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Posts from the Bicycling Category


Bill Bratton Has the Perfect Response to a “Bike-Yield” Law for NYC

Yesterday Council Member Antonio Reynoso introduced a resolution calling for state traffic laws that recognize the differences between bikes and cars. The idea is that people on bikes should be able to treat stop signs as yield signs and red lights as stop signs, proceeding after they check for crossing pedestrians and motor vehicles and the coast is clear.

Well, the Post got the perfect response from Police Commissioner Bill Bratton:

“The city is going to great pains put bicycle lanes in, and to exclude the bicyclists from the traffic rules that everybody else, pedestrians and vehicles are supposed to follow, I would not be supportive of that under any circumstances.”

Solid thinking here. Can you believe these ingrates, the bicyclists? It doesn’t matter if you’re walking, biking, or driving a 55-foot tractor-trailer — we all have to follow the same rules.

When I know I’m going to be walking, I never forget my front and rear lights before I leave my apartment. Out on the sidewalk, I always come to a full stop at stop signs, and I use hand signals whenever I turn or change lanes. I know not everyone is as scrupulous as I am, but if we excluded pedestrians from the traffic rules that everybody else, bicycles and vehicles are supposed to follow, the social order would collapse and there would be riots in the streets.


CB 5 Committee to DOT: You Oughta Take a Traffic Lane Outta Sixth Avenue

The DOT proposal for Sixth Avenue adds a protected bike lane but doesn’t remove any motor vehicle lanes. Image: NYC DOT

Like their counterparts at Community Board 4, members of the Manhattan Community Board 5 transportation committee think DOT’s proposed redesign of Sixth Avenue isn’t bold enough. Unlike CB 4, the committee voted for the plan anyway in a unanimous decision last night.

The proposal would add a protected bike lane from 14th Street to 33rd Street, narrowing the avenue’s four motor vehicle lanes without eliminating any [PDF]. Committee members were concerned that the plan won’t slow traffic and lacks various treatments that would better protect pedestrians, like wider sidewalks and raised concrete islands.

“This seems to me to prioritize traffic over pedestrians,” said committee chair Alan Miles.

DOT’s Ted Wright said other community boards are not as eager for more drastic changes. “I wish more community boards were asking for radical things,” he said.

“We ask every time you come here,” Miles quipped. “You’re always concerned about parking spaces.”

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Antonio Reynoso: Let’s Talk About Bike Laws That Make Sense for NYC Streets

Get one thing straight: Council Member Antonio Reynoso doesn’t want to allow bicyclists to blow through red lights. What Reynoso does want are traffic laws that acknowledge the considerable differences between cars and bikes, and set expectations accordingly.

Council Member Antonio Reynoso. Photo via City Council

In a resolution Reynoso will introduce this afternoon, which got some withering coverage in the Post, the North Brooklyn rep calls for state traffic law to enable cyclists in New York City to treat stop signs as yield signs and stop lights as stop signs. (The version viewable on Legistar, which calls for both stop lights and stop signs to be treated as yield signs, is outdated, Reynoso said.)

In the absence of such a rule, NYPD’s periodic “bike blitzes” tend to consist of pointless stings at locations like T-intersections, where cyclists routinely break the letter of the law without jeopardizing anyone. The effect is to deter cycling in general, not the type of aggressive red light running that actually poses a risk to people.

The idea of aligning the rules of the road with how most people bike isn’t new. (Idaho enacted bike-specific rules in the 1980s, hence the shorthand “Idaho stop.”) But in New York City, it didn’t enjoy the legitimacy conferred by a real elected official making a real policy proposal until now.

Reynoso bikes regularly, and he thinks the time is right to get serious about changing the rules. “My experience on the road is that traffic policies in the city are not necessarily informed or practical,” he told Streetsblog. “This black and white, ‘vehicles and bikes are the same thing,’ doesn’t make any sense.”

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Upper East Side Community Board Asks DOT for Crosstown Bike Lanes

Manhattan Community Board 8 passed a resolution Wednesday night asking DOT for crosstown bike lanes on the Upper East Side.


62nd Street approaching Second Avenue. Image: Google

Currently the only east-west pair in the neighborhood is on 90th Street and 91st Street. With biking in the neighborhood on the rise and the recent arrival of Citi Bike, it’s increasingly obvious that’s not enough.

