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Posts from the Bicycling Category

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Melinda Katz Tries to Kill Queens Blvd Bike Lane in the Name of “Community”

Tuesday night’s meeting on the redesign of Queens Boulevard in Elmhurst was one of the uglier exercises in petty community board obstructionism in recent memory.

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz thinks parking mandates are more important than Photo: MelindaKatz/Twitter

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz. Photo: MelindaKatz/Twitter

Queens Community Board 4 District Manager Christian Cassagnol said the safety of cyclists should be “an afterthought.”

The board, as is its custom, didn’t allow members of the public to speak about the project until after they voted.

The vote was a hastily-called show of hands, orchestrated by board chair Lou Walker, to “accept the safety plan for Queens Boulevard except the bike lane.” Good luck making sense of that resolution — the safety plan and the bike lane are inseparable.

Who thinks life-or-death decisions about street design should be entrusted to this process? Queens Borough President Melinda Katz.

After Mayor de Blasio instructed DOT to proceed with the Queens Boulevard project in full, Katz released this statement. It’s a classic attempt to kill a street safety project by hiding behind the word “community”:

Read more…

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De Blasio Advances Queens Boulevard Redesign Despite CB 4 Shenanigans

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Lizi Rahman and Council Member Danny Dromm led a rally for the Queens Boulevard redesign before last night’s CB 4 meeting. Rahman lost her son Asif in 2008 when he was struck by a truck driver and killed on Queens Boulevard. Photo: David Meyer

Mayor de Blasio has instructed NYC DOT to move forward with the redesign of Queens Boulevard in Elmhurst following a contentious meeting of Queens Community Board 4 last night, in which the chairman hastily pushed through a vote against the bike lane portion of the project.

“I respect those who disagree with us, but in the end, the safety of our neighbors and our children is the most fundamental responsibility we have in this work,” de Blasio said in a statement released this afternoon. “Today, I have instructed the Department of Transportation to move forward on the next phase of safety enhancements to Queens Boulevard, including a protected lane for cyclists.”

The CB 4 meeting last night was a travesty of public process even by the standards of New York City community boards.

Immediately after arguing that Queens Boulevard “is not a park, it is a very heavily traveled vehicular roadway,” CB 4 Chair Lou Walker moved to “accept the safety plan for Queens Boulevard except the bike lane.” The resolution passed in a quick show of hands, with one member opposed and one abstention, but multiple board members appeared to be confused by Walker’s phrasing and the rush to vote.

Some board members walked out in dismay right after the vote, and dozens of people in the audience who supported the bike lane turned their backs to the board and then left the room.

The median bikeway is a centerpiece of the Queens Boulevard redesign and the project would make no sense without it. DOT implemented the same basic template — claiming space on service roads to create continuous paths for walking and biking on the medians — on 1.3 miles of Queens Boulevard in Woodside last year. The proposal on the table at CB 4 last night would extend that design another 1.2 miles from 74th Street to Eliot Avenue. A third phase through Rego Park and Forest Hills is scheduled for 2017.

Queens Boulevard is one of the only direct east-west routes across the borough, and many people already brave its chaotic traffic on bikes. The portion of the street covered by this phase of the redesign includes the block between 55th Road and 55th Avenue where a truck driver struck and killed Asif Rahman in 2008.

At a rally before the meeting, his mother, Lizi Rahman, called for action. “It’s been more than 8 years, and ever since I lost my son I have been fighting for a bike lane on Queens Boulevard,” she said. “It was pretty difficult from the beginning — almost for the first seven years I didn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel.”

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Streetsblog USA
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How Can Cities Move More People Without Wider Streets? Hint: Not With Cars

NACTO_transit_lanes

Here’s how many people a single traffic lane can carry “with normal operations,” according to the National Association of City Transportation Officials.

How can cities make more efficient use of street space, so more people can get where they want to go?

This graphic from the new NACTO Transit Street Design Guide provides a great visual answer. (Hat tip to Sandy Johnston for plucking it out.) It shows how the capacity of a single lane of traffic varies according to the mode of travel it’s designed for.

Dedicating street space to transit, cycling, or walking is almost always a tenacious fight, opposed by people who insist that streets are for cars. But unless cities make room for pedestrians, cyclists, and transit riders, there’s no room for them to grow beyond a certain point.

NACTO writes:

While street performance is conventionally measured based on vehicle traffic throughput and speed, measuring the number of people moved on a street — its person throughput and capacity — presents a more complete picture of how a city’s residents and visitors get around. Whether making daily commutes or discretionary trips, city residents will choose the mode that is reliable, convenient, and comfortable.

