Skip to content

Posts from the Bike Lanes Category

1 Comment

Before Riding the New Queens Blvd, Go Down Memory Lane With Streetfilms

A celebratory bike ride this evening will mark the installation of bike lanes on Queens Boulevard — a safety improvement years in the making.

Take a ride down Queens Boulevard in 2009 with this Streetfilm featuring the “bike pool,” organized to encourage safety in numbers for cyclists on the Boulevard of Death.

Things will look quite different on tonight’s ride. Bike lanes have been striped along 1.3 miles of the Queens Boulevard service road in Woodside, and DOT will begin planning for sections farther east later this year and next year.

For all its risks, Queens Boulevard has always provided the most direct route across the borough. That’s one reason the new bike lane — and future segments — are so important.

Read more…

19 Comments

DOT’s Fear of Community Boards Leads to Bike Lane Gaps in Brooklyn

Disjointed street design changes coming to Kingston Avenue and Brooklyn Avenue illustrate how DOT’s sheepish approach to bike lane implementation interferes with the development of a connected bike network.

One corridor, three community boards. Three drastically different projects. Same old DOT. Map: DOT

One project, three community boards, three different designs. Map: DOT

At Fulton Street in Bed-Stuy, these north-south routes connect with Tompkins Avenue and Throop Avenue, which both have bike lanes. But for years, the bike lanes didn’t extend south of Fulton into Crown Heights and Prospect Lefferts Gardens.

Kingston and Brooklyn, already marked on the city’s bike map as “potential future bicycle routes,” run through an area with one of the city’s higher bike-to-work commute rates. They connect with east-west bike lanes on Eastern Parkway, Empire Boulevard, East New York Avenue, and Maple Street. They are natural candidates for a bike lane extension.

The mile-and-a-half stretch crosses three community boards — CB 3 in Bed-Stuy, CB 8 in Crown Heights, and CB 9 south of Eastern Parkway. Instead of bringing a cohesive project to all three boards, DOT proposed three different designs, one for each community board.

Community Board 9 has a mixed record on bike lanes — its members pushed DOT to add them to an Empire Boulevard road diet in 2009, yet weren’t able to muster enough votes last year to support a road diet with bike lanes on Franklin Avenue.

On both Kingston and Brooklyn, DOT proposed keeping two motor vehicle lanes on the southernmost blocks near Kings County Hospital and going down to one lane north of Lefferts Avenue. Though there is plenty of room for bike lanes in CB 9, the plan doesn’t include them. Instead, parking lanes on both sides of the street would be enlarged to up to 13 feet wide [PDF].

Why didn’t DOT propose extending the bike lanes south into CB 9? I asked DOT Deputy Commissioner Ryan Russo after a press conference this morning. “There’s differences in widths and traffic flow, and those sorts of things,” he said.

Later, he cited rapid neighborhood change as a factor. “Have you read any coverage of CB 9? They are literally disintegrating because of gentrification. Literally disintegrating,” Russo said, referring to rancor over a rezoning study for Empire Boulevard.

Trouble is, ditching the bike lanes didn’t help DOT get CB 9’s support. Although its transportation committee backed the proposal in June [PDF], the full board voted it down later that month, DOT says.

Read more…

14 Comments

Reappointed by Rosenthal, Dan Zweig Already Trashing Amsterdam Ave Plan

Bike lane opponent Dan Zweig is at it again. The longtime Manhattan Community Board 7 transportation committee co-chair was quoted in a Post article trashing the Amsterdam Avenue bike lane before DOT even presents its design, set to be released in September or October.

Dan Zweig is speaking out against a safer Amsterdam Avenue after Council Member Helen Rosenthal reappointed him to Manhattan Community Board 7.

Dan Zweig is speaking out against a safer Amsterdam Avenue after Council Member Helen Rosenthal reappointed him to Manhattan Community Board 7.

“There is very heavy traffic [on Amsterdam] and it is a truck route,” Zweig told the Post. “We don’t know if Amsterdam Avenue can accommodate a bike lane.”

Though Zweig preemptively denounced the Amsterdam Avenue bike lane, he voted for a resolution asking DOT to study it. Zweig voted for the resolution only after language was added urging DOT to consider alternative routes.

