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Posts from the Protected Bike Lanes Category

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Bronx Electeds Call for “Complete” Concourse for Buses, Bikes, and People

Council Member Andrew Cohen speaks in favor of the "Complete the Concourse" in front of the Bronx County Courthouse. Photo: David Meyer

Council Member Andrew Cohen speaks in favor of making the Grand Concourse a complete street. Photo: David Meyer

With momentum building for a complete street and fully-protected bikeway along the Grand Concourse, Council Member Andrew Cohen joined Bronx activists on the steps of the Bronx County Courthouse this morning to call on the city to redesign the street thoroughly and expeditiously.

“The entire length of the Concourse… [represents] a design from the 1950s — all about moving cars as quickly as possible without regard for pedestrian safety.” Cohen said. “We really need to make sure that we’re getting the resources, our fair share of Vision Zero improvements to make this Concourse everything it has been in the past and everything it will be in the future.”

More than 1,000 people have been injured and 13 have been killed on the Concourse in the last four years, according to city data. In light of the staggering losses, Transportation Alternatives has called on the city to bring protected bike lanes, dedicated bus lanes, and safer sidewalks and crosswalks to the entire length of the Grand Concourse. So far, more than 3,000 people have signed on to TA’s “Complete the Concourse” campaign.

The effort also has the support of the Bronx Health REACH Coalition, which aims to combat the high rates of diabetes and heart disease in the southwest Bronx. “We have one of the highest rates of obesity in the Bronx, and having a safe Concourse means people will want to get out, they’ll be able to ride their bikes and they’ll feel much safer,” said Amril Hamer, who lives near the Concourse at 165th Street and Gerard Avenue.

Hamer, who bikes in the neighborhood, said the Grand Concourse’s current un-protected bike lanes leave much to be desired. “They don’t have that bike lane infrastructure in place, so we’re competing with the double-parked cars, somebody maybe opening a car door on you or something like that, so it’s not safe at all,” she said.

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Good Riddance to the Prospect Park West Bike Lane Lawsuit

Here to stay. Photo: NYC DOT

The people suing to remove the Prospect Park West bike lane have given up, more than five years after initiating a lawsuit that nearly sank New York City’s bike program.

In a statement, Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes and Seniors for Safety (“organizations” that, to the best of my knowledge, now stand in for two people — former Brooklyn College dean Louise Hainline and former deputy mayor Norman Steisel) say they are dropping the lawsuit because it “is unlikely to result in any significant change.”

The irony, though, is that the lawsuit was the centerpiece of a campaign that did lasting harm to the whole city.

Steisel and Hainline filed suit in March 2011 after months of saber-rattling by Jim Walden, a corporate lawyer at Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher whose services they acquired pro bono thanks to former NYC DOT commissioner Iris Weinshall.

The purpose of the lawsuit wasn’t so much to win in court as to inflict maximum political damage on NYC DOT until the city cried Uncle. It was news because it was a lawsuit about bike lanes, not because it had any legal merit. And it was the perfect vehicle to lob unsubstantiated attacks at the city’s bike program.

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Vancouver’s Breathtaking Network of Safe, Protected Bike Lanes

In 2012, the Vancouver City Council set an ambitious goal for bicycle mode share — 7 percent of all trips by 2020. The city proceeded to hit the mark in 2015, five years ahead of schedule!

When you ride around Vancouver’s fantastic network of bike lanes, it’s no wonder the city is experiencing a leap in ridership. Most of Vancouver feels safe to ride, and it’s fun to see all sorts of people out on bikes.

A key factor in Vancouver’s success is that the city constantly goes back to re-engineer, tweak, and improve its bike lanes for greater safety. Hornby Street, which features prominently in this Streetfilm, used to just have painted bike lanes. At the time, women accounted for 28 percent of bike trips on the street, according to Manager of Transportation Planning Dale Bracewell. After the city installed a landscaped protected bike lane on Hornby, bike trips grew rapidly — especially bike trips by women, who now account for 39 percent of the street’s bike traffic.

Compared to New York City, which has made significant strides in the past eight years to carve out street space for protected bike lanes, Vancouver is clearly going the extra mile. In three days of riding, I didn’t see one car parked in a protected bike lane. When you ride downtown, conflicts with drivers are rare.

In New York, we need to take additional steps to shore up protected bike lanes and keep cars out. In many cases, we already have the real estate, w just need bolder designs and with more physical protection.

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De Blasio Doesn’t Need to Defend His Bike Policies, He Needs to Take Action

DOT will add 18 more miles of protected lanes to this map in 2016, but there's a lot of work left to do to create a cohesive citywide network of safe bike routes. Map: Jon Orcutt

DOT will add 18 more miles of protected lanes to this map in 2016, but there’s a lot of work left to do to create a cohesive citywide network of safe bike routes. Map: Jon Orcutt

Two days before a mass demonstration and bike ride to demand more action from the de Blasio administration to prevent cyclist deaths, the mayor and DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg made a media play that seems designed to deflect pressure, announcing that the city is on track to build a record 18 miles of protected bike lanes this year.

