New Year’s Resolution: Physically Separated Bike Lanes in ’07

The Case for Physically Separated Bike Lanes
A Streetfilm by Clarence Eckerson
Running Time: 8 minutes 30 seconds

Happy New Year! As part of its commitment to create 200 miles of new bike lanes in the next three years, New York City’s Department of Transportation plans to build out 70 miles of new bike lanes in 2007. The devil, as always, is in the details.

In this outstanding Streetfilm New York City cyclists, planning and policy experts and even the former Mayor of Bogota, Colombia make the case that the designers of New York City’s bicycling infrastructure need to do more than just paint lines on asphalt. Like all of the world’s best bike commuting cities, they argue that New York needs to design and build more and better physically-separated bike lanes.

If you are looking for an important livable streets issue to work on in 2007, this short video is worth watching.

Related:

  • mfs

    will DOT announce in advance which are the lucky streets to get the lanes this year?

  • crzwdjk

    Physically separated lanes are a great idea, but intersections and turning cars are a huge problem. If you’re cycling along at cruising speed, 15 mph or whatever, and a car from the adjacent street decides to make a turn across your path, there’s a good chance the driver won’t see you. The best example of this sort of situation is the West St bike path south of Chambers, with the many cross streets. The situation gets even worse when there are parked cars. And then there are the pedestrians, who have a tendency to stand as close to the stream of cars as possible to wait for the light, and often get in the way of the bike path. Of course, there are ways of dealing with this: for example, take away a parking space or so at the intersection to add visibility and create a buffer where pedestrians can stand without getting in the way of bikes. And perhaps large angry “WATCH FOR BIKES” signs could hint to turning cars that they should look carefully where they are going.

  • Publius

    “And perhaps large angry “WATCH FOR BIKES” signs could hint to turning cars that they should look carefully where they are going.”

    Cars don’t take hints. Cars are inanimate machines that only do what they’re told to do by their operators.

    The question is, will New York City’s trained and licensed car operators take the WATCH FOR BIKES sign’s hint *at the moment when you are going through the intersection*?

    Do you want to make a bet with your life that they will? Put it another way, “Do ya feel lucky, punk?”.

  • Christina

    Of course the video to me isn’t advocating these everywhere just a few important routes and dangerous streets in Manhattan – but which ones? Where should they go? Who should determine that?

    It’d be nice to have one on Broadway I think.

  • Steve

    As far as Manhattan is concerned, the huge gap in the network of Class II lanes is the lack of a downtown route east of the West Side Greenway. The East Side Greenway is in terrible shape ( example: http://nyc.mybikelane.com/post/index/127 ) and terminates at the Queensboro Bridge Plaza, #1 kill zone for cyclists in Manhattan ( http://www.uppergreenside.org/2006/11/05/lappin-takes-action-on-queensboro-bridge/ ). The need for a downtown lane on the East Side is evident from the large numbers of bicyclists (and not just delivery people) who ride downtown against the traffic on the First Avenue and the Central Park West bike lanes. In my view the best location would be 5th Avenue, on the left side of the street, although that would create friction between 5th Avenue residents and the cabs they hail and the bicyclists using the lane. Alternatively there is Second Ave, but the truck traffic is so heavy there you are essentially leading bicyclists to the slaughter by installing bike lanes there.

    In any event, DOT does not seem interested in telling any one where they will be installing bike lanes. There’s a certain pleasure in coming across the new ones accidentally, and I suppose DOT’s fait acomplis approach minimizes the efficacy of after-the-fact resident/motorist opposition. Still, it would be better for DOT to let people know its plan beforehand. It just might receive some valuable feedback from the laity about street and bike lane design.

