Is DOT Doing Enough to Make NYC Bike-Friendly?

The question was debated, albeit briefly and in slow motion, by two New York City Department of Transportation employees in the pages of the New York Times last week. Last week, in a Sunday City section op/ed piece, Andrew Vesselinovitch argued that DOT is not doing enough for New York City cyclists. Vesselinovitch is the former Director of DOT’s Bicycle Program who made headlines in July when he claimed in a publicly-released resignation letter that the agency’s leadership was purposefully undermining the progress of New York City’s bicycle network. This week, a response to Vesselinovitch comes from Ryan Russo, the DOT’s newly appointed Director of Street Management and Safety. Their back-and-forth is re-printed below, in full:

Pedal Politics
August 20, 2006
By ANDREW VESSELINOVITCH

NEW YORK could be one of the best cities in the world for riding bicycles. The weather is moderate (usually). The terrain is generally flat. And many of us live close enough to where we work and shop to make bicycling a reasonable alternative to driving or taking public transportation.

But New York City has been slow to create bike lanes to promote bicycling and to keep riders safe from automobile traffic, despite an expressed commitment to do so.

In 1997, city planners issued a master plan that called for a 900-mile network of bike paths (in places where there are no cars, like in Hudson River Park) and bike lanes (on streets with auto traffic) throughout the five boroughs. Because the paths and lanes must go in both directions, that means 1,800 miles of painted bike lanes and paths.

Most of this, about 1,300 miles of it, was to be created on streets managed by the New York City Department of Transportation. (Most of the rest is managed by the Parks and Recreation Department or the State of New York.) For five years, until last month, when I stopped working at the Transportation Department, it was my job to see that as many miles of new bike lanes as possible came into use.

My small staff of six and I could have produced as many as 50 miles of bike lanes each year, without taking away any parking space or limiting any street’s capacity for cars or trucks. The cost is minimal: about $20,000 per mile (for traffic analysis, design and labor), 80 percent of which is reimbursed by the federal government.

From 1997 to 2004, the Transportation Department put nearly 250 miles of bike lanes in operation. But in the last two years, the city produced less than 20 miles. At this rate, it could take more than a century to finish the proposed network. Our efforts were so rarely encouraged, and so often delayed, that I came to the conclusion that the department is not truly committed to promoting bicycling in New York.

Marking of the Eighth Avenue bike lane in Manhattan, for example, was postponed for more than two years after two community boards requested it, in 2003. If a city councilwoman had not personally intervened to get the lane finished, I am certain it would still be incomplete.

After a new bicycle and pedestrian path was opened on the Williamsburg Bridge in late 2002, complaints poured in about the 2-inch-high metal covers that had been placed over expansion joints in about two dozen places. These bumps jarred bicyclists and tripped up pedestrians. I brought this to the attention of the department’s bridges division, but the covers were not replaced until 2005, after cyclists injured on the bumpy road filed lawsuits.

Some residents object to having bike lanes, in the mistaken belief that to encourage bike riding is to pose a menace to pedestrian safety. But bicycles are not nearly as dangerous as cars are. And they are a much healthier and more environmentally friendly form of transportation.

Given that more than half the population is overweight, in part because of too little physical activity, and given how much auto traffic contributes to the city’s poor air quality, the city should be doing all it can to encourage bicycling.

Rather than delay the creation of bike lanes already in the planning books, the city should make building the lanes a priority. Just as he made the hard decision to rise above objections to the smoking ban, Mayor Michael Bloomberg should direct city officials to complete the remaining bike lanes as soon as possible.

Andrew Vesselinovitch, the director of the city Transportation Department’s bicycle program from 2001 to 2006, is working on a master’s degree in architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago.

September 3, 2006
Letters to the Editor
New York is Bike-Friendly

To the Editor:

Contrary to ‘Pedal Politics,’ by Andrew Vesselinovitch (Op-Ed, Aug. 20), the Department of Transportation has embraced biking as a convenient, environmentally friendly alternative to the car.