Zweig’s position contradicts that of Council Member Helen Rosenthal, who unambiguously supports a protected bike lane on Amsterdam Avenue. Yet shortly after coming out in favor of the bike lane last spring, Rosenthal reappointed Zweig, a longtime bike lane foe who lives outside her district, to CB 7.

With the reappointment, Rosenthal kept Zweig in a position to thwart safety projects on the Upper West Side. DOT almost always gives de facto veto power over its street safety projects to appointed community boards.

Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg says working with community board appointees is one of the highlights of her job. “Particularly as we’ve done our Vision Zero projects,” she said in April, “one thing that’s been really gratifying is… we’ve gotten a lot of support and very caring and well-educated people on the community boards that want to partner with us on these projects.”

While other CB 7 members have worked with DOT, even actual safety statistics don’t seem to sway Zweig from his anti-bike lane position. He refused to accept DOT numbers showing a decrease in crashes after the Columbus Avenue bike lane was installed because one of the “before” years had a high number of collisions. He asked DOT to throw out that year of data.

“We don’t invent new methodologies,” replied Josh Benson, who was then DOT’s bicycle and pedestrian director. “To just pick one year and eliminate it, that’s just not what we do.”

There is a key difference between the Amsterdam and Columbus plans. While the Columbus lane simply narrowed that avenue’s three car lanes, adding a protected bike lane to Amsterdam will require removing one of its four car lanes. This has the potential to impact DOT’s models of how quickly it can move car traffic on the uptown corridor.

The members of Community Board 7 have repeatedly voted in favor of adding protected bike lanes and pedestrian safety improvements to Columbus and Amsterdam avenues. But it looks like its leadership is gearing up to yet again oppose safer streets.

11 Comments

Street Seats and Bike Lanes Come to Brownsville and East New York

The Street Seat on Pitkin Avenue isn't even complete yet, but residents are already using it. Photo: Stephen Miller

The Street Seat on Pitkin Avenue isn’t complete yet, but residents are already using it. Photo: Stephen Miller

Livable streets improvements are rolling out for residents of Brownsville and East New York. Two new Street Seats have popped up just blocks from each other on Pitkin Avenue and Mother Gaston Boulevard. Meanwhile, DOT is installing the neighborhood’s latest round of bike lanes.

After a community-based planning process that began in 2011, the first phase of bike lanes in Brownsville and East New York was installed in 2013, followed by a second batch last year. The latest round focuses on east-west routes [PDF]: Pitkin Avenue should be finished soon, DOT said, and striping on Blake and Dumont avenues should begin in the next few weeks.

The neighborhood also got its first Street Seats, installations that convert a curbside parking space into seating and greenery maintained by a local organization or business. On Mother Gaston Boulevard near Belmont Avenue, the Brownsville Partnership is sponsoring a Street Seat in front of the MGB POPS local pop-up market.

Crews stripe crosswalks on Pitkin Avenue. The bike lane is up next. Photo: Stephen Miller

Crews stripe crosswalks on Pitkin Avenue. The bike lane is up next. Photo: Stephen Miller

Read more…

51 Comments

Eyes on the Street: Queens Boulevard Gets Its Bike Lane

Behold the Queens Boulevard bike lane. Photo: Stephen Miller

Behold the Queens Boulevard bike lane (flexible bollards coming soon). Photo: Stephen Miller

It’s happening: DOT crews are putting down green paint and thermoplastic stripes along 1.3 miles of Queens Boulevard between Roosevelt Avenue and 73rd Street. The redesign is the de Blasio administration’s most significant bike project to date and includes several pedestrian safety improvements as well. It was prompted by a long advocacy campaign for safer biking on the boulevard, which intensified after a driver struck and killed cyclist Asif Rahman in 2008.

Crews are working from west to east, adding a green bike lane, widening pedestrian medians, and installing crosswalks and signals for people walking between median islands. DOT has also closed off some of the high-speed “slip lanes” between the main roadway and the service streets. The remaining slip lanes will be redesigned to slow drivers exiting the boulevard’s main lanes and crossing the bike lane.

