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Posts from the Bicycle Infrastructure Category

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Ride the New Pulaski Bridge Bikeway With Streetfilms

Today was a milestone for traveling between Brooklyn and Queens: NYC DOT opened the Pulaski Bridge bike path to lots of cheers with a celebratory ride.

Before today, the Pulaski Bridge walking and biking path was dangerously congested, with more pedestrians and cyclists crammed on to its narrow right-of-way every year. The solution? Convert one lane of the roadway to a two-way bike lane, making the original path exclusively for walking. Read up on the project in Streetsblog’s coverage of the grand opening.

If a lane of the Pulaski can be taken from cars and given to active transportation, the same can be done on other bridges. One place I’d love to see NYC DOT tackle next? The insanely crowded bike-pedestrian path on the Brooklyn Bridge is begging for a solution like this.

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Streetfilms Flashback: The Bad Old Days of the Pulaski Bridge

Later this morning, officials will cut the ribbon on the long-awaited Pulaski Bridge bikeway. Pretty soon, it will be tough to remember the claustrophobic anxiety of navigating the narrow path — just 8.5 feet wide, and even less at pinch points — that pedestrians and cyclists made do with before today.

So here’s some footage for posterity that Clarence shot in October, 2013. You’ll never have to deal with this again, New York.

We’ll have a full report from the grand opening and a new video from Clarence later today.

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Seaman Ave. Has a Bike Lane and Sharrows, But It’s Still a Speedway

… and looking north, where the northbound bike lane turns to sharrows. Driver 1 is backing down the street for parking. Driver 2 is about to make a U turn. Photos: Brad Aaron

Seaman Avenue and W. 215th St., looking north, where the northbound bike lane turns to sharrows. Driver 1 is backing down the street for parking. Driver 2 is about to make a U turn.

The thermoplast is down on the new northbound Seaman Avenue bike lane — but it’s really a bike lane and sharrows. Unless DOT makes a bolder move and puts a protected bike lane next to Inwood Hill Park, not much is going to change on this important Upper Manhattan bike route

I’ve written about this project, which took almost two years to complete, many times now, so here’s the Cliff’s Notes version: DOT replaced two narrow bike lanes on Seaman, Inwood’s only north-south through-street west of Broadway, with a northbound bike lane and southbound sharrows. DOT’s rationale for one bike lane was the street isn’t wide enough for two standard-width lanes — though the new design retained two lanes for parked vehicles. The reason for putting the lane on the northbound side of the street, DOT said, was to provide more room for slower cyclists going uphill from Dyckman Street, at Seaman’s southern end.

But as it turns out, the northbound lane converts to sharrows at W. 215th Street, one block before Seaman terminates at W. 218th, probably because the street narrows there. I looked back through my correspondence with DOT and there was no mention of the northbound bike lane ending before the street does.

As noted in prior posts, the current design does not address the major obstacles to biking on Seaman. As shown in these photos, taken yesterday, drivers are already double-parking on the barely-dry thermoplast. Cyclists will be forced to weave around them, just as before. As far as speed is concerned, motorists aren’t taking cues from the fresh markings. On her walk to the train just after dawn today, my wife texted to let me know that “Seaman [was] a speedway this morning.”

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Jay Street Redesign Clears CB 2, With Some Design Details Left for Later

Image: DOT

Brooklyn Community Board 2 endorsed most of DOT’s plan for curbside protected bike lanes on Jay Street between Fulton Mall and Tillary Street at its monthly meeting last night. Two key design decisions at each end of the project have yet to be finalized, however, and will be presented to the transportation committee in May.

Chaotic Jay Street is a key link to the Manhattan Bridge, and cyclists account for 34 percent of vehicles on the street during peak hours. The DOT plan calls for curbside, parking protected bike lanes, though at seven feet wide, the lanes will be narrower than bikeway design guidelines recommend.

When DOT presented the plan to CB 2’s transportation committee last month, the committee declined to endorse a new crosswalk at the off-ramp from the Manhattan Bridge just north of Nassau Street, where a fence currently blocks pedestrians from crossing. Before taking a position, committee members wanted to know how DOT intends to control traffic coming off the bridge.

