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This Weekend: Kidical Mass Takes Upper Manhattan — and Staten Island

Photo: Ben Fried

Photo: Ben Fried

It’s Kidical Mass season, and there are two opportunities this weekend for children and adults to participate in group rides.

On Saturday, it’s Kidical Mass Uptown. The ride starts at 10 a.m. at Dorrance Brooks Square — 137th Street between St. Nicholas and Edgecombe Avenues — and will head to High Bridge Park for the opening festival of the car-free High Bridge. More details here.

Sunday’s ride begins at 9:30 a.m. on the Manhattan side of the Manhattan Bridge, then to the Staten Island Ferry for a tour of notable spots on the island. There will be bike trains headed to the meet-up spot from points in Manhattan and Brooklyn, beginning around 9:00. See the Facebook listing for a schedule.

Kidical Mass rides help young cyclists gain experience, but the group environment is also good for adults who are new to riding. Below is a short list of pointers, originally published last year.

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Construction Begins on First Phase of Transforming Queens Blvd

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg visit work crews on Queens Boulevard this morning. Photo: Stephen Miller

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg visit work crews on Queens Boulevard this morning. Photo: Stephen Miller

The redesign of Queens Boulevard, long one of New York’s most notorious death traps, is underway.

“Queens Boulevard is tragically legendary. We all became used to the phrase ‘the Boulevard of Death,’” Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a press conference this morning marking the start of construction. “That is a phrase we want to banish from the lexicon. So work has begun. Work has begun to remake Queens Boulevard into the Boulevard of Life.”

The first phase of the project includes protected bike lanes, median crosswalks, and expanded pedestrian space. Image: DOT [PDF]

The first phase includes protected bike lanes, median crosswalks, and more pedestrian space. Image: DOT [PDF]

The redesign [PDF], which builds upon changes made more than a decade ago, adds protected bike lanes, expands pedestrian space, and redesigns ramps to reduce speeds on the boulevard, which has claimed the lives of 185 New Yorkers since 1990. “The actions that are being taken to save lives here on Queens Boulevard should have been taken long ago,” de Blasio said. “We’re going to change the whole configuration of Queens Boulevard to make traffic move more slowly and more smoothly.”

Lizi Rahman’s son Asif was killed while bicycling home from work on Queens Boulevard in 2008. She was the first person to speak at today’s press conference. “After his death, when I visited the site, I was shocked to see that there was no bike lane on Queens Boulevard. And I couldn’t help thinking if there was a bike lane, my son would still be alive,” she said. In the years after Asif’s death, Lizi kept asking officials for a bike lane on Queens Boulevard. “There were times when I was discouraged,” she said. “I almost gave up.”

“A lot of times change doesn’t happen because there isn’t enough willingness to challenge the status quo, to challenge bureaucracies,” de Blasio said. “It’s unacceptable to have any street known as the Boulevard of Death.”

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Streetsblog USA
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After Another Cyclist Dies, David Cameron Considers Truck Ban in UK Cities

Following the death of 26-year-old cyclist Ying Tao, British Prime Minister David Cameron said he would look into a truck ban for city centers throughout the UK.

Prime Minister David Cameron, leader of Britain’s Conservative Party. Photo via Thinking About Cycling

In a meeting with the British equivalent of the Congressional Bike Caucus, Cameron promised to ask Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin to come up with recommendations for improving cycling safety in the country. He suggested that that list could include a ban on trucks in city centers, improved intersection design, and staggered traffic light phasing. Cameron also said he would ask officials to look into greater enforcement of rules mandating that trucks feature certain safety features.

More than half of London cyclist deaths involve trucks. Six of the seven cyclists killed in London so far this year were women hit by construction trucks.

Parliamentarian Ben Bradshaw, the cycling group’s leader, noted that Britain’s major cities “have a lamentable record both for levels of cycling and for cycle safety compared to those of our European neighbours, and it would take very little public investment to make a big improvement in the climate for cycling.”

The government is currently drafting a Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy. Currently, about 2 percent of trips in Britain are made by bike, but less than 1 percent of transportation funding goes to cycling.

Several European cities prohibit the entrance of heavy vehicles into downtown areas during peak hours, including Paris, Dublin, and Prague.

Earlier this year, London mandated that trucks over 3.5 tons need to have side guards to protect cyclists from being dragged under the wheels and extra mirrors to eliminate blind spots.

While the city maintains a peak-hour ban on the largest trucks (over 40,000 pounds) on specified city streets, Mayor Boris Johnson has rejected calls for more comprehensive regulations, like extending the ban to cover the type of truck involved in the killing of Ying Tao.

