety in numbers.” And that’s exactly what American cities are seeing as they add bike infrastructure — more cyclists and safer cycling — according to a new report from the National Association of City Transportation Officials [PDF].

The report is part of NACTO’s research series on implementing equitable bike-share systems. NACTO makes the case that large-scale bike-share systems can improve access to jobs in low-income communities by extending the reach of bus and rail lines, and — citing the safety-in-numbers evidence — that good bike lanes have to be part of the solution. Otherwise dangerous street conditions will continue to discourage people from biking.

NACTO tracked changes in bike commuting, bike lane miles, and cyclist fatalities and severe injuries in seven U.S. cities that have added protected bike lanes and bike-share systems over the past decade or so. In all seven cities, cycling has grown along with the bike network, while the risk of severe injury or death while cycling has declined.

In five of the cities — Chicago, Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia, and Portland — the absolute number of cycling deaths and severe injuries fell between 2007 and 2014, even as cycling rose substantially. In the two other cities — San Francisco and Washington, D.C. — deaths and serious injuries increased somewhat, but not as much as the increase in bicycle commuting.

New York City, for example, has added about 54 miles of bike lanes per year since 2007. Chicago has added about 27 miles per year since 2011. Over that time the risk of severe injury or death while cycling has decreased by about half, NACTO reports.

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Eyes on the Street: Much of the 158th St. Greenway Connector Is Missing

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158th Street looking east toward Riverside Drive.

A utility crew ripped up 158th Street where a two-way bike lane connects to the Hudson River Greenway and hasn’t re-installed the bike lane after patching up the asphalt.

A reader sent us photos of the bikeway, which is supposed to be a green, two-way route between Broadway and the Henry Hudson Parkway, separated from car traffic by plastic posts. A ramp at the western end of the bike lane leads to the greenway.

The bike lane was installed last year as part of a package of bike and pedestrian improvements linking the greenway and the car-free High Bridge.

We asked DOT why this happened and when it would be fixed. DOT said it “is aware of the condition of the bike lane at 158th Street, where utility work was recently done, and are working with the contractor to remedy the situation.”

Without the paint, our tipster said, the bike lane is being used for parking, like it was before the plastic posts were installed.

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Can a “Tuff Curb” Protect Cyclists on 2nd Ave? We’re About to Find Out

Between 52nd Street and 43rd Street he new bike lane will only be protected during off-peak hours. Image: DOT

Between 52nd Street and 43rd Street the new bike lane will only have a “low profile tuff curb” for protection during off-peak hours. Image: DOT

DOT has a plan for a protected bike lane on 16 blocks of Second Avenue that will test out a new configuration, where the only protection is a row of short, yellow plastic “tuff curbs.” The project shrinks the protected bike lane gap on the avenue in Midtown but still exposes cyclists to fast-moving motor vehicles on the heavily-trafficked approach to the Queens Midtown Tunnel. DOT presented the plan last night to the Manhattan Community Board 6 transportation committee, which endorsed it with one abstention and no votes against.

The project calls for a bike lane between 59th Street and 43rd Street [PDF], leaving several blocks approaching the Queens Midtown Tunnel with no changes. Between 59th and 52nd Street, the bike lane would be protected with parked cars. But from 52nd Street to 43rd Street the protection afforded by a parking lane will not be in effect during peak hours.

From 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. parking and commercial loading zones will give way to motor vehicle traffic along that nine block stretch. Additionally, between 48th Street and 43rd Street, there will be moving traffic next to the bike lane from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. To deter motorists from entering the bike lane along those blocks, DOT plans to install “low profile tuff curbs” — yellow plastic bumps.

Since 2010, motorists have killed one cyclist and four pedestrians in the project area, including 79-year-old Teresa Martinelli, who was killed at 58th Street just last week.

The absence of round-the-clock parking lanes will weaken pedestrian safety measures as well. The parking protected section will have pedestrian islands and dedicated turn signals at some intersections, so pedestrians and turning drivers don’t have simultaneous “go” signals. Below 52nd Street, the rush hour lane traffic lanes preclude those measures. Instead, the plan calls for painted curb extensions on side streets to induce motorists to make tighter, safer turns (see above).

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With Matthew von Ohlen’s Killer Still at Large, NYPD Is in Bike Blitz Mode

You read that right: While the driver who brazenly struck and killed Matthew von Ohlen last weekend has yet to be apprehended, police officers are handing out frivolous tickets to cyclists on the Manhattan Bridge.

Police are stopping cyclists on the bridge for riding without a bell, according to several accounts on Twitter.

So far this year, motorists have killed 12 cyclists on New York City streets, an increase from five at the same point last year, according to the New York Times.

Other than a one-week initiative in May to keep bike lanes clear of motor vehicles, the NYPD hasn’t updated its usual approach to “bike safety” — ticketing cyclists who break the letter of the law but don’t endanger anyone.

Even after a driver was shown on video deliberately running over von Ohlen, inflicting fatal injuries, the local precinct responded by ticketing cyclists and handing out flyers.