We continue to add bike lanes throughout the city, most recently on Eighth Avenue, connecting Central Park to the Hudson River Greenway, and placing a network of lanes and paths in downtown Brooklyn leading to the East River crossings. We do, however, have to work hard to win local support for the bike lanes, as there is often significant community board and elected official opposition to these plans.

Yet our work is clearly paying off, as this year Bicycling Magazine named New York one of the top bicycling cities in the United States, and we are seeing steady growth in the number of cyclists using our streets. The Department of Transportation is committed to further improvements in the years to come. This includes an ambitious schedule for expanding the city’s bike network and a new safety outreach program that will educate both motorists and cyclists.

Ryan Russo
Lower Manhattan

The writer is director for street management and safety, Department of Transportation.

  • The DOT is extremely inconsistent on this point of “local opposition” that Russo cites. In some cases community boards are screaming and yelling FOR them and they do not materialize without significant additional political pressure like the Eighth Avenue bike lane. In other cases recently, they have overruled local community board opposition or division on bike lanes as in Fort Greene and Bellerose.

    But for Houston St. they are refusing to install bike lanes or greenways despite overwhelming local support from the Community Board, the Borough President’s office and other local elected officials.

    This inconsistency is not good public policy as it does contributes to a fairly arbitrary allocation of bike lanes throughout the city that are disconnected and therefore do not work as a true “network” or “system” of bike lanes and greenways. What’s needed is a city-wide approach and a clear plan for achieving a worthy objective of making the city’s streets friendly to cyclists. That is not measured in miles of bike lanes or greenways, but in creating an integrated network/system that increases bike ridership and decreases injuries.

  • Perhaps Russo didn’t mean to word his letter the way he did, but the way I read it, it logically follows that the DOT must now install the bike lanes on Houston, since CB2, Gerson, Glick, Quinn, Mendez, etc etc are all in favor of it. I’m thinking about writing letters to both Russo and the NYT to point this out. I love me some good public accountability.

    While I’m at it, I wanted to mention that I biked down Houston from LaGuardia Place to get to Hudson River Park yesterday. That street is a nightmare, and really the traffic is only part of the problem. What a pathetic excuse for a street. From potholes to cobblestones to giant metal plates masquerading as street, Houston truly is a deathtrap. It’s too bad that all other routes out to the river are indirect and take longer to travel on.

  • Michael

    Russo blew it. He should have just acknowledged that New York City has some work to do in making itself better for cycling. He could have defended his agency from the former bike director’s criticisms while also acknowledging this fact. Why should anyone pay attention to his “alternative modes” department or give it more resources if New York City is, as he claims, already one of the best biking cities in the U.S.? Just acknowledge the reality, Ryan. Just because the commissioner of the agency is insanely, reflexively defensive doesn’t mean everyone who works there has to be too. Or does it?

  • ddartley

    A couple points about Mr. Russo’s letter: first, it’s great that the NYC DOT has now proclaimed in the country’s top newspaper that it is working hard to improve cycling, whether history backs up the claim or not. If he does not get fired for the connotations that the letter bears, (smartly pointed out by ianqui), it may be a good sign for cyclists!

    Second, how on earth does the bike lane (which is way too narrow and utterly full of cars) on 8th Ave. connect Central Park to the Hudson River Greenway? On the pessimistic side, if Russo knows how nonsensical a claim that is, then maybe it is a betrayal of DOT’s true attitude towards cyclists: “continue to give ’em meaningless lip service, and let them fend for themselves.” I hope not.

