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Posts from the Bicycling Category


Cycling Is Up Across the Board in NYC, But Not Without Disparities


Chart: NYC Department of Health [PDF]

The number of New Yorkers who regularly ride a bike has risen markedly in recent years, and the trend is especially pronounced among high school students, according to a report published today by the Department of Health [PDF]. While the general upward trend cuts across gender, race, and income levels, the data also show that the growth in cycling is more pronounced among more affluent households than poorer households, and that fewer black New Yorkers bike regularly compared to white or Latino New Yorkers.

From 2007 to 2014, the share of adults who report biking at least once a month rose from 12 percent to 16 percent, and from 2009 to 2013, the share of high school students who report biking rose from 17 percent to 25 percent.

The report is based on two broad surveys that include questions about cycling activity. One of the surveys samples 9,000 adults each year, and the other is completed by about 10,000 high school students every two years.

Cycling activity rose in every borough except the Bronx, with the largest gain in Manhattan, where the share of adults who cycle at least once a month rose from 12 to 22 percent. Regular cycling increased from 12 to 16 percent in Brooklyn, 12 to 15 percent in Queens, and 10 to 13 percent on Staten Island.

“This report shows that not only are more and more New Yorkers cycling, but that the increases are widespread,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett in a statement. “We will continue our work with DOT and community partners to promote safe active transportation across the five boroughs.”

A gap has opened up, however, between the most affluent households and other households. Among households earning at least four times the federal poverty line, the prevalence of regular cycling increased from 13 percent to 21 percent. Cycling increased among all other households, but not as much, and the prevalence of regular cycling now stands between 13 and 15 percent for other income tiers.

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Bill Giving Cyclists a Head Start at LPIs Gets a Council Hearing Next Month

Momentum is building for Council Member Carlos Menchaca’s bill to allow cyclists to proceed at traffic signals at the same time that pedestrians get the go-ahead. Intro 1072 would affect intersections with leading pedestrian intervals (LPIs) — signals that give pedestrians a head start to establish themselves in the crosswalk ahead of turning motorists. If the bill passes, cyclists can legally take the same head-start.

The City Council transportation committee plans to hear testimony on the bill on November 15, along with six other bills related to walking and biking.

The text of Menchaca’s bill reads:

A person operating a bicycle while crossing a roadway at an intersection shall follow pedestrian control signals when such signals supersede traffic control signals pursuant to local law, rule or regulation, except that such person shall yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk.

In practice, that allows cyclists to legally advance with the walk signal at intersections with LPIs. As you can see in the above clip from Brooklyn Spoke’s Doug Gordon, shot at Atlantic Avenue and Hoyt Street, people are already doing that.

The Menchaca bill officially sanctions the behavior and sends a subtle message that signals intended regulate driving don’t always make sense when applied to cycling. With a head start, cyclists can establish themselves in drivers’ visual field and stay out of blind spots.

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No More Stalling: DOT Redesigns Gerritsen Ave After Teen Cyclist’s Death

In the coming weeks, Gerritsen Avenue will get a two-way protected bike lane, concrete pedestrian refuges, and bus boarding bulbs aimed to calm traffic and create safer access to the park. Image: DOT

By next month, Gerritsen Avenue will get a two-way protected bike lane, concrete pedestrian islands, and bus boarding islands. Image: DOT [PDF]

DOT will install a two-way protected bike lane and other traffic-calming measures on Gerritsen Avenue, the street next to Marine Park in southern Brooklyn where a drunk driver killed a teenage cyclist this summer [PDF].

On the night of July 19, Thomas Groarke, 24, overtook another driver on the left and sped into the wide painted median on Gerritsen near Gotham Avenue, then fatally struck 17-year-old Sean Ryan, who was riding his bike southbound, the Daily News reported. Three other people were injured in the crash. Groarke’s blood alcohol level was found to be twice the legal limit.

Gerritsen Avenue is a wide street with a speeding problem and a history of traffic injuries and deaths. Since 2007, there have been four fatalities on the street, according to DOT, including three in the past two years. After the deaths of Joseph Ciresi and James Miro last fall, the Times looked at the street’s reputation as a drag strip.

The city has tinkered with the design of Gerritsen Avenue before. After a motorist severely injured 12-year-old cyclist Anthony Turturro in 2004 at the same intersection where Ryan was killed, the city implemented a four-lane-to-three-lane road diet with a painted median. In 2008 and 2009, the city floated concrete pedestrian islands and painted bike lanes for Gerritsen but backed off after local residents protested the changes. The only change implemented was to narrow the medians to make room for a “wide parking lane” (instead of painted bike lanes).

