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Posts from the "Contraflow Bike Lanes" Category

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Eyes on the Street: Bike Contraflow Over the Gowanus

Union Street looking west at Nevins. The contraflow bike lane is separated from eastbound car traffic by a dashed double-yellow line. Photo: Keith Williams

Reader Keith Williams, who blogs at The Weekly Nabe, recently got a few shots of the brand new contraflow bike lane in progress on Union Street. This project will add a sorely needed westbound bike connection across the Gowanus Canal — part of a route that jogs from Degraw, down to Union, then back up to Sackett [PDF].

The contraflow lane on Union is notable for a few reasons.

One, it came out of Council Member Brad Lander’s 2012 participatory budgeting process. In the end it wasn’t paid for with Lander’s discretionary funds (other projects got more votes), but because Lander put out the call for ideas, it got NYC DOT’s attention. So, chalk one up for community-based planning.

Two, I believe this is a first for NYC — a contraflow bike lane separated from opposing traffic with a dashed double-yellow stripe. Other contraflow lanes, like the one on Union Square North, have more separation from traffic, but there’s not always enough room for that. Bike lanes like the new one on Union work in other cities and promise to make the city’s bike design toolkit more flexible.

Adding more contraflow lanes could help fill in some missing links in the bike network. A few years ago, for instance, Brooklyn Community Board 2 member Mike Epstein proposed a short contraflow segment to help bridge gaps in the bike network at the confluence of Flatbush, Third Avenue, and Lafayette Avenue.

You can catch more photos of the Union Street project at the Weekly Nabe.

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DOT Unveils Union Square Upgrades to Manhattan CB 5

Picture_6.pngNYCDOT's plans for Union Square would add pedestrian plazas and better bike facilities on Broadway and 17th Street. Image: NYCDOT. For a larger version, click here.

Last night NYCDOT showed plans for a package of safety upgrades and public space improvements for Union Square [PDF] to Manhattan Community Board 5's transportation committee. Under the plan, the north and west sides of the square would see much less traffic and receive more space for pedestrians and new cycle tracks. Several elements of the project are novel for New York, including a contraflow bike lane proposed for Union Square North and two blocks that would be car-free some of the time.

Reader Mike Epstein tells us that the committee reacted positively to the overall plan but chose to put off a vote until DOT returns with another presentation detailing the impact on 18th Street traffic. 

On Broadway from 23rd Street to 18th Street, the plan calls for a parking-protected bike lane and pedestrian refuge islands while removing one driving lane. DOT told CB 5 that because of changes to Broadway at Times and Herald Squares, this stretch of Broadway now carries only about 250 cars per hour at its peak, or one quarter of the road's capacity. Without removing a lane, the extra space promotes unsafe speeds.

Cars driving down Broadway would be diverted east onto 18th Street, a move which prompted some outcries from 18th Street residents worried about more traffic in front of their homes. "The amount they're adding should be one or two cars per minute," said Epstein, who noted that new turning lanes and signal timing should make the impact of that increase negligible. 

Cyclists will be able to continue down Broadway to 17th Street, where they will have the option of turning onto a new contraflow lane along the north side of Union Square. The protected bike lane will then continue along the eastern edge of Union Square until it ends at 15th Street. 

New plazas are slated for Broadway between 17th and 18th and on 17th between Broadway and Park Avenue, and pedestrians would get parts of Union Square West to themselves, at least some of the time. Between 17th and 16th, and 15th and 14th, the street will be closed to traffic part-time. DOT wasn't ready to announce when those two blocks would be pedestrianized or how they'd be programmed, said Epstein. He hypothesized that the need to get trucks in for the Union Square Greenmarket was a key consideration.

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Streetfilms: Contraflow Bike Lanes — A Capital Idea

While we were down in Washington, DC for the National Bike Summit, Streetfilms got the chance to check out some of the capital's innovative new bike infrastructure.

Tops on our list: the city's first protected, contraflow lane for bicyclists. The district DOT has redesigned 15th Street NW between U Street and Massachusetts Avenue to accommodate two-way bike traffic on a one-way street. Northbound cyclists get a shared lane moving in the same direction as car traffic, and southbound cyclists ride in a parking-protected lane. The treatment has also slimmed down the street, removing a vehicle lane and calming traffic.

DC transportation officials say that when designing this protected bike lane, they looked to New York and Montreal for inspiration. Contraflow lanes could help make critical new connections in New York's bike network, like the gap between Park Slope and Fort Greene that Brooklyn CB 2 recently asked DOT to take a look at. So hopefully some of that inspiration will work its way back up the Acela corridor to NYC.

Although not captured in the video, DC has also just finished a curbside, un-protected contraflow lane on the narrower Champlain Street in Adams Morgan. See pics after the jump.

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