New “Shared Lane” Bike Route Design Spotted in Manhattan

New York City’s Department of Transportation is quietly experimenting with a new design for Class III bike routes on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Streetsblog tipster Jason Varone photographed the new, not-yet-finished bike stencils on Clinton Street between Grand and Delancey this morning.

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Often referred to as "shared lanes," Class III routes are put down in places where bicycles and motor vehicles are supposed to ride together as equals in the middle of street. Varone reports that there are three half-finished stencils between Grand and Broome and one more closer to Delancey. In size, the stencils are roughly the length of a bicycle not including the unpainted chevrons above the stencil. The new markings continue onto Delancey Street leading to the bicycle/pedestrian overpass above the FDR Drive.

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There are three new things about these bike lane designs. First off, the bicycle stencil is in the middle of the street. Second, the stencils are being marked on a relatively narrow side street. Third, it looks like a couple of chevrons will be painted atop the little bike man. This particular bike lane design has never before been used in New York City.

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The only other example of shared lane markings that I know of in New York City can be found on University Avenue in the Bronx. These were installed in the Spring of 2003.

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The markings in the Bronx don’t have the little chevrons up top and, more importantly, they are on one lane of a much wider, busier street than the new markings. I think you would be hard-pressed to find a cyclist who feels that these particular shared-lane markings do much good for Bronx cyclists. The new stencils appear to be a much more thoughtful design and implementation.

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While shared lane markings may be new for New York City, they are well-established and well-tested in other parts of the country. Berkeley, California’s Bicycle Boulevards use much larger stencils than the ones currently being painted on Clinton Street.

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On a neighborhood advocate’s note: While I am happy to see DOT experimenting with a new bicycle lane design, I am now more baffled than ever about the agency’s failure to follow through on its commitment to install shared-lane markings on Fifth Avenue in Brooklyn, pictured above. More on this issue in a forthcoming posting.

  • mfs

    that’s great to hear of this experiment- I’ll check it out next time I’m biking to work.

  • Hannah

    Just yesterday I noticed shared-use markings on West 77th Street in Manhattan. I don’t think they had chevrons, but there was some faint white paint around suggesting that perhaps more thermoplasting remains to be done. The bike symbols were very close to parked cars and, in one case, practically under a Dumpster on the side of the road.

  • Hannah – what avenue was that near? Or was that across 77th street? If you could take a couple of photos we can post them.

  • alex

    I can verify Hannah’s observation. On Sunday morning, my girlfriend and I noticed the marking on W.77th (we recall 78th but it could have been 77th?) on the west side of the intersection with Columbus. There will be photographic evidence tomorrow.
    Also, as I rode home on 8th Ave this evening, I observed a police car with lights and sirens blaring. The car was driving down the bike lane and parking behind standing vehicles until they drove off. I watched this behavior for about 2 minutes ast he police vehicle swept 3 passenger cars out of the 8th Ave bike lane between W.50th and W.54th streets. Although I would prefer tickets for the offenders, I guess badgering drivers to vacate the bike lane meets the immediate needs of cyclists.
    Has anyone else seen something similar?

  • da

    Aren’t motor vehicles and bikes supposed to “ride together as equals” in EVERY street?

  • bikebikewooowoooweeeebike

    this actually scares me. you are right, all streets are for bikes and cars (even though many motorists refuse to accept this).

    now that we have specific streets where bikes and cars are supposed to coexist peacefully, i’m afraid that bicyclists will be harassed/ticketed/further ignored/put in greater danger if they ride on a street that isn’t specified as shared lane.

    i guess the idea is good in theory, but it isn’t always practical to ride a sprecific route on predetermined streets, and i fear what is going to happen when someone rides on a street that isnt specified as shared lane.

  • In response to da’s question: no, bicycles and motor vehicles are not equals on every street in New York state, which has a mandatory bike lane law and keep-right law, with some exceptions. See http://www.dot.state.ny.us/pubtrans/share.html#1234

  • Night Rider

    “New York state, which has a mandatory bike lane law and keep-right law”

    And this is why I hate riding in New York City. Keep right, sure, but this BS about mandatory use of bike lanes turns cyclists into second-class traffic citizens. Especially since the police do nothing to keep the lanes clear and pedestrians, cars and trucks act like they don’t exist.

  • Matthew

    Folks, VTL #1234 does not apply in New York City. The Rules Of New York City (RCNY) 34 RCNY 4-02 (e) specifically supercede #1234 and allows for cyclists to ride on either side of a 40+ ft. roadway in a manner that ensures cyclist safety. You are required to be in a bike lane only if it is free of moving, stationary, or surface hazards. At the point that someone double parks, drives in the lane, etc. you have the right and duty to leave the lane and maintain your safety.

    Check out this link for more details, and don’t believe the #1234 hype!

    http://www.bicycledefensefund.org/bikelaw.html

  • John Allen states that “New York state … has a mandatory bike lane law and keep-right law, with some exceptions. The DOT Web site specifically states, “Be aware that when a road is too narrow for cars and bikes to ride safely side by side, bicyclists should ride in or near the center of the lane to discourage motorists from trying to pass.”
    Based on this statement from the DOT, I take the whole lane when I’m cycling on Second Street from 1st Avenue to Avenue C. I average 15-20 mph, so I’m travelling as fast (if not faster) than most cars in Manhattan, and the street is so narrow that the middle of the traffic lane is the safest place to ride.

  • ON August 7, 1999, the New York Post reported that “New York City may soon lower the speed limit to 15 mph on residential streets under a measure approved by the state Legislature.”
    Does anyone know what became of this proposed legislation?

  • Brian

    These are called “sharrows” in Portland, OR.

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