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Posts from the Bicycling Category

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Three Bills Enhancing Bike Access to Buildings Get Council Approval

This afternoon the City Council voted in favor of a package of bills aimed to improve bike access to commercial and residential buildings.

New Yorkers will be able to bring folding bikes like this Brompton (demonstrated by Dulcie Canton in City Council chambers last October) into passenger elevators at the workplace. Photo: Julia Kite

The bills augment the 2009 Bicycle Access to Buildings Law, which required office building owners and managers to create bicycle access plans when tenants request them.

That law had a number of limitations. For one, it only required access to freight elevators. Since freight elevators in many buildings are shut down before most workers leave for the day, the law has not been much use for people who work in buildings where management does not want to accommodate bikes.

DOT, which supported all three bills, conducted a survey of 209 tenants who had applied for bike access to their offices, and many said limitations on elevator access discouraged them from biking to work.

Intro 795-A, sponsored by Council Member Jumaane Williams, addresses this loophole by allowing people with bikes to use passenger elevators when freight elevators are not in service.

Williams has updated the bill since a hearing last year. The initial version only covered exiting buildings with a bike. At DOT’s suggestion, the bill now ensures that cyclists can also bring their bikes into buildings through the passenger elevator when the freight elevator is not operating. If building management wants an exemption from the bike access mandate, the legislation also now requires personal approval from the DOT commissioner.

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De Blasio Doesn’t Need to Defend His Bike Policies, He Needs to Take Action

DOT will add 18 more miles of protected lanes to this map in 2016, but there's a lot of work left to do to create a cohesive citywide network of safe bike routes. Map: Jon Orcutt

DOT will add 18 more miles of protected lanes to this map in 2016, but there’s a lot of work left to do to create a cohesive citywide network of safe bike routes. Map: Jon Orcutt

Two days before a mass demonstration and bike ride to demand more action from the de Blasio administration to prevent cyclist deaths, the mayor and DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg made a media play that seems designed to deflect pressure, announcing that the city is on track to build a record 18 miles of protected bike lanes this year.

With bicyclist deaths on the rise, the mayor should be redoubling his efforts to redesign streets for safer cycling in order to achieve his goal of zero traffic fatalities by 2024. Instead he’s getting defensive.

It’s true that DOT’s progress in 2016 stacks up well compared to previous years, and the current batch of projects includes important new protected bike lane segments on streets like Queens BoulevardAmsterdam Avenue, and Chrystie Street.

The fact remains, however, that recent additions to the bike network have not been sufficient to prevent a troubling increase in cyclist deaths this year. For two years running, de Blasio has refused to increase the budget for street redesigns and accelerate the implementation of projects that are proven to save lives. If the mayor chose to make street redesigns a higher priority, DOT could improve safety on many more streets each year.

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Fill Out the BikeNYC 2020 Survey and Help Shape the Future of Cycling in NYC

Transportation Alternatives wants to hear from New Yorkers of all stripes for its BikeNYC 2020 Campaign. Image: Transportation Alternatives

Transportation Alternatives wants to hear from New Yorkers for its BikeNYC 2020 campaign. Image: Transportation Alternatives

Transportation Alternatives is setting out create a vision for the future of biking in NYC, and it wants your help. Over the next six months, TA will be collecting ideas from thousands of New Yorkers, starting with an online survey launched last week.

The BikeNYC 2020 campaign aims to understand the bike infrastructure priorities of the 778,000 New Yorkers who say they bike regularly — as well as those who may be interested in biking but choose not to ride on city streets.

Executive Director Paul Steely White said TA hopes to channel New Yorkers’ feelings about biking in the city into safe streets advocacy. “There’s so many New Yorkers that are cycling now, and many, perhaps most, are not plugged into the movement, to the advocacy initiatives that we and others are undertaking,” he said. “We’re trying to cast as wide a net as possible and really capture the hopes and dreams of New Yorkers who are already biking or are interested in biking.”

TA plans to release a report in the second quarter of 2017 based on the survey results. White said the initiative won’t create a “master plan” for NYC’s bike network. Instead, the intention is to develop a better understanding of what New Yorkers want from bicycling in the city.

