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Posts from the Bicycling Category

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Brooklyn Bridge Promenade Expansion Could Start in 2019

DOT's hypothetical concept for expanding pedestrian and bike access on the Brooklyn Bridge would build new paths over the steel girders that run above the main roadways. Image: DOT

DOT’s concept for expanding the walking and biking path on the Brooklyn Bridge would build new paths over the steel girders that run above the main roadways. Image: DOT

An expansion of the Brooklyn Bridge walking and biking path could get underway by 2019 if it’s folded into a rehab project that’s already in the pipeline, DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said this afternoon.

The path is as narrow as 10 feet at pinch points and cannot comfortably accommodate the thousands of people who use it each day.

For now, the next step is a $370,000 feasibility study slated to wrap up in seven months. DOT has already conducted a preliminary assessment of conditions on the bridge path and posted a working concept for the expansion [PDF].

The idea is to widen the pathway by building on top of the steel girders that run over the bridge’s main roadways. Most of the wooden deck for walking and biking is four feet below the girders, so the expansions would be at a higher grade than the current path. Trottenberg said DOT will also explore expanding the concrete approaches to the wooden deck on both the Brooklyn and Manhattan sides.

If the concept proves unfeasible for whatever reason, Trottenberg said DOT’s attention could turn to the main roadway. “I think if the study finds out that it’s not feasible, there is going to be interest in seeing what we would do next in terms of potential traffic,” she said. “Look, the Brooklyn Bridge carries a lot of traffic… But I think certainly we’re seeing a lot of enthusiasm about the idea of making more of the bridge available for cyclists and pedestrians.”

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DOT Will Study Widening the Brooklyn Bridge Walking and Biking Path

Rendering: NYC DOT

What a wider Brooklyn Bridge promenade might look like. Rendering: NYC DOT

The days of pedestrians and cyclists fighting for scraps of space on the Brooklyn Bridge may be numbered.

NYC DOT has initiated a study of expanding the narrow promenade, which is too crowded to work well for pedestrians or cyclists for most of the year. The Times reports that the city has retained engineering firm AECOM to study the feasibility of widening the pathway, which has not been expanded since the bridge opened in 1883.

Stories about conflict between walkers and bikers on the cramped promenade have become a rite of spring in New York City. As soon as the city thaws out from winter, people head out to walk or bike across the Brooklyn Bridge in numbers that the path, which is as narrow as 10 feet on some sections, cannot comfortably support.

Pedestrian counts on peak days tripled between 2008 and 2015, and bike counts nearly doubled, according to the Times. Typical weekday traffic is now 10,000 pedestrians and 3,500 cyclists. Still, those numbers probably don’t come close to capturing how many people would bike or walk across the bridge if the path were not so cramped.

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The Jay Street Bike Lane Won’t Work If NYPD Parks All Over It

Double-whammy: these caps are blocking a bus stop and the bike lane. Photo: Brandon Chamberlin

Police officers block the bike lane and a bus stop on Jay Street this morning. Photo: Brandon Chamberlin

As crews restripe Jay Street to implement a curbside protected bike lane, some sort of learning curve is to be expected. Drivers need a little time to adjust to the new parking lane, which floats to the left of the bike lane buffer. But NYPD should know better from the start.

Streetsblog reader Brandon Chamberlin snapped the above photo of two police vehicles parked in the bus stop in front of City Tech on Jay Street this morning, blocking the way for both buses and cyclists. The bus stop has always been there — it’s not new.

In DOT’s redesign, the bike lane and curbside bus stops are “shared space” — as opposed to a floating bus stop design where bus drivers would pull up to a boarding island to the left of the bike lane. It’s a situation that requires some extra effort, with cyclists and bus drivers having to look out for each other — even without factoring in illegal parking.

