Are “Directional Miles of Bike Lanes” a Good Metric?

First_Ave_Bike_Lane.jpg

Monday night I attended Manhattan Community Board 8’s pedestrian and cycling safety forum. There was an All-Star cast of panelists. Former DOT Commissioner Sam Schwartz, Manhattan DOT Commissioner Margaret Forgione and Director of Street Management and Safety Ryan Russo, Matthew Bauer of the Madison Ave BID, Traffic Enforcement Agents as well as other transportation experts.

There were the usual complaints about cyclists running red lights or riding on the sidewalks and the level of enforcement that should be put forth, but generally the conversation was more directed at making people safe from automobiles in the district. Almost everyone was supportive of bike lanes as a way to provide cyclists with a safer place on the road and minimize conflicts with other street users, but there was an exchange between one of the Community Board members and Mr. Russo that brought up something fairly fundamental to me.

The Community Board member stated that she saw biking as purely recreational, not for commuting or running errands, which just sounds crazy but, hey, when you want to keep all residential and commercial zoning completely separate to the point where you won’t site a greenmarket in a school playground, why not extend that to every aspect of life. She added that bike lanes should be built for the recreational user in mind as opposed to the commuter.

Mr. Russo vigorously defended the idea that bikes are currently and will increasingly be used across the city for everyday commuting and local errand running where good bike lanes and bike parking make that possible. He then repeated the Mayor’s pledge to build out the bike lane network by several hundred miles over the next few years and set up more city racks for parking. He then added that in the Upper East Side that they are considering some bike lanes to connect the East River Greenway to Central Park.

In some strange twist of logic, even though DOT disagreed with the concept of biking as only for recreational users, the DOT’s bike lane network extension in my area seems to be mostly geared toward recreational users. I fully support the idea of integrating the greenways with the Central Park loop, but if the DOT’s goal is to increase the number of commuter cyclists on the Upper East Side, the bike lanes that would make much more sense are extending the current Second Ave bike lane north from 14th Street to 125th Street and the existing First Avenue bike lane south from 72nd Street down to Houston. This would increase the number of cyclist commuters on the Upper East Side and East Harlem dramatically. It would also provide commuter cyclists coming over the Queensboro bridge access to a good North/South bike lane network.

But number of biking commuters doesn’t seem to be the measurement the DOT is working toward. Their primary measurement is the number of directional bike lane miles they lay each year. A more meaningful and ambitious goal would be to set a target to double or triple the number of commuting cyclists in the city. Here on the Upper East Side, a goal like that would mmediately change DOT’s mindset from increasing lane miles to using bike infrastructure to help relieve overcrowding on the Lexington Avenue subway line.

If increasing the number of bike commuters was the metric by which DOT measured the success of its bicycling program, the alignment of future bike lanes and the sensitivity toward making biking accessible to the average commuter would be much different.

Photo of First Avenue Bike Lane at 85th Street – Glenn

  • brent

    “Number of biking commuters doesn’t seem to be the measurement the DOT is working toward. Their primary measurement is the number of directional bike lane miles they lay each year.” That’s a good point. Most of the non-recreational bike lanes are worthless. I rarely use them. The newer one on 8thh Ave, for instance, has become a pedestrian overflow sidewalk near the Port Authority. The 7th Ave lane through Times Sq leaves riders precariously stranded right where B-Way and 7th converge. In fact, I would say every lane is mapped in a pretty haphazard manner- beginning where it won’t inconvenience anyone and ending in some no-man’s land. A mile of bike lane is meaningless if it is not part of a larger network.

  • Good point, Glenn – a subtle distinction.

    It’s sorta like a doctor treating the symptom rather than the disease. Sure, adding bike lanes can be expected to encourage more people to cycle, but the actual goal is the increased numbers, not the existance of the bike lanes themselves.

