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Posts from the "Bike Lanes" Category

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Eyes on the Street: An Early Look at the Lafayette Protected Bike Lane

lafayette_street_1

Crews have been making good progress on the Lafayette Street redesign [PDF], the first protected bike lane project installed by the de Blasio administration. As of yesterday, the striping work had progressed from Spring Street up past 4th Street, where Philip Winn of Project for Public Spaces snapped these photos.

The Lafayette Street project will convert the northbound buffered bike lane into a protected lane from Prince to 12th Street. Some intersections will get pedestrian islands between the bike lane and motor vehicle lanes. DOT is really knocking this one out fast — Community Board 2 voted in favor of it less than a month ago. The redesign isn’t complete but people are already making good use of it:

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East 106th Street Road Diet and Bike Lanes Head to Manhattan CB 11

DOT is proposing a road diet for East 106th Street. CB 11's transportation committee could vote on it as soon as next month. Image: DOT

DOT is proposing a road diet for East 106th Street. CB 11′s transportation committee could vote on it as soon as next month. Image: DOT

Running between Fifth Avenue and FDR Drive, 106th Street in East Harlem should provide a key bike connection between Central Park and Randall’s Island. NYC DOT is proposing a road diet and painted bike lanes [PDF] to improve safety on the street, and Community Board 11′s transportation committee could vote on the plan soon.

At 60 feet wide, 106th Street currently has two car lanes in each direction, even though one lane each way could handle the existing traffic. The connection to the Randall’s Island bike-pedestrian bridge at 103rd Street is also tricky to navigate. This is especially important since 106th Street is the most direct connection between Central Park and Randall’s Island, due to the prevalence of large super-blocks in East Harlem.

The present design contributes to the disproportionate share of traffic violence on East 106th Street. There were two  pedestrian fatalities in separate crashes in 2005, and a cyclist was killed at the intersection with Park Avenue in 2000, according to CrashStat. It ranks in the top third of Manhattan’s most dangerous streets, according to NYC DOT.

DOT is proposing a classic four-to-three lane road diet, converting the existing four car lanes to two car lanes, bike lanes, and a center median with left-turn lanes. At Second and Third Avenues, median islands would make intersections safer for pedestrians by turning one 60-foot crossing to two 25-foot segments.

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Streetsblog USA No Comments

Bike Lanes Don’t Lead to Congestion, But Some of Them Should

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After bike lanes were installed in Minneapolis, there were more cars per unit of road space, but still not enough to meet the threshold for congestion.

Gretchen Johnson and Aaron Johnson have posted a nice debunking of typical “war on cars” rhetoric over at fivethirtyeight.

Johnson and Johnson gathered before-and-after traffic data from 45 miles of streets where Minneapolis installed bike lanes. They also looked at how Brooklyn’s Prospect Park West bike lane affected traffic conditions.

They found, in short, that after the installation of bike lanes, traffic conditions did not meet the threshold of “heavy congestion,” and the impact on space for motor vehicles was moderate enough that drivers’ travel times would likely be unaffected.

None of the 10 Minneapolis streets reached a level where “minor incidents can cause traffic jams,” although the bike lanes did edge two streets into the “mild to moderate” congestion category. The authors, a transportation consultant and aeronautics Ph.D., write that this “mild to moderate” level is “where traffic is still moving smoothly but you might notice that it’s a bit harder to move from one lane to another.”

Meanwhile, on Prospect Park West, NYC DOT reported that there was no evidence that travel times increased after the installation of a two-way protected bike lane. The two Johnsons, after reviewing the data, say “we agree.”

These are the findings you would expect to see when a street redesign converts excess space for cars into room for bikes. Afterward, there’s less wide-open road space encouraging motorists to drive fast, and on Prospect Park West the city observed a big reduction in speeding after the bike lane was installed.

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Streetsblog LA 16 Comments

California Endorses the NACTO Urban Street Design Guide

It wasn’t a total surprise, but exciting nevertheless for bicycle advocates gathered at the NACTO “Cities for Cycling” Road Show in Oakland last nightCaltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty announced that the agency will endorse the use of the National Association of City Transportation Officials Urban Street Design Guide, giving California cities the state DOT’s blessing to install modern infrastructure like protected bike lanes.

Received with enthusiastic applause from the crowd of bike advocates, city officials, and planners, Dougherty said:

We’re trying to change the mentality of the department of transportation, of our engineers, and of those that are doing work in and around the state highway system. Many cities around California are trying to be forward thinking in terms of alternative modes, such as bike and pedestrian, as well as the safety of the entire system, and the very least we can do as the department of transportation for the state is to follow that lead, to get out of the way, and to figure out how to carry that into regional travel.