If police ignore the rules and park at the curb, things will break down quickly. Cyclists will have to weave out of the bike lane into traffic, and bus riders will have to walk off the curb to board. The stress and chaotic traffic conditions that the Jay Street redesign was supposed to fix will just resurface in slightly different form.

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Major Citi Bike Expansion Starts Today

Citi Bike began installing a batch of 121 139 new stations this morning, kicking off a 2016 expansion phase that in Manhattan will reach up to 110th Street and in Brooklyn will extend to the neighborhoods between Red Hook and Prospect Park. All told, Citi Bike will be growing from about 470 stations and 8,000 bikes to about 590 more than 600 stations and 10,000 bikes this year.

In addition to the expansion areas, Citi Bike will be adding some infill stations in the current service area on the Upper West Side and Upper East Side, where the station density initially fell short of recommended standards. Station density is a key factor in the success of bike-share systems since it cuts down on the time users spend walking to and from stations.

The 2016 expansion is the second year of a phased, three-year plan that in 2017 is expected to extend up to 130th Street in Manhattan, further into western Queens, and into parts of Crown Heights in Brooklyn.

The new stations coming this year are shown in yellow on the Citi Bike map. Check the map to monitor when new stations are operational.

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When Media Outlets Cover Delivery Cyclists, They Rarely Talk to Them

Image: Biking Public Project

Image: Biking Public Project

NYC’s mostly-immigrant food delivery cyclists don’t have it easy, working on car-centric streets through all sorts of weather, all while under pressure to make their deliveries as quickly as possible.

But media coverage of delivery cyclists tends to dehumanize them, failing to convey their perspective or consider the difficult working conditions they contend with.

That’s the conclusion of a report from the Biking Public Project [PDF]. The authors identified 74 stories about delivery cyclists published in NYC newspapers and online outlets (including Streetsblog) between 2004 and 2014, and found that only 27 percent included at least one quote from a food delivery person.

The result is that media tend to portray delivery cyclists as “foreigners without documents” who bike unsafely and flout the law, the authors argue. Their analysis found that stories that failed to present the point of view of delivery cyclists were 68 percent more likely to portray delivery cyclists as “bad or deviant.”

Take, for example, a 2010 column from the New York Post’s Steve Cuozzo about delivery cyclists on the Upper West Side:

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Eyes on the Street: Work Begins on Phase Two of Queens Boulevard Redesign

DOT has begun building out phase 2 of its safety improvements on Queens Boulevard, which include a protected bike lane. Photo: Jaime Moncayo

Crews are marking out where the medians will be expanded for walking and biking in the second phase of the Queens Boulevard redesign. This is the view from Ireland Street looking west. Photo: Jaime Moncayo

On Monday, crews began work on the second phase of Queens Boulevard safety improvements. The project will calm traffic on the service roads between 74th Street and Eliot Avenue, adding a bike lane and continuous pedestrian path along the medians. Together with the first phase of the redesign, implemented last year, the changes will create 2.5 miles of median bike lanes on Queens Boulevard in Woodside and Elmhurst.

To make way for the added space for walking and biking, the city has removed parking along the medians, and crews have started to remove markings between 74th Street and Broadway/Grand Avenue, according to a DOT spokesperson.

Phase two will redesign the Queens Boulevard service roads in Elmhurst. Image: NYC DOT

The high rate of traffic fatalities on Queens Boulevard led the Daily News to call it the “Boulevard of Death” in a series of stories that ran nearly 20 years ago. The name stuck, and for good reason. But 2015 marked the first year in a quarter-century that no people were killed on Queens Boulevard.

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Cyclists Need Protection From Reckless Driving, Not From Themselves

The 19th Precinct, on the Upper East Side, tickets more cyclists than almost any other precinct in the city. So it was fitting that the above tweet this morning came from the 19th. It encapsulates NYPD’s failure to recognize how dangerous driving behaviors, not cyclists’ own actions, are the big threat to people on bikes.

