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Posts from the Bicycling Category

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Canarsie Set to Get On-Street Bike/Ped Connection to Jamaica Bay Greenway

The proposed bikeway (in red) joins a lane installed last year on Paerdegat Avenue North. Map: DOT

The proposed 1.75-mile biking and walking path (in red) will connect to the Jamaica Bay Greenway. Map: DOT

DOT has proposed a 1.75-mile on-street biking and walking path from Flatlands Avenue to the Jamaica Bay Greenway [PDF]. The plan received the support of Brooklyn Community Board 18, which had rejected bike lanes proposed for other streets in the neighborhood.

The project route follows Shore Parkway, E. 102nd Street, Seaview Avenue, and E. 108th Street, which border Canarsie Park and Fresh Creek Nature Preserve. It would function as a protected path for both biking and walking on streets that currently lack sidewalks along park edges. To create a safe bike connection to the Jamaica Bay Greenway and Canarsie Pier, Jersey barriers will be added along the northern edge of Canarsie Circle. The multi-lane rotary will also get a road diet and high-visibility crosswalks, improving safety for the 16,000 visitors who get to Canarsie Pier by walking or biking each year.

To making room for the path, eastbound Seaview Avenue will be trimmed from three lanes to two between E. 102nd and E. 108th Streets. Car parking will be removed from E. 102nd Street but will be added to Seaview, resulting in a net addition of approximately five parking spaces, plus a new bus stop island. The northbound traffic lane on E. 108th Street will also be eliminated.

Community Board 18 voted to support the project at its meeting on April 15, according to DOT. The agency expects to install it early this summer.

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Eyes on the Street: A Buffer for (Some of) the Sixth Avenue Bike Lane

Buffers are nice, but fall far short of a complete street with a protected bike lane. Photo: Stephen Miller

Buffers are a nice interim improvement, but a lot more needs to change on Sixth Avenue. Photo: Stephen Miller

Parts of the notoriously skinny Sixth Avenue bike lane are about to get slightly less cramped. DOT is narrowing the car lanes on the newly-repaved avenue to make room for buffers on the bike lane from Christopher Street to W. 14th Street.

While the buffers are a welcome upgrade, they’re no long-term fix for one of the city’s most intimidating — and busiest — biking streets. Sixth Avenue is overrun by motor vehicle traffic and double-parking. Without a protected bike lane, it remains incredibly hostile for people on bikes.

Protected bike lanes and pedestrian islands for Sixth and Fifth Avenues have overwhelming support from council members and community boards representing the area. DOT, which promised to begin studying complete street upgrades for both avenues more than a year ago, told Streetsblog this week that it is “currently studying the feasibility of implementing a variety of safety improvements.”

Hat tip to Dave “Paco” Abraham

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DOT Proposes Road Diets for Two Uptown Avenues

Two dangerous uptown avenues could get road diets and bike lanes this summer under a DOT plan presented to the Manhattan Community Board 12 transportation committee on Monday [PDF]. A plan for Sherman Avenue received the committee’s support, while a design for St. Nicholas Avenue is headed for at least one more month of review.

Map: DOT [PDF]

The CB 12 transportation committee backs a plan for Sherman Avenue but wants more time to consider an identical proposal for St. Nicholas Avenue. Map: DOT [PDF]

There were 25 serious injuries on the 1.2 miles of St. Nicholas Avenue between 169th and 193rd streets from 2009 to 2013, according to DOT, putting it in the most dangerous third of Manhattan streets. Five intersections — at 175th, 177th, 178th, 181st, and 185th streets — are more dangerous than 90 percent of the borough’s intersections.

On Sherman, there were seven serious injuries and two fatalities from 2009 to 2013, according to DOT. Two of its intersections, at Academy and Dyckman streets, ranked in the top 10 percent of Manhattan’s most dangerous intersections.

Sherman and St. Nicholas are both 60 feet wide. Each would receive a road diet replacing two car lanes in each direction with one car lane plus a center turn lane and a striped bike lane. CB 12 had asked for bike lanes in the area in 2012. The projects do not include concrete pedestrian islands, though DOT says they could be added at a later date.