With bicyclist deaths on the rise, the mayor should be redoubling his efforts to redesign streets for safer cycling in order to achieve his goal of zero traffic fatalities by 2024. Instead he’s getting defensive.

It’s true that DOT’s progress in 2016 stacks up well compared to previous years, and the current batch of projects includes important new protected bike lane segments on streets like Queens BoulevardAmsterdam Avenue, and Chrystie Street.

The fact remains, however, that recent additions to the bike network have not been sufficient to prevent a troubling increase in cyclist deaths this year. For two years running, de Blasio has refused to increase the budget for street redesigns and accelerate the implementation of projects that are proven to save lives. If the mayor chose to make street redesigns a higher priority, DOT could improve safety on many more streets each year.

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Reynoso Tells DOT: Grand Street Needs a Safer Bike Lane ASAP

Council Member Antonio Reynoso today urged DOT to upgrade the bike lanes on the Grand Street in North Brooklyn. The existing painted lanes did not protect Matthew von Ohlen, who was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver in July.

Antonio Reynoso. Photo: NYC DOT

In a letter sent this afternoon to DOT Brooklyn Borough Commissioner Keith Bray, Reynoso calls for “the immediate installation of safety mitigations along Borinquen Place/Grand Street from the BQE to the Metropolitan Ave Bridge.”

Grand Street is an essential bike connection between the bridge and Williamsburg, Bushwick, and Ridgewood. But its painted bike lanes are often blocked by double-parked cars and provide limited separation from the heavy truck traffic generated by nearby industrial areas.

Pointing to the impending L Train shutdown, which will disrupt trips for hundreds of thousands of subway riders, Reynoso says the local streets are poorly designed for current needs, let alone additional demands:

We should be making a plan now to best prioritize bus, bike, and pedestrian travel that gives community residents the opportunity to move safely and efficiently. Grand Street already serves as a main connector to and from Manhattan, yet the corridor is not equipped with adequate safety measures to accommodate the increasing number of pedestrians and cyclists who use the street.

At Brooklyn Community Board 1’s August full board meeting and again at last Thursday’s transportation committee meeting, Von Ohlen’s friends and family called for a protected bike lane on Grand Street. Von Ohlen, 35, was riding on Grand Street early in the morning on July 3 when the driver of a Chevy Camaro knocked him off his bike and dragged him 20 to 30 feet. (Police located the vehicle on July 6, but have not apprehended a suspect.)

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Vanessa Gibson Endorses Grand Concourse Protected Bike Lane

Council Member Vanessa Gibson wants protected bike lanes on the Grand Concourse. After meeting with Bronx Transportation Alternatives volunteers this week, Gibson signed onto the campaign, joining four other council members whose districts include the Concourse.

Below 162nd Street, there is no bike infrastructure whatsoever on the Grand Concourse. Above 162nd, where the street becomes a divided road with service lanes, there is a buffered bike lane that’s frequently obstructed by double-parked cars.

The Grand Concourse is one of four “Vision Zero Great Streets” in the city supposed to receive safer designs as part of upcoming reconstruction projects. It consistently ranks as one of the state’s most dangerous roads for pedestrians.

Gibson joins council members Fernando Cabrera, Andrew Cohen, Rafael Salamanca, Ritchie Torres in supporting TA’s “Complete the Concourse” campaign, which has amassed 2,500 petition signatures. The effort also has the tacit support of Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., who committed to safer bike lanes on Grand Concourse in his February “State of the Borough” address.

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Carlos Menchaca Wants to Make Fourth Avenue Protected Bike Lane a Reality

With DOT preparing a major capital project for Brooklyn’s Fourth Avenue next year, it’s now or never for a protected bike lane on this important route linking Bay Ridge, Sunset Park, Park Slope, and Downtown Brooklyn. Fortunately, local Council Member Carlos Menchaca has been on the case for months, talking with local residents, community groups, and DOT about how the Fourth Avenue project can make the street safe for biking.

Carlos Menchaca

Council Member Carlos Menchaca.

I spoke to Menchaca today about this effort. He said that DOT has been cool to the idea but hasn’t closed the door on a Fourth Avenue protected lane, which he said is “the next natural step” for safety along the corridor. Here’s our interview, lightly edited for length and clarity.

Tell us about the efforts to put a protected bike lane on Fourth Avenue.

This community has been thinking about Fourth Avenue and the enhancements for such a long time now. Community Board 7 came out in favor of the enhancements that you see now, on the Fourth Avenue corridor from Atlantic over to Bay Ridge.

March 30 marked, for me, the moment where we really got together. Both [my] staff and some community members had been talking about it. We sat down and said, “What do we want to see here?” We had been briefed by DOT in the last year, 2014 and 2015, and there was some clarity that the enhancements that are there are working. But at the end of March, we said we really wanted to push the bike lane forward. We met with Keith Bray and the DOT staff in early April, and there were some initial positive responses to the concept. Then, in June, we got a cold response, and so where we are right now is [trying] to better understand [DOT’s] analysis, and compare it to a lot of the community’s analysis.