  • alex

    It will be interesting to see the response, if any to ianqui’s point about community support for the Houston St. bike lane. I second and must expand upon ddartley’s discontent about the 8th Ave. bike lane. I commute home from Penn Station to the UWS on 8th Ave everyday. I didn’t find the bike lane until last week. My discovery was solely the result of various posts to NYC related blogs. How could I not see such a nice new bike lane for so long? I missed it because the bike lane is on the wrong side of the street. Only dummies would ride on the left side of 8th Ave. Far more than half the cars on 8th Ave. are trying to either get to the Lincoln Tunnel, West Side Highway, or the bus terminal. All three of which must be accessed on or via turns from the left (or west) side of 8th Ave. Furthermore, the bike lane disappears in front of the bus terminal to make way for the taxi lane. Finally, the lane is always filled with cars double parking – including cops in non-emergency situations. ANother point, if a cyclist wishes to take the 8th Ave. bike path through Columbus Circle andnorthward onto the bike lane on CPW, they have to navigate from the far left of 8th Ave, to the perimeter of Columbus Circle before being able to exit to CPW.
    It is painfully obvious that the 8th Ave. bike lane, especially above Chelsea, was not designed by anyone who has ever ridden a bike on the street more than once.
    If, for example, the bike lane had been constructed on the right-hand side of 8th Ave., the bike lane would not be interrupted by the taxi lane in front of the bus terminal. Nor would the bike lane serve as a left turn lane for motorists heading home via the West Side highway and the Lincoln Tunnel (As an aside, there is no converse argument for a large number of right hand turns during the morning rush hour on 8th Ave. – the cars simply take cross streets, or head south on either 7th Ave. or 9th Ave. while bus terminal traffic still exists on the left side). Indeed, such an ill-conceived bike path could only have been actually put into use without consultation without traffic engineers. The only problem I can conceive with the bike lan on the right hand side, would be the perceived nuisance to MTA buses as they would have to be more wary when approaching and leaving from bus stops. But, since they don’t give a shit on CPW and run cyclists into curbs everyday, why should it be any different in midtown.
    Honestly, though, I would much rather deal with buses slowly entering and exiting bus stops than have to weave in and out of parked cars while trying not to be hit by every Joe Finance haulin’ ass to get home to Westchester or NJ.
    As it stands, I know the bike lane is on the left, but you couldn’t pay me to ride in that thing. In fact, I would put a fair chunk of change on the fact that that lane does/will increase hazardous behavior and injury to cyclists. To drivers the lane seems like a turning or parking lane. To cyclists, the white stripe gives a false-sense of security and entitlement. With fewer cars turning onto side streets and no taxi lane at the bus terminal, the right side of 8th Ave. is the safer side of the street. Unfortunately, this is the side of the road without the bike lane.

  • Clarence

    One thing I like to point out (and we all know that many in NYC Govt. are reading this blog) so I hope they listen up to this irrefutable fact:

    NYC DOT has 6 people working on bike planning. NYC population? 8 million or so.

    According to the last statistic I read: Chicago DOT has 19 – 19(!) – NINETEEN(!) – staff persons working on bike planning. Chicago population? Almost 3 million.

    Extrapolate:
    Chicago: 19 for 2.9 million
    NYC: 6 for 8 million
    If we use that ratio – if Chicago DOT were in charge in NYC? There would be 54 people working on bicycling here.

    Add in – it is far colder in Chicago in the winter so they have more obstacles to riding then we do. And NYC is the ONLY city in the U.S. where owning a car in your household puts you in the minority.

    So how serious is DOT about bicycle planning?

  • someguy

    Do you think that people who actually hold sway at DOT read this blog? Wouldn’t that be nice. You need to remember that there is only a handful of people who call the final shots at DOT – and, by the way, none of those 6 bike program people are included in that. There’s only about 3 people whose opinion really matters at DOT.

  • Rich

    Mr. Russo cites BICYCLING Magazine’s unfortunate and mis-placed ranking of New York as a top biking cities in the US as evidence of DOT’s bike-friendliness. But if you actually read that article, it doesn’t make much mention of efforts by the city or DOT, except for the Westside greenway, which is more of a Parks and State project than DOT’s. The city is bike friendly, says the article, because if its great clubs (the 5bbc is mentioned), and the 5 Boro Bicycle Tour, not DOT.
    It’s surprising that BICYCLING Mag, which actually has an office here, is so out of touch with the city’s indifference and sometimes outright hostility towards cycling.

