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Posts from the "Separated Bike Path" Category

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Green Lane Project Looking for Six New Cities With Big Bike Ambitions

Is your city trying to take its bike infrastructure to the next level? If so, the Green Lane Project wants to help.

The Green Lane Project wants to help six cities add protected bike lanes. Image: Green Lane Project

An initiative of Bikes Belong, the bike industry-supported advocacy organization, the Green Lane Project offers technical assistance and other non-monetary support to cities that aspire to add protected bike lanes. In the first round, six cities — Washington, Portland, Austin, Memphis, Chicago, and San Francisco — were selected to help advance their next-generation bike infrastructure.

Now, round two of the Green Lane Project is upon us. Program administrators have begun accepting applications from new cities. The competition will likely be fierce. A total of 39 cities have been invited to apply. And any city larger than 80,000 is welcome to throw its hat in the ring as well. The last round saw 42 applications from places as varied as Wichita and Pittsburgh. A new round of six cities will be selected for assistance in 2014 and 2015.

“The winning cities will have a mix of political will, committed staff, and community support to implement ambitious plans for protected bike lanes during the two-year campaign period,” reads the Green Lane Project application.

Green Lane Project director Martha Roskowski said this time around, she expects to see a much broader mix of cities.

“Having worked with Portland and San Francisco, some of the really well known leaders in biking, I think this time we’ll have some freedom to go broader in a sense and really find those cities that are on the cusp of doing great things for biking.”

Last round’s scrappy upstart city was Memphis, Tennessee, a city that didn’t have substantial bike infrastructure but did have a highly supportive mayor, city staff, and community.

“We’re really interested in finding other cities that are at that place,” said Roskowski.

Applications are due in January. Only government agency are invited to apply.

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Eyes on the Street: Pedestrian Island Construction on Columbus Avenue

Columbus Avenue at 75th Street. Photos: Doug Gordon

DOT continues to make progress with the extension of the Columbus Avenue protected bike lane. Doug Gordon sent us these shots, taken this morning, of pedestrian island construction at 75th and 73rd Streets.

After gaining the support of Community Board 7, the lane is being extended north to 110th Street and south to 70th Street, where it will become a shared lane to 59th Street before linking up with the Ninth Avenue protected lane.

The first phase of the Columbus Avenue lane, from 96th Street to 77th Street, brought a 41 percent drop in injuries to pedestrians. Transportation Alternatives has mounted a campaign to improve bike and pedestrian safety on Amsterdam Avenue with a corresponding northbound protected route.

Columbus at 73rd.

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Amazon Will Fund Protected Bike Lane Next to New Seattle Headquarters

Here’s another case of a top company that sees safe streets for biking as talent recruitment tool. One of America’s largest retailers is chipping in to make cycling more appealing at its new headquarters in downtown Seattle.

A rendering of the Seventh Avenue protected bike lane that will be funded in part by Amazon. Image: Seattle Times

Online giant Amazon will pay for the construction of a protected bike lane on Seventh Street along the two-block stretch by its new 3.3 million-square foot office complex. The agreement was negotiated by the city of Seattle in exchange for turning over some public alleyways within the development to the company. Amazon will also pay $250,000 to help study extending the protected bike lane to Pine Street.

The Seattle Times writes that Amazon is “raising the stakes for what companies can do to encourage bicycle commuting.” Amazon will also include 400 stalls for bike parking in each of its three towers, the Times reports. That is about triple the city’s minimum requirement.

John Schoettler, Amazon director of global real estate and facilities, told the Times the company is excited to be part of the improvement. “Cyclists are part of the fabric of Seattle, and so we’re thrilled to be creating a new cycle track that will make the ride to and from downtown safer and easier for all cyclists in the community,” he said.

The city of Seattle aims to build 100 miles of protected bike lanes. Currently it has only one mile, but more are under construction. The upgrades to the Seventh Avenue bike lane will serve as a demonstration project. The protected lane will be separated from traffic by a row of trees, according to the Times.

Seattle’s City Traffic Engineer Dongho Chang (coolest traffic engineer ever?) told the Times he wishes the city could have this type of street design soon “at all locations downtown.”

This type of public-private partnership on sustainable transportation projects — where the private sector partner is a company that chips in without making a loan – is not without precedent, and is becoming something of a trend. New Balance is funding the construction of a new $16 million commuter rail station near its headquarters in Boston. And Apple helped fund the renovation of a Chicago train station.