The biggest changes would come to the intersection of Sherman Avenue and Broadway, where the slip lane from northbound Broadway onto Sherman would be replaced by an super-sized curb extension that forces drivers to slow down when turning (see below). A median pedestrian island would be added on Sherman, and an existing triangle island on the north side of the intersection would be enlarged. DOT says pedestrian crossing distances will be shortened by 38 percent, from 118 to 73 feet.

“People didn’t really have issues with the proposal for Sherman,” said Liz Ritter, who attended the meeting and sits on the board but not the transportation committee. “It looks like that’s totally going to work out.”

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America’s Biggest Bike-Share Operator Now Makes Its Own Bikes

Motivate-Bike-and-Mystery-Man

Ben Serotta assembles one of the first models of Motivate’s new bike. Photo: Motivate

Motivate, the company that runs bike-share systems in several large American cities, is now manufacturing its own bikes. That might explain why the timetable for Citi Bike expansion has been getting a lot firmer.

When the current Motivate management team took over last fall, they inherited two big problems. Most of their systems ran on flawed software that crippled reliability and frustrated riders, and the manufacturer of their bikes had gone bankrupt.

Now both issues have been addressed: Replacement software from 8D Technologies installed this spring has a proven track record in other cities, and the new bikes — designed by Ben Serotta — clear up how the company’s fleets will be expanded and replenished.

The new bikes will be used in the expansion of Citi Bike starting later this year, in Jersey City’s upcoming bike-share system, and in any future system operated by Motivate. Bike-share docks will be compatible with both the new bikes and the old models made by Bixi.

Motivate_Green_BikeThe new design retains the thick boomerang-shaped frame — the notable differences are in the guts and components of the bike. Gearing has been adjusted so riders don’t spin so much in the low gear. The seats, notorious for cracking and retaining moisture in the current models, got an overhaul. “The construction and material are both supposed to improve wear,” said Serotta, “plus the hole in the middle allows water to drain and not puddle in the middle… and provides a more comfortable, better ventilated ride.” (Nigel Tufnel will be delighted to see that the seat post size now goes to 11.)

In designing the new bikes, Serotta worked in tandem with Motivate’s head mechanics. In a short email interview, he explained that process and how it shaped the end product. Below is a lightly edited version:

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DOT Agrees to Make Bike Crossing Over LIE in Long Island City Less Hairy

Image: DOT [PDF]

One lane of car traffic is being removed to make way for two curbside bike lanes over the LIE. Image: DOT [PDF]

Biking over the Long Island Expressway on Greenpoint Avenue is set to get a little less nerve-wracking now that DOT has upgraded its plans for a key block. DOT agreed to add curbside bike lanes to the dangerous Queens crossing in response to local advocates and the community board. The plan comes up for a vote at the CB 2 full board tonight.

The agency had been proposing sharrows on Greenpoint Avenue in Sunnyside, but after years of agitation from members of Community Board 2 and the Transportation Alternatives Queens committee about an especially dangerous location, DOT is tweaking its plan to add bike lanes where Greenpoint crosses the LIE at Borden Avenue [PDF].

One lane of eastbound car traffic on Greenpoint will be reallocated to green curbside bike lanes in both directions. Cyclists will still have to navigate a crush of turning traffic, particularly on the eastbound approach to the intersection, but the change is a big improvement over the status quo.

DOT is also studying whether to adjust signals at the intersections on Greenpoint approaching the highway crossing, to give cyclists in both directions a head start on turning motorists. “That’s key to making the whole intersection work,” said TA Queens volunteer Steve Scofield.

The Queens CB 2 transportation committee supported the bike lane upgrade Tuesday night as part of a larger package of bike improvements in Long Island City and Sunnyside, Scofield said. The plan includes upgrading sharrows on 11th Street to bike lanes by removing one car lane in each direction, adding bike lanes to the Honeywell Street bridge, and adding sharrows to Jackson Avenue.

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NYPD Shifts Sidewalk Bicycling Tickets Out of Criminal Court

NYPD is issuing substantially fewer criminal summonses for sidewalk bicycling, opting to enforce the violation with traffic tickets instead. While the shift is a good step toward decriminalizing the behavior, as a result there’s also less information available about how police are applying the law against sidewalk biking.