  • Christian

    I hate to say it but I agree with Board member. While laying bike lanes is a cheap way of relieving a little bit of pressure on the transit network, the fact is that for the majority of Manhattan office workers biking is not a full time possibility. With the weather in NYC being far more extreme than London or the Continent and smaller cities in the US, bikes cannot be depended upon 365 days a year for the average commuter. Therefore, the city needs to maintain a lot of extra subway/bus capacity to cover days of heavy snow, nor’easters, 105 degree heat, etc.

  • Worker

    Most trips are not work trips. Too much attention is paid to work trips. If you can switch short shopping or entertainment trips to bike you ease pressure on buses, taxis and the subway. In places like Park Slope, where lots of people drive to shop or sports or socialize on weekends, this could have a noticeable impact.

  • Christian

    Data to back that up? That would change a lot, but you’d still have a lot of extra transit capacity sitting around all day.

  • Aaron G

    Christian: How about velomobiles? People like this board member do not view human powered vehicles as viable transportation because we are not showing them vehicles with more than two wheels and full weather protection. For a nice example, check out http://www.aerorider.com/

    I get to work just fine in even the worst of conditions with two wheels and appropriate clothing, but I can see that bicycles, pedicabs and cargo bikes are not going to be taken seriously until we educate people about the vast array of options that exist.

    As a guy who was born and raised on the Upper East Side, I wish I had known about this meeting. Could Streetsblog give us some advance notice in the future? Complaints about cyclist behavior are easy to address, and as someone who still keeps E. 76th St. as his mailing address, I still feel cheated that my mother couldn’t consider the streets safe enough for me to have ridden my bike to school.

  • Nona

    Also consider that the bike lane mileage totals are heavily padded by putting bike lanes on small, quiet streets where they aren’t needed. Haven Ave. in Washington Heights comes to mind.

  • Aaron G

    Worker: That’s a good point. Some politicians regard cycling as redundant to other forms of non-polluting transportation, like buses and subways.

    If we can emphasize the human-powered vehicle as healthy, non-polluting alternative for the taxi fiends, however, we stand to gain some ground. These are people with money out on irregular, short-distance errands around the city who:
    A.) Don’t want to walk out of the way to the nearest bus stop/subway station.
    B.) Don’t want to wait for the bus/subway once they get there.
    C.) Don’t want to make any stops along the way once on the bus/subway.
    D.) Want to take the most direct route possible.
    E.) Don’t want to make any transfers.
    F.) Want their transportation to take them door to door.

    It is this category of transportation user who can be particularly well-served by human powered vehicles. These are the people who make the yellow cab so popular, and hence, these are the people who could have the greatest impact by cycling.

  • Worker – You’re right, it’s not just about work, but all trips. But commuting, like grocery shopping, dropping kids at school, etc have a special place because it is a “must do” and other trips can often be combined or added on relatively easily once a person starts biking to work.

    Aaron G – I only had 5 days notice of this and it was sparsely attended – mostly by CB Members. We will try to make sure these make it into the streetsblog calendar.

    Nona – This is exactly what I’m worried about – that we will waste precious miles of bike lanes on places that don’t matter and not really increase ridership. Backing into a number while not inconveniencing motorists is not an alternative transportation plan, it’s a way to have a soundbyte that sounds good but doesn’t change the fundamentals on the ground.

  • Steve

    Glenn, excellent point on the DOT’s mistaken “miles laid” metric and failure to consider infrastructure as an incentive for behavior. As I have commented many times on S’blog, DOT seems hell-bent on laying bike lanes because they promised to, because they are trying to calm traffic near schools–but without articulating any coherent policy message about bicycling in general.

    As for the details, while First and Second Avenue seem like the logical place to lay new lanes on the UES, the traffic is just too heavy, fast and stressful. The City’s recent ten-year Bicycle Fatality Report found that trucks (which seem to be ~20% of the 1st and Second Avenue traffic) are far more dangerous to bicyclists than other vehicles. As you have raised in previous posts, the Manahattan side of the Q’boro bridge is a top kill zone for bicyclists.