Imagine how this commute on Telegraph Avenue in Oakland would feel with a protected bike lane. Photo by Jonah Chiarenza, www.community-design.com

NACTO’s Urban Street Design Guide, launched last September, is the product of collaboration between the transportation departments of its member cities around the U.S. The guide provides the latest American standards for designing safer city streets for all users, incorporating experience from cities that have developed innovative solutions into a blueprint for others to use. It supplements, but doesn’t replace, other manuals such as the Caltrans Highway Design Manual and California’s Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices.

As the state’s transportation department, Caltrans has control over the design of state-owned highways, but the design of local streets and roads is left to local jurisdictions — with one exception. Bicycle infrastructure throughout the state has been dictated by the car-focused agency because local engineers rely on Caltrans-approved designs to protect local municipalities from lawsuits. As a result, city planners were often hesitant, or flat out refused, to build an innovative treatments like a protected bike lanes that don’t appear in Caltrans Highway Design Manual.

“It’s a permission slip for cities, for engineers and planners, to do the good, well-vetted, proven work that we know we can do to make our street safer,” said Ed Reiskin, president of NACTO and director of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. “It’s only a first step — ultimately, we’d like to see the changes in the Highway Design Manual to see it actually integrated into Caltrans documents. But this is a huge step forward, and great leadership from Malcolm Secretary [Brian] Kelly and Governor [Jerry] Brown,” who commissioned a report that recommended Caltrans adopt the NACTO guide.

The guide includes design standards for infrastructure including bike boxes, physically protected bike lanes, contra-flow bus lanes, and even parklets. Although these improvements have been implemented in cities in California and the world, they have been considered “experimental” until now. The NACTO guide has only been endorsed by two other states, Washington and Massachusetts.

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A Safer, Saner Lafayette Street Is on Its Way This Summer After CB 2 Vote

Under the plan, a buffered bike lane would be converted to a protected bike lane with pedestrian islands. Image: DOT

After a unanimous vote at its transportation committee earlier this month, Manhattan Community Board 2′s full board last night unanimously passed a resolution supporting an upgrade of the buffered bike lane on Lafayette Street and Fourth Avenue to a protected bike lane. The project [PDF] runs from Spring Street to 14th Street and will include a northbound protected bike lane from Prince Street to 12th Street, pedestrian islands, and narrower car lanes to slow drivers.

The project is set to finish construction this summer. Crews have already started grinding pavement on Lafayette to repave the street, which currently has faded markings and a pockmarked surface.

At last night’s meeting, five people spoke in support of the plan, including Scott Hobbs, deputy director of the Union Square Partnership, and William Kelley, executive director of the Village Alliance BID. Transportation Alternatives also submitted a petition with signatures from nine business owners and 76 people on the street.

“We felt there were tremendous advantages,” transportation committee chair Shirley Secunda said of the plan, noting that it will keep the same number of car lanes while slowing drivers down, upgrading the bike lane, and improving signal timing at crosswalks. “Right now it’s in terrible, terrible shape and very unsafe,” she said. “It’s a tremendously wide street and the way the street will be reconfigured would allow for shorter crossings.”

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Tonight: Crucial Meeting on Lafayette Street Protected Bike Lane

NYC DOT’s proposal for Lafayette Street and Fourth Avenue would swap the parking lane and the bike lane and slow speeding drivers with narrower motor vehicle lanes. Image: NYC DOT

NYC DOT’s proposal to upgrade the northbound buffered bike lane on Lafayette Street and Fourth Avenue to a protected lane is up for a vote at Community Board 2 tonight, and while the plan sailed through the board’s transportation committee earlier this month, a “Yes” vote is far from a sure thing. Redesign opponents who didn’t show up at the committee meeting are expected to make an appearance at the full board vote, and that could jeopardize the project.

The Lafayette redesign entails a simple change — flipping the current position of the parking lane and the bike lane, which will narrow crossing distances for pedestrians, protect bicyclists, and reduce speeding without removing traffic lanes. It’s an important step toward creating safer north-south biking conditions in the middle of Manhattan island, and tonight you can help put it over the top.

If you support a safer Lafayette Street, it’s important to turn out and prevent this opportunity from slipping away. To sign in to speak, show up by 6:00 at the Tishman Auditorium in the New School, 63 Fifth Avenue.

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CB 2 Panel Unanimously Supports Lafayette-4th Avenue Protected Bike Lane

Under the plan, a buffered bike lane would be converted to a protected bike lane. Image: DOT

Under the plan, a buffered bike lane would be converted to a protected bike lane. Image: DOT

In a unanimous 9-0 vote last night, Manhattan Community Board 2′s transportation committee endorsed a DOT plan to upgrade a buffered bike lane on Lafayette Street and Fourth Avenue to a parking-protected lane, complete with new pedestrian islands, car lanes of an appropriate width for the city, and improved signal timing for pedestrians. The plan now moves to CB 2′s full board meeting on March 20.

