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Posts from the Bicycling Category

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If DOT Doesn’t Add a Bike Lane to 4th Avenue Now, How Long Will It Take?

DOT is set to cast Fourth Avenue pedestrian safety improvements in concrete, which may preclude the possibility of future protected lanes on the corridor. Image: DOT

DOT is set to cast Brooklyn’s Fourth Avenue pedestrian safety improvements in concrete, which will make it harder to add a protected lane on the corridor. Image: DOT

Sunset Park residents are calling on DOT to change its plans for Fourth Avenue to include a protected bike lane, the Brooklyn Paper reports. They make an excellent point: If DOT doesn’t change the design of an upcoming capital project on Fourth Avenue, it’s going to be very difficult to add a protected bike lane on what should be a major corridor in the city’s bike network.

DOT installed pedestrian safety improvements along Fourth Avenue between 65th Street and 15th Street in 2012 and between 15th Street and Atlantic Avenue in 2013. The projects used temporary materials like paint and plastic posts to expand pedestrian medians and narrow traffic lanes, reducing the bloodshed on a wide, dangerous street. Pedestrian injuries fell 30 percent in Sunset Park and 61 percent in Park Slope.

But bike lanes were not included, and Fourth Avenue remains a forbidding street to bicycle on, despite being the best continuous connection between Bay Ridge/Sunset Park and Downtown Brooklyn.

Soon, the city plans to cast the wider medians in concrete with a “Vision Zero Great Streets” capital project. The first phase of construction is set to begin in the spring, between 8th Street and 18th Street and between 33rd Street and 52nd Street. Once that concrete is poured, it’s going to be a lot tougher to return to Fourth Avenue again and add a good bike lane.

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DSNY Needs to Devise a Better Fix for NYC’s Abandoned Bike Problem

Unusable, forgotten bikes are mainstays of the NYC streetscape, hogging bike parking for months and even years before they meet the Department of Sanitation’s standards for removal. DSNY has proposed a rule change to loosen its criteria, but advocates say it doesn’t go far enough to solve the city’s abandoned bike problem.

Despite 311 calls requesting its removal, this dilapidated bike has never even been tagged by DSNY for removal. Photo: Recycle-A-Bicycle

Despite 311 calls alerting DSNY to this abandoned bike in Greenpoint, the agency never even tagged it for removal. Photo: Recycle-A-Bicycle

Reports of abandoned bikes have increased 43 percent this year compared to 2015, according to 311 data made available by the city. But DSNY will only remove a derelict bike after it’s reported via 311 — and only if it meets three of the following criteria:

  • It is “crushed or not usable”
  • It is missing parts
  • It has a flat or missing tires
  • It has damaged handlebars or pedals
  • At least 75 percent of the bike rusted

Under current rules, staff check on a bike once it has been reported via 311 and tag it for removal if it meets the criteria. If the tag is not removed by an owner within one week, the bike gets impounded.

DSNY’s proposed change would lower the threshold for removal from three criteria to two and lower the rust threshold to 50 percent [PDF]. Additionally, “flat or missing tires” would no longer be one of the criteria for removal.

DSNY held a hearing on the rule change August 9 and must now determine how to proceed. Advocates and elected officials who testified at the hearing don’t think the proposal will improve matters much.

Recycle-A-Bicycle Executive Director Karen Overton, who testified at the hearing, said even the new criteria will leave countless abandoned bikes rotting away on sidewalks.

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Citi Bike Expands South of Atlantic Avenue

A newly-installed Citi Bike station outside the Fifth Avenue Key Foods in Park Slope. Photo: @brooklynsja

A newly-installed Citi Bike station outside the Fifth Avenue Key Foods in Park Slope. Photo: @brooklynsja

Yesterday, Citi Bike began installing stations in the Brooklyn neighborhoods south of Atlantic Avenue and west of Prospect Park. A few stations are already operating, according to the Citi Bike station map, with a total of 73 set to go live in the area in the coming weeks.

All told there are 139 new bike-share stations coming online this year, with another batch in the pipeline for 2017.

The initial expansion map for this part of Brooklyn called for 20 stations per square mile, spreading them farther apart than the 23 per square mile in the initial Citi Bike service area. This was a problem, since longer walking distances between stations make the system less useful.

In May, DOT proposed 11 more station locations [PDF], bringing the station density in line with the rest of the system (but still short of the 28 per square mile recommended by the National Association of City Transportation Officials).

The eleven "infill" stations added by DOT after the initial station map was approved are marked in black. Image: DOT

The 11 black stations are “infill” added to the initial station map. Image: DOT

Here’s a look at a few more of the new stations that have gone in since yesterday:

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DOT Caves on Marine Park Bike Lane, Will Remove Protection

After resident complaints, DOT will switch the parking lane and bike lane on East 38th Street in Marine Park. Image: DOT

DOT will reverse this design and expose cyclists to moving traffic on East 38th Street in Marine Park. Image: DOT

A new protected bike lane segment on East 38th Street in Marine Park won’t be protected much longer. Even though the new layout provides a similar width for parking and driving as other residential streets in the area, DOT has caved to pressure from local residents who want to go back to having a short stretch of wide-open asphalt.

The two-way protected bike lane between Avenue U and Avenue V was approved by Brooklyn Community Board 18 earlier this year as part of a package of improvements to connect the neighborhood to the Jamaica Bay Greenway [PDF].

