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Posts from the Bicycling Category

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Eyes on the Street: Green Bike Lanes on the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge

Biking between Greenpoint and Woodside is getting less hairy. DOT crews have painted buffered bike lanes on the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge, a project that was first proposed five years ago.

Under the old design, speeding on the four-lane bridge was a big problem. The 2010 version of the redesign would have trimmed it to two motor vehicle lanes plus bike lanes, but to win over local trucking interests, the final design maintains two Queens-bound motor lanes.

Clarence shares this helmet-cam footage of a trip from Queens to Brooklyn on the new bike lane (sped up by a factor of two).

Meanwhile, one Newtown Creek crossing to the west, DOT crews are getting started on survey work for the much-anticipated Pulaski Bridge bikeway, reports Transportation Alternatives organizer Luke Ohlson:

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DOT and Ydanis Rodriguez Break Ground on Uptown Bike Lanes

Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez and local high school students celebrated new bike lanes near the High Bridge in Washington Heights this afternoon. Photo: Ben Fried

Don’t underestimate the importance of this development: Today, Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez announced the groundbreaking for new bike routes linking the Hudson River Greenway to the restored High Bridge, which connects Upper Manhattan to the Bronx.

The shovels-in-the-ground moment and its sibling, the ribbon-cutting-with-oversized-scissors, are irresistible to elected officials everywhere. Usually, this feeds into the political incentive to push for big, dumb road projects. One way to flip this dynamic: start holding groundbreakings and ribbon-cuttings for smart transportation projects, too.

Map: NYC DOT

The new uptown bike routes will consist of two-way protected lanes on 170th Street and segments of 158th Street and Edgecombe Avenue. Other segments will consist mainly of sharrows. The routes will provide safer and more direct connections between the Hudson River Greenway, Washington Heights, and the High Bridge, which reopened to the public this week after being off limits for 45 years.

Rodriguez pointed out that a lot of families have moved across the river from Washington Heights to the Bronx in the last 20 years, and these projects are going to connect people who have relatives on the other side of the river.

“Not only are we connecting both sides of the river,” said Assembly Member Guillermo Linares, “but we are making it easier to get to the bridge if you are walking and if you are riding a bike.”

The officials were joined by high school students from I Challenge Myself, a program that promotes fitness in NYC high schools. “It’ll be a lot safer and more people will be able to come down here,” said Brian Zarzuela, a sophomore at the High School for Media and Communications in Washington Heights. “With the lanes, it should be a lot easier to navigate.”

In related news, DOT announced that it will begin holding public workshops for its Harlem River Bridges Access Plan starting next week. Currently, people biking or walking across the bridges have to contend with hostile street conditions. Safer routes across the river could make biking a much more attractive travel option.

Read more…

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When It Comes to Bike Enforcement, NYPD Can Do Better Than This

Warm weather means more bicyclists on city streets. It also means more ham-handed attempts by NYPD to improve bike safety, and officers are out in force this week ticketing people on bikes.

NYPD's traffic enforcement priorities yesterday on Hudson Street. Photo: BrooklynSpoke/Twitter

NYPD’s traffic enforcement priorities yesterday on Hudson Street. Photo: BrooklynSpoke/Twitter

Instead of ticketing wrong-way cyclists buzzing pedestrians in crosswalks, the police typically camp out and rack up tickets where cyclists break the letter of the law without jeopardizing anyone. Ticketing people for riding through a red light at a T-intersection is the bicycle equivalent of ticketing a pedestrian who crosses against the light when no cars are coming.

Bike enforcement operations have been spotted on the Hudson River Greenway, at the base of the Manhattan Bridge, on Hudson Street, and on Eighth Avenue. These are all locations where there are plenty of people biking, and probably plenty of people who bike through red lights after checking to see if the coast is clear.

Handing out red light violations at these locations is easy for police, but it’s not a good use of resources if the department is serious about Vision Zero.

Officers from the 5th Precinct, for example, can often be spotted issuing red light tickets to cyclists coming off the Manhattan Bridge and on Chrystie Street. The same precinct has issued just 46 speeding tickets and 71 failure to yield tickets so far this year.

If the department is going to spend time on bike enforcement, it should at least focus on the people riding the wrong way or cutting through crosswalks at speed. That would be harder than ticketing the “scofflaws” who are jaywalking on bikes, but it might actually improve conditions on the street.