    We do expect to get BRT on 1st and 2nd someday, maybe there is a way of designing bike lanes in tandem with the BRT lanes that will protect bicyclists from the heavy truck traffic, but barring something along those lines I would let BRT have 1st and 2nd Aves (except for the Greenway connector south of 53rd St.).

    For what it’s worth, here are my UES bike infrastructure priorities:

    1. Upgrade the Greenway connector south of 63rd street to Class II or even Class I bike lanes. The main reason people don’t use the East Side Greenway is the abrupt termination at 63rd. The entire connector should be at least Class II and buffered, or it will never get anywhere near the use of the West Side Greenway.

    2. Bring the UES Greenway up to the level of repair of that on the West Side. Some of that work has been in progress at a snail’s pace for several years now but a great deal remains to be done.

    3. Lay a Class II downtown lane on either Lexington, or (gasp!) 5th or Park. 5th and Park (uptown only) are already signed as a Class III lanes from 96th to 72nd. 5th is the #1 choice due to the lack of commercial traffic and reduced cross traffic along Central Park. You would need to buffer 5th below the Plaza to deal with encroachments by motorists and peds. Another UES uptown Class II lane in addition to or instead of 1st woudl be nice–you could have lanes on both sides of Park–but for uptown trips one can make do with the Central Park Loop and the UES Greenway, and the Class III on Park. What is really needed is a downtown UES route, and Second is just too stressful and unpleasant for many bicyclists.

  • One-quarter of all trips in the US are less than one mile – and it is probably a higher percentage in New York. For most of these local trips, bicycling would be faster than driving (if you count the time you have to spend looking for parking).

    Commute trips are generally longer, so fewer people will bicycle on them (though I myself bicycle-commuted for 7 years).

  • ddartley

    That would have been a perfect meeting for me to share with people my model of a center-of-avenue bike lane. Shame I missed it.

  • Since the NYPD doesn’t bother to enforce the regulations that prohibit stoppng, standing or parking in bike lanes, it is a complete waste of time for the city to stripe them.

  • Thanks for your well thought out comments Steve, I know you are out there biking our UES streets and Avenues everyday.

    First and Second Ave may work well if they integrate it with BRT, but otherwise, you’re right that right now they are just horrible. The added advantage of First and Second is that they connect with the QBB easily and provide access to areas where there is less mass transit access (which will improve with BRT and Second Ave Subway). But they are truck routes and as you say it might never be workable.

    For Uptown, Third might work better than First. In fact, I think Third would probably be best as a two direction Avenue like it is south of 23rd. With bike lanes in both directions, it could be a great location.

    Park Ave is great because it is passenger cars only. Again despite bikes being more “historical” than automobiles, that is exactly the grounds upon which they would be rejected by some of the “longtime residents”.

    A Fifth Avenue lane on the park side would be ideal as it minimizes many intersection conflicts. It could be the East Side parallel to the 8th Ave lane. This would not serve the same population as a Second Ave bike lane though. It would be great for folks in Central Harlem commuting to midtown, but not the far east side.

    Lex/Madison are both pretty narrow and might not be the best, although they connect up to many more retail destinations.

    I’m going to see if we can start the discussion with DOT on this. It’s too important to not be included in the next wave of bike lane installations.

  • Steve

    John, I disagree. A substantial minority of motorists, perhaps even a slim majority, either observe the lanes or could be easily “trained” to do so with a reminder or two. And most motorists avoid driving in the lanes, so the lanes are to some extent protected from traffic to the extent they are not blocked by the stoppers the standers and the parkers. While most experienced adult cyclists can take the traffic lane and don’t need a Class II lane, kids, older and beginning cyclists benefit from Class II lanes.

  • Steve

    Glenn, love the idea of extending two-way traffic north on Third! (It’ll hever happen, though).