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The Campaign for a Safer Bike Connection to Joe Michaels Mile

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There is no safe on-street bike access from Northern Boulevard to Joe Michaels Mile, the asphalt path on the right. Photo: Google Maps

When 78-year-old Michael Schenkman was killed by a speeding motorist on Northern Boulevard last month, he was on his daily ride to Joe Michaels Mile, a bike path that runs for two and a half miles along the Cross Island Parkway. Now business owners and residents in Little Neck and Douglaston are reiterating calls for safe bike access to the popular cycling route.

Michael Schenkman was the 16th cyclist killed by a New York City motorist this year. Photo via Facebook

A driver killed Michael Schenkman last month as he attempted to bike to Joe Michaels Mile.

Schenkman was riding east at around 6:30 a.m. on August 24 when a driver struck him from behind as he began to merge into the center lane to turn left onto Joe Michaels Mile, according to the Times.

Drivers killed eight pedestrians along Northern Boulevard from 2012 to 2014, placing it near the top of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign’s 2016 list of the borough’s “Most Dangerous Roads for Walking.” It is also one of the city’s Vision Zero priority corridors.

Northern Boulevard is especially treacherous around the entrance to the bike path, with three wide car lanes in each direction. Traffic speeds are dangerously high — local residents said drivers routinely drive upwards of 60 mph. (The signed speed limit is 30 mph west of the Cross Island Parkway and 40 mph along the stretch that runs through between it and Little Neck.)

The city, however, has declined to pursue multiple requests for safer bike connections to Joe Michaels Mile.

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NYPD U.S. Open Security Plan Closes Key Route Linking Corona and Flushing

Meridian Road serves as a bike commuting link through Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Photo: @MakeQueensSafer

Meridian Road serves as a bicycling link through Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Photo: @MakeQueensSafer

As part of its security plan for this year’s U.S. Open, NYPD is blocking public access to a road that runs through Flushing Meadows Corona Park, cutting off one of the few local street connections between Corona and Flushing.

Meridian Road loops around the section of the park that’s bordered on three sides by the Grand Central Parkway and the Long Island Expressway. Signs posted for the U.S. Open say the east-west section of the road on the north side of the park won’t open again until September 17 — several days after play is scheduled to end this Sunday. For cyclists, that section is a much less stressful link between Corona and Flushing than the other nearby option, Roosevelt Avenue.

The road blockage was coordinated between NYPD and the U.S. Tennis Association, according to the Times Ledger. The Queens Museum was forced to close last Saturday for the duration of the tournament because, the paper reported, “The parking lots on either side of the museum are being used as a staging area for the NYPD and the plaza in front on Meridian Road is being used as a checkpoint where police officers inspect cars bringing fans to matches.”

“Our concern is it’s a big commuter road,” said Cristina Furlong of Make Queens Safer. Photos posted on Twitter by Make Queens Safer show cyclists and people on foot being redirected or blocked by police barricades. Meanwhile, park green spaces have been taken over for tournament parking.

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NYPD Forced Cyclists Off Greenway and Onto West Side Highway at Rush Hour

Forced off the greenway, these brave cyclists took to the West Side Highway. Photo: David Meyer

NYPD diverted cyclists off the Hudson River Greenway yesterday, so people biked in car traffic on the adjacent West Side Highway, which remained open. Photo: David Meyer

For four and a half hours last night, NYPD shut off bike access to the Hudson River Greenway between 44th Street and 55th Street, a major bike transportation artery used by several thousand people each day.

The greenway closure was billed as a “safety/security measure” for the televised Clinton/Trump Q & A with Matt Lauer held on the USS Intrepid. But there was no NYPD detour imposed on motorists using the adjacent West Side Highway, where people remained free to pilot large vehicles with substantial carrying capacity at high speeds.

Large numbers of cyclists returning home for the evening commute chose to bike on the West Side Highway for those 11 blocks. In the name of safety and security, NYPD created a more dangerous traffic condition, depriving cyclists of the protection of the greenway.

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Riders lining up to exit the greenway at 44th Street last night. Photo: Mark Gorton

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Greenway Shut Tonight for Presidential Forum — Motorists, Carry On

Ten blocks of the Hudson River Greenway will be closed during evening rush today as a “security” precaution for a presidential candidate event on the USS Intrepid. While people on bikes will have to figure out another way around, there’s no indication that people driving multi-ton metal boxes a few feet away on the West Side Highway will have to change their routines at all.