  • ddartley

    Reducing speed limits might make bike lanes less necessary, and would involve a lot less cost and effort…

    Why should cars be *allowed* to do 30mph if, because of traffic and other factors, they’re rarely *able* to do 30mph? The knowledge that there’s a legal limit out there that’s much higher than one is typically able to drive just makes motorists *aspire* to reach that speed limit, and therefore accelerate unnecessarily–slamming on the gas to cover some tiny, suddenly open space on the road. That of course is aggressive driving, which is the number one cause of “accidents.”

  • Steve

    ddartley, I agree that a reduction in city speed limits to, say, 15 MPH that was *enforced* might obviate bike lanes. I’m not sure that obtaining meaningful (90%+) enforcement of speed limits “would involve a lot less cost and effort” than installing bike lanes.

    There are numerous reasons besides bicyclist safety to reduce vehicular speed limits, such as peds safety, other motorists’ safety, reducing emissions, reducing noise, reducing collision-related property damage and consequent upward pressure on insurance rates, etc.). I would argue that some of these reasons are more important that bicyclist safety, in that they concern the safety of more people; bicyclists are minority of those injured by speeding vehicles. So I would advocate for reduced limits even if there was a “complete” network of bicycle lanes installed. However, I see the enforcement of reduced limits as such a difficult long-term goal to achieve that I would not drop demands for bike lanes in the meanwhile.

  • Anne

    YES YES YES to Protected Bike Lanes!!!

    this is our ONLY hope of significantly increasing the cycling population, and of including new riders, kids, and the elderly.

    DOT: START BUILDING NOW!!!

  • v

    great film, clarence!!

    protected lanes? yes please!

  • Elizabeth

    Separated bike lanes would be so great! I feel much more relaxed just watching the video clips and photos from cities that have these kind of facilities. What can it hurt to do this in New York? We’ve already seen the success and proven results (since that’s what the DOT will be most motivated by) on the West Side highway and on Tillary St. in Brooklyn.

    I would like to challenge the DOT to use some of these traffic innovations that would indeed put us back in league with other world class cities. Why not?

  • Reducing speed limits _might_ improve safety for bicyclists. However, I think (and research demonstrates) that motorist behavior is better controlled by infrastructure than regulations.

    Most motorists are clueless about speed limits or other minutia in the vehicle code. They determine their behavior based on prevailing traffic, climate, visibility, likely presence of law enforcement, road conditions, etc.

    Yes for bike lanes!

  • Clarence

    By all means, this video is not meant to say we should replace all of our painted bike lanes with separated ones, but there certainly are places in the city like 2nd, 5th and 8th Avenues and Houston Street (and probably many others) that I think we need to try something out because it can’t get any more dangerous than it is.

    Sometimes a painted stipe works pretty well, esp. in places like Brooklyn & Queens. But in Manhattan below 59th, separated bike lanes should be tried out in a few targeted areas, esp with all the momentum out there. We may not get another chance for a decade.

  • Todd Edelman

    Hi,

    The “Streetfilm” says nothing about lack of enforcement on delivery vans etc in bikelanes and nothing directly about slowing down cars.

    I am still undecided about the solutions, but though I hate cars, I kind of like this:

    The concept of “shared space” which creates “naked streets”:

    http://www.shared-space.org

    PDF brochure:
    http://www.shared-space.org/files/14445/SharedSpace_Eng.pdf

  • Chris Morfas

    A Worthwhile Experiment

    Of course the City should implement several separated bike lanes. Wouldn’t we all learn something by trying?

    I note that my experiences on such facilities in Amsterdam in 2000 were quite mixed. To this day, I distinctly remember being:

    1) very frustrated at being stuck behind a 75-year old woman bicycling at 4 mph in a narrow lane (while recognizing that sans bike lane, she’s likely not bicycling at all),

    2) pissed off that I was expected to make left turns as a pedestrian and ticking off drivers–I got honked at in Amsterdam!– when I jumped the barrier and merged into traffic to make a vehicular-style left turn,

    3) amazed how the separated path mentality led a pack of thirty spandex-clad roadies to approach me on a path just north of Amsterdam that couldn’t have been more than five feet wide, while a nearby road beckoned.