    How out of touch was the BICYCLING MAG article which Russo cites? The League of American Bicyclists has a Bicycle Friendly Communities program that awards Bronze, Silver, and Gold & Platinum status to cities for their efforts to promote cycling. The cities actually have to apply to the LAB to get considered. New York City is not ranked anywhere with other major cities. Has there ever been a conversation within DOT to apply for consideration for one of these LAB awards? I doubt it.

    Rich

  • Someone at DOT

    A comment above refers to city employees reading this blog. Well, I’m one of them, so here goes…

    First, let me say that I work for DOT, but in an area that has nothing to do with the bicycle programs, though I sometimes bend people’s ears. My thoughts on this subject have zero impact on DOT’s bicycle programs. So if you disagree with me, don’t worry — everyone here does, too, so there’s no risk of me contaminating policy.

    I’m a native NY’er and lifelong cyclist who has experienced every possible bike lane configuration the city has thrown at us. I’ve also travelled quite a bit in more bike friendly places, so I think I have a good sense for what works and what doesn’t.

    I avoid striped bike lanes. They are completely pointless. Every one of them is encroached upon by double parkers, obliterated by utility cuts and steel plates, too close to the parking lanes, and more dangerous than the middle of the street at intersections.

    The so called “master plan” for bike lanes is utterly useless. The failure to implement it is of no consequence (or possibly even a blessing in disguise). Andrew Vesselinovitch is full of hot air on this subject. Casting him as some sort of whistle blower forced out by an evil commissioner is silly.

    The problem is not that one commissioner does a better job than another of painting bike symbols on the street. It’s more that almost everyone (including the bicycle “advocates”) is working from the wrong paradigm on this issue. There are only two ways to make a street safer for cycling: completely reconfigure it so that cars and bikes are much more separated, or radically alter the behavior of all users of the street. Painting lines does neither of these things.

    Realistically, massive reconstruction of the streetscape into something more bike friendly just is not going to happen. The city does not have the money for this.

    This leaves behavior modification. In the long run, I think we should be pressuring officials to enforce laws that protect non-cars, e.g., those prohibiting double parking, dooring, dangerous construction conditions, failure to yield, etc. TA has been making noise about this and deserves credit.

    We should also be clamoring for public education campaigns (e.g., pro-bike PSA’s, changes in driver education curricula). As far as I can see, no one is really doing this.

  • great post!

    I would take issue with the idea that bike lanes are useless though. The buffered lane on Lafayette St. is great to ride on…
    In addition, signage does make a big diiference.
    Reminding cars to yield to bikes, or to share the road…or in taxis, so passengers are careful about opening the doors. These constant reminders will have an effect – and it will not break poor little New York City’s DOT budget.

    One more thing – the typical govt. attidute that ‘its too hard, unless we do an entire overhaul’ is the exact kind of thinking that makes situations grow much much worse over time

    its tim to get moving DOT

  • someguy

    By the way, the Second Avenue Subway will have costed in excess of $17 billion by the time it is done. Surface light rail or separated right-of-way bus rapid transit could have been done for 10% of the cost.

    Can you imagine what kinds of citywide improvements to streets could have been done with that extra $15 billion? Would it have been so unrealistic to have greatly expanded the amount of streets reconfigured to better accomodate bikes in that scenario?

    I agree with Jason that the defeatist attitude is misplaced. I appreciate pragmatism but it is incorrect that the city does not have the money to make these kinds of investments. It’s just a matter of where the money is allocated – when we’re talking millions and billions of dollars, it’s hard for the minds of mortals to keep it in perspective. There is a big difference between even $5 billion and $10 billion – that extra $5 billion can make a world of difference for other investments.

  • Thanks for the insights, “Someone at DOT.”

    I somewhat disagree with your assessment of bike lanes. Painted lines are not always effective but they do work, especially when they are done with buffers. If we had a coherent network of buffered lanes connecting bridges and parks, cycling would likely increase dramatically. Painted lanes are a form of “education” for driver and cyclists. They advertise that “this is a street where people use bikes.” They often help channelize and calm traffic on over-wide streets like Fifth Ave in Brooklyn. They reserve the space for future reconfigurations. And they make bike infrastructure a part of DOT’s job.