Photo: Seth Werkheiser/Flickr

A better ticketing policy from NYPD, but one that’s also harder to track. Photo: Seth Werkheiser/Flickr

Last year, police issued 6,069 bicycle-related criminal summonses, down from 25,082 in 2013, according to a report NYPD issued last week on broken windows policing [PDF]. Why the big drop? A footnote explains: Last year, NYPD “began issuing violators of riding a bike on a sidewalk moving violations rather than criminal court summons.”

A traffic ticket, which can be handled online or via mail, is less serious than a criminal summons, which requires a court appearance and can carry the threat of jail. In practice, both summonses and traffic tickets for sidewalk riding typically result in a $50 fine, according to attorney Steve Vaccaro.

Fewer criminal summonses should lessen the burden on black and Latino communities that receive a disproportionate share of sidewalk bicycling enforcement from the police. But because of limitations in how NYPD releases data, sidewalk riding tickets are harder to track than sidewalk riding summonses.

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Citi Bike Could Expand to 86th Street This Summer

It looks like that Phase II expansion might itself come in phases, starting later this summer. Image: Citi Bike

That Phase II expansion looks like it will start this summer. Image: Citi Bike

It looks like some parts of Manhattan north of 59th Street could be getting Citi Bike sooner than previously expected.

At a town hall hosted by Council Member Helen Rosenthal last week, DOT Manhattan Borough Commissioner Margaret Forgione said Citi Bike would expand to 86th Street by August or September, and to 110th Street “probably in March,” reports West Side Rag. Citi Bike had previously announced its intent to extend the service area to about 130th Street by the end of 2017. Last week’s meeting revealed the timetable for phasing in that expansion.

Manhattanites will have a chance to look over the final bike-share station map starting this week, following public meetings earlier this year. The Community Board 8 transportation committee, which covers the Upper East Side, is meeting Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. The CB 7 transportation committee, covering the Upper West Side, is scheduled to meet next Tuesday, May 12, at 7 p.m.

Expansion in Brooklyn — part of Citi Bike’s plan to grow from 6,000-bike system to 12,000 bikes — is set to come in phases, too, though there is no specific timetable yet.

New stations in Bed-Stuy, Greenpoint, and Williamsburg are expected to come online first, by the end of this year. DNAinfo reported last week that DOT staff say the first significant group of stations south of Atlantic Avenue will be added west of Fourth Avenue, before covering Park Slope, Prospect Heights, and parts of Crown Heights and Prospect Lefferts Gardens.

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Monday: See DOT’s Plan to Complete the First Avenue Protected Bike Lane

Image: DOT

Mark your calendars for early next week, when DOT will be presenting its plan to replace sharrows with a parking protected bike lane on First Avenue, filling a gap between protected bikeways south of 49th Street and north of 59th Street.

This 10-block gap in the First Avenue bike lane is a key missing link, and would give cyclists coming from below 49th Street safe passage to both the Upper East Side and the Queensboro Bridge. These blocks were left out of previous plans for First Avenue. In 2011, CB 6 favored buffered lanes for this stretch, not protected lanes, but DOT eventually went with sharrows.

Upgrading to a parking protected bike lane will also bring pedestrian islands, which shorten crossing distances on this extra-wide section of First Avenue.

Even if First Avenue is upgraded to a protected bike lane, southbound cyclists on Second Avenue will continue to be stuck with sharrows north of 34th Street, where the protected lane begins.

DOT is presenting its plan at the next Community Board 6 transportation committee meeting, scheduled for 7:00 p.m. at the NYU School of Dentistry, Room 611, located at 345 E. 24th Street.

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De Blasio Administration Backtracks From Cycling Mode Share Goal

It looks like the de Blasio administration has quietly tamped down its promises for increasing how much people bike in New York City.

Bill de Blasio's new goals for bicycling aren't as ambitious as his old goals for bicycling. Photo: Juha Uitto/Flickr

Bill de Blasio’s new goals for bicycling aren’t as ambitious as his old goals for bicycling. Photo: Juha Uitto/Flickr

During the 2013 race for mayor, candidate Bill de Blasio issued a policy book that included a goal of 6 percent bicycle mode share for all trips citywide by 2020. That’s a lofty goal, and a difficult one to measure: Currently, around 1 percent of city residents commute primarily by bicycle, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Those stats capture only work commutes, which NYC DOT says typically cover 20 percent or fewer of all trips.

Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg stuck by the 6 percent promise when Bicycling Magazine named New York the nation’s best city for bicycling last September: “The de Blasio administration is moving forward with our own bike initiatives, to meet the mayor’s very ambitious goal of increasing the share of all trips in New York City taken by bike to six percent by 2020,” she said. “Do not worry. We will not rest on past accomplishments.”

At a bicycling forum later that month, Trottenberg again mentioned 6 percent — but referred to “doubling” trips, a less definitive and less ambitious benchmark. “By our measure, the actual percentage of trips taken in the city by bike is now like one and a half percent,” she said. “The previous mayor, I think, had pledged to double it. Our mayor promised to double it again.”

At the forum, Trottenberg also said the city needs to improve the way it counts cyclists. Currently, DOT relies on screenline counts of cyclists accessing Manhattan below 60th Street, leaving out most travel within the Manhattan core and in the other four boroughs. “There’s no question, we’re probably going to need to up our ability to count [cyclists] around the city,” Trottenberg said last September. “I have to confess, we have not fully figured out how we’re going to do that.”

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Helen Rosenthal Won’t Say Why She Reappointed Street Safety Foe to CB 7

Members of Families For Safe Streets asked Council Member Helen Rosenthal at a town hall meeting last night why she reappointed street safety foe and longtime Community Board 7 transportation committee co-chair Dan Zweig. But Rosenthal refused to answer questions from Upper West Siders who have lost loved ones to traffic violence.

Joan Dean, left, lost her grandson Sammy Cohen Eckstein in a traffic crash. Mary Beth Kelly, right, lost her partner Dr. Carl Henry Nacht. Both live on the Upper West Side and asked Council Member Helen Rosenthal about why she reappointed a street safety foe to Community Board 7. Photo: Emily Frost/DNAinfo

Joan Dean, left, lost her grandson Sammy Cohen Eckstein in a traffic crash. Mary Beth Kelly, right, lost her partner Dr. Carl Henry Nacht. Both live on the Upper West Side and had questions for Council Member Helen Rosenthal at a town hall last night. Photo: Emily Frost/DNAinfo

Zweig has spent years stonewalling street safety plans, particularly community requests to remake the Upper West Side’s most heavily-traveled streets with pedestrian islands and protected bike lanes. Zweig was appointed to the board multiple times by Council Member Inez Dickens. After a City Council redistricting moved his home into the district of Council Member Mark Levine, advocates saw an opportunity for change at CB 7.

Levine opposed Zweig’s nomination to the board and did not reappoint him. Borough President Gale Brewer also told advocates that she would not reappoint Zweig, according to Mary Beth Kelly of Families For Safe Streets. A list of community board appointments released earlier this month indicated Amsterdam Avenue bike lane supporter Helen Rosenthal reached outside her district to recommend Zweig, and Brewer approved the nomination.

“She says she supports safe streets, but then she makes appointments like this,” said street safety advocate Lisa Sladkus. “She went out of her way to reappoint him.”

“It really felt like somewhere along the line, some deal was made,” Kelly said. “I don’t know for sure what went on behind closed doors.”

With Zweig keeping his seat at CB 7, board chair Elizabeth Caputo must decide whether to reappoint Zweig and Andrew Albert as co-chairs of the transportation committee, a post they have occupied for years.

Under their tenure, the board spent years in hours-long meetings over protected bike lanes on southbound Columbus Avenue. While CB 7 ultimately supported the bike lanes, much of the delay and division came from Albert and Zweig, who employ stalling tactics on many bicycle-related projects.

Zweig has repeatedly said he doesn’t believe DOT crash and traffic flow data. He once attempted to scuttle protected bike lanes on Amsterdam Avenue by amending a resolution supporting them, requesting concrete curb extensions that would preclude protected bike lanes in the future. The amendment was defeated, and the board went on to vote unanimously in favor of asking DOT to study protected bike lanes.

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