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A Refresher on How PPW Bike Lane Opponents Cherrypick Their Numbers

PPW bike lane opponents cherry-picked their own data-set to make the case that this redesign is less safe than the old three-lane speedway. Photo: hildagirl70/Flickr

While parents and kids were out celebrating three years of safe, all-ages cycling at the Prospect Park West Family Bike Ride last week, the remnants of NBBL were apparently scouring their Rolodex for media contacts who still take them seriously.

A short item from Post columnist David Seifman notes that unidentified “critics” of the PPW redesign “insist that all of the DOT’s numbers are misleading.” That’s what Norman Steisel, Louise Hainline, and assorted other friends and acquaintances of former DOT commissioner Iris Weinshall said when they sued the city to remove the PPW bike lane. In fact, DOT’s crash numbers for PPW — which show a small reduction in pedestrian injuries and a small uptick in total motor vehicle crashes involving injury in the two years after the redesign, according to Seifman — are collected using the same methods the agency has always used to measure the impact of traffic-calming projects. It was NBBL and their lawyer, Gibson Dunn attorney Jim Walden, who cherrypicked numbers and fabricated a bogus methodology to suit their needs.

As Streetsblog reported back in 2011:

For example, when NBBL and Walden alleged that DOT counted crashes that didn’t happen on Prospect Park West, the city explains, they failed to understand how NYPD records traffic crashes at intersections. In those cases, police record one street as the “on” street and the other street as the cross street. Because most crashes occur at intersections, it is standard DOT practice to count a crash as occurring on a given street if it is listed as a “cross street” in the police report. NYPD may, for instance, record a crash that happened at the intersection of PPW and Third Street as happening “on” Third Street, with PPW as the cross street. When studying safety on the PPW corridor, DOT counts such a crash as happening on PPW, while NBBL would have disregarded such a crash, en route to compiling a dataset that doesn’t adhere to the methodology employed by DOT all over the city.

Meanwhile, with speeding down drastically compared to the old three-lane highway set-up, people feel safe using PPW in ways they never would have considered before. But the NBBL crew keeps on plodding along, spending time and energy just to undermine projects that let people do this:

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Does the Gender Disparity in Engineering Harm Cycling in the U.S.?

Research has shown that women are more comfortable biking on protected bike lanes, but the male-dominated engineering profession has discouraged this type of street design. Photo copyright Dmitry Gudkov

A study published in this month’s American Journal of Public Health finds that highly influential transportation engineers relied on shoddy research to defend policies that discourage the development of protected bike lanes in the U.S. In their paper, the researchers point out that male-dominated engineering panels have repeatedly torpedoed street designs that have greater appeal to female cyclists.

The research team, led by Harvard public health researcher Anne Lusk, examines four engineering guides published by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials between 1974 and 1999. All of these guides, treated like gospel by engineers across the country, either discourage or offer no advice about protected bike lanes, despite the fact that research has shown that women, in particular, are much more likely to bike given facilities that provide some separation from vehicle traffic.

Lusk found that many of AASHTO’s official claims regarding the purported safety problems of protected bike lanes were offered without supporting evidence. AASHTO refused the consider data demonstrating the proven safety record of protected bike lanes outside of the United States. And since there have been almost no protected bike lanes in the U.S. until quite recently, AASHTO based its position against protected bikeways on domestic street designs like sidewalk bikeways, not real bike lanes designed specifically to integrate physically protected bicycling into the roadway.

The researchers came to this rather damning conclusion: “State-adopted recommendations against cycle tracks, primarily the recommendations of AASHTO, are not explicitly based on rigorous and up-to-date research.”

Lusk and her team carried out a safety study of their own, examining crash reports on protected bike lanes in 19 U.S. cities. They found that protected bike lanes had a collision rate of about 2.3 per million kilometers biked — lower than the crash rates other researchers have observed on streets without any bike lanes. (Those rates vary from 3.75 to 54 crashes per million kilometers.)

Lusk’s research also suggests the lack of gender balance in the engineering profession may have contributed to the resistance to protected bike infrastructure. Researchers found that in 1991 and 1999, AASHTO’s Bikeway Planning Criteria and Guidelines were written by a committee made up of 91 and 97 percent men, respectively.

“The AASHTO recommendations may have been influenced by the predominantly male composition (more than 90%) of the report’s authors,” Lusk writes.