  • ddartley

    Great thread so far, people!

    I quite agree with most of what “Someone at DOT” says about how, according to my liberal paraphrase, the bike master plan is sort of the wrong tree to bark up.

    I have always thought that *SIDE-OF-STREET* bike lanes are a very sharp, double-edged sword. That’s an improvement from my prior opinion that they were death traps.

    One day when I’m not so lazy I will craft the most succinct explanation I can of my ideas for bike lanes. The ideas are somewhat unrealistic, but as “Someone” and others have pointed out, NYC makes almost all ideas for bike lanes unrealistic: I think mine have a little hope of getting somewhere one day.

    Heck with it, here’s just a quick blurb of one of them: a City-initiated publicity campaign that says, to all motorists, official and public, “if you MUST double park on an Avenue, DON’T pull into the bike lane. Stay in the car lane.” (The idea is that pulling into the bike lane still obstructs the car lane, so it doesn’t help anyone, but hurts everyone. Staying in the car lane only hurts one group, motorists, whom are already hurt no matter HOW you double park.)

    I know, such a public information campaign is rather a longshot, but it’s in line with the ideas you guys seem to be going for–that “education” is more affordable for the City than physical restructuring, and therefore a more likely strategy.

  • Clarence

    Striped lanes with buffers are not so bad. Hudson, Lafayette, even the section of 8th Avenue from 14th to 23rd work fairly well for me. You still have to be vigilant, but while riding in those there is a better margin for safety and cars generally observe the rules except when double-parking of course.

    And “regular” lanes in other sections can work well. For example, in Brooklyn between Carroll Gardens/Brooklyn Heights/Park Slope there are many lanes that work very well. For instance, I can remember Clinton Street before the bike lane went in. Cars would try to fit two abreast, would frequently be weaving all over the road, and when lining up for lights they would be idling all over the road at angles making it hard just to ride your bike up to get to the light. Now after the bike lane, the cars stay in one even path, and even when there are back ups, there is a place for the cyclist to smoothly sail by everyone and the cars are noticeably slower.

    Painted bike lanes work in many areas, esp. neighborhoods with lesser traffic. I think the comments from “someone at DOT” are more directly applied to high-traffic areas or Manhattan in which case there is a point to be made for separating lanes where possible which I would be all for.

  • Someone at DOT

    Jason wrote:

    “I would take issue with the idea that bike lanes are useless though. The buffered lane on Lafayette St. is great to ride on…”

    It’s better than the ones without buffers, but it still suffers from the double parking problem, the intersection problem, and the utility cut problem. Only marginally better than nothing IMHO.

    “In addition, signage does make a big diiference.”

    I strongly disagree. NYC is overwhelmed with signage. There are far more sings at every intersection than drivers can read. Do honkers pay attention to the “don’t honk” signs? Do litterers read the sign and hold onto their garbage? What makes you think that “Yield to Pedestrian in Crosswalk” signs are any more useful? Every driver knows the rules of the road. They just don’t follow them, and/or they don’t pay sufficient attention to driving carefully. Adding distractions in the form of (mostly cryptic) signs does not help.

    “Reminding cars to yield to bikes, or to share the road…or in taxis, so passengers are careful about opening the doors.”

    I think a far more common reaction to constant reminders is to tune said reminders out, and I think there’s a lot of research that bears this out.

    At least with cabs, the dooring problem stems from flagrant violations of traffic rules — stopping the cab away from the curb, and allowing the passenger to get out on the traffic side. Cabbies know they’re not supposed to do this. They do it anyway because they want to be able to take off quickly after the fare gets out, and because they don’t want to jeopardize a tip by telling the fare not to do something dumb and illegal (a form of jaywalking). This is an enforcement problem, not an information problem.