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DOT and Citi Bike Celebrate Sixth Avenue Bikeway and #WomenWhoBike

Dozens of people participated in a bike ride today to celebrate Women’s Bike Month and the return of a protected bike lane on Sixth Avenue. Photos: NYC DOT

Dozens of people participated in a bike ride today to celebrate Women’s Bike Month and the return of a protected bike lane on Sixth Avenue. Photos: NYC DOT

DOT and Citi Bike marked the return of a protected bike lane to Sixth Avenue today with a ribbon-cutting and celebratory ride. The event also served to highlight Women’s Bike Month and a Motivate campaign to encourage women in NYC to ride bikes.

The new Sixth Avenue bikeway runs from Eighth Street to 33rd Street, the same street where mayor Ed Koch installed a protected bike lane in 1980 before ripping it out a few months later.

“As an enthusiastic Citi Bike rider, I want women to know that Citi Bike is a safe, affordable, and healthy transit option,” said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg in a statement. “With such a big gender gap among cyclists, we believe that bike-share and over 1,000 miles of bike lanes around the city will be among the keys to getting more women to ride.”

Studies by Hunter College and NYU’s Rudin Center, both from 2014, showed that around 75 percent of Citi Bike users were men, but that women were more likely to ride where streets are made safer for biking, according to a Citi Bike/DOT press release.


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CB 7 Parks Committee Votes for Hilly Greenway Detour in Riverside Park

NYC Park wants to divert cyclists from the waterfront greenway to the hillier path marked by the bold dotted green line year-round. Image: NYC Parks

The Parks Department wants to permanently divert cyclists from the flat waterfront greenway to the hillier path marked by the bold dotted green line. Image: NYC Parks

Manhattan Community Board 7’s Parks and Environment Committee voted 4 to 1 last night in favor of the Parks Department’s proposal to route cyclists away from from Riverside Park’s waterfront greenway between 72nd Street and 83rd Street.

The plan would direct cyclists inland at 72nd Street through a hilly wooded path passing through the 79th Street Rotunda, which has a particularly steep incline. The justification is that the waterfront path is too crowded for cyclists and pedestrians to share, but the crowding is only a problem during peak summer months, and the detour would be in effect year-round. It is one of three similar detours in the department’s preliminary Riverside Park Master Plan.

The project received $200,000 from Council Member Helen Rosenthal’s participatory budget, far less than the $2 million that the Parks Department reps said is needed for a full build-out. In lieu of securing funds for the full project, the money will go toward partial measures: paving gentler turns onto the detour route at 72nd Street and 83rd Street, installing bright LED lights, and trimming surrounding trees to increase visibility. The project would be implemented next year.

Ultimately, the master plan calls for regrading the path to make it flatter. That would be an expensive capital project that would cost even more than $2 million, said Riverside Park Chief of Design and Construction Margaret Bracken. Until then, the detour will be in effect and the path will be hilly. The LED lights will at least improve visibility at night.

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DOT Floats Greenwich Avenue Protected Bike Lane to Manhattan CB 2

One possible redesign of Greenwich Avenue would convert three blocks of the corridor to one-way traffic flow to make room for a two-way protected bike lane. Image: DOT

One option for Greenwich Avenue: a two-way protected bike lane. Image: DOT

DOT may create a safer cycling connection between Sixth Avenue and Eighth Avenue with a two-way parking protected bike lane on most of Greenwich Avenue — if Manhattan Community Board 2 votes for it.

Greenwich is a short street but an important east-west connection in an area where the Manhattan grid breaks down. Even though there is no bike infrastructure on Greenwich, cyclists already account for 35 percent of all southbound vehicular traffic during the morning peak, according to DOT, and the agency’s 12-hour weekday counts tallied an average of more than 850 cyclists.

DOT is floating a design for a two-way protected bike lane between 13th Street and Christopher Street along the north curb, leaving short blocks at either end unprotected. That was one of two options for Greenwich Avenue the agency showed to the CB 2 transportation committee meeting last week [PDF].

To make room for the bike lane, Greenwich north of 10th Street would be converted from two-way motor vehicle flow to one-way. South of 10th Street, the motor vehicle flow would remain two-way, which avoids disrupting the M8 bus route. The short block between Christopher and Sixth Avenue would have a two-way bike lane but no parking protection. At the northern end, the short block connecting to the Eighth Avenue bike lane would have no bike infrastructure, and two blocks of Horatio Street feeding into Greenwich would get sharrows.

With four feet in each direction for cycling, the bike lane would be on the narrow side, but there’s a couple of feet of street width the DOT could shift over to the bike lane if it chooses.