Read more…

StreetFilms 5 Comments

A Bike-Parking Protected Bike Lane Grows in Manhattan

A few years ago, it was a pretty big deal when on-street bike parking was installed in any city.  Though it is always welcome news, today it hardly merits a mention.

But you can find another milestone on the protected bike lane on Ninth Avenue (which was NYC’s first), where three bike corrals have been installed between 36th and 40th Streets. Replacing car parking in the floating lane with bike parking is definitely a first for New York City, and it’s quite possibly the first example in the United States.

We found that small businesses seem to love them already, as you can see in this short report.

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Eyes on the Street: Mixing Zone, D.C.-Style

Reader Mike Epstein sends in this photo of a “mixing zone” on L Street in downtown Washington, D.C., that looks a lot different than the ones here in NYC. Mixing zones are the areas where bike traffic merges with turning car traffic at the approach to intersections along protected bike lanes. New York’s mixing zones don’t have flexible posts, and the markings are supposed to emphasize that drivers should yield to passing cyclists, instead of directing cyclists to merge to the right of turning cars, as seems to be the intent in D.C.

Here’s a look at a couple of NYC mixing zones for comparison. This one, courtesy of John del Signore at Gothamist, is on Second Avenue:

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Streetsblog Chicago 69 Comments

Illinois DOT Blocks Protected Bike Lanes on Many Chicago Streets Until 2014

An interesting example of state DOT interference in local street safety policy, from our team in Chicago…

Parked in the bike lane

At IDOT's insistence, this part of Jackson Boulevard was left with a buffered bike lane instead of the originally proposed protected bike lane.

Last month we noted that the Illinois Department of Transportation prevented the installation of a protected bike lane planned for Jackson Boulevard, allowing only a buffered bike lane on the segment of the street it controls. Now we know why: IDOT will not allow protected bike lanes to be installed on Chicago streets under its jurisdiction until mid-2014, at the earliest, because the agency wants to see three years of data (presumably crash data) before signing off on this type of street redesign.

Since several Chicago streets are under IDOT jurisdiction, this policy could affect implementation of the Streets for Cycling Plan 2020 and impede the installation of protected bike lanes. Street redesigns that have proven safety benefits may be delayed or downgraded to less effective buffered lanes.

One street that could be affected, for example, is Clybourn Avenue, which is marked as a “crosstown bike route” in the Streets for Cycling Plan 2020. Though the plan doesn’t specify which routes should be protected lanes, in a brainstorming session hosted by Active Transportation Alliance in April, 2011, attendees agreed that the entirety of Clybourn Avenue should be one of the city’s first protected bike lanes. For most of its length, Clybourn is 52 feet wide, which meets the minimum width standard for protected bike lanes.

However, implementation is scheduled for May 2013 at the latest, which would make an on-time protected lane project incompatible with IDOT’s moratorium. (Clybourn Avenue has an additional issue: Much of the street has rush hour parking bans, which would complicate the implementation of any type of bike lane. If CDOT can tackle this conflict, perhaps by eliminating the rush hour parking controls, it would bode well for streets around the city with similar parking regulations, where bike lanes currently can’t be added.)

Wide open and waiting for the protected bike lane it's not getting

Clybourn Avenue is wide open and begging for a protected bike lane that IDOT won't allow for at least two more years.

So why is IDOT delaying designs that several American cities have already been implementing for years? The agency says it wants to measure safety impacts based on robust statistical evidence, and that three years provides a representative sample.

The rationale for requiring this information would be reasonable if Chicago was the first city to ever implement protected bike lanes, but it doesn’t hold up because the results have been the same wherever protected bike lanes have been installed: The injury rate of all street users is reduced, be they walking, biking, or driving.

Read more…

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An Open Letter to CB 7 Transportation Chairs Dan Zweig and Andrew Albert

Mark Gorton is the publisher of Streetsblog and lives on the Upper West Side with his wife and four children. This is an edited version of a message he sent to Dan Zweig and Andrew Albert, the co-chairs of the Community Board 7 transportation committee, after neither of them voted in favor of extending the Columbus Avenue protected bike lane this Tuesday. (The project did clear the committee and will be going to the full board later this month.)

Dan and Andrew,

I am writing as a follow up to last night’s CB 7 transportation committee meeting. I was heartened by the overwhelming community support for extending the Columbus Avenue bike lane, and I was glad to see the outcome of the vote of the transportation committee. However, I am still distressed that the leadership of the transportation committee is still so misinformed about the basics of street safety.

