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Posts from the Bicycling Category


Campaign for a People-First Rockaway Freeway Meets Cars-First Inertia

The Rockaway Bike Parade beneath the elevated train on Rockaway Freeway earlier this month. Photo: Rockaway Waterfront Alliance

The Rockaway Bike Parade beneath the elevated train on Rockaway Freeway earlier this month. Photo: Rockaway Waterfront Alliance [PDF]

Rockaway Freeway, one of the few east-west routes across the Queens peninsula, isn’t a safe place to walk or bike. A local coalition has been trying to change that by repurposing street space, but their efforts are running up against the red tape of city bureaucracy and a car-centric community board.

Rockaway Freeway runs beneath an elevated train. A road diet more than a decade ago narrowed the street to one lane in each direction, cutting down on crashes. But poor visibility around the concrete elevated structure is still a problem, and there isn’t enough safe space to walk or bike. People are stuck using either narrow, crumbling sidewalks or striped areas in the roadway next to moving car traffic.

“This corridor wasn’t designed as a roadway. It was designed as an elevated railway,” said Jeanne Dupont, executive director of the Rockaway Waterfront Alliance. In fact, some sections of the street have already been demapped, handing ownership from DOT to other city agencies or private developers.

“There’s sidewalk on the north side pretty much the whole length. On the south side, it is spotty,” said Community Board 14 district manager Jonathan Gaska. “You do see people every now and then walking in the striped area, and the occasional cyclist.”

Clearly the status quo is far from ideal, but the community board’s idea of how to fix it would make it tougher to implement the walking and biking improvements that the Rockaway Waterfront Alliance envisions.

Gaska said the long-term plan is to widen Rockaway Beach Boulevard, which runs parallel to the elevated train and turns into Edgemere Avenue. Then, sections of Rockaway Freeway would be converted to parking. “During the summer, traffic is insane, especially going east and west… That’s a big concern here, and parking is a nightmare in the summer, especially on the weekends,” he said. “Cars are very important for the residents here, and we keep that in mind.”

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Eyes on the Street: Instant Bike Lane, Courtesy of NYPD and the Pope

Photo: Jared Rodriguez

Photo: Jared Rodriguez, Click to enlarge.

Update: From reader Joe Enoch: “I got in that ‘lane’ this morning and a cop nearly knocked me off my bike a few feet later. He jumped in front of me and screamed at me to get out of the lane. There were no emergency vehicles, UN convoys or popes in sight.”

The papal visit is opening up streets all over Manhattan. Reader Jared Rodriguez sent this pic of 57th Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues, where an emergency lane staked with traffic cones became an impromptu bi-directional bikeway.

Goes to show that if you create a car-free lane, cyclists will gravitate to it. And see how easy it is to reallocate street space for car-free transport when the city wants to.

Brooklyn Spoke’s Doug Gordon is posting more shots of pope-related street reclamations on Twitter.


DOT: NYC to Install Record Number of Protected Bike Lanes in 2015

DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, center, arrives with City Council Transportation Committee Chair Ydanis Rodriguez, left. Council members Ben Kallos and Helen Rosenthal are behind. Photo: Stephen Miller

Think DOT’s bicycle program has lost its mojo? Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg begs to differ, and she made her case today at an event highlighting bike projects that are now in progress or have recently been completed.

Last year, Bicycling Magazine named New York the best American city for biking, just nine months after Trottenberg took over at DOT. “We felt an obligation to double down on our efforts to encourage and support bicycling in New York City,” Trottenberg said at a press conference this morning touting the administration’s bike lane progress. “Expanding and upgrading the bicycle network is an important step.”

The city is on track to install 12 miles of protected bike lanes by the end of the year, above its five-mile annual target and the highest amount ever installed in a calendar year. The city has also surpassed 1,000 miles of bicycle facilities, DOT said, with 1,010 miles citywide.

DOT counts bike lanes on the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge, W. 170th Street, Fort George Hill, Seaview Avenue, Edgecombe Avenue and Clinton Street toward its tally of protected lanes completed this year. Work on Queens Boulevard, Lincoln Square and First Avenue is expected to wrap by the end of the year. In addition, Pulaski Bridge and Bruckner Boulevard protected bike lanes, already under construction, are slated to open next year.

There’s no doubt that protected bike lane mileage is expanding at a healthy clip this year, but there are some asterisks.

Not all of these bike lanes are protected from car traffic by parked vehicles or concrete barriers. Some are separated from moving cars only by flexible posts. DOT also includes Vernon Boulevard, a two-way bikeway from 2013 that received concrete barriers this year, and E. 37th Street, which was striped last November, in its totals for this year.

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Streetsblog USA
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Massachusetts’ Bikeway Design Guide Will Be Nation’s Most Advanced Yet

Images from MassDOT Separated Bike Lane Planning and Design Guide.

pfb logo 100x22Michael Andersen blogs for The Green Lane Project, a PeopleForBikes program that helps U.S. cities build better bike lanes to create low-stress streets.