Transit has the highest capacity for moving people in a constrained space. Where a single travel lane of private vehicle traffic on an urban street might move 600 to 1,600 people per hour (assuming one to two passengers per vehicle and 600 to 800 vehicles per hour), a dedicated bus lane can carry up to 8,000 passengers per hour. A transitway lane can serve up to 25,000 people per hour per travel direction.

Of course, it usually takes more than changing a single street to fully realize these benefits. A bike lane won’t reach its potential if it’s not part of cohesive network of safe streets for biking, and a transit lane won’t be useful to many people if it doesn’t connect them to walkable destinations.

But this graphic is a useful tool to communicate how sidewalks, bike lanes, and transitways are essential for growing cities looking to move more people on their streets without the costs and dangers inherent in widening roads.

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Red Light Runner Who Killed Cyclist in Midwood Charged With Drugged Driving

Avenue P and E 12th Street, facing west.

Avenue P and E 12th Street, facing west. Image via Google Street View

The driver who ran a red light and killed a cyclist in Midwood last night has been charged for driving while impaired by drugs. It’s not clear yet whether NYPD and DA Ken Thompson will file additional charges.

At around 10 p.m., Eduard Nikhman, 26, drove his Honda Accord through a steady red light heading westbound on Avenue P, T-boning a southbound vehicle on E 12th Street and propelling it into the path of a man cycling northbound in the western crosswalk, inflicting fatal injuries. The victim’s name has yet to be released pending notification of his family. Gothamist has posted security camera footage of the collision.

NYPD charged Nikhman with driving while impaired by drugs, according to the department’s public information office (DCPI). NYPD did not reveal the substance in Nikhman’s system. When I asked whether the investigation might yield additional charges against Nikhman, DCPI referred me to Thompson’s office. The DA’s press office said Nikhman was arrested last night and has yet to be arraigned.

Avenue P is a wide, two-way street where drivers are “constantly speeding,” a local resident told CBS2.

The victim is the fourth cyclist known to have been killed by a motorist reportedly violating traffic laws in New York City in recent weeks.

Read more…

Streetsblog USA
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London’s New Mayor, Sadiq Khan, Pledges to “Accelerate” Cycling Progress

London bike advocates proved they were a political force to be reckoned under Mayor Boris Johnson. After cyclists demonstrated that they would not be satisfied with half-measures, Johnson started to make serious headway on safe bike infrastructure in his second term.

London's new Mayor Sadiq Khan says he wants to do better than Boris Johnson on cycling. Photo: Sadiq Khan on Facebook

Newly-elected London Mayor Sadiq Khan, left, says he wants to build on the progress for cycling under Boris Johnson. Photo: Sadiq Khan/Facebook

It looks like that progress will continue even with a new mayor from a different party.

Last week, Londoners chose Sadiq Khan of the Labour Party to succeed Johnson, a Tory. His resume includes a stint as Transport Minister in the government of Gordon Brown. He took office today.

Streets and transportation are a top-tier responsibility of the London mayor, who appoints the board of Transport for London, an agency that controls not just streets but also the London Underground. All five of the major mayoral candidates pledged to support cycling — and Khan was one of the more enthusiastic ones. He signed on to the London Cycling Campaign’s policy agenda and promised to see through Johnson’s plan to triple the number of protected “cycle superhighways.”

Campaign platforms don’t always translate to concrete policy once candidates are in office, and Khan has missed the mark with some of his public statements. But his statements indicate that the expansion of the city’s bike network will continue under his leadership.

Here’s a look at his positions and public statements about streets, cycling, and transit.

On bicycling and street safety

“My aim is to make London a byword for cycling around the world,” Khan told the Guardian. Speaking to Cycling Weekly, he said he wants to “build on” and “accelerate” the progress made under his predecessors.

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All of DOT’s Bike Metrics Should Be Published on NYC’s Open Data Portal

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Bike commuting has been growing the fastest in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens, according to the Census. Chart: NYC DOT

Biking in New York City has been rising at a steady clip, according to a new report from NYC DOT, increasing about 50 percent between 2010 and 2014 — maybe more, depending on the metric you look at. What’s not so clear is how things changed in 2015, because the report lacks key information about bike traffic on the Hudson River Greenway.