    “These constant reminders will have an effect – and it will not break poor little New York City’s DOT budget.”

    I don’t want to get into too much detail here, but the portion of DOT’s budget over which its officials have any meaningful discretion is shockingly small. They idea that there is a signifcant pot of money available enhancements to the streetscape is way off.

    Also, the money for the 2nd Ave subway and other transit projects is a completely different pot of money and is not fungible. If the State (which owns the MTA) spent nothing on subway improvements, that wouldn’t free up a penny for street reconstruction or bicycle programs. The balkanization infrastructure funding and responsibility is also one of the underlying problems that gets insufficient attention.

    As for Aaron’s comments, I’m afraid I disagree. I think we would all like bike lanes to have these effects, but I think the reality is different. The majority of drivers either ignore bike lanes, or to the extent that they are aware of them, consciously refuse to alter the behaviors that encroach on them. I have seen no evidence that the bike lanes in NYC do anything to raise drivers’ level of awareness of and consideration for bikes. Others’ experiences may differ, but I’ve never had a positive outcome from saying to someone politely “excuse me, but do you realize that you’re blocking a bike lane?”.

  • DOT, go take a look at the Clinton Street bike lane through Cobble Hill some morning. By my eye, the vast majority of drivers actually don’t drive or park on it during the AM rush. The majority of drivers stay to one side creating a nice lane for bikes heading to the Bklyn Bridge. I used to live on that street and this wasn’t the case prior to the bike lane. Maybe someone out there could snap some photos and submit to Streetsblog…

  • alex

    Someone at DOT,
    Nearly everyday, I calmly and politely ask drivers blocking bike lanes (cabs included) not to double park. I’ve also been known to roll up to a vehicle at a red light (city buses in particular) and ask the driver to calm down a bit or they might kill someone with their reckless driving. When I am calm, measured and polite, the response is about 70-30 polite vs f%#k off. I can’t tell you how many cab drivers have apologized (sincere or not), when politely confronted. When I am loud and angry, the response is 100% f%#k off. It is a sort of one person information campaign. But in the end, I figure many of these people have somewhat regular schedules, and the chances are pretty favorable that we will encounter each other on the same street at the same time on some other day, so why piss ’em off any more than they already are?
    Also, has anyone seen creative ways of indicating to potentially turning drivers that a bike lane is traversing an intersection? How effective are speed reduction devices (small bumps in the road) on either side of cross walks or bike lanes as they cross intersections of small side streets?
    So, yes, my experience with calm and polite interactions with drivers is quite different than yours.

  • I live on Clinton Street and use that bike lane every single day – and I can back Aaron up on this one.
    The only problem is when people are moving and the uhauls are park there – but that is only sometimes and its a HUGE improvement to not having the lane at all.

    To respond to “Someguy at DOT” I told a motorist the other day that he was not suppposed to park in a bike lane on this very same Clinton Street in bklyn…and guess what, he said he was sorry and he left! This has happened to me in Manhattan as well, although its true that they usually ignore you.

    In terms of cars repecting Bike lanes, I ride 20 miles round trip every single day from bklyn to the upper east side, and I can say that except for double parked cars and the occasional cabbie – drivers actually DO respect the bike lane. I even saw a Pepsi delivery truck on 71st St month pulled over to make a delivery, but he did not block the bike lane (I thanked the driver).

  • someguy

    I am all too familiar with the balkanization of government jurisdiction in the NYC region, particularly when it comes to transportation. That is a critical issue – addressing it would have the biggest potential positive impact on transportation but unfortunately it would also be the most difficult to solve.

    I also realize that money for the Second Avenue Subway is separate from the city budget. Most state and local capital investments use a substantial chunk of federal $. There are easy solutions at the federal level – can’t FDOT/FHWA (if not FTA) allocate money for a comprehensive bicycle network project just as easily as for highway projects? And our state senators could earmark SAFETEA-LU funds for such a purpose as well.

    But even at the city level, even if all of that $17 billion couldn’t actually be redirected to a comprehensive streetscape project, there are certainly many ways money gets juggled around between the different agencies and jurisdictions. You work for the DOT, you know this.