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Eyes on the Street: Outlines Appear for Seaman Avenue Bike Lane, Sharrows

DOT is replacing two 4-foot bike lanes on Seaman Avenue with one 5-foot bike lane and sharrows. Photos: Brad Aaron

DOT is replacing two 4-foot bike lanes on Seaman Avenue with one 5-foot bike lane and sharrows because, according to DOT, the street isn’t wide enough for two standard-width bike lanes. Photos: Brad Aaron

Preliminary markings for a bike lane and sharrows appeared on Seaman Avenue in Inwood yesterday, nearly two years after DOT resurfaced the street.

Seaman Avenue runs from Dyckman/200th Street to W. 218th Street. The only north-south through street in Inwood west of Broadway, Seaman serves as a bike connection between the Hudson River Greenway and the Bronx, in addition to being a key neighborhood biking corridor.

Seaman is also a cut-through for Bronx and Westchester motorists looking to avoid the toll on the Henry Hudson Bridge. It has a few speed humps, and it’s within the Inwood Slow Zone, but those measures do little to keep drivers from speeding past the apartment buildings, parks, schools, and churches that line Seaman from end to end. The 34th Precinct, which issued just 266 speeding tickets in 2015, is a non-factor when it comes to slowing drivers down. Double-parking is probably more common than speeding and seems to get even less attention, enforcement-wise.

All things considered, Seaman Avenue seemed ripe for a change. The street’s old 4-foot wide bike lanes were removed when DOT repaved in the summer of 2014, and were not replaced when the city put down new crosswalks and other markings. DOT informed Community Board 12 last September of its plans to install a northbound 5-foot bike lane and replace the southbound bike lane with sharrows. Though Seaman will retain two lanes for parked vehicles, DOT says it isn’t wide enough to have bike lanes in both directions.

Last year DOT told Streetsblog the agency will monitor the new configuration to see if adjustments are necessary. If DOT is ever willing to challenge the status quo, Seaman could become a much better street for biking and walking, with a protected bikeway next to Inwood Hill Park.

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Streetsblog USA
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Fast Changes to City Streets: A 9-Step Guide for Creative Bureaucrats

Marshall Avenue and Monroe Avenue, Memphis, Tenn. Photo: John Paul Shaffer

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.

For most of the 20th century, cities answered transportation problems by adding more pavement.

More freeways. More lanes. More parking lots. More things that couldn’t be reversed or revised.

So it made sense, at the time, for the public process around civil engineering projects to focus, above all else, on not making mistakes. Generations of city workers embraced the value of “Do it once and do it right.”

But today’s transportation problems are different, and so are the projects that respond to them. Naturally enough, the process of planning and designing such projects has begun changing, too.

From the experimental lawn chairs scattered across New York’s redesigned Times Square on Memorial Day 2009 to the row of plastic posts on Denver’s Arapahoe Street after a bike lane retrofit last fall, city projects are tackling big problems with solutions that are small, cheap, fast and agile. But until now, no one has created a short, practical guide for cities that want to create a program to do things like these.

Today, we’re publishing that guide.

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DOT to Unveil Plans for Chrystie Street Bike Lane Upgrade Next Week [Updated]

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Advocates’ concept for a two-way protected bike lane on Chrystie Street, from 2015. DOT will bring the agency’s plans to Manhattan CB 3 next Tuesday. Streetmix by Dave “Paco” Abraham

On Tuesday the Manhattan Community Board 3 transportation committee will get the first look at a plan for a two-way protected bike lane on Chrystie Street from Canal to Houston.

Chrystie is a key connection to the Manhattan Bridge but biking on it always involves dodging double-parked cars, trucks, and buses. Last year several local elected officials signed on to advocates’ campaign for a two-way protected bike lane on Chrystie, and DOT’s presentation comes about a year after CB 3 asked DOT for a protected bikeway.

The CB 3 agenda item is the first sure indication that DOT is going with a two-way protected lane. Tuesday’s meeting is set for 6:30 p.m.

Also next week: The Manhattan Community Board 6 transportation committee will discuss a “proposed enhancement of existing Second Avenue bicycle lane” between 34th Street and 59th Street. It’s not clear what the terms of the discussion will be, but replacing the sharrows on those 25 blocks with a protected lane would be a huge step forward for the Manhattan bike network. Together with a protected bike lane between 105th Street and 68th Street slated for later this year, it would close most of the 70-block gap on Second Avenue.