    In the end, I fear we’re learning the wrong lessons from Amsterdam and Copenhagen. What makes bicycling wonderful there has less to do with explicity pro-bicycling measures– the lanes, paths, etc– and much more to do with their approach to automobiles. It’s what you DON’T SEE in Amsterdam– huge parking garages, oil change and tire shops, gas taxes, auto dealerships, big roads– that makes bicycling so competitive in the marketplace of consumer choice.

    But I know that congestion pricing is on the agenda in NYC, too.

    For now, let’s move forward on implementing some separated bike lanes– a victory within our grasp– and see how the public responds. I for one am willing to set aside my concerns for the sake of experimentation.

  • Hannah

    The DOT could make the case that it has announced all the new bike lanes–years and years ago. My 2001 Manhattan bike map shows the Upper West Side crosstown routes, Grand Street, and other locations as anticipated bike lanes, for example, and I’m sure the plans go back longer.

  • Chad M

    Here in Montreal the separated bike lanes work well most of the time (I saw a few shots in the video.) I know of two or three intersections that could be a little better designed, but overall it is so pleasant to be able to take your child out for a ride and know they will be in one piece when you get home.

    From what I know, NYC should go for it.

  • Steve

    Chris’ comment 14 is insightful. Infrastructure doesn’t change attitudes and behavior directly; dialogue and experience do. Aside from the resolution urged upon DOT to install separate bike lanes heralded in the post, each bicyclist reading this should make the much more significant resolution to persuade two friends, neighbors or co-workers to try semi-regular commuting or shopping by bicycle (this will probably entail repeated lobbying of 5 people to achieve). The hardest part can be getting someone out on a bike the first time who has not ridden for years; sometimes that one experience is enough. More bicyclists, fewer motorists, and the shift in attitudes and behaviors away from motor vehicles will follow.

    On Hannah’s comment, I sincerely hope that the all of the Class III routes marked on the old DOT bike maps presage the installation of the Class II lanes, at least as far as the UES is concerned.

  • Anne

    i disagree that infrastructure doesn’t change attitudes… the physical presence of a bicycle infrastructure would go a very long way toward legitimizing bikes as a form of transportation.

    a big part of the problem is that bicycles don’t have a truly designated place — sorry, a few lines painted on the street does not an infrastructure make. thus the very justified fear of pedestrians when they see a cyclist on the sidewalk (or cutting them off in a crosswalk), and the unjustified but constant disregard for bike lanes by motorists (some of whom claim to not even realize what they are, which is semi-believable when the lanes are filled with drivers and double-parkers).

    and although i think steve’s idea is great, most of my non-cyclist friends will NOT be persuaded to ride a bike in NYC until there are safe and secure lanes to do so. i myself have been unable to overcome my fears these days and go back out into traffic, especially every time another cyclist is killed out there. the cycling experience i want for NYC would look like Montreal, Munich, or Amersterdam: separated lanes with NO cars in them. NYC deserves a REAL bicycle infrastructure, no more compromises.

  • ddartley

    Has anyone with “sources” at DOT ever find out if the placement of “sharrows” on the edge (not in the center) of roads was indeed a mistake?

    (To rehash/remind, the reason I suspect (although I wasn’t the first to come up with the suspcion) that it’s a mistake by either the people installing the sharrows or their supervisors, is that they seem to be designed to instruct users to SHARE space–but if they’re placed on the edge, they suggest quite the opposite.)

  • Steve

    I hear you Anne and I did qualify my statement in saying that infrastructure doesn’t change attitudes and behavior *directly* . . . what I meant is that experience of that infrastructure does. The West Side Greenway, the Park Loop when motorist-free, or even the East Side Greenway could be a great first step in getting a friend or acquaintance bicycling, or getting back into it yourself. And bicycling together feels and is safer than bicycling alone. The key is just getting out there and “doing it.” This unnervingly warm winter removes the weather as an excuse not to.