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CB 1 Endorses Metropolitan Bridge Bike Lane After Two Years of Delays

CB 1 members cited this "extremely dangerous" left turn (red arrow) as justification for tabling DOT's proposal for bike lanes on the Metropolitan Avenue Bridge last month. Image: DOT

CB 1 members cited this “extremely dangerous” left turn as justification for tabling DOT’s proposal for bike lanes on the Metropolitan Avenue Bridge last month. Image: DOT

Brooklyn Community Board 1 unanimously endorsed DOT’s bike lane plan for the Metropolitan Avenue Bridge. It took a while to reach this point — the board repeatedly delayed an endorsement for more than two years.

The project will add painted bike lanes in both directions over the bridge, which connects Bushwick and Ridgewood [PDF].

DOT has revised the design multiple times since first presenting to the board in June 2014. Most recently, CB 1 voted 18 to 8 last month to table the project, demanding that DOT do something about a supposed “left turn of death” from westbound Metropolitan Avenue onto Varick Avenue. The intersection doesn’t have a record of high injury rates, however. In the past three years, two cyclists have been injured at the location (it’s not clear if left turns were involved), and no one has been killed there according to Vision Zero View, which contains crash data going back to 2009.

Transportation committee chair Vincent Gangone said last night that he was recommending the plan because DOT had committed to exploring banning the left turn. Gangone explained that he, CB 1 Chair Dealice Fuller, and District Manager Gerald Esposito had met with DOT officials. He then read the text of a letter from the agency promising to return to the transportation committee in November or December once it has fully studied the potential impacts of the proposed left turn ban.

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Eyes on the Street: Making Room for the Chrystie Street Protected Bike Lane


DOT moved this concrete pedestrian island a few feet over to make room for a two-way protected bike lane along the east side of Chrystie Street. Photo: David Meyer

Before DOT can stripe a two-way protected bike lane on Chrystie Street, it has to relocate three pedestrian islands to make room for the bikeway. Work on those islands — at Canal, Broome, and Delancey streets — appears to be mostly complete.

The protected bike lane along the eastern curb of Chrystie will replace today’s un-protected painted lanes, which leave cyclists to mix it up with heavy traffic, including lots of trucks and buses [PDF]. It should significantly improve conditions on Chrystie, which thousands of people use to bike to and from the Manhattan Bridge each day.

The existing pedestrian islands along the route have to be shifted over about five feet to accommodate the two-way bikeway.

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A “Dutch Junction” With Glow-in-the-Dark Bike Lanes Now Exists — in Texas

Officials from the Texas Transportation Institute built this "Dutch-style" unsignalized intersection with solar power-generating bike lanes in College Station, Texas. Photo: TTI

The Texas Transportation Institute built this Dutch Junction on the Texas A&M campus in College Station. Photo: TTI

It’s America’s first unsignalized “Dutch Junction” — a type of intersection with protected space for cycling. It even has solar luminescent bike lanes. And here’s the kicker — it’s in the heart of Texas.

The Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M led the design and installation at a campus intersection in College Station. The Dutch Junction is designed to keep bicyclists out of the blind spots of turning motorists, preventing right-hook collisions.

The bike lanes use a special solar material that emits light at night. Photo: TTI

The bike lanes are marked with a special material that emits light at night. Photo: TTI

The concept is similar to the “protected intersections” that have been installed in Davis, California, and Salt Lake City. But this intersection is controlled by signs, not traffic signals, which makes it unique in the United States, according to TTI.

The bike lanes are also coated with a material that absorbs solar energy during the day and transmits it into light at night to keep the path visible.

The intersection gets a lot of bike and pedestrian traffic, writes TTI. Students in the college’s engineering and design programs will study the effects of the new design as part of their coursework.

Here's another view of the intersection. Photo: TTI

Here’s another view of the intersection. Photo: TTI


Bike-Share Stations Don’t Usurp Parking — They Are Parking

Space hogs in Manhattan and Brooklyn are complaining about bike-share stations on neighborhood streets, and the powers that be are listening.

In a letter to DOT Manhattan Borough Commissioner Margaret Forgione, Assembly Member Dan O’Donnell complained about the much-anticipated rollout of Citi Bike on the Upper West Side.

Here’s an excerpt from O’Donnell’s constituent newsletter (hat tip to Peter Frishauf), which went out Wednesday:

First, the placement of Citi Bike’s docking stations and the resulting loss of parking spaces. Secondly, the lack of community input during a rather quick implementation process.

It is my hope that we can explore alternate solutions to restore critical parking spaces, and that increased dialogue with community will be a part of that exploratory process.

O’Donnell apparently believes parking for cars should be the default use for New York City curb space. He also seems to think the extensive public process for bike-share siting, which already happened, shouldn’t count because people are now griping about parking. All this in a district where more than 75 percent of households don’t own cars.

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