According to the Hudson River Park Trust, the greenway will be closed from 44th Street to 55th Street from 5 to 10:30 p.m. due to “NYPD safety/security measures.” The trust said greenway commuters should “plan an alternate route,” and posted no re-routing info on its web site or Twitter feed.

We called NYPD about the greenway closure, and to ask if the West Side Highway would be shut as well. NYPD referred us to the Secret Service. “NYPD’s the one who closes the street,” said the person who answered the phone at the Secret Service field office in Brooklyn.

A spokesperson said the Hudson River Park Trust learned of the greenway closure yesterday. No one we contacted would say if motor traffic would be blocked or rerouted. No announcement of a road closure has been posted online, and the DOT’s map of street disruptions shows no parallel detour on the West Side Highway today.

Tonight’s event is a forum on the military and national security. While it looks like operators of motor vehicles will carry on unimpeded, people biking and walking will be targeted by NYPD security theater.

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NYPD: Critically-Injured Cyclist Caused High-Speed Park Slope Collision

NYPD blamed this collision on the cyclist, despite a witness account that the driver was speeding. Photo: Toby Cecchini

NYPD blamed this collision on the cyclist, despite a witness account that the driver was speeding. Photo: Toby Cecchini

A 20-year-old man is in critical condition after he was hit by a driver while riding a bike in Park Slope last night. Though a witness said the driver was speeding, police blamed the victim for the crash.

NYPD said the 25-year-old motorist was traveling southbound on Sixth Avenue near Ninth Street in a Honda sedan when the northbound cyclist “suddenly reared into the southbound lane, causing a collision.”

Police accounts cited by Gothamist said the cyclist was riding against traffic in the southbound lane. NYPD told Gothamist the motorist had been waiting at the red light at Sixth and Ninth just before the collision occurred.

The victim went head-first through the windshield into the vehicle’s passenger compartment, according to NYPD. Photos of the scene show the windshield was destroyed, a sign of high-speed collision.

Toby Cecchini, who witnessed the crash and tended to the victim before police arrived, told Gothamist the driver came “flying past” before he heard what sounded like an “explosion.”

Cecchini said the victim “was canted into the front passenger seat, his legs sticking out through the windshield.” According to Cecchini, the driver was “shouting loudly that the cyclist swerved into him from nowhere and repeating it loudly over and over to different group[s] of people.”

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An NYPD Light Tower Has Blocked the Flushing Ave Bike Lane for Three Days

This light tower has forced cyclists to contend with motor vehicle traffic on Flushing Avenue all week. Photo: Matthew Kime

This NYPD light tower continues to force cyclists into motor vehicle traffic on Flushing Avenue. Photo: Matthew Kime

An idle NYPD light tower has been sitting in the Flushing Avenue bike lane all week, forcing cyclists into motor vehicle traffic.

Flushing Avenue’s westbound bike lane runs along the north curb. It will eventually be upgraded to a two-way protected lane, but right now is separated from motor vehicle traffic by a painted buffer. Commuters found the light trailer blocking the bike lane just east of Navy Street on Monday.

Responding to a 311 complaint, NYPD said officers were notified to move the light on Monday afternoon. But it was still there as of this morning.

Motorists have injured four cyclists on Flushing Avenue in the vicinity of Navy Street — from one block to the west to two blocks to the east — this year through July, according to city crash data.

The block of Flushing between Navy Street and North Eliot Place is located in the 88th Precinct. Messages left with the 88th Precinct and the NYPD public information office were not returned as of this writing.

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Eyes on the Street: Phase 2 of Queens Boulevard Redesign Takes Shape

Green paint is down on a new section of the Queens Boulevard bike lane in Elmhurst.

The second phase of the Queens Boulevard redesign runs from 74th Street to Eliot Avenue [PDF], extending east from phase one, which was implemented in Woodside last year. After construction wraps up this summer, there will be 2.5 miles of continuous median-aligned bike lanes on the most important east-west route in Queens.

In addition to the bike lane, the project calms car traffic and creates safer walking conditions. Below is a new crosswalk at a stop-controlled transition from the center roadway to the service road at Cornish Avenue. Previously, the design enabled drivers to merge quickly, without stopping.

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