    And one final point: the fact that many, many other cities around the country and around the world are doing things, things which do not cost that much money in the scheme of things (compared to transit, highways, bridges and tunnels), proves that NYC *could* do it if we wanted to. Yes, our bureaucracy is tricky, but most things get done when the mayor or governor wants them done, and a project to overhaul a network of NYC’s streets would be no different.

    At a certain level of hard-nosed realism, you become just another bureaucrat adding to the institutional inertia.

  • Re: Funding, from the first letter above:

    The cost is minimal: about $20,000 per mile (for traffic analysis, design and labor), 80 percent of which is reimbursed by the federal government. So there is a way for us to spend a little money and get the Feds to reimburse 80% and we are not doing more of this. Crap, we SHOULD redesign every street if only to get the 80% reimbursement from the Feds…

  • Someone at DOT

    “I also realize that money for the Second Avenue Subway is separate from the city budget. Most state and local capital investments use a substantial chunk of federal $.”

    The vast majority of Federal money that winds up in NYCDOT’s hands is earmarked for the East River bridges. There is very little available for anything else. For the most part, the City is on its own financially for the sorts of issues we’re talking about. This is one of the big differences between the U.S. and Europe. In Europe, cities are treated as national assets. Here, they’re not.

    “And one final point: the fact that many, many other cities around the country and around the world are doing things, things which do not cost that much money in the scheme of things (compared to transit, highways, bridges and tunnels), proves that NYC *could* do it if we wanted to.”

    I agree that there are relatively low cost things that the city could and should do more of. I just don’t happen to think that three foot wide striped lanes on the left side of Manhattan avenues are a very good idea. From what others have written, some of the bike lane designs in other boroughs appear to work better. If so, great. However, I still think that enforcement and outreach are at least as important, and are not getting the attention they need. With this in mind, and knowing what I know about the budgets, I think it makes more sense to advocate for this than for a construction program that will never happen. I’m not saying “do nothing”, I’m saying “do something more appropriate than what is being done now”.

  • Hannah

    Just wrote to the Times:

    To the Editor:

    Ryan Russo of the DOT boasted of the city’s bike improvements, citing a new bike lane connection between Central Park and Hudson River Park. Did you fact-check that bit of information? If so, please tell me where exactly this connection exists, as I would love to know about it and would use it regularly. If not, you owe your readers a correction–and your letter-writer a scolding.

    – – –
    The last time I got a letter into the City section, I had to provide a ridiculous amount of information to back up what I was saying, which contradicted and clarified a published article. They should have made Russo jump through similar hoops.

  • Hannah

    Response from a Times editor:

    As I understand it, the Eighth Avenue bike lane connects the Hudson River
    Greenway to Central Park as follows: the Christopher Street bike lane
    connects the Hudson River Greenway to the Hudson Street bike lane, and the
    Hudson Street bike lane connects to the Eighth Avenue lane, which goes all
    the way north to Central Park. Here’s a map:
    http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/html/bike/cwbm.shtml

    – – –
    As we know, the Eighth Ave. bike lane does not quite make it to Central Park, even after it is rudely interrupted at Port Authority. And the thought that someone would leave the greenway at Christopher Street to bike up Eighth Avenue to get to the park is pretty funny. Among many other things, what we could actually use is a connection from the greenway at W 59th Street to Central Park and all the way across to the Queensboro Bridge.

  • Clarence

    You know after I read your savvy letter, I said to myself…I wonder if they are going to say that 8th Ave. connects, blah, blah, and then cite what the Times Editor just wrote to you.

    That is such a stretch if the DOT is going to advertise that as a connector. Your comment about leaving Christopher Street to bike up Eighth is right on the money.

    An idea then: what they should do is the following – have numerous short crosstown bike lanes every 10 blocks or so that intersect 8th Avenue from the Greenway. THEN, maybe you could claim it really is a connector. Now, it is not and they should know better.