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The New York of 2016 Needs the Wide, Generous Sidewalks of 1906

The Times ran a feature on the pedestrian crush in New York City today, and as good as the photos are, they don’t do the situation justice. To get a sense of just how inadequate the sidewalks are in Midtown, you need to go there — or failing that, watch this Streetfilm from 2009 with narration by Streetsblog publisher Mark Gorton.

Believe it or not, these scenes of people overflowing off the sidewalk were shot during a post-recession ebb in pedestrian traffic, according to DOT counts cited by the Times. Since this video was made, the crowding has actually gotten worse.

New York didn’t always have such meager sidewalks — over the years, the city systematically shrank pedestrian space to make room for motor vehicles. Here’s a look at the sidewalk on Lexington Avenue and 89th Street today, and the much more accommodating dimensions near the turn of the 20th Century, courtesy of architect John Massengale:

Here’s the 1909 plan to shave 15 feet of sidewalk off Fifth Avenue to widen the roadbed for cars:

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New Riverside Park Master Plan May Send Greenway Cyclists on Hilly Detours

The preliminary Riverside Park Master Plan reroutes cyclists away from the waterfront at 72nd Street. Image: NYC Parks

The preliminary Riverside Park Master Plan reroutes cyclists away from the waterfront at 72nd Street, along the hillier path marked by the bold dotted green line. Click to enlarge. Image: NYC Parks

The waterfront greenway in Riverside Park is one of New York’s most popular places to bike and walk. During the summer, it can get crowded — so crowded that the Parks Department is proposing new detour routes to divert cyclists away from the waterfront path. Those routes are hillier and poorly lit, however, and advocates are worried that the department will compel cyclists to use them at all times.

On Monday, the Parks Department presented parts of its preliminary Riverside Park Master Plan to the Manhattan Community Board 7 parks and environment committee. The plan includes bike detours along three segments of the greenway — between 72nd and 83rd streets, 93rd and 99th, and 145th and 155th.

The detour path between 72nd and 83rd received some funding courtesy of Council Member Helen Rosenthal’s 2015 participatory budget and will be built next year. It includes a particularly steep incline at 79th Street, where cyclists will have to climb up and around the 79th Street Rotunda. Lowering the grade of the rotunda’s access ramps is included in the long-term Riverside master plan, but is not part of the upcoming project and will likely be very expensive.

CB 7 member Ken Coughlin, speaking for himself and not the board, said that while the waterfront esplanade can get messy in the summer, most of the time it is fine. The greenway is the most heavily-biked route in the city, and for much of the year there are more cyclists than pedestrians using the waterfront path.

He warned that the detour paths could pose particular problems during the winter, when there is limited lighting and inclines may freeze over and become slippery. “The absence of notable conflicts on the current riverfront path during most days and times does not justify forcing [cyclists] to divert to a sub-optimal hilly, indirect and potentially unsafe route at all times,” he said in an email.

Rosenthal’s communications director Stephanie Buhle said rules regarding cyclists’ use of the waterfront path have yet to be determined. “[We are] trying to assess and make sense of what will work to make sure pedestrians and cyclists are using the space in a way that makes it possible for everyone,” she said.

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DOT Bike Planning Starts From Scratch in Clinton Hill

So long, Clinton Avenue Greenway. Image: DOT

The Clinton Avenue Greenway is not going to happen. Image: DOT

After withdrawing its plan for a two-way protected bike lane on Clinton Avenue last month, DOT will start over with a series of public workshops to develop a new plan for walking and biking safety in Clinton Hill and Fort Greene.

DOT Bicycle and Greenway Program Director Ted Wright shared the news at last night’s Community Board 2 transportation committee meeting.

At the same meeting, the committee declined to endorse a new signalized crosswalk at the Jay Street exit ramp from the Manhattan Bridge, one of the final elements in the agency’s plan for a protected bike lane on Jay Street.

Wright said the purpose of the upcoming meetings will be to develop a new plan for bike and pedestrian safety in the neighborhood. “Everything is on the table. This is not just going to be us talking about Clinton Avenue again,” he said. “It’s a full scale re-look at the entire process.”

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Drivers Are Killing People, and the 19th Precinct Is Sending Cyclists to Court

The 19th Precinct likes to boast about local officers aggressively ticketing people for riding bikes on sidewalks. A data analysis by Transportation Alternatives shows the precinct also issues far more criminal court summonses for sidewalk riding than other Manhattan commands.

According to TA, in 2015 the Upper East Side 19th Precinct issued 116 criminal summonses for sidewalk riding, and 15 moving violations — a ratio of eight to one. TA says the typical ratio for precincts citywide is close to one criminal summons to one moving violation.

A moving violation can be resolved online or through the mail, while a criminal summons requires a court appearance. Failure to appear in court can result in a warrant that leads to jail time and barriers to employment.

NYPD greatly reduced the issuance of criminal court summonses for sidewalk riding in 2014, but the 19th Precinct is one of several that still sends hundreds of cyclists to court per year. Next month TA will release an in-depth report on bike enforcement, which will include criminal court summons data.

“In addition to disproportionately high bike enforcement in general — they issue 51 percent of all bike on sidewalk c-summonses in the Manhattan North patrol area — [the 19th Precinct is] choosing to take the extremely harsh option,” says TA Deputy Director Caroline Samponaro.

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