At a “street scan” organized by Transportation Alternatives and Bike New York last month, volunteers scouted three other potential crosstown routes: 61st/62nd, 67th/68th, and 72nd Street.

The resolution passed by CB 8 (full text below) calls for fast implementation of a network of painted crosstown lanes and a long-term plan for crosstown lanes using “the safest appropriate design.” It passed 32-6 with eight abstentions.

Michelle Birnbaum, a frequent opponent of street safety measures on the board, tried to substitute a weaker resolution that didn’t specifically ask for bike lanes, but it mustered only four votes.

CB 8 Transportation Committee co-chair Scott Falk said the board has shed its reputation as a place where street redesigns don’t stand a chance. “This was not a controversial topic,” he said, “this was about safety.”

Here’s the full resolution CB 8 passed on Wednesday:

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Will the Sixth Avenue Protected Bike Lane Get Done in 2016?

Image: NYC DOT

Image: NYC DOT

DOT presented a plan for a protected bike lane on 19 blocks of Sixth Avenue to the Manhattan Community Board 4 transportation committee last night. From 14th Street to 33rd Street, the design calls for carving out a six-foot bike lane and three-foot buffer protected from moving motor vehicles by a lane of parked cars [PDF].

Sixth Avenue is both very dangerous, with a high injury rate, and one of the most heavily biked streets in New York, where people bicycling already account for a significant share of traffic. So far more than 16,000 people and 160 local businesses have signed on to Transportation Alternatives’ campaign for better walking and biking infrastructure on Sixth Avenue and Fifth Avenue.

Community Board 4 has generally supported complete streets redesigns but the committee did not vote for this one, reports Janet Liff, whose volunteer work with TA has built major momentum for a safer Sixth Avenue. The major sticking points were the absence of split-phase signals at most intersections and DOT’s proposed use of painted pedestrian islands instead of raised concrete islands, she said.

Split phase signals give pedestrians and cyclists a dedicated phase with no conflicts with turning drivers. DOT’s design puts them at 14th Street and 23th Street, the intersections with the highest crash rates. The agency thinks split phases could be problematic if installed at every intersection with left-turning traffic, Liff said, since they lower the share of crossing time for pedestrians, and on a crowded street like Sixth Avenue that could create pressure for people to disregard walk signals.

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Streetsblog USA
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How Much Can Bicycling Help Fight Climate Change? A Lot, If Cities Try

A new study from the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy attempts to measure the potential of bikes and e-bikes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Buenos Aires has been ambitiously building out a network of well designed, separated bike infrastructure. If this kind of commitment were employed worldwide, the environmental and financial repercussions would be enormous. Photo: ITDP

Buenos Aires has been building out a network of protected bike infrastructure. If this kind of commitment were employed in cities worldwide, the climate benefits would be huge. Photo: ITDP

ITDP’s conclusion, in short: Bicycling could help cut carbon emissions from urban transportation 11 percent.

The authors calculated the carbon emissions reduction that could result if cities around the world make a strong, sustained commitment to promoting bicycle travel.

In a scenario where 14 percent of travel in the world’s cities is by bike or e-bike in 2050, carbon emissions from urban transportation would be 11 percent lower than a scenario where efforts to promote sustainable transportation sidestep bicycling.

The ITDP scenario calls for 11 percent of urban mileage by bike by 2030 before hitting 14 percent in 2050. For many big American cities where bicycling accounts for a small share of total travel, that may sound like a high bar — and that was part of the point. The ITDP targets will require a significant public policy commitment. But the goals are achievable and aren’t as daunting as they might seem, the authors say.

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The Randall’s Island Connector Is Finally Here

This spring, the Highbridge re-opened between the Bronx and Manhattan, the first car-free crossing linking the two boroughs. Now the second one in less than a year is open with the debut of the Randall’s Island Connector. The project has been in the pipeline for what seems like forever, and on Saturday it opened to the delight of many South Bronx residents.

The connector provides a direct and easy link between the developing South Bronx greenway network and Randall’s Island, with its athletic fields, picnic tables, miles of beautiful greenways, and stunning views of the Manhattan skyline. From Randall’s Island, you can bike or walk to the big island via the 103rd Street footbridge.