    And glad to hear DOT is thinking about UES path-park linkages, which I presume means crosstown Class II’s on 90th/91st and 60th/61st, perhaps even 72nd. I’m also skeptical as to whether those will be laid, but we’ll see. Crosstown lanes would benefit commuters as well as recreational cyclists. In particular, the 60th/61st crosstown could be used in a pinch to link the southern terminus of the UES Greenway at 63rd St. with the easternmost downtown Class II lane in all of Midtown–B’way (pathetic!).

  • Steve,

    Frankly, I think DOT’s new “shared lane” signs and pavements markings are better than Class II bike lanes. Shared land signs and pavement markings heighten awareness among drivers and cyclists, yet permit drivers to double park when absolutely necessary without fear of being ticketed for parking in a bike lane.

  • I’ll probably get crucified for saying this, but I’ll say it nonetheless. Instead of a bike lane on Ninth Street in Brooklyn, how about shared lane signs and pavements markings? It would be a good compromise that might satisfy both motorists and cyclists. Food for thought…

  • It’s not an either/or proposition.

    The overall goal is increased ridership, of all types. An important part of the puzzle is the total number of miles of bike accommodation/lanes.

    If bike lanes aren’t designed and built to serve the larger goal, they aren’t as desirable. But, an articulated, measurable ridership goal puts pressure on municipalities to make the bike lanes matter.

  • Helena

    John,

    There is absolutely no difference between the enforcement that double-parkers receive when parked on bike lanes, shared lane markings or regular old travel lanes. It’s $115 in all three cases. No difference.

    The 9th Street “Road Diet” design would not be nearly as effective with shared lane markings and street signs, as you propose.

    The whole point of DOT’s design is to visually narrow the street to two travel lanes with a distinct median in the middle. If you eliminated the 5 foot bike lane and 3 foot buffer a lot of drivers would see that open 8 foot space as another travel lane. Many would use it for driving and passing and some would honk at other drivers for treating the space as a one lane road.

    Your proposal would confuse the road and eliminate virtually all of the traffic calming and bike safety benefits.

  • Mitch

    I’d suggest that “connectivity” should be the goal: from any location in the city, it should be possible to reach any other location safely and comfortably by bike.

    It’s a lot easier to count lane-miles than to develop a metric for connectivity; but connectivity is what makes a place bike-friendly.

  • Steve

    John, the sharrows are helpful, but in my limited experience the Class II lanes are a stronger deterrent to stopping/standing/parking. Also, in sharrowed lanes, drivers may be willing to share the road with bicyclists traveling at least 10 MPH or so, but will honk at or attempt to pass unsafely if you are traveling at slower speeds. This is a problem if you are traveling with kids. I have gotten this treatment with my son on the sharrowed portion of the roadway where Broadway and 7th Ave. cross.

    It may sound like I think all the bicycling instructure should be organized around kids and inexperienced or timid cyclists. That’s not exactly true, but I do think they are the primary constituency for new bike lanes. I admire Enrique Penalosa’s suggestion that a good bicycling city is one in which it is safe for children to bicycle.

    When I cycling alone I will use bike lanes if they happen to be available but I don’t seek them out unless I am carrying something large. When I want to make time I will select a route like Lexington with signals timed to move traffic for long distances at high speeds and try to keep up; I would not want use a bike lane for that kind of trip, although a sharrowed lane on Lexington would be nice (although the bus lane currently there serves pretty well). In fact, it seems to me that every roadway with three or more traffic lanes should have a sharrowed lane. But that is no substitute for a well-connected (Mitch has the right idea) network of Class I and Class II lanes on traffic calmed streets, which is the infrastructure that would be necessary to double or triple cycling rates, as opposed to marginal improvements in current rates and convencience of cycling.

  • You are right Mitch – connectivity is a good metric. What I’m concerned about is that the bike lanes will connect parks to parks, empty places to other empty places rather than people to jobs, commerce and transit hubs.