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Eyes on the Street: The 158th Street Connector

wash_heights_158

The paint is down on what will be a short two-way bike lane on 158th Street in Washington Heights, part of a package of DOT improvements [PDF] to make biking and walking safer between the Hudson River Greenway and the recently reopened High Bridge linking Upper Manhattan to the Bronx. This segment runs between the Henry Hudson Parkway and Broadway.

A Washington Heights resident sent in the view looking west toward a Riverside Drive viaduct (a greenway ramp is on the other side of the viaduct). The finished bike lane will be separated from car traffic with flexible posts. A companion bike lane on 170th Street is also in progress.

While this particular segment may not be on the route, if you want to check out the state of these uptown bike improvements in a low-stress, all-ages setting, Kidical Mass will be riding from 137th to the High Bridge this Saturday at 10 a.m.

Here’s a look at this block before, courtesy of Google:

158_before

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Will 2nd Ave Get Its Protected Bike Lane After Subway Construction Wraps?

93rd_st_2nd_Ave

If you look closely, you can see that the Upper East Side segment of the Second Avenue protected bike lane is still in DOT’s renderings. Image: NYC DOT via DNAinfo

As the first phase of the Second Avenue Subway wraps up sometime in the next two years, the largest construction zone in the city will turn back into a functional street. Those 40 blocks of Second Avenue on the Upper East Side won’t be the same as before, though. Back in 2010, the city laid out a plan to add bus lanes and protected bike lanes on that stretch when construction is over.

Seven years is a long time for a plan to sit on a shelf. Will the city follow through on the 2010 redesign?

The bus lane will fill the gap in the exclusive right-of-way for downtown-bound M15 Select Bus Service. It’s a foregone conclusion. But the protected bike lane is a different story.

Under Mayor Bloomberg, City Hall at one time lost enthusiasm for its 2010 pledge to build continuous bike routes on First and Second Avenue from Houston Street to 125th. East Harlem and Upper East Side advocates had to fight pretty hard to compel the city to honor that commitment.

So a protected bike lane between 60th Street and 100th Street on Second Avenue can’t be taken for granted. After DNAinfo ran a story about DOT’s plan to add benches and bike racks to Second Avenue sidewalks when subway construction finishes, Streetsblog emailed DOT to double-check on the bike lane.

A spokesperson said the agency intends to make good on the 2010 plan:

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Queens Residents Launch Campaign for Bike Lanes Connecting Parks

Getting to nearby parks from Jackson Heights is much faster by bike than it is by transit. Now, a group of local residents wants safer ways to make the journey. Map: Queens Bike Initiative

Getting to nearby parks from Jackson Heights is much faster by bike than it is by transit. Local residents are mobilizing for street redesigns to help them safely bike to green spaces. Map: Queens Bike Initiative

Northern Queens residents who want to safely bicycle to nearby parks are trying to convince the city to install new bike lanes in neighborhoods from Astoria to Corona.

It all started with a post by Sergio Peçanha to a Jackson Heights neighborhood forum about two weeks ago. With Travers Park and the adjacent 78th Street play street set for reconstruction soon, Peçanha wanted to bicycle with his kids to other parks instead.

He found there weren’t many options nearby. In fact, advocacy group New Yorkers for Parks says Jackson Heights fails to meet virtually every metric the city sets for park access [PDF]. So Peçanha turned to his neighbors on the forum. “If we had bike paths connecting our neighborhood to parks in Northern Queens,” he wrote, “it could be a huge improvement for the neighborhood.”

Soon, other local residents joined and began calling their campaign the Queens Bike Initiative. “We’ve been doing everything through email. We’re excited to get on the ground,” said Alexia Tate, a Jackson Heights mom who began bicycling a year ago and teaches music classes throughout Queens. She heard about the effort through a parents’ forum.

“It’s growing by the minute,” said James McIntyre, a bike commuter who is moving to Jackson Heights from Brooklyn and works in affordable housing financing. “We want to make it as inclusive as possible.”

The advocates would like to see new greenways and protected bike lanes running as far west as the waterfront in Astoria and Long Island City and as far east as Flushing Meadows Corona Park. The paths could connect residents in Steinway, East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights and other neighborhoods to nearby parks and provide a safe way to make trips that take a long time by subway or bus.

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All Eyes on DOT After CB 7 Endorses Amsterdam Ave Protected Bike Lane

Will the third time be the charm? Manhattan Community Board 7 has overwhelmingly voted — again — to ask the city for a northbound protected bike lane as part of a redesign of Amsterdam Avenue on the Upper West Side. DOT will have to move forward on a redesign very soon to get a complement to the southbound protected bike lane on Columbus Avenue in place by the time Citi Bike debuts in the neighborhood, which is expected sometime later this year.