Advance apologies for some of the sound. When the winds are gusting over 30 mph and you are below an Amtrak train trestle, well, those aren’t ideal conditions. But kudos to the hundreds of people who showed up on a cold and blustery fall morning to celebrate the occasion.


On Day of Remembrance, Mayor Pledges to Take Vision Zero “a Lot Farther”

Hundreds of people walked from City Hall to the United Nations yesterday to remember victims of traffic violence and call for action to prevent more loss of life on the streets. Addressing the crowd before the march, Mayor de Blasio said his administration’s effort to eliminate traffic deaths “has just started” and pledged to “take it a lot farther.”

At the insistence of the de Blasio administration and NYC street safety advocates, Albany enacted legislation in 2014 to lower the default speed limit to 25 mph and increase the number of speed enforcement cameras on NYC streets, and traffic deaths in the city are on pace for a historic low this year. Even with that improvement, however, it’s all but certain that more than 200 people will be killed in New York traffic before 2015 is over. The persistent message yesterday from victims’ families, advocates, and elected officials was that more must be done.

Noting that traffic violence had claimed more than a dozen lives in the last few weeks, Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Paul Steely White said the city must implement proven safety measures like pedestrian islands, protected bike lanes, and speed cameras more expeditiously. “We are not yet to the point where these common sense improvements are done routinely,” he said.

The de Blasio administration has made incremental progress on street redesign but will have to dramatically accelerate the pace of change to achieve the rapid reduction in traffic deaths that Vision Zero calls for. DOT’s high-impact street transformations, like the redesign of 1.3 miles of Queens Boulevard, don’t cover enough ground each year in a city with 6,000 miles of streets. The department’s political timidity and the lack of budgetary resources for quick, effective safety improvements have been a drag on progress.

Yesterday the mayor’s message was on target. De Blasio said plainly that “redesigning streets saves lives” and speeding enforcement changes behavior. “There are a lot of things that have been accepted as the status quo that we should not accept,” he said. “We have to jolt that reality, we have to change that to the core.”

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Streetsblog USA
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More Evidence That Helmet Laws Don’t Work

There was a correlation between living in an area with high cycling rates and low levels of hospitalization. Graph: University of British Columbia

Living in an area with high cycling rates is linked to lower levels of hospitalization for bicyclists. There is no similar link for helmet laws. Graph: University of British Columbia

If you want to increase cycling safety in your city, drop the helmet law and focus on getting more people– particularly women — on bikes, with street designs that offer separation from vehicle traffic.

That’s the finding of a new study by researchers at the University of British Columbia [PDF] evaluating safety outcomes for cyclists across Canadian provinces and territories.

Lead author Kay Teschke and a team of researchers looked at cyclist injuries requiring hospitalization in 10 Canadian provinces and three territories between 2006 and 2012. They checked to see if hospitalization rates were linked in any way to helmet laws and cycling rates, and they checked for variations in hospitalization rates by sex and age.

Helmet laws were found to have no relationship to hospitalization rates. That was true even though self-reported helmet use is higher in areas of Canada that mandate it (67 percent) than in areas that don’t (39 percent).

But having a higher rate of cycling in one’s community does seem to have an impact on safety. Using Canadian government data on cycling activity, researchers found that men and woman were both less likely to be injured while biking in communities where more people bike.

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Streetsblog USA
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With Big Levy Vote, Seattle Is Ready to Lead the Nation on Bike Infrastructure

Dexter Avenue.

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.

The last two years have revealed a very clear new superstar in the country’s progress toward protected bike lane networks.

It’s the Emerald City: Seattle.

In the last two years, Seattle has completed seven protected bike lane projects, more than any other city in the country in that period except New York.

Seattle heaved through a significant “bikelash” a few years ago, and it’s discovered an ocean of political support on the other side.

On Tuesday night, the city’s voters did something remarkable: By 56 percent to 44 percent, they approved a property tax increase that will spend $65 million on a 50-mile protected bike lane network and a 60-mile neighborhood greenway network over the next nine years. It’ll also put $71 million toward Seattle’s goal of eliminating serious and fatal crashes, $15 million to repair 225 blocks of damaged sidewalks, $250 million to maintain existing roads, and $140 million to maintain existing bridges.

The project list goes on. But it never stoops to the mistaken claim that a fast-growing city can fix its transportation problems by building more and more lanes for cars, always hoping that the next lane will be the one that never fills up.

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