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Posts from the "Separated Bike Path" Category

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Eyes on the Street: Lines Forming for Ninth Ave Protected Bike Lane

Photo: Hilda Cohen

Construction on Midtown protected bike lanes continues apace. Reader Hilda Cohen sends in the above shot from Ninth Avenue, where she says “contractors are out marking lines between 47th and 39th.”

“Traffic was already moving smoother,” writes Hilda.

Photo: Andrew Neidhardt

On Twitter, @andrewneidhardt posted this photo of Ninth at 38th.

Regular Streetsblog readers may know that I don’t ride a bike. While the pedestrian safety benefits are often overlooked, as one who walks the city I am much more likely to linger, shop and eat in places where the sidewalk is bounded by a bike lane. I doubt I’m the only one.

Exciting stuff. Keep ‘em coming, folks.

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Eyes on the Street: Concrete Progress on Eighth Ave Protected Bike Lane

Photo: Doug Gordon

Doug Gordon of Brooklyn Spoke fame sends these shots of another milestone in the extension of the Eighth Avenue protected bike lane: The pedestrian islands are going in. These pools of pure unspoiled concrete were spied at the intersection of 35th Street.

Watching this NYC DOT safety project take shape in the heart of Midtown, a favorite quote from livable streets guru Jan Gehl comes to mind: “How nice is it to wake up every morning and know that your city is a little bit better than it was the day before.”

Photo: Doug Gordon

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Eyes on the Street: Bike-Ped Improvements on 6 1/2 and Eighth Avenues

Work is almost complete at this corner of 56th Street and "6 1/2 Avenue." Photo: @BornAgainBikist

Safer streets are taking shape in Midtown, with work underway to create new paths through the heart of the city for pedestrians and cyclists alike.

Crosswalks and street signs are in place for one of the Department of Transportation’s most original projects, a pedestrian thoroughfare designated as 6 1/2 Avenue. Thanks to a 1980s zoning provision, a series of mid-block passageways cut a path through Midtown office towers, providing a popular shortcut through the busy area. Under DOT’s plan, a series of six passageways will get the city’s official imprimatur as a pedestrian path, along with mid-block stop signs, crosswalks and neckdowns. Reader @BornAgainBikist sends us the above shot of the “corner” of 56th Street and 6 1/2 Avenue, where many improvements are already in place, including a street sign for the new path. Elsewhere, markings are down to show construction workers where to put new crosswalks.

Pedestrian refuge islands haven't been installed yet, but for cyclists, the Eighth Avenue bike lane extension is looking pretty good. Photo: @J_Uptown

And the extension of the protected bike lanes on Eighth and Ninth Avenues, which will bring proven safety gains for all users north to Columbus Circle, continues apace. Last month, a photo from Jacob_uptown showed some of the striping on the Eighth Avenue extension in place, but not yet in effect. The future bike lane was, at the time, filled with parked cars and delivery trucks.

In an update sent over Twitter, Jacob shows the almost-completed lane working just as intended, with a cyclist comfortably separated from traffic near 44th Street. “Best 8th Ave #bikenyc commute ever,” he wrote. On Ninth Avenue, he said, the old lane markings have been removed all the way to 59th in preparation for the installation of the new design.

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Eyes on the Street: New Manhattan Bikeways in Progress

The extension of the First Avenue protected bike lane up to 72nd Street is nearly complete. Photo: Jacob-uptown/Flickr

Photo contributor extraordinaire Jacob-uptown has uploaded a new batch to the Streetsblog Flickr pool, taking us on a tour of the major new bikeways DOT is implementing in Manhattan.

The extension of the First Avenue bike lane from the Queensboro Bridge up to 72nd Street is nearly complete. It’s the first protected bike infrastructure on the Upper East Side — “very exciting progress,” Jacob says, but he notes that the connection from the bike route south of the bridge could be better:

There is a big gap between the sharrows on 1st Ave leading up to 57th, and the beginning of the protected lane on 61st. At 57th the sharrows simply end, with no indication that a much nicer facility is only a few blocks away.

More photos from Jacob after the jump.

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West Side Study Offers Lots of Little Improvements, No Transformations

Under one recommendation from DOT's new West Side transportation study, paint would be used to channelize a block of 66th Street from three lanes down to two.

The Department of Transportation has completed a multi-year transportation study of the Upper West Side, and Wednesday night the agency walked local residents through the many proposed changes [PDF]. The suggestions for the area between 55th and 86th Streets, west of Central Park, include a number of valuable intersection-level improvements to pedestrian safety, but left some feeling that the recommendations don’t go far enough.

Locals hoping to expand the protected bike lane network on the Upper West Side beyond the current mile of cycle track on Columbus Avenue were initially disappointed; the West Side study doesn’t so much as mention new bike lanes. When pressed on the issue during the Q&A, however, DOT reps gave residents looking to expand the bike lane’s safety benefits cause for optimism. “We are interested in increasing the bike network in this community,” said DOT Borough Commissioner Margaret Forgione.