Slip lanes are being closed or redesigned to reduce speeding. Photo: Stephen Miller

Slip lanes are being closed or redesigned to reduce speeding. Photo: Stephen Miller

The Queens Boulevard redesign is an example of how DOT can use low-cost materials to act quickly, when decision makers treat a project as a high priority. Workshops were held in January. The design was revealed in March. The community board signed off in June. The mayor held a celebratory press conference in July. Now, in August, the first changes are on the ground.

Read more…

28 Comments

Eyes on the Street: The Case of the Missing Bike Lanes, Part II

Turns out many of the city’s marquee Vision Zero projects aren’t the only streets missing bike lanes.

DOT has also allowed its existing bike lanes to fade away. When it does repave streets, the agency often takes months to add back lane striping. Even when it puts paint back on the ground, DOT doesn’t finish the job in some cases, seemingly leaving the bike lane lost to history.

Last month, we showed you two examples where DOT didn’t refresh the bike lane after repaving and putting back all the other street markings. But the problem is much bigger than just those two streets. Earlier this week, we asked for your photos with the #MissingBikeNYC hashtag. The results are depressing. Read more…

5 Comments

Tish James Calls on DOT to Make Bike Lanes Standard on Vision Zero Projects

tish_fss

Public Advocate Tish James with members of Families for Safe Streets at the Vision Zero Vigil earlier this month.

Have you noticed that DOT street safety projects are leaving out bike lanes even when there’s plenty of room for them? So has Public Advocate Tish James.

In a letter to Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg last week, James called on DOT to make bike lanes a default feature of street redesigns, especially on wide arterial streets where a disproportionate share of traffic injuries happen. She also urged DOT to fold the addition of bike lanes into street repaving projects.

After a slowdown last year, in 2015 DOT’s bike program is making progress on protected lanes along segments of Queens Boulevard and Bruckner Boulevard, while creating better connections in the Manhattan network. But that’s a routine pace for New York City, which began implementing protected lanes in 2007. Trottenberg’s DOT hasn’t escalated its production of bike lanes as part of Vision Zero, leaving several projects without any bike infrastructure despite ample space.

This year alone, proposals for Riverside Drive, Eighth Street, and Atlantic Avenue, among other streets, failed to include bike lanes. DOT has yet to come out with a design for a protected bike lane on Amsterdam Avenue despite multiple requests from the local community board.

Noting that protected bike lanes have reduced injuries to all users on streets where they’ve been installed, James questions why DOT opts not to include them in some projects and calls for a more “ambitious” approach to implementation:

Read more…

62 Comments

Uber Makes the Case for NYC Cyclists to Download Lyft

It’s hard to make livable streets advocates take the same side of an issue as the taxi medallion industry, but Uber’s general manager in New York, Josh Mohrer, is giving it his best shot.

In a Q&A with Kevin Roose about Uber’s clash with City Hall, Mohrer completely flubbed his chance to make a pitch for congestion pricing or Donald Shoup-inspired curbside parking reform as the alternative to a cap on new for-hire vehicles.

If it’s not limiting new Ubers on the road, what should New York be doing about congestion?

Well, first of all, the mayor’s never cared about congestion before. It’s kind of a new thing for him. But if I were mayor and congestion was my top priority, I would think about: why are 2.7 million people coming into the city every day in their own car? What is behind that? And what are the real reasons for congestion? We’re all ordering on Amazon, and UPS and FedEx trucks are double-parked during the day? I love Amazon, I’m not suggesting we shouldn’t have it. But maybe it’s impacting congestion. Or bike lanes, which I love! But that’s one less lane of traffic.

Bike lane scapegoating from a company whose professed intent is to upend private car ownership. Another ingenious PR moment for Uber, whose NYC customer base must include many thousands of people who also make trips by bike.

Blaming a safety improvement like bike lanes for congestion is emblematic of the farcical public debate about Uber in New York right now. Rethinking the for-hire vehicle industry should be an opportunity to put big ideas on the table. But instead of talking about what we want from our streets and transportation system, we’re having a big shouting match about what’s responsible for traffic and congestion.

City Hall, Uber, and even Streetsblog have played into this framing of the problem. I think we can do better, and tomorrow I’ll post some thoughts about how to reframe the discussion.

In the meantime, I’m downloading Lyft.

22 Comments

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

9 Comments

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.

Read more…