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CB 7 Committee Asks DOT for Amsterdam Protected Bike Lane “Immediately”

On Tuesday, the Manhattan Community Board 7 transportation committee unanimously passed a resolution asking DOT to immediately install a protected bike lane on Amsterdam Avenue in the neighborhood.

Will DOT finally tame this street? Photo: Daniel/Flickr

Will DOT finally tame this street? Photo: Daniel/Flickr

DOT has built out a southbound protected bike lane on Columbus Avenue from 110th Street almost to Columbus Circle over the past five years, but the city has not created a parallel route for people biking uptown. With Citi Bike on track to arrive on the Upper West Side this summer, time is running out to build a safe northbound bike route in the neighborhood before a new wave of cyclists hit the streets.

The latest request for a northbound protected bike lane comes more than a year and a half after the board unanimously asked DOT to redesign Amsterdam Avenue. Elected officials and the community board are asking DOT to stop delaying. In April, Council Member Helen Rosenthal called on DOT to install a protected bike lane on Amsterdam.

“CB 7 called for immediate implementation of a northbound protected bike lane,” said committee member Howard Yaruss. The resolution now goes to the CB 7 full board on July 7.

Asked if it is going to come out with a proposal, DOT again told Streetsblog that it is reviewing possible safety enhancements on Amsterdam.

Tuesday’s meeting was marked by hemming and hawing from some board members, including transportation committee co-chairs Andrew Albert and Dan Zweig. The issue of bike lanes didn’t even come up until about two hours into the meeting.

“I was honestly worried that we weren’t ever going to get to talk about street safety,” said Upper West Side resident Willow Stelzer. “The goal was to sideline and delay.”

“At every turn, at every mention of this, the chairs seemed to brush it aside,” said Upper West Side resident Finn Vigeland. “It just seemed like the chairs were not receptive to this issue.”

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DOT Replaces a Block of the Fifth Avenue Bike Lane With Sharrows

Bye bye, bike lane. Hello, sharrows in a turn lane. Photo: Stephen Miller

Bye bye, bike lane. Hello, sharrows in a turn lane. Photo: Stephen Miller

DOT’s recent design tweaks to Eighth Street have come with an unwelcome change on Fifth Avenue. As the Fifth Avenue bike lane approaches Eighth Street, it now morphs into sharrows that overlap with a turning lane for motorists. The dedicated space for cycling is gone, and the new design is incompatible with the protected bike lane that advocates and the local community board have called for on Fifth Avenue.

While the southern end of Fifth Avenue doesn’t carry much car traffic, as the street approaches its terminus at Washington Square Park, many drivers turn left onto eastbound Eighth Street. The left-side bike lane was sacrificed to make way for a new design to handle this turning traffic.

The intent of the design is to separate the turning motorists from people crossing Eighth Street, who now have “a split-phase leading pedestrian interval,” giving them a head start before drivers receive a flashing yellow turn arrow. But it also calls for cyclists to do a non-intuitive merging movement around turning drivers, including many MTA buses and tour buses. Since bus drivers swing right before making tight left turns, the bike stencils direct cyclists to take a path that could conflict with the path of buses.

An earlier version of the plan, presented to Manhattan Community Board 2 last November, added the turn lane but kept the bike lane [PDF].

DOT says it will finish markings and signal work by the end of the month.

More than a year ago, DOT committed to studying protected bike lanes on Fifth Avenue and Sixth Avenue, in response to local elected officials and community boards, but hasn’t produced anything since then.

This section of Fifth Avenue, with its low volume of traffic, would be an ideal location to begin building out protected lanes on these important north-south streets. With its corner sidewalk extensions, however, the new intersection design won’t work with a protected bike lane:

5th_ave_8th_street

The new intersection design at Fifth Avenue and Eighth Street is incompatible with a protected bike lane on Fifth.

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Eyes on the Street: The Case of the Missing Bike Lanes

The Driggs Avenue bike lane. Photo: Stephen Miller

The missing Driggs Avenue bike lane. Photo: Stephen Miller

The streets have been repaved. Lane striping, crosswalks, and stop bars have been added back. But there’s something missing from two streets in DOT’s bike network: bike lanes.

In Williamsburg, Driggs Avenue has been repaved — but you would never know it’s a key bike connection from the Williamsburg Bridge. The street has all its stripes back except the bike lane markings.