Forgione said DOT is finishing up a final evaluation of the existing Columbus Avenue bike lane and plans to show the new data to the local community board. Then, she said, DOT wants “to have the board help define where we go next.” The two options she mentioned Wednesday were extending the Columbus Avenue lane and creating a northbound match on Amsterdam.

Included in last night’s presentation were a host of smaller safety improvements. “This is not the sexiest,” warned Council Member Gale Brewer, who provided the original impetus for the study.

Two striped islands on West End Avenue at 58th and 59th Streets would be converted into concrete refuge islands, for example, to provide real physical protection to crossing pedestrians.

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The Case for a Two-Way Protected Bike Lane on Plaza Street

Cross-posted from Brooklyn Spoke.

DOT's original April 2010 plan for a two-way protected bike lane on Plaza Street.

In April 2010, DOT proposed an overhaul of the chaotic and dangerous Grand Army Plaza to include two-way protected bike lanes on Plaza Street East and West. (Plaza Street is not the high-speed roadway around the arch and fountain, but rather the less trafficked outer roadways, which already have one-way buffered bike lanes. Plaza Street is fronted on one side by residential buildings and on the other side by planted berms.)  DOT’s proposal [PDF] used the existing footprint of the bike lane and parking lane, as well as two more feet from the very wide moving lane, to flip the parking lane and bike lane, putting a two-way bike lane against the berm side of Plaza Street, protected by parked cars — a design nearly identical to that of the redesigned Prospect Park West.

DOT’s Grand Army Plaza overhaul was eventually constructed in 2011 minus the protected bike lanes, some say as a result of the political blowback from the Prospect Park West bike lane lawsuit.  With the suit now dismissed and the safety and congestion fears of bike lane opponents completely discredited, DOT will re-introduce a proposal for two-way bike lanes around Plaza Street. However, the Brooklyn Paper and other sources indicate that the city might propose two alternatives: one protected by parked cars, as in the 2010 plan, and one unprotected (yet still two-way). This is odd, given the phenomenal success of the Prospect Park West redesign; a meeting next week may be the public’s only chance to speak out for a well-designed, safe, protected bike lane on Plaza Street.

An unprotected two-way lane would essentially take over the existing bike lane’s footprint, with a painted buffer between the bike lane and moving vehicles and bright green paint on the bike lane itself, but would not alter the position of parked cars on the street. This presents a bit of a conundrum: how can DOT protect contra-flow cyclists from moving vehicles, and where does DOT expect cyclists to ride while the bike lane is blocked by double-parked vehicles, motorists awaiting parking spaces, and drivers (quite legally) entering and leaving parking spaces?

It appears that the unprotected proposal is, at least in part, a response to a few local residents’ concerns that relocating parked cars would narrow the roadway on Plaza Street and cause traffic backups every time someone double parks.  But this concern fails on two levels. First, even with a protected bike lane, much of Plaza Street would still remain wide enough to accommodate a double parked vehicle and room for motorists to pass — and emergency vehicles could legally drive in a protected bike lane at any time if they needed to. Second, and perhaps more importantly, since when do we design our streets primarily to facilitate illegal and anti-social acts of double parking, as opposed to protecting our most vulnerable street users?

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Bikes Belong Selects Six Cities to Fast Track Protected Bike Lanes

The Bikes Belong Foundation has chosen six cities to fast track physically protected bikeway designs that make cycling safer and more accessible to a wide range of people.

Austin, Chicago, Memphis, Portland, San Francisco and Washington D.C. will receive a leg up from Bikes Belong’s new “Green Lane Project.” The two-year, intensive technical assistance program is intended to help these cities develop protected on-street bike lanes and make this type of bike infrastructure a mainstream street design in the U.S.

The program attracted a total of 42 applicants, said project director Martha Roskowski, from “established leaders such as Minneapolis and Boulder” to relative newcomers like Wichita, Miami, and Pittsburgh.

“They are a range of sizes, spread across the country, and at various stages in terms of developing networks for bicycles,” said Roskowski. “What they share is a strong commitment to rethinking how city streets are used and making room for bicycles.”

Bikes Belong expects cities across the nation to benefit from the program, whether or not they were selected. The idea is to help build technical expertise on the design and implementation of protected bike lanes, and to collect data on how they perform.

Protected bike lanes are widely employed in countries that have achieved high rates of cycling, such as the Netherlands. In America they were pioneered by the New York City Department of Transportation in 2007, and have since been implemented in Washington, D.C., Portland, and Chicago.

Protected lanes have been shown to be safer than ordinary bike lanes and more likely to encourage people to take up cycling. But they are considered “experimental” treatments in the gospel of traffic engineering, the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices, which has stymied their adoption throughout the United States.