    On Class II lanes, I have observed that they do influence the behavior of appriximately 20% – 40% of motorists (depending on street and other traffic conditions). I think they are better than nothing and are a necessary supplement (from an optimal planning as well as a pragmatic political perspective) to an arterial network of Class I, physically separate bike lanes.

  • Here in Ohio bike lanes suck big time. This is because people drive SUV’s and gas guzzling cars. When I ride in the streets people curse me,yell obscenities and say “sidewalk”(Funny isn’t the police say road,while the local goverment’s say sidewalks! Strange isn’t it ?) Is this like NY or is Ohio the pits? We have bike lanes but a new law rolled in town saying “Every road IS A BIKE LANE” http://www.ohiobike.org but people hate to share the road with us. Good luck you need it.
    Fleutz

  • ddartley

    Friedrich, a lot of motorists here think bikes belong on the sidewalk, but I’m pretty sure that the majority of all New Yorkers, including motorists, know that bikes are supposed to be on the street.

    Also, I love the “Every road is a bike lane” slogan. But I would clarify it with another–Highways are for cars. Streets are for humans.

  • All four of the design solutions that we proposed for Houston St. are for PROTECTED bike lanes, and we have heard over and over that any other solution will not significantly improve safety along this corridor. If we were in London, their guide clearly shows that Houston St. would be a case for “segregate.”

    Here in NYC, the DOT refuses to even respond to the community, community board, borough president, council members, state senators, state assemblywoman, and US congressman & congresswoman. What does that say?

    Sam Schwartz sounds hopeful, but I have no indication.

  • Clarence

    Ian,

    If any road is candidate (other than large six lane avenues) it is clearly Houston Street. And I believe it would work there and undoubtedly save lives.

    Perhaps this should be the site of a demonstration? And maybe we could demonstrate it using cones?

  • > Perhaps this should be the site of a demonstration? And maybe we could demonstrate it using cones?

    Last time we demonstrated it using the bodies of elected officials – I thought that would be enough to get the attention of DOT! It got their attention, but no action. We (“we” being all the elected officials and community board) can’t even get DOT to sit down with us to discuss possibilities or consider their alternatives.

    It’s frustrating, but we’re still pressing the issue.

    (For more info on the 8/06 rally, including a mini-film from Clarence et. al., see this StreetsBlog entry or click on “link” next to my name below.)

  • Mike Sallaberry

    Unfortunately, this video is so biased that an objective discussion based on it is impossible. There are certainly problems with bike lanes, but there are also major problems with sidepaths that other comments have mentioned. Many of the problems shown in the video, between turning motorists and through cyclists for instance, are often even worse with sidepaths/separated bike lanes due to sightline problems and motorists not expecting cyclists approaching from the opposite direction. And with all the pedestrians in NYC, more effort should be made to state the likely problem of peds spilling into bike space.

    I’ve been working on bicycle facility design and implementation for 7 years, and am open to the idea of sidepaths/separated bike lanes in certain situations, but first there must be an honest discsussion of the pros and cons of all designs.

  • Clarence

    Mike,

    The video was made to advocate for separated bike paths. To start a discussion, to show that the idea works all over the world, to show there are people who want it on the advocacy side as well in the streets of NYC (we talked to about 20 cyclists at random and not one thought it was a bad idea.)

    There are many pros and cons and design issues which I am sure would be debated once a decision was made to actually to try out some separated lanes in NYC. Originally the video had more on the history of bike lanes in NYC (see the Gridlock Sam link) and the 1980 lanes tried out and the problems with them (pedestrians walking in them, vendors setting up in them, drivers blocking them, them being too narrow) but it was coming in twice its length(!) – and I thought as it is now at 8 minutes it would be tough to get people to watch.