The riding tips are all well and good, but will they “help prevent most collisions,” as the precinct suggests? The evidence says otherwise.

Of the 14 cyclist fatalities in New York City this year, 12 involved drivers breaking the law, according to data compiled by Streetsblog and Transportation Alternatives.

Five of the fatal crashes were hit-and-runs. Of those, one was the result of a driver failing to yield to Olga Cook; in another a driver ran a red light and killed an unidentified 41-year-old man; and a third was caused by a driver who appeared to deliberately strike Matthew von Ohlen.

In three other cases, evidence suggests cyclists had the right of way and were killed by drivers who failed to yield. Three more fatalities involved drivers impaired by marijuana or alcohol. And 33-year-old James Gregg was killed by the driver of an oversized truck on Sixth Avenue in Brooklyn, a neighborhood street where trucks are prohibited.

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NYPD “Bicycle Safe Passage” Stings Aren’t Creating Safe Passage for Cyclists

Earlier this year, when City Hall announced NYPD’s “Bicycle Safe Passage” enforcement initiative to ticket drivers for blocking bike lanes and failing to yield to cyclists, it sounded like a step up from predecessors like “Operation Safe Cycle” — which were notorious for fining cyclists, not protecting them. But the new NYPD bike safety approach still looks a lot like the old.

This week marks the third “Bicycle Safe Passage” operation of 2016. So far, people have reported NYPD ticketing cyclists on Ninth Avenue, Chrystie Street on the Lower East Side, Second Avenue near Stuy Town, and Jay Street by the Manhattan Bridge.

On Jay Street, the 84th Precinct is ticketing cyclists around Nassau Street and Concord Street. Just south of that location, between Fulton Street and Tillary Street, the bike lane remains blocked by double-parkers, as per usual.

During the previous “Bicycle Safe Passage” week, in June, the NYPD gave out 1,757 tickets to drivers obstructing bike lanes and 810 for motorists who failed to yield to cyclists or pedestrians, according to AM New York. It’s not known how many tickets were given to cyclists.

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Help Fix the Sanitation Department’s Process for Clearing Abandoned Bikes

Rusty bikes missing wheels, saddles, and other parts are a common sight on NYC sidewalks. Clearly abandoned, they clog up bike racks and other places to lock up, making it harder to park bicycles that people are actively using, and they’re an eyesore to everyone else.

Cleaning up abandoned bikes is the Department of Sanitation’s job, but DSNY’s system isn’t effective, so the problem persists. If you want to make the case that DSNY should change how it handles abandoned bikes, Recycle-A-Bicycle wants your help documenting the performance of the current system.

This abandoned bike on Nostrand does not meet the city's current criteria for removal. Photo: David Meyer

This abandoned bike on Nostrand does not meet the city’s current criteria for removal. Photo: David Meyer

DSNY is holding a hearing on its abandoned bike policy August 9. Before the hearing, Recycle-A-Bicycle is asking New Yorkers to report derelict bikes to 311 and record how the city handles the request.

Under current practice, DSNY responds to 311 complaints about abandoned bicycles by placing a neon tag on the bike, after which owners have one week to remove the tag, or else the bike will be impounded.

But in practice, said Recycle-A-Bicycle Executive Director Karen Overton, “It’s hard to know, if someone calls in a bike, if they [DSNY] actually come out and tag it or don’t.”

So Recycle-A-Bicycle wants to crowdsource an evaluation of DSNY’s system. If you call in an abandoned bike to 311, return in a week to see if the neon tag has been applied, and if so, come back one week later to see if the tag has been cut or the bike has been removed. Each time you check on the bike, you should snap a photo and send it to seetagcut@recycleabicycle.org.

DSNY has had the authority to remove derelict bikes since 2010 but hasn’t made much of a visible impact on the problem. “The Department of Sanitation is not set up to fully handle the abandoned bike process, or rescuing abandoned bikes,” Overton said.

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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/Joseph Lertola

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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