Bikeway design in this country keeps rocketing forward. The design guide that Massachusetts is planning to unveil in November shows it.

The new guide, ordered up by MassDOT and prepared by Toole Design Group, will offer the most detailed engineering-level guidance yet published in the United States for how to build safe, comfortable protected bike lanes and intersections.

“It’ll be a good resource for all 50 states,” said Bill Schultheiss, a Toole staffer who worked on the project. “I think it’ll put some pressure on other states to step up.”

There are lots of details to get excited about in the new design guide, which is scheduled for release at MassDOT’s Moving Together conference on November 4. But maybe the most important is a set of detailed recommendations for protected intersections, the fast-spreading design, based on Dutch streets, that can improve intersection safety for protected and unprotected bike lanes alike.

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DOT Commits to Sixth Ave Protected Bike Lane From 14th to 33rd Streets

What Sixth Avenue could look like. Rendering: The Street Plans Collaborative and Carly Clark for Transportation Alternatives [PDF]

What Sixth Avenue could look like. Rendering: The Street Plans Collaborative and Carly Clark for Transportation Alternatives [PDF]

DOT says it will begin planning and outreach later this year for a protected bike lane on Sixth Avenue between 14th and 33rd Streets in Manhattan.

The announcement comes after years of advocacy by the Transportation Alternatives Manhattan activist committee, which called for protected bike lanes and pedestrian islands on Fifth Avenue and Sixth Avenue. The effort garnered support from local community boards, business improvement districts, and City Council members Corey Johnson and Dan Garodnick. Now, DOT is officially on board.

Currently, there are northbound protected bike lanes on the east side (First Avenue) and west side (Eighth Avenue) of Midtown, but not in between. Nevertheless, there’s a huge appetite for cycling along the spine of Manhattan, and many people on bikes have to mix it up with car traffic on some of the city’s widest and most chaotic streets. In May, DOT added buffers to the existing bike lane on Sixth Avenue between Christopher and 14th streets.

DOT hasn’t committed to a southbound protected bike lane on Fifth Avenue. The agency instead views the Sixth Avenue project as a pair with the southbound protected bike lane on Broadway in Midtown. There is also a buffered bike lane on Fifth Avenue south of 23rd Street.

Will the Sixth Avenue bike lane extend north of 33rd Street, where cyclists face the most intense car traffic? “One step at a time,” DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said. “The goal is, we’ll continue to work our way north, as we have on a lot of these projects.”

Transportation Alternatives has an online petition to thank City Hall for the Sixth Avenue project and urge the city to bring protected bike lanes to more Midtown avenues.

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Streetsblog USA
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Cleveland Traffic Engineer Puts Buffer on the Wrong Side of the Bike Lane

This Cleveland cyclist hasn't gotten the memo about how biking in traffic is "safer."  At the behest of a not-very-forward-thinking traffic engineer, the city has been installing buffered bike lanes backwards. Image: Angie Schmitt

At the behest of a not-very-forward-thinking traffic engineer, Cleveland has been installing buffered bike lanes backwards. Photo: Angie Schmitt

Cleveland is finally installing buffered bike lanes along some major streets, but with the buffer between the bike lane and the curb, not between the bike lane and traffic.

At first, many people thought this design was a mistake. But it has now been painted on two streets at the behest of Cleveland’s traffic engineer, Andy Cross. Local blog GreenCityBlueLake reports that Cross told advocacy group Bike Cleveland (disclosure: my husband sits on the board and I did for several years as well) the design was a “best practice” to prevent right hook collisions, in which a turning driver strikes a cyclist proceeding straight.

In an email to Bike Cleveland, Cross haughtily slammed the National Association of City Transportation Officials’ designs for buffered and protected bike lanes — which are endorsed by the Federal Highway Administration.

“The terms ‘best practices’ and ‘protected’ are often used with what is shown in the NACTO guide,” Cross wrote. “A design that encourages or requires hook turns across the path of through cyclists is neither a ‘best practice’ nor ‘protected.'”

The decision to put the buffer next to the curb is so unconventional that advocates think it was lifted not from a design manual but from, a website that espouses vehicular cycling.

While Cleveland is accelerating its rate of bike lane installation, Cross’s penchant for ineffective design threatens to sabotage the usefulness of the new infrastructure.

Streetsblog USA
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What Cities Are Learning About Making Bike-Share More Equitable

Cities are gaining more insight about how to make bike share work for the poor. Photo: NACTO

Cities are gaining more insight into how bike-share can be more useful and accessible to low-income people. Photo: NACTO

So far, the customer base of American bike-share systems has skewed toward affluent white men. But cities have been working to make the systems more useful and accessible to a broader spectrum of people, and in a new report, the National Association of City Transportation Officials has compiled some of the lessons learned.

Here are a few key takeaways:

The appeal of monthly membership plans

Photo: NACTO

Image: NACTO

The price of a full 12-month membership can be a barrier for some people. Providing the option of monthly passes or installment plans encourages people across all income levels to try bike-share, NACTO reports.