    Thankfully two days later nearly 2,000 people have watched and organizations all over the country are requesting copies and are sending out the e-mail links to their members. Hopefully those cities will start debates there as well.

    It also never states that we should replace all our current bike lanes with separated paths. In some places, as you say, it is appropriate. In others, they are not needed or it would make things worse. I’d say in NYC we’d be looking at targeted spots for sep. bike paths, surely not everywhere.

    But as a gentleman who emailed me from Europe stated – the fact that this video even exists to advocate for separated paths shows how far behind the rest of the world the U.S. is.

  • Mitch

    One thing the video shows (perhaps inadvertently) is that separated bike lanes are the PRODUCT of a bike-friendly culture, not the result of one.

    Actually, it’s probably more accurate to say that there is a dialectical relationship between bike-friendly amenities and bike-friendly culture — they reinforce each other to form an upward spiral (or at least, they should). But bikers need sufficient cultural acceptance and political strength before than can even dream of paths like the ones in Copenhagen and Amsterdam.

    First of all, a separated path — especially those nice paths in the video, with tree-line barrier zones — take a lot of space. That space generally has to be taken from cars and trucks (and sometimes, defended from hordes of pedestrians). To give bikes that space, officials have to go up against entrenched and powerful interests, and they have to believe that tilting in favor of bikes will not hurt them in the next election.

    And once the bike lanes are in place, you have to rely on the prevailing culture to resplect the integrity of the lanes and the safety of the bicyclists. In cities like Amsterdam and Copenhagen, drivers yield to bikes at intersections and pedestrians stay out of the bike lanes, so the bike lanes work. But what would they do in New York? The conflicts and crashes on the Hudson River greenway might be a sign of the problems bikers would face on on-street separated bike lanes.

    If I’m right, this doesn’t mean there’s no hope for making New York bike-friendly, but the real issues, in my opinion, are cultural and political.

    Perhaps all this is obvious, but I get the impression that some people see physically-separated bike lanes as the solution to bike safety problems in New York. I think it’s more likely that you have to work on underlying problems first. And then the bike lanes are the icing on the cake.

  • Steve

    Mitch, it is not necessarily obvious and your points are well taken. Given the powerful forces shaping and expressing current behavior of pedestrians, motorists, and bicyclists–the allocation of roadway and sidewalk space; the relative dangers faced by each group; the rules of the road as adapted and asserted by the respective group members, both on the street as well as through formal political processes–it is damn hard to change ANYTHING. Given the complex interplay among these forces and the difficulty of change, the only mistake we can make is to assume that any one agenda item predominates logically over all the others.

    So bicyclists have to forge a new relationship of mutual respect with pedestrians at the same time that they advocate for separated lanes, or else the separated lanes will not happen and even if they do, they will be rife with (and possibly vulnerable to closure due to) pedestrian-bicyclists disputes as was the 6th Ave separated lane in 1980 as related by Sam Schwartz ( http://www.streetsblog.org/2006/11/13/street-films-gridlock-sam-tells-the-story-of-nycs-first-bike-lanes/ ).

    So (at the risk of preaching), my message du jour to fellow bicyclists is: make eye and even respectful voice contact with as many pedestrians as possible in disputed right-of-way scenarios, let them know you respect their space (to whatever degree is reasonable under the circumstances), and try to win reciprocal respect. Easier said than done, I know, but comments on this blog and experiences in the streets over the last week have convinced me that there’s a lot more all of us (and pedestrians) can do on this score.

  • ddartley

    I’ve got to argue with those of you who warn AGAINST the idea of forcing double-parkers to double-park OUTSIDE of Class II bike lanes and IN an adjacent CAR lane. Some of you fear that that would “force cyclists to ride between two columns of parked cars,” increasing the chance of dooring and collisions. I think the adjacent car lane IS the best place for double-parkers to stand.