It's time to act, DOT. Photo: birdfarm/Flickr

It’s time for DOT to act. Photo: birdfarm/Flickr

Last night, in a 34-5 vote with one abstention, the full board passed a resolution calling on DOT to “immediately” install safety improvements including “pedestrian refuges, curb extensions, signal timing, and a protected northbound bike lane on Amsterdam Avenue.” If for some reason DOT determines that a northbound bike lane isn’t feasible on Amsterdam, CB 7 is asking the agency to install a northbound lane elsewhere in the neighborhood [PDF].

The CB 7 transportation committee unanimously endorsed the request last month.

Last night’s vote was actually the board’s third request for a northbound protected bike lane. CB 7 first asked DOT to design protected bike lanes for Amsterdam in 2009. But during years of haggling with CB 7 transportation committee leadership over the installation of a protected bike lane on Columbus Avenue, plans for Amsterdam stalled. The community board approved another resolution at the end of 2013 asking DOT to “study” a protected bike lane for Amsterdam, a vote that prompted no visible action from the agency.

The pressure on DOT to act from local advocates, officials, and now the community board is intensifying. Council Member Helen Rosenthal endorsed a protected bike lane on Amsterdam in April, and now the board has said loud and clear that a protected bike lane on Amsterdam is a priority.

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DOT Opens Greenpoint Ave Bridge Bike Lanes — Now With Flex-Posts

Cyclists, led by DOT Assistant Commissioner Ryan Russo, ride over the newly-completed Greenpoint Avenue Bridge bike lanes. Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.

DOT Deputy Commissioner Ryan Russo leads the pack over the newly-completed Greenpoint Avenue Bridge bike lanes. Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.

DOT staff led a celebratory ride on the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge over Newtown Creek this morning to mark the completion of new bike lanes between Brooklyn and Queens.

The lanes provide safer passage on what had been a nerve-wracking crossing next to fast-moving traffic and lots of trucks. The project was first proposed in 2010 and revived earlier this year in a modified plan that called for curbside buffered bike lanes. Cyclists this morning discovered the final project has an extra bit of protection from traffic on the bridge: DOT has added plastic bollards to keep drivers out of the bikeway.

The plastic bollards continue even when the bike lane buffer disappears. Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.

The plastic bollards continue where the buffer tapers away at the ends of the bridge. Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.

On the Brooklyn side, the bridge connects to reconfigured bike lanes on Greenpoint Avenue. On the Queens side, sharrows are being added as part of a separate project.

Now, attention shifts to the other bike project linking Brooklyn and Queens: the long-awaited Pulaski Bridge bikeway. The early stages of construction have begun on that project, which involves more heavy-duty roadwork than the Greenpoint Avenue bike lanes. It’s set to open by the end of this year.

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Ferreras: “My Focus Is to Make 111th Street One Hundred Percent Safe”

Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.

Council Member Julissa Ferreras, left, listens in during a workshop about a plan for 111th Street yesterday. Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.

A grassroots effort to improve safety on extra-wide 111th Street in Corona yielded a DOT plan for a road diet, better pedestrian crossings, and a protected bike lane this spring. Then two members of Queens Community Board 4 stymied the proposal, at least for the time being. To keep the project moving forward, Council Member Julissa Ferreras has organized two neighborhood town halls this month.

Nearly 50 people turned out yesterday afternoon for the first meeting at the New York Hall of Science. DOT gave a presentation before splitting participants into small groups to get feedback on the proposal [PDF] and hear concerns about safety on 111th Street, which widens to become a multi-lane divided road alongside Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

The heart of the plan is reducing the street to one motor vehicle lane in each direction and adding a curbside protected bike path next to the park. With fewer car lanes, speeding will be reduced and crossing the street to get to the park won’t be so challenging.

Most attendees were in favor of the change. “It’s going to be safe for me and my kids,” said Delia Tufino, who began bicycling a year ago as part of a program launched by Immigrant Movement International and the Queens Museum. “I think it’s important to bring the community out,” she said of the workshop.

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Streetsblog USA
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Newark Clears Bike Lane of Cars, Solves Parking Problem With Meters Instead

walk bike jersey good lane

Newark’s stopgap solution to a parking crunch was to allow parking in the bike lane (see upper right). Since then it’s found a more sensible option: meters. Photo: WalkBikeJersey

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.

Three months after Newark drew national attention for considering removal of New Jersey’s only protected bike lane in order to allow illegal double-parking, the city has found a different solution.

Instead of designing the Mt. Prospect Avenue commercial strip around letting people park their cars two rows deep along the curb, the district is installing parking meters.

“Simply by adding parking meters and limiting parking to two hours, legal parking spots are now freed up for shoppers, rather than being occupied for hours or days at a time by residents and shop owners,” reports the New Jersey Bike and Walk Coalition. “As a result, bike riders regained access to New Jersey’s first parking-protected bike lane, and newly-enacted street parking regulations will ensure that there is an ample supply of parking for customers of businesses along Mt. Prospect Avenue.”

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