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First Avenue Bike Lane Fix on Hold Until Pope and UN Leave Town

Image: DOT

Wait until next month for safety improvements on First Avenue. Image: DOT [PDF]

DOT was supposed to start filling the gap in the First Avenue protected bike lane in Midtown this summer, but the agency says it’s waiting until the Pope leaves town and the UN General Assembly adjourns before moving forward.

When the First Avenue bike lane was installed in 2011, DOT left a gap of 10 blocks south of 59th Street, instead going with sharrows to maximize the number of car lanes approaching the toll-free Queensboro Bridge. Then this May DOT came back and got Community Board 6’s backing to fill the gap.

The plan was to install a protected bike lane and pedestrian islands from 49th to 55th streets over the summer, before coming back to CB 6 in September or October with a design for the final few blocks. That segment, from 55th to 58th streets, is clogged with multiple lanes of drivers turning left across the paths of cyclists.

DOT Bicycle Program Director Hayes Lord explained the process at a meeting of the New York Cycle Club last night. “We couldn’t even model the portion from 55th to 59th,” he said of the traffic challenges. “[CB 5 members] were very pleased that we were taking this approach, that we weren’t just ramming it through. We want to do it right. So we will take our time.”

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Eyes on the Street: Parks Officers Ignore Driver on Greenway [Updated]

A driver on the greenway? No way! Photo: Shelly Mossey

Reader Shelly Mossey says park enforcement patrol officers just to the right of the woman in green claim they never saw this driver on the greenway before waving him into a parking garage on Sunday. Photo: Shelly Mossey

A driver cruised down the Hudson River Greenway Sunday afternoon, passing park enforcement patrol officers who waved him into a parking garage at Pier 40. When Streetsblog reader Shelly Mossey asked why they didn’t ticket him, the officers pleaded ignorance.

Mossey was biking south on the Hudson River Greenway, on his way home to Battery Park City at about 5:45 p.m. Sunday. “I get to Houston Street, and I’m behind this minivan,” he said. The driver sat through a couple of light cycles as Parks Department enforcement officers next to the greenway waved cross traffic into the parking garage at Pier 40.

Eventually, the driver saw an opening during a green light. “They just waved him through into his parking spot,” Mossey said.

Mossey, a regular greenway user, recognized one of the Parks officers, who regularly hands out red light tickets to bicyclists. Mossey approached the officer to ask why he didn’t issue a ticket.

“He was like, ‘What minivan? They were on the bikeway? You’re kidding me!'” Mossey recalled. That’s when Mossey pulled up a photo he just took on his phone. “He says, ‘Oh, there’s nothing I can do from that. I can’t do anything with a photograph.'” Rather than going after the driver he had just waved into the parking garage, the officer said he would memorize the car’s New York license plate.

Frustrated by the disinterest from enforcement officers, Mossey left. “Their attitude is even more shocking than the guy driving on the bikeway,” he said. “There’s no way they didn’t see him. It’s not possible.”

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Streetsblog USA
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House Dems: We Won’t Support a Transpo Bill That Cuts Bike/Ped Funding

House Democrats won’t stand for any cuts to federal funding for walking and biking infrastructure. That was the gist of a letter signed by every Democratic member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee last week.

Rick Larsen, a congressman representing parts of Washington State, rallied Democrats to support funding for biking, walking and transit. Photo: Rick Larsen

Rick Larsen, a congressman representing parts of Washington state, rallied Democrats to support funding for biking, walking, and transit.

Groups aligned with the Koch brothers and their organization Americans for Prosperity have pushed to eliminate all federal funds for walking, biking, and transit. While Democrats are in the minority in the House, by coordinating as a bloc around this issue, they’re making it harder for the extreme elements in the Republican Party to roll back active transportation funding.

The letter, initiated by Washington representative Rick Larsen, states that Democratic committee members won’t support any bill that undermines the “Transportation Alternatives” program — the small pot of money dedicated to walking and biking.

“For the House transportation bill to be bipartisan, it must not cut funding for TAP or make policy changes that undermine the local availability of these dollars,” reads the letter, addressed to the committee’s two ranking Democratic members, Peter DeFazio (OR) and Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC):

Communities of all shapes and sizes — rural, urban and suburban — are clamoring for TAP dollars to give their residents lower-cost transportation options that reduce road congestion, improve safety for children and families, and boost quality of life. These types of projects are also essential to helping cities and counties increase property values, grow retail sales and attract tourism. While MAP-21 gave states the option of transferring up to half of TAP funds to other transportation priorities, just 10 percent of TAP funds have been transferred — clearly showing the demand for these funds across the country. This is a good program and it deserves to continue.

Congress has yet to make much progress on a long-term transportation bill to replace the previous bill, MAP-21, which expired last year. During the last transportation bill reauthorization process, biking and walking programs took a big hit. In an email to Streetsblog, Larsen said, “I do not want to see that happen again.”

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