    **btw, forgive me if I’m using the phrase “Class II” wrongly. I believe it refers to the “standard bike lane”—i.e., the kind on the side of the road with just two white stripes a few feet apart (and sometimes a buffer area)—that’s what I mean when I say “Class II” in this comment. (Someone tell me if that’s wrong, please!)**

    First, I, for one, can’t imagine any real likelihood of “columns” of double-parked cars forming alongside bike lanes, because you rarely see a column of double-parked cars anywhere. Yes, double-parking is pathologically common, but not so common that “columns” often form.

    Second, cyclists in such a lane, riding between legal parkers and, more realistically a HANDFUL of double-parkers, can generally see into the double-parked cars, and tell whether those cars are likely to suddenly invade the cyclist’s space.

    Third, I actually saw such an arrangement, and it looked and felt quite safe! As luck would have it, just yesterday I happened upon the following scene in Manhattan’s 8th Ave. Class II lane in W. 50s. From left to right: 1, the normal column of legal parkers, 2, the bike lane, then 3, some double-parkers (clear of the bike lane, and fully in the CAR lane). I must say that was the ONLY time that that lane has ever looked to me like a safe place to ride—and surprisingly, between the legal parkers and the one or two double-parkers, it actually seemed roomy (but only for single-file cyclists, of course)!

    Fourth, and most importantly, I suspect that staying in a straight line in such a clear bike lane, even “between two columns of parked cars,” is safer (and more fun) than weaving into and out of car traffic (and into and out of visibility) almost once every block.

    Of course I wish we weren’t even discussing this, because as I’ve often blathered, I don’t even like Class II lanes. I think Class II lanes and, to a lesser extent, even buffered Class II lanes, are fatally flawed by being on the road’s margin. BUT, I make this lengthy rebuttal because I suspect they’re going to be with us for a while, even in spite of the City’s planned expansion of bike routes, in spite of the excitement here about physically separated lanes, AND even if I magically get the City to look at (and like) my soon-to-be-finished alternative bike lane design!

    To recap this treatise, I have long thought that the most effective way to protect Class II lanes from being rendered useless by double-parkers (like they are every day, at almost every other block!) would be to 1. acknowledge that condoned double-parking is probably not going away soon, plus 2. compel double-parkers to park not in a bike lane, but in the adjacent car lane.

    Remember, double-parking in a bike lane hurts three groups of people (cyclists, legal parkers, and other motorists, because a car in a bike lane is so wide that it obstructs the adjacent car lane too)—double-parking in a CAR lane hurts only one group (motorists)—who are hurt by double-parking in a bike lane! For all this, I suggest that double-parking in a car lane adjacent to a Class II lane is indeed better for cyclists, and in fact everyone. If Streetsblog were my 8th Grade English class, I’d totally be getting an A for this one.

  • Steve

    You get an A in my book, dartley–I agree with you, with the proviso that you obviously can’t travel in even a semi-guantleted bike lane as fast as in the traffic lane. Under those conditions, bicyclists’ choice.

  • WOW! Thanks for these strong videos (Separated Bike Lanes and Penalosa and David Byrne Ride Bikes)- and delightful, too. The BIG question is does Mayor Mike see these…and if not how to arrange…John Liu? Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

  • ddartley

    Much like a politician, I had lots of opinions before I even watched the video. I just did. It’s great. Made me realize that even though I would love to see my own bike lane design (which does NOT physically separate–and is coming soon!! (yawn)) implemented around the City, that doesn’t mean I have to be opposed to the City’s use ALSO of physically-separated lanes.

  • Portland Believer

    Love the video but this will be a tough sell. Still – keep it up, it seems you guys are providing leadership and research that your government will hopefully use.

  • Mike Sallaberry

    I want to add to my earlier comment (#26) that I think it is worth trying a separated bike lane if conditions dictate that it’s the best solution, and NYC does seem to provide some compelling conditions to at least try such a bikeway. I just suggest being honest with how these facilities work and don’t work. People on each side of this issue tend to be vehement.