“We’re here as part of Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero campaign,” DOT project manager Preston Johnson said, pointing to safety gains similar projects have yielded on other Manhattan avenues. “This is a project that fits in with that by improving safety for all road users.” From 2007-2011, he said, six pedestrians, one cyclist and five motor vehicle occupants were severely injured in crashes on this section of Lafayette Street and Fourth Avenue.

The proposal [PDF] does not remove any car lanes, but instead narrows them on the avenues. Currently, lanes on Fourth Avenue feature a 14-foot-wide travel lane and a 21-foot-wide shared parking and moving lane. Under the plan, car lanes would be narrowed to 11 feet, with the right-hand lane on Lafayette slimming down to 10 feet.

“You really have a highway standard… which is inappropriate for this context,” Johnson said. “These moving lanes are just overly wide, and we’re able to repurpose that space more efficiently.”

Under the plan, the existing buffered bike lane, which ranges from nine to 11 feet wide on the left side of the street, will shift to the curb. Pedestrian islands will be added to the floating parking lane to shorten crossing distances, which are currently 71 feet on Fourth Avenue and 48 feet on Lafayette Street, curb-to-curb.

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Tonight: Support a Safer Lafayette Street at Manhattan CB 2

Swapping the parking lane and the bike lane will make Lafayette safer for walking, biking, and driving without changing the general traffic lanes. Image: Google Maps/Brooklyn Spoke

One of the first new street redesigns of the de Blasio administration calls for upgrading the northbound section of the Lafayette Street bike lane, between Spring and 14th Street, from a buffered lane to a protected lane. Manhattan Community Board 2 will consider the proposal tonight, and if you want a safer Lafayette Street it’s important to turn out and tell CB 2 why this project matters.

Lafayette Street has one of the first buffered bike lanes in the city — maybe the first — implemented at a time when protected bike lane designs weren’t in DOT’s toolkit. It already takes up as much street space as needed for a safe, protected bike lane. Swapping the bike lane and the parking lane would make the street safer for everyone by reducing speeding, and it would keep motorists out of the bike lane without changing how motor vehicle traffic flows. As Doug Gordon says, it’s a no-brainer.

But even this low-hanging fruit may be tough to pluck if people don’t turn out tonight and support the project. Recently, even suggestions as mundane as slowing down the traffic signal progression on Prince Street have had trouble gaining traction at CB 2. Word is that the local BID is change-averse and doesn’t want this redesign to happen.

To speak up for a safer Lafayette Street, head to the meeting at the NYU Silver Building, 32 Waverly Place, Room 520, a little before 6:30 p.m.

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It’s Not the Bike Lane, Stupid: Double-Parking Caused By Poor Curb Policies

This may shock the New York Post, but double-parking is a huge problem on streets with no bike lane. Here’s 9th Street in Park Slope before it got a bike lane. Photo: Aaron Naparstek

Probably the dumbest part of a stupendously dumb Post story about double-parking tickets and the Columbus Avenue bike lane is this:

The controversial bike path from West 110th Street down to West 77th Street claimed a lane of traffic — even though it is parallel to more preferable cycling routes on Riverside Drive or in Central Park.

Trucks are forced to double-park in the middle of the avenue to make deliveries, and the companies are paying the price.

I will narrow my observations to two. First, no traffic lanes were removed to make room for the Columbus Avenue bike lane — the existing lanes were narrowed. Second, even if this project had removed a traffic lane, that wouldn’t affect access to the curb.

Delivery drivers are not double-parking because of the bike lane, or the number of traffic lanes. Narrower lanes may make double-parking more obtrusive than before, but these same truckers would have double-parked on the old Columbus Avenue design, like they do on so many NYC streets with no bike lane, because the curb is not managed to provide open spaces for delivery trucks.

The drivers — or driver, I should say, since the Post only quoted one source for the story — should be complaining to the Post about meter prices that fail to keep curbside space open, or the lack of loading zones. The bike lane isn’t the source of his problem.

And now, more pictures of double-parked trucks on streets with no bike lane…

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Eyes on the Street: 78th Precinct Clears the Bergen Street Bike Lane

Photos: N. Wayne Bailey

Photos: N. Wayne Bailey

The story of the Bergen Street bike lane, and the 78th precinct, keeps getting better.

Your eyes are not deceiving you. Reader N. Wayne Bailey sent in these photos of NYPD officers — including CO Deputy Inspector Michael Ameri — shoveling the Bergen Street lane, which for over a year now has been protected by barriers put in place by the precinct.

Good stuff.

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