Image: DOT

Map: DOT

Local Council Member Alan Maisel pushed DOT to remove the parking protection. He said that because of the redesign, “people can’t get into their driveways,” sideview mirrors have been knocked off, and delivery trucks on the street are blocking traffic.

But the bike lane is next to a park and doesn’t affect access to driveways. The only difference for motorists is that the travel lane is now 12 feet wide, which is still on the wider side of standard city street dimensions.

A DOT spokesperson told the Brooklyn Daily that the parking protection will be removed by the end of the month, leaving cyclists exposed and the bike lane vulnerable to double-parking and other obstructions.

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Battery Park City Bans Bicycling on Esplanade By North Cove Marina

A cyclist gets back on her bike after dismounting at the North Marina Cove plaza. Photo: David Meyer

The Battery Park City Authority (BPCA), the state agency that manages the Lower Manhattan neighborhood, has posted “cyclist dismount” signs around the North Cove Marina plaza, a key connection along the waterfront.

BPCA Chief of Staff Kevin McCabe told Streetsblog that the new policy is a “proactive pedestrian safety measure” and not a response to any specific incident.

In a June 30 press release, the authority announced the dismount zone as well as a working group “to solicit feedback and develop recommendations for bicycle usage on the Battery Park City Esplanade” [PDF].

“We look forward to engaging the community to review bicycle usage on the Esplanade, and developing recommendations for the most balanced, effective use of this incredible public space,” BPCA president and CEO Shari C. Hyman said in the press release.

The bicycle working group will include members of Manhattan Community Board 1’s Battery Park City committee, but not much else is known about how it will be composed. Advocates at Transportation Alternatives and Bike New York said BPCA has yet to reach out to them.

Bike New York CEO Ken Podziba told Streetsblog that the dismount signs are “inappropriate” at the location. “I believe a more reasonable solution would be to have signage instructing cyclists to slow down by the marina,” Podziba said.

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Matt von Ohlen’s Friends and Family Call for Grand Street Protected Lane

The bike lane on Grand Street, where Matthew von Ohlen was killed last month, fails to keep cyclists safe from motor vehicles. Photo: Google Maps

The painted bike lane on Grand Street, where Matthew von Ohlen was killed last month, provides no physical protection from motor vehicles. Via Google Maps

The family and friends of Matthew von Ohlen pleaded with Brooklyn Community Board 1 to support a protected bike lane on Williamsburg’s Grand Street, where the 35-year-old was killed while biking by a hit-and-run driver on July 3.

Matthew’s father Bernt von Ohlen and other friends and supporters were joined by Council Member Antonio Reynoso, but the board did not take a position last night.

Matthew Von Ohlen. Photo via Gothamist

Matthew von Ohlen.

“I’m not a bike advocate. In fact, I’m afraid of riding a bike on the streets of New York,” said Christine McVay, who had known von Ohlen since he was a child. “Putting effective protected lanes on streets like Grand Street will making riding safer,” she said, holding back tears.

Von Ohlen was riding east on Grand Street between Manhattan Avenue and Graham Avenue at around 2:20 a.m. when the driver of a Chevy Camaro struck his back tire, then struck him again as he fell off his bike and dragged him 20 or 30 feet. Police believe the driver ran over von Ohlen intentionally. They located the vehicle on July 6 but have not apprehended a suspect.

At the outset of the meeting, Council Member Antonio Reynoso led the room in a moment of silence. He made his own call for safer bike infrastructure on Grand Street. “Matt’s death was a tragedy and it was a preventable one,” he said. “We’re gonna sit down and have a serious conversation about what we can do with infrastructure along Grand Street to really move forward and [take] the next step of bike lane protection and infrastructure.”

The bike lane on Grand Street/Borinquen Place runs between the Brooklyn Queens Expressway near the foot of the Williamsburg Bridge to the Metropolitan Avenue Bridge in East Williamsburg. It’s a key connector for people biking across North Brooklyn and is slated to expand eastward along Metropolitan Avenue later this year. In 2015, 29 cyclists were injured along the route between the BQE and Metropolitan Avenue, according to Vision Zero View.

In town from Minneapolis to take care of his son’s estate, Bernt von Ohlen implored the board to call for action. “I think that the best solutions are local solutions. You are a local group, and by keeping your eyes and ears on what goes on in the city by demanding that problems of this kind be addressed, you can make this community a better community for everybody,” he said.

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Checking in With People Cycling on the New Sixth Ave Protected Bike Lane

The Sixth Avenue protected bike lane was installed last month. Photo: David Meyer

The Sixth Avenue protected bike lane at 20th Street. All photos: David Meyer

The Sixth Avenue protected bike lane is just about finished between 8th Street and 33rd Street, except for the pedestrian islands. The redesign is still in that awkward transitional phase where people are figuring out how to use it, so today Streetsblog checked in with a few of the thousands of people who bike Sixth Avenue daily to see how the change is coming.

“I think it’s great! I think they should keep making more,” Jesus Andrade said as he waited for the light to cross 26th Street. “I think this [design] is the best way because the cars shield us from the traffic.”

The old painted bike lane on Sixth Avenue was frequently blocked by double-parked drivers, pushing cyclists into the street’s treacherous motor vehicle traffic. Wide crossing distances made the street exceedingly dangerous for pedestrians too. Between 2009 and 2013, 27 pedestrians and 10 cyclists were severely injured in the project area, according to DOT.

In addition to a parking-protected bike lane, the project includes 33 new concrete pedestrians islands that have yet to be installed.

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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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