  • Tine

    Another good video – this site is outstanding. I am on a great Boston listserve which linked to you guys.

    http://www.livablestreets.info/node/925

  • Thanks Clarence, for putting together a nice, simple advocacy piece for separate bikeways. I’ve been advocating for this since the mid-1980s in San Francisco (based in part on my visits to Copenhagen), but it has never gained much support. It seems so obvious that the way to get A LOT of new people to cycle is to provide them a safe place to ride (the most common reason given for not cycling is how dangerous the streets are). The “effective” cyclist crowd turned out again and again to torpedo separate bikeways here in SF when we were having a whole new round of planning in the early 1990s. Now we have a bunch of striped bikeways (which have contributed to an increase in cycling on their own, regardless of their abject inadequacy; also proving that infrastructure changes do cause motorists to pay more attention, a noticeable improvement here in SF over years past) and a missed opportunity. The Valencia corridor has seen a HUGE increase in daily cycling since the striped lanes went in, but a recent plan for a “Great Street” redesign totally dropped the ball by not going for the new streetscape as outlined in this video. Well, we can hope that New Yorkers will push for some of this, and maybe, someday, we can proceed to a civilized urban environment like Copenhagen or other northern European cities (or Bogota for that matter) that provide safe, separate bikeways throughout the urban environment… It’s looooonnggg overdue…

  • Clarence

    Chris,

    Hopefully with the energy being generated by the video, NYC and other cities will now start to consider some separated paths and get us more in line with the rest of the civilized world.

    Appreciate the feedback as always. If you need some copies on DVD to help advocate, make sure to hit me at trorb(at)earthlink.net

  • Awesome!! Really well done. We here in Maritime Canada are watching with interest. Our situation is a microcosm of yours, hope to see NY lead so that we can use your example.
    -Chris

  • Shirley Secunda

    Clear, concise, a great primer for how to design safe, comfortable and workable bike lanes. Now to get these changes into action – we need them desperately!

  • Fantastic video! It was posted by Bicycle NSW to all local Bicycle User Groups in New South Wales, Australia.

    I’ve linked to it from our BUG site
    http://www.sharkbike.org.au

    For the link I created an animated GIF with screenshots from the video – a kind of teaser. Of course you’re welcome to copy it to your site and offer it to others.

  • Clarence

    Jonathan,

    Geez, way to go above and beyond! Thanks for the linkage and all, and as I always say, just contact us if you want DVDs to support your mission. All of our stuff is Creative Commons, so the pieces exist for the good of the world and changing it for the better.

  • Steve

    As far as I know, the midtown portion of the East River Esplanade is one of the few places in Manhattan where the city has current plans to install physically separate bike paths. Unfortunately, the City has just closed access to a crucial access ramp, further isolating the southernmost half-mile of the Upper East Side Greenway from the rest of the city’s bike network.

    The ramp, which allowed bicyclists access to a bridge over the F.D.R. connecting the southern terminus of the UES Greenway and East 62nd Street has been closed. Bicyclists are now required to carry bikes up a temporary stair. There is a sign stating that the ramp is only “temporarily” closed, but I am not too hopeful. The city has studied the feasibility of extending the East River Greenway between 50th and 61st Street, but it has no plans to do so before 2018 (http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/html/mwg/maps_2_3_3.shtml ). Even as other portions of the East Side Greenway further south–such as the United Nations portion due for completion in 2008 ( http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/html/mwg/maps_2_3_1.shtml )–are completed on time, the lack of a ramp at 62nd street will leave those new portions isolated from the rest of the network. So this “temporary” 62nd St. bridge closure represents “two steps back” in relation to any future “step forward” for physically separate bike lanes in East Midtown.