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Eyes on the Street: Drivers Can Now Park All Over the E 38th Street Bike Lane

Mere weeks after installing a parking-protected bike lane on East 38th Street in Marine Park, DOT removed the protection, caving to complaints about the narrower roadway even though the motor vehicle lane was still a roomy 12 feet wide.

Streetsblog reader Jeffrey Diamond shot this video of how the bike lane, which is part of a project designed to improve bike access to the Jamaica Bay Greenway, is working now that it’s not protected. (Diamond also has video of the entire Marine Park bike lane project.)

As you can see, 38th Street has resumed its function as a drop-off zone free-for-all by the park, rife with sloppy, illegal parking and standing. Odds are, losing the ability to easily double-park was what stoked the complaints to DOT in the first place. Diamond warns that once recreational sports start back up in the fall, the bike lane obstructions will only get worse.

The irony is that more people could safely access Marine Park by bicycle instead of driving — if they had good bicycle infrastructure connecting them to it. Instead, the neighborhood keeps its double-parking zone.

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DOT Caves on Marine Park Bike Lane, Will Remove Protection

After resident complaints, DOT will switch the parking lane and bike lane on East 38th Street in Marine Park. Image: DOT

DOT will reverse this design and expose cyclists to moving traffic on East 38th Street in Marine Park. Image: DOT

A new protected bike lane segment on East 38th Street in Marine Park won’t be protected much longer. Even though the new layout provides a similar width for parking and driving as other residential streets in the area, DOT has caved to pressure from local residents who want to go back to having a short stretch of wide-open asphalt.

The two-way protected bike lane between Avenue U and Avenue V was approved by Brooklyn Community Board 18 earlier this year as part of a package of improvements to connect the neighborhood to the Jamaica Bay Greenway [PDF].

Image: DOT

Map: DOT

Local Council Member Alan Maisel pushed DOT to remove the parking protection. He said that because of the redesign, “people can’t get into their driveways,” sideview mirrors have been knocked off, and delivery trucks on the street are blocking traffic.

But the bike lane is next to a park and doesn’t affect access to driveways. The only difference for motorists is that the travel lane is now 12 feet wide, which is still on the wider side of standard city street dimensions.

A DOT spokesperson told the Brooklyn Daily that the parking protection will be removed by the end of the month, leaving cyclists exposed and the bike lane vulnerable to double-parking and other obstructions.

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Matt von Ohlen’s Friends and Family Call for Grand Street Protected Lane

The bike lane on Grand Street, where Matthew von Ohlen was killed last month, fails to keep cyclists safe from motor vehicles. Photo: Google Maps

The painted bike lane on Grand Street, where Matthew von Ohlen was killed last month, provides no physical protection from motor vehicles. Via Google Maps

The family and friends of Matthew von Ohlen pleaded with Brooklyn Community Board 1 to support a protected bike lane on Williamsburg’s Grand Street, where the 35-year-old was killed while biking by a hit-and-run driver on July 3.

Matthew’s father Bernt von Ohlen and other friends and supporters were joined by Council Member Antonio Reynoso, but the board did not take a position last night.

Matthew Von Ohlen. Photo via Gothamist

Matthew von Ohlen.

“I’m not a bike advocate. In fact, I’m afraid of riding a bike on the streets of New York,” said Christine McVay, who had known von Ohlen since he was a child. “Putting effective protected lanes on streets like Grand Street will making riding safer,” she said, holding back tears.

Von Ohlen was riding east on Grand Street between Manhattan Avenue and Graham Avenue at around 2:20 a.m. when the driver of a Chevy Camaro struck his back tire, then struck him again as he fell off his bike and dragged him 20 or 30 feet. Police believe the driver ran over von Ohlen intentionally. They located the vehicle on July 6 but have not apprehended a suspect.

At the outset of the meeting, Council Member Antonio Reynoso led the room in a moment of silence. He made his own call for safer bike infrastructure on Grand Street. “Matt’s death was a tragedy and it was a preventable one,” he said. “We’re gonna sit down and have a serious conversation about what we can do with infrastructure along Grand Street to really move forward and [take] the next step of bike lane protection and infrastructure.”

The bike lane on Grand Street/Borinquen Place runs between the Brooklyn Queens Expressway near the foot of the Williamsburg Bridge to the Metropolitan Avenue Bridge in East Williamsburg. It’s a key connector for people biking across North Brooklyn and is slated to expand eastward along Metropolitan Avenue later this year. In 2015, 29 cyclists were injured along the route between the BQE and Metropolitan Avenue, according to Vision Zero View.

In town from Minneapolis to take care of his son’s estate, Bernt von Ohlen implored the board to call for action. “I think that the best solutions are local solutions. You are a local group, and by keeping your eyes and ears on what goes on in the city by demanding that problems of this kind be addressed, you can make this community a better community for everybody,” he said.

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