The Monday meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Mark your calendars.

Correction: An earlier version of this post said that CB 6 will hear from DOT about upgrading the Second Avenue bike lane. Instead, the meeting Monday will be an internal community board discussion, not a presentation from DOT.

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Queens CB 1 Votes for Protected Bike Lanes By Astoria Park

On Shore Boulevard, DOT plans to calm traffic and alleviate conflicts between cyclists and pedestrians by repurposing the north-bound car lane as a two-way protected bike lane [PDF]. Image: DOT

By a vote of 33 to 1 last night, Queens Community Board 1 endorsed DOT’s plan for traffic-calming on the streets around Astoria Park.

Local electeds requested traffic-calming in the area after a hit-and-run driver killed 21-year-old Betty DiBiaso at the intersection of 19th Street and Ditmars Boulevard, at the park’s northeast corner.

The DOT redesign will add two-way protected bike lanes on sections of Hoyt Avenue North, 20th Avenue, and Shore Boulevard [PDF], with the agency planning to address pedestrian crossings on 19th Street, the park’s eastern border, in the near future.

On Shore Boulevard, which separates the park from the East River waterfront, the northbound travel lane will be repurposed as a protected bike lane, and DOT will create safer pedestrian crossings between the park and the water.

In a statement commending the board’s vote, Council Member Costa Constantinides said the redesign “will bring greater traffic sanity to the streets around the jewel of our neighborhood, Astoria Park,” and that more must be done to improve safety on nearby streets.

Streetsblog USA
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Study: Sharrows Don’t Make Streets Safer for Cycling

Sharrows are the dregs of bike infrastructure — the scraps cities hand out when they can’t muster the will to implement exclusive space for bicycling. They may help with wayfinding, but do sharrows improve the safety of cycling at all? New research presented at the Transportation Review Board Annual Meeting suggests they don’t.

Sharrows are useless and perhaps even harmful, a new study found. Photo: University of Colorado Denver

Sharrows without traffic-calming won’t do much to make cycling safer. Photo: University of Colorado Denver

A study by University of Colorado Denver researchers Nick Ferenchak and Wesley Marshall examined safety outcomes for areas in Chicago that received bike lanes, sharrows, and no bicycling street treatments at all. (The study was conducted before Chicago had much in the way of protected bike lanes, so it did not distinguish between types of bike lanes.) The results suggest that bike lanes encourage more people to bike and make biking safer, while sharrows don’t do much of either.

Ferenchak and Marshall’s study divided Chicago into three geographic categories using Census block groups: areas where bike lanes were added between 2008 and 2010, areas where sharrows were added, and areas where no bike treatments were added. They then looked at how bike commuting and cyclist injuries changed in these areas over time.

They found that bike commute rates more than doubled in areas with new bike lanes, compared to a 27 percent increase in areas with new sharrows and a 43 percent increase in areas where nothing changed.

Meanwhile, the rate of cyclist injuries per bike commuter improved the most where bike lanes were striped, decreasing 42 percent. Areas that got sharrows saw the same metric fall about 20 percent –worse than areas where streets didn’t change (36 percent), although the difference was not great enough to be statistically significant.

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Eyes on the Street: Pulaski Bridge Bikeway Rounding Into Form

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The concrete barrier to protect the bikeway now covers the whole span. Photo: David Meyer

DOT crews are taking advantage of the frighteningly warmer-than-usual late fall weather to make serious progress on the Pulaski Bridge bikeway.

When the bikeway is complete, pedestrians and cyclists will have a lot more room and won’t have to share the crowded path on the west side of the bridge. The concrete barrier separating the bike lane from motor vehicle traffic consists of both pre-cast and cast-in-place segments. As of yesterday, the barrier appeared to cover the whole span, but work on it was clearly still going on. Closing the slip lane on the Queens side of the bridge is also a work in progress.

The Pulaski project was originally slated to wrap up last December before getting delayed by red tape. For a moment it looked like construction wouldn’t start until 2016, but crews were able to begin in September. So will the bikeway be complete before the winter freeze pauses construction? DOT isn’t counting on it, with the agency slating the opening for the spring.

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