In Lower Manhattan, Lafayette Street between Canal and Chambers was also recently repaved. Markings were added back, but so far not the buffered bike lane. Instead, many motorists are now using what should be the bike lane space as a driving lane.

DOT did not respond to a query about why the bike lanes are taking longer to paint than the rest of the street markings.

The Lafayette Street bike lane. Photo: Steve Vaccaro/Twitter

Lafayette Street, which feeds directly to the Brooklyn Bridge path and is lined with Citi Bike stations, is wide enough for a protected bike lane. North of Prince Street, Lafayette already has a protected lane: When DOT repaved that section last year, it upgraded the bike lane. DOT said it didn’t take advantage of this year’s repaving to upgrade the other section of Lafayette because it would have had to go before the community board for a significant street redesign.

It seems DOT has limited how much it uses road resurfacing to improve street design and safety. Converting a striped bike lane into a buffered bike lane? Easy. Converting a buffered bike lane into a protected bike lane? Apparently that’s too tough.

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Want to Drive Thru Corona to the US Open? Francisco Moya’s Got Your Back

Assembly Member Francisco Moya is worried that anything less than two lanes each way will lead to gridlock for drivers going to tennis tournaments in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Photo: Google Maps

Assembly Member Francisco Moya is worried that anything less than two lanes each way will lead to gridlock for drivers going to tennis tournaments in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Photo: Google Maps

Assembly Member Francisco Moya opposes a DOT plan for safer walking and biking on 111th Street next to Flushing Meadows Corona Park. In a statement, he said it will slow down people driving through the neighborhood he represents on their way to professional baseball games and tennis tournaments.

Assembly Member Francisco Moya. Photo: NY Assembly

Assembly Member Francisco Moya. Photo: NY Assembly

“111th Street is a high traffic road, which suffers from massive spikes in congestion during the numerous cultural and sporting events in the surrounding area, including Mets games and USTA tournaments,” Moya said in the statement. “There is little doubt that DOT’s proposal to reduce car traffic to one lane will result in slowed traffic and increased congestion, but I am also deeply concerned with the possibility of an increase in accidents and air pollution for the immediately surrounding area.”

DOT studied traffic conditions during five days in April and May, counting cars during a Cinco de Mayo celebration in the park, two Queens Night Markets, and eight Mets games, including this season’s home opener. The agency found the increased traffic was mostly north of the area slated for the road diet and could be ameliorated by adjusting signal timing and keeping traffic bound for Citi Field on the highway [PDF].

“We still don’t feel that that’s sufficient,” said Meghan Tadio, Moya’s chief of staff. “We think that, really, if we’re going to limit the traffic lanes to one lane in each direction, we need to have a full study during the summer months… We would take them and their numbers as reality if they took time to do the study over the whole peak summer.”

The street handles no more than 350 cars in each direction during a typical rush hour, according to DOT, a volume that can easily be handled with a single lane each way.

“It would be insane if we went around designing streets for three or four specific days of the year,” said Transportation Alternatives Queens organizer Jaime Moncayo. “You’re basically inconveniencing the people who use the street year-round for the people who use it two or three times for an event.”

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The Top 100 Neighborhoods for Bicycle Commuting Have a 21% Mode Share

More than half of people in Stanford University's central campus commute by bike. Photo: ##http://travelchew.blogspot.com/2013_12_01_archive.html##TravelChew##

More than half of people in Stanford University’s central campus commute by bike. Photo: TravelChew

City rankings of bike-friendliness — while fabulous click-bait for their purveyors — obscure dramatic differences among neighborhoods. Los Angeles doesn’t appear on any cycling top 10 lists, but the area to the north and west of the University of Southern California has a 20 percent bicycle mode share. The city of Miami Beach is no bike heavyweight, but around Flamingo Park, nearly one in every four trips to work is made on two wheels.

Robert Schneider, an urban planning professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, wanted to go beyond the city rankings. He and his assistant, Joe Stefanich, examined 60,090 census tracts to find the top 100 U.S. neighborhoods for bicycle commuting [PDF]. Taken together, they have a 21 percent bicycle mode share. Compare that to the U.S. as a whole, with its piddling 0.6 percent mode share. The full list is available on this PDF.