The new report, “Cycling in the City” [PDF], combines data from three main sources: the U.S. Census, a city Department of Health survey, and DOT’s bike counts on Midtown avenues and the East River bridges (it also includes some Citi Bike numbers).

Overall, the surveys and bike counts show an unambiguous upward trend in cycling, affirming the impact of recent investments in bike infrastructure. The report also shows where bicycling growth is lagging, perhaps as a result of slower bike network expansion compared to the rest of the city.

In some ways the report is a step up from the annual cycling metrics DOT has released in the past, which only included the DOT bike counts. Folding in the Census bike commute numbers and health department survey data yields a more complete view of citywide and borough-by-borough cycling trends.

According to the Census, bike commuting has grown the fastest in Brooklyn, rising 75 percent from 2010 to 2014. Close behind are Manhattan and Queens at 68 percent. Then it’s a steep drop to the Bronx, at 19 percent growth, and Staten Island at 9 percent.

DOT’s bike program has a substantial slate of projects on tap for this year — including protected lanes in every borough except Staten Island — but more can be done. “Cycling rates continue to rise across the five boroughs, even as the bike lane network remains spotty,” said Transportation Alternative Executive Director Paul Steely White. “To meet this challenge, New York City needs equitable acceleration and expansion of the bike network in the Bronx and Staten Island, as well.”

As welcome as it is to have a fresh report on cycling trends in New York, there are some perplexing omissions. Namely, it’s impossible to compare DOT’s 2015 bike counts to previous years, because unlike previous reports, this one doesn’t include counts of cyclists on the Hudson River Greenway and 50th Street, or at the Whitehall ferry terminal.

Read more…

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Streetfilms Shortie: Double-Parking Insanity in the Jay Street Bike Lane

While out collecting footage yesterday, one of my missions was to document a whole bunch of street conditions that NYC DOT is actively working to improve. One was the chronic double-parking that has overrun the Jay Street bike lane in Downtown Brooklyn forever.

The level of disregard for the bike lane is just about unmatched anywhere else in New York City. Even with all that bike lane obstruction, 2,400 cyclists a day use Jay Street, since it’s a critical link to the Manhattan Bridge. NYC DOT is working on a plan to replace the current design with parking-protected bike lanes on each side of the street.

I intended to sit on all my “before” footage to use in future pieces, but I just couldn’t believe how bad it was, so I posted this. I had budgeted about an hour to film Jay Street, but I only needed about ten minutes to sufficiently document the dysfunction on camera. As you can see, the immediate yield was very high.

On top of it all, NYPD loves to hand out tickets to cyclists up and down Jay Street. But how many tickets do they write for these drivers? I’m not sure, but since parking placards are everywhere on Jay Street and the illegal parking situation never seems to improve, I’m guessing it’s close to none.

Barring any real enforcement, we sure could use Peatónito, or a battalion of Peatónitos, on Jay Street to set these illegal parkers straight.

Streetsblog USA
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Cycling Booms in London, and the City’s Not Looking Back

Image: City of London

If current trends continue, there will be more people bike commuting in central London than car commuting by 2018. Image: City of London

Boris Johnson says that one of his goals as mayor of London was to make cycling “more popular and more normal.” As Johnson’s eight-year tenure winds down, it looks like the progress he made in his second term has accomplished that mission.

If current trends continue, bike commuters will outnumber car commuters in central London by 2018, according to a recent report from Johnson’s office [PDF]. Citywide, Transport for London estimates people already make 645,000 bike trips on an average day.

When Londoners head to the polls later this week to elect their next mayor, five candidates will be on the ballot, all of whom have signaled they will continue to expand the city’s bike network, reports the BBC’s Tom Edwards. Most of them have pledged to triple the amount of protected bike lanes in the city.

You can trace the London cycling boom to several factors, including the introduction of congestion charging under Johnson’s predecessor, Ken Livingstone, in 2003. But the big turning point came during Johnson’s second term, when bike advocates prompted him to get serious about installing protected bike lanes.

In his first term, Johnson championed the construction of “cycle superhighways” on some of the city’s busiest streets. But these routes, which offered little or nothing in the way of physical protection, didn’t live up to their billing. Cyclists were not satisfied with them and staged huge protests calling for safer bike infrastructure. The BBC’s Edwards recalls how cyclists booed Johnson when he was seeking reelection four years ago.

In recent years, Johnson has devoted more resources to protected bike lanes, upgrading the existing “cycle superhighways” and laying out a plan for more. He now says his “single biggest regret” was not doing so sooner.

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StreetFilms
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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.