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Posts from the Bike Lanes Category

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Eyes on the Street: A Better Bikeway Linking the High Bridge to Highbridge

170th_Street

This parking-protected contraflow bike lane on 170th Street in Highbridge is ready for some green paint. Photo: Ben Fried

Ten days ago, DOT broke ground on a nice set of new bike lanes linking Upper Manhattan to the reopened High Bridge. Meanwhile, bike access improvements on the Bronx side are already pretty far along.

This is the new contraflow bike lane on 170th Street, leading east from the High Bridge. It’s part of a package of bike lanes (and sharrows) linking the High Bridge viaduct to the neighborhood of Highbridge and the waterfront parks to the north.

As built, this short, two-block contraflow bike lane is a step up from the proposal DOT showed the local community board last year [PDF]. It’s protected from traffic by parked cars instead of putting cyclists between the parking lane and moving vehicles.

The rest of the project includes no protected segments but makes good use of contraflow bike lanes to create coherent routes — mostly on low-traffic streets — tying the High Bridge to the existing bike network.

Update: An anonymous tipster sends a more recent photo. Here’s the view looking toward the High Bridge (looks like the stencils went down too soon):

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Eyes on the Street: Vernon Boulevard Gets Bike Lane Barriers

New concrete barriers are being added to Vernon Boulevard in Queens. Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.

New concrete barriers are being added to Vernon Boulevard in Queens. Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.

Biking in western Queens is getting a welcome upgrade.

The two-way bike lane on Vernon Boulevard has not had any type of protection from traffic since it was installed in 2013. The lane was frequently obstructed by drivers who used it as a parking spot.

Now, DOT is installing barriers along the bikeway to keep cars out. The project received the most votes on Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer’s participatory budgeting ballot.

Concrete Jersey barriers are going in along much of Vernon Boulevard, while some sections are getting flexible plastic bollards. There will also be short sections without barriers to accommodate turning trucks or to make room for passengers boarding buses.

The barriers, which are in the process of being installed this week, aim to fix problems like this. Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.

The barriers, which are in the process of being installed this week, aim to fix problems like this. Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.

Two other sections of Vernon Boulevard that won’t receive barriers are the gaps in the bikeway at Queensbridge Park and Rainey Park. With curbside parking along the park edges, cyclists either have to shift to sharrows on Vernon Boulevard or use more circuitous waterfront paths in the parks.

Installation of the barriers is currently underway and expected to wrap soon.

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DOT Drops Buffer From Bronx Bike Lanes Under Vision Zero Safety Plan

Think buffered bike lanes are a stepping stone to protected paths? Not on Prospect Avenue in the Bronx, where DOT is proposing to remove buffers and add turn lanes. Image: DOT [PDF]

On Prospect Avenue in the Bronx, DOT is proposing to remove bike lane buffers and add turn lanes. Image: DOT [PDF]

DOT is downgrading buffered bike lanes as part of a street safety project on 1.3 miles of Prospect Avenue in the Bronx, a Vision Zero priority corridor. While the street appears to have enough room for protected bike lanes while maintaining the current motor vehicle lanes, DOT instead opted to narrow the bike lanes, remove the buffers, and devote space to a center median and left turn lanes.

The project [PDF] also redesigns two intersections to provide more space for pedestrians and slow down turning drivers. At Rev. James A. Polite Avenue, DOT is closing a “slip lane” that drivers use as a shortcut to avoid the traffic signal at 167th Street. The change will add three parking spaces. DOT is also installing painted curb extensions at Avenue St. John and Dawson Street.

Prospect Avenue (in purple) is a Vision Zero priority corridor. Image: DOT

Prospect Avenue (in purple) is a Vision Zero priority corridor. Image: DOT

The biggest changes, however, are for Prospect Avenue itself, where DOT is removing painted buffers from the street’s bike lanes to make room for a striped median and left-turn lanes. Concrete pedestrian islands will be installed at 152nd, 155th, 162nd, 165th, and Jennings streets.

In its presentation, DOT says that “existing buffered bike lanes encourage double parking” and that removing buffers “improves bike lane design” by making the lane “less susceptible to double parking.” Drivers also often use the bike lane to pass turning vehicles on the right, DOT said.

DOT has already made similar changes to a short section of Prospect Avenue, between Freeman Street and Boston Road, after a repaving project last summer.

Streetsblog asked DOT if it collected before-and-after data to see if removing bike lane buffers on Prospect Avenue has actually reduced double-parking. We also asked if the agency considered upgrading the buffered bike lanes to protected lanes, which could also have included pedestrian islands, instead of removing the buffers, but the agency did not reply to those questions.

From Jennings Street to E. 149th Street, there were 16 serious injuries, including 12 pedestrians and four motor vehicle occupants, between 2009 and 2013, according to DOT. During that period, one person, a motor vehicle occupant, died in a crash on Prospect Avenue. Six bicyclists were injured, none seriously.

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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.

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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:

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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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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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