Here’s what Schneider and Stefanich found:

  • Stanford University is a biking powerhouse. The central campus has a 52 percent mode share, the highest in the country. Five census tracts in and around the campus make it into the top 100. (Check out our coverage of Stanford’s transportation demand management program to find out more about how they did it.)
  • Stanford is not alone. College campuses in general support biking like nothing else. Of the top 100 census tracts for bike commuting, 68 are within two miles of a campus.
  • The polar vortex ate your bicycle. Seventy of the top 100 tracts have mild climates with fewer than 10 days a year with temperatures that don’t go above freezing.
  • The Amish will rival your beardiest hipsters for bike love (and beards for that matter). Only, many of them don’t exactly ride bikes but these hybrid bicycle scooters. Four tracts in rural areas of Ohio and Indiana with significant Amish populations have bike commuting rates between 15.7 and 18 percent.

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Queens CB 2 Votes Unanimously in Favor of Queens Blvd Protected Bike Lane

Queens Boulevard will be redesigned this summer before being reconstructed in 2018. Image: DOT [PDF]

Queens Boulevard will be redesigned this summer before being reconstructed in 2018. Image: DOT [PDF]

Big changes are coming to Queens Boulevard in Woodside this summer after a unanimous vote last night from Queens Community Board 2 for a DOT redesign.

The plan will add protected bike lanes and expand pedestrian space on 1.3 miles of the “Boulevard of Death,” from Roosevelt Avenue to 74th Street [PDF]. Six people were killed on this stretch of Queens Boulevard between 2009 and 2013, including two pedestrians and one cyclist, according to DOT. Over the same period, 36 people suffered serious injuries, the vast majority in motor vehicles.

DOT plans on implementing the design in July and August with temporary materials before building it out with concrete in 2018. It’s the first phase in a $100 million, multi-year project to transform the notoriously dangerous Queens Boulevard between Sunnyside and Forest Hills.

“It was an incredibly important and, dare I say, historic moment for Queens and for the safe streets movement,” said Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer. “Having a bike lane on Queens Boulevard — I can remember several years ago, people saying to me, ‘That is the most pie-in-the-sky, ridiculous harebrained notion ever. It’ll never happen.’ But, you know, it’s gonna happen. It’s happening. That is seismic, in terms of the shift in where the thinking has gone.”

“We have come up with what I consider to be one of our most creative and exciting proposals that this department has ever put together,” Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg told CB 2 last night. “It’s going to greatly enhance safety. It’s going to make the road more pleasant and more attractive for pedestrians, for cyclists, for the people who live and have their business on Queens Boulevard. And it will keep the traffic flowing, as well.”

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DOT, CB 12 Hold Firm as Cranks Attack Fort George Hill Bike Lane

Some residents of Fort George Hill were upset by a new protected bike lane. Image: DOT [PDF]

Fort George Hill co-op owners had a freak-out over a new protected bike lane at a Manhattan Community Board 12 transportation committee meeting Monday evening.

The bike lane, installed earlier this year to provide a safe two-way connection between Washington Heights and Inwood, was among a handful of streets CB 12 suggested to DOT for bike lanes in 2012. The agency came back with a proposal for Fort George Hill last year, and received the board’s sign-off before installing it this spring. Installation is still underway.

That didn’t keep some residents of Fort George Hill co-op buildings from getting upset about the change. About 25 people packed Monday’s meeting to show their displeasure. “How come we didn’t have an open meeting with the buildings before this thing was built?” asked Paul J. Hintersteiner, president of the co-op board at 17 Fort George Hill. “Nobody knew anything about it until it happened.”

Things escalated from there, with some residents yelling at DOT staff and demanding that the bike lane be removed.

“They don’t care about anybody in the neighborhood. They care about putting in the bike lanes,” said Abraham Jacob, 58, who didn’t like the street redesign because his car gets snowed in during the winter. (The bike lane was installed this spring.) “When the winter comes, I don’t like to take the subway. I don’t take the subway. I haven’t taken the subway since I graduated high school in 1974,” he said. “So I have the choice of either taking the subway or losing my job. So where’s DOT’s concern on that?”

The audience applauded in support. “Thank you,” said CB 12 member Jim Berlin.

DOT and most CB 12 members tried to take the verbal abuse in stride. “We understand that it is a very upsetting situation for the residents there,” replied committee chair Yahaira Alonzo. “Going back to the way it was is not an option.”

Some spoke in support of the changes. Fort George Hill residents Sergiy Nosulya and Jonathan Rabinowitz spoke separately about how grateful they they are to be able to ride bikes down the hill legally and without heading straight into oncoming car traffic.

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