    The city has not erected signs warning southbound Greenway bicyclists to exit at 72nd Street if they wish to avoid the stairs, but that is the now the southernmost point at which bicyclists can access the UES segment of the Greenway without portage. Here are some pics of what’s in store if you decide to venture south of 72nd, as well as of the FDR service road that the city is building at fabulous expense instead of extending the Greenway:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/43954081@N00/sets/72157594483481393/

  • Alex Reutter

    Just past the 3:00 mark in the video, Caroline Samponaro of Transportation Alternatives mentions the London design manual. Is this document publicly available online and is it any good?

  • Clarence

    Alex,

    Hope you are checking back…see here

    http://www.tfl.gov.uk/cycles/company/standards.shtml

    That should get you started.

  • IMHO, the NHTSA’s* video does a better
    job of explaining how to deal with the challenges of cycling for transportation:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jdrrxIpQpt4

    *National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

  • I don’t think these two videos are all that comparable. I also don’t think the NHTSA video is particularly useful, at least not to the urban cyclist.

    To the first point, the NYCSR video is advocating for physically separated bike lanes, a new type of bike infrastructure for New York City. The NHTSA video is providing basic tips for safe riding. The two videos are not at all trying to do the same thing.

    Second, the NHTSA video seems like it could be useful to children or beginner suburban cyclists but it doesn’t do much of anything to address the big challenges that urban commuters face regularly. Tips on riding in heavy traffic or dealing with pedestrians or potholes or double parked cars or big trucks would be useful. Wear a helmet and check your tires? Not so useful.

  • Clarence

    Bruce,

    I might be a little biased since I am the filmmaker, but I agree with Aaron.

    It might be useful for the beginning cyclists but I have no idea how there is any comparision. None was meant. The NHTSA video is what it is, but we still would like the city to try some separated bike lanes.

  • I just was forwarded this video from a friend in Colorado. Nice work guys.

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The Case of the Disappearing Sharrows

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  Less than three months after they appeared on Seventh Avenue in Times Square, some of New York City’s first sharrows are well on their way to disappearing. And so you have to wonder: Can the city’s commitment to 200 miles of new bike lanes in three years be meaningful if this is their condition […]

The Third Most Influential Streetfilm of All Time

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With the 10-year benefit for Streetsblog and Streetfilms coming up on November 14 (get your tickets here!), we are counting down the 12 most influential Streetfilms of all time, as determined by Clarence Eckerson Jr. The Case for Physically Separated Bike Lanes Number of plays: 123,500 Publish date: February 17, 2007 Why is it here? Ten […]

The Debate Over Physically-Separated Bike Lanes Continues

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A physically-separated bike lane on a shopping street in Copenhangen, Denmark Two weeks ago "Gridlock" Sam Schwartz wrote an op/ed for the Sunday Times advocating for physically-separated bike lanes in New York City. The next weekend, John Allen, a Waltham-based regional director for the League of American Bicyclists replied that separated bike lanes are dangerous and bad idea. […]

London’s Cycling Design Standards: A Model for NYC?

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As New York City begins fulfilling its commitment to build 200 miles of new bicycle lanes over the next three years, the question will increasingly arise: What kind of bike lane should go where? Currently, DOT seems not to have any set of guidelines to answer that question. So, take a look at how the City of London does it. Transportation […]

The Second Most Influential Streetfilm of All Time

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With the 10-year benefit for Streetsblog and Streetfilms coming up on November 14 (get your tickets here!), we are counting down the 12 most influential Streetfilms of all time, as determined by Clarence Eckerson Jr. Cycling Copenhagen, Through North American Eyes Number of plays: 308,000 Publish date: July 15, 2010 Why is it here? This video was […]

NYC Gets Its First-Ever Physically-Separated Bike Path

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The Department of Transportation revealed plans for New York City’s first-ever physically-separated bike lane, or "cycle track," at a Manhattan Community Board 4 meeting last night. The new bike path will run southbound on Ninth Avenue from W. 23rd to W. 16th Street in Manhattan. Unlike the typical Class II on-street bike lane in which […]