I understand that you have the perception that more cycling makes our streets less safe, but that is just not true. DOT studies on Columbus Avenue and around the city show that protected bike lanes make our streets safer for everyone. Similar studies from around the world also demonstrate that fact. The cities in the world that have the safest streets (Stockholm, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, etc.) are also the cities with the most cycling. In the complicated ecosystem of our streets, bicycles are a safety device. Ninety-nine percent of the danger on our streets comes from motor vehicles, and the largest safety effect of bicycles is their impact on reducing the danger from cars and trucks.

I understand that you “feel” differently, but the basics of street safety are well-established principles. Whatever your feelings might be or whatever anecdotal observations you might make do not change the reality of street safety. Your misperceptions have delayed much-needed safety improvements for our neighborhood, and as a result, people are being injured and killed. Hundreds of your neighbors have come out time and time again to tell you how much these safety improvements mean to them, their families, and their neighbors. Last night, multiple people were on the verge of tears because they so desperately want these safety improvements. It amazes me that you have not been moved by the strength, depth, and emotion of the testimony from your neighbors that you have heard time and time again.

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The NBBL Files: Chuck Schumer “Doesn’t Like the Bike Lane”

Editor’s note: With yesterday’s appellate ruling prolonging the Prospect Park West case, Streetsblog is running a refresher on the how the well-connected gang of bike lane opponents waged their assault against a popular and effective street safety project. This is the third installment from the six-part NBBL Files.

This piece originally ran on October 5, 2011.

This is the third installment in a series of posts examining the tactics employed by opponents of the Prospect Park West redesign. Read the first post and the second post.

Senator Chuck Schumer, a frequent cyclist, walks his bike by the Prospect Park West bike lane, which he told bike lane opponents he does not like. Image: Brooklyn Spoke.

Throughout the Prospect Park West bike lane saga, intense speculation has surrounded New York’s senior senator, Chuck Schumer. Both his wife, Iris Weinshall, and his daughter, Jessica Schumer, played leading roles in the fight against the redesign, but Schumer’s office remained studiously silent throughout. “I am not commenting,” Schumer repeatedly told the New York Times when asked about the bike lane this March; in later press conferences, his staff barred reporters from asking about it.

Despite his public attempt to remain neutral, Schumer told opponents of the bike lane that he personally opposed it, according to correspondence obtained by Streetsblog via freedom of information request.

Members of the anti-bike lane group “Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes” also attempted to use the senator’s political power and network of contacts to their advantage. They exploited his connections to get access to top political consultants and hoped to use his clout to pressure local elected officials. David Seifman at the Post has reported that Schumer asked City Council members what they would do about the bike lane. Schumer may also have discussed the project with Mayor Bloomberg himself, according to a message from one leading bike lane opponent.

Schumer apparently revealed his opposition to the bike lane to NBBL leader Louise Hainline, who lives in the penthouse of the same Prospect Park West apartment building the senator calls home. “Schumer can’t help much with this issue, but I have seen him and he doesn’t like the lane,” wrote Hainline to two bike lane opponents on June 29, 2010. Though Hainline said Schumer “can’t help much,” NBBL repeatedly attempted to use his connections and clout to aid their efforts.

Bike lane opponents sought to wield the senator’s political influence to pressure local elected officials. Specifically, Hainline believed that she could leverage her Schumer connection to win the backing of City Council Member Steve Levin.

In an e-mail to a personal friend on December 24, 2010, Hainline reported on her recent meetings with members of the City Council. She came away believing Council Member Brad Lander wouldn’t turn against the lane, but that Levin might. Wrote Hainline: “Stephen Levin is a protégée of Vito Lopez, who if you are reading the papers is in some hot water, so Levin’s looking for some god father, and may want Vacca or Schumer to protect him, maybe both.”

It’s not clear whether Hainline’s plan for Levin was based on her recent conversation with him or was simply wishful thinking. Levin has not taken a public position on the bike lane, even when asked about it directly.

No written evidence of Schumer’s direct lobbying on the bike lane has surfaced, but one email is quite suggestive. On December 3, 2010, bike lane opponent and former deputy mayor Norman Steisel wrote to Weinshall: “Also heard abt a purported conversation betwn the mayor and our sr. senator you might find of interest.” In all the documents obtained by Streetsblog, the extent of Steisel and Weinshall’s communications was limited to the Prospect Park West bike lane, suggesting that the conversation “of interest” between Schumer and Bloomberg was likely about the same topic.

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