“The selected cities have ambitious goals and a vision for bicycling supported by their elected officials and communities,” said Bikes Belong President Tim Blumenthal. “They are poised to get projects on the ground quickly and will serve as excellent examples for other interested cities.”

The Green Lane Project represents a more focused iteration of the Bikes Belong Foundation’s Bicycling Design Best Practices Program, which has been dedicated to hosting workshops and taking city officials and engineers on study tours to leading U.S. and European cities.

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Eyes on the Street: Protected Bike Lane Sighting on the Upper East Side

When the First Avenue project is complete, car owners will park on the right side of that thermoplast buffer, and cyclists will ride on the left. Photo: Liz Patek

Reader Liz Patek sends these shots of the new road markings on First Avenue in the 60s. The protected bike lane that Manhattan Community Board 8 approved last summer is going in.

Until now there was no bike infrastructure at all on First Avenue between 60th Street and 72nd Street. Filling that gap is DOT’s top construction priority as the agency builds out plans for protected bike lanes and pedestrian refuges on First and Second Avenue up to 125th Street. Farther uptown, work on the East Harlem bike lanes will begin on Second Avenue between 100th and 125th Street. Construction was originally supposed to start this spring — it’s not clear if that timetable still holds after the local community board waffled on the project before committing to it again.

This is one of those moments where you have to sit back and take stock. Five years ago, the idea of merely striping thermoplast on lightly-trafficked crosstown streets ran into a buzz-saw at Community Board 8. Now, after a lot of hard work by advocates, volunteers, city officials, and community board members, streets engineered for safety are coming to vital transportation corridors in a new part of town. Congrats to everyone involved.

Approaching a mixing zone-in-progress. Photo: Liz Patek

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Two-Way Bike Lane Back on Table For Plaza Street, But Will It Be Protected?

Upgrading the Plaza Street bike lane would provide safer connections between the many bike lanes feeding into Grand Army Plaza.

Is the NBBL era finally behind us? First, Senator Chuck Schumer himself was spotted riding in the Prospect Park West bike lane. Now, the Department of Transportation is reviving a plan, shelved at the height of the NBBL-aided media circus about cycling, to build a two-way bike lane on Plaza Street.

DOT first proposed the two-way Plaza Street lane in 2010, as part of a larger set of improvements to Grand Army Plaza. The package got an enthusiastic reception from a joint meeting of Community Boards 6, 8 and 9, and most of the pedestrian and bike improvements in the plan went forward in 2011, but the Plaza Street lane didn’t make it.

The plan for a protected Plaza Street lane happened to be under discussion at the height of the political assault on the nearby Prospect Park West lane. DOT moved ahead with the Grand Army Plaza proposal last April, without the Plaza Street bike lane, promising to revisit the discussion at an unspecified later date. At the time, Streetsblog called it the “NBBL Effect.”

As first reported by Brownstoner, that later date is now. DOT will present local community boards with multiple options for providing two-way bike access on Plaza Street later this month, said a department spokesperson. “We have continued to work with the community on ways to improve bike access and look forward to presenting options at next month’s meeting,” DOT said in a statement.

The Brooklyn Paper reports that both protected and unprotected options will be on the table. Craig Hammerman, district manager for Community Board 6, hasn’t seen the plans yet, but guessed that any proposal from DOT will differ at least slightly from what was put forward two years ago.

The two-way bike lane would be an important hub in the area’s bike network, allowing cyclists to travel safely and easily between the various bike lanes that extend from Grand Army Plaza in every direction.

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After 18 Months of Bike Lane, Columbus Ave Retail Looks as Strong as Ever

You might remember a wave of news stories that broke around this time last year with headlines like: “Columbus Avenue Business Owners Say Bike Lanes Driving Down Bottom Line,” or “Lack of Parking Destroying Columbus Avenue Business,” or “Study: Street Redesign Hurting Upper West Side Businesses.”

Photo: Civitas

The Columbus Avenue bike lane, with its 28 pedestrian refuges and parking-protected space for cycling, was a recent addition to the streetscape, and some merchants said they were having a harder time with deliveries. A few claimed the loss of some parking spots was repelling customers from one of the most walkable, transit-accessible places on Earth. Filtered through the New York media megaphone, the story turned into a bike lane-induced cataclysm for merchants.

Here we are a year later, and this piece of news in the Commercial Observer seems worth amplifying: “Columbus Avenue BID Boasts 100 Percent Retail Occupancy.”

The bike lane extends five blocks into the area covered by the Columbus Avenue BID, or about a third of its territory. According to the Observer, retail occupancy in the BID usually hovers around 94 percent. We don’t have retail occupancy rates for the whole length of the project, and it’s too early to say if the bike lane is making retail space more attractive, but there sure doesn’t seem to be any cataclysm. (From a safety perspective, there’s no doubt that the bike lane improved Columbus: DOT reported last year that traffic injuries declined 27 percent after installation.)

Will there be follow-up coverage from Tony Aiello and company?