  • Mitch

    Glenn —

    Serious bikers should not look down on parks, and connections between parks, just because they look “recreational.” When highway planners look at parks, they see rights-of-way — the government already owns the land, and there aren’t any buildings to clear — and bike planners can do the same. Of course highways ruin parks for their intended uses, but bikes are perfectly compatible with parks, even if the riders are on the way to work.

    I ride about 2.5 miles to work every morning, and half of my route goes through a park. It’s very nice; I say hello to the joggers, look at the birds in the trees and on the lake, and enjoy the greenery. I don’t interfere with anybody else’s enjoyment of the park, and I get to my office reasonably fast.

    If I had the time and expertise, I’d sit down with a map, place dots in every neighborhood and business district (or sub-district), and look for the most bike-friendly route to get from each dot to its adjacent dots. If you could assign a score to each of those connections, and then find some way to aggregate the scores, giving extra weight to the connections that people really need to get from one place to another (do any geographers or topologists read Streetsblog?), you’d have a nice metric to measure a city’s bike-friendliness.

    A map like this would highlight the connections (low score but high weight) that need to be fixed to improve life for bicyclists. If city officials were really interested in encouraging biking for transportation, a connectivity map would tell them where to concentrate their efforts.

  • Steve

    Mitch is right on the virtues of siting bike infrastructure in parks–without a huge paradigm shift they are likely to be (along with waterfronts) the primary site of most future Class I lanes, and the park is generally more pleasant, even if you’re sharing with cars.

    Plus the traffic is there. All you have to do is take a trip across one of the transverses int he moring to see that there is a great deal of cross-town commuting each day–between 8 am and 9:30 am, the vehicular traffic is generally stop-and-go from the midpoint of the transverse to the entrance. I’d say the Central Park loop carries more bike traffic than than any other North-South route in Manhattan except the West Side Greenway.

    The problem is crosstown trips–with the pedestrian pathways prohibition, bikes are relegated to the transverses (extremely dangerous and unpleasant IMHO) or four unidirectional and/or meandering crosstown bike routes through the Park (southern portion of loop, 72nd, 103rd, northern portion of the loop). It would be great if the the 72nd Street crosstown path was widened and made two-way two-way, and/or if the little-used pedestrian pathway just north of the Ross Pinetum and just south of the 86th Street transverse were converted to a bike path.

    Another benefit of improving the CP crosstown option is that you make it easier to get from the UES to the West Side Greenway. It seems that the East Side Greenway will always be an inferior route because of (1) stairs at 81st (2) the benches and trees recently placed between 81st and 63rd that narrow the bike traffic from two-way to one-way (whose idea was that?) and most fundamentally (3) the gap south of the Q’boro bridge that will probably always be there (unless millions are spent on a cantilevered structure).

    The priority for Central Park in the near term is getting rid of the cars 24/7, but the Park will remain something of an obstacle to crosstown bicyclists without some changes. If DOT is consdering a two-way Class II on East 72nd, perhaps that creates an opportunity to expand the 72nd Street CP pathway to two-way.

  • This is generally a great forum, but sometimes suffers from a narrow perspective because most of the city’s bicycle advocates are young and male. While we owe you a great debt for being forceful advocates for alternative transportation, it would be a shame if you built a system that ignored the vast majority of bikers and pedestrians. It’s as bad as assuming that everyone owns a car..

    For example, if bicyle commuters are currently the majority, they are not the majority of potential bicyclists. That majority seek out the protected (recreational) routes.

    Another assumption frequently made on this forum is that because the majority of trips in NYC are short (less than a mile), that is where the growth in bicyle use should be expected to be found. This ignores the hassle of taking a bike out of storage or carrying it down to the street, locking and unlocking, etc. Most of us wouldn’t bother for a short trip.

    If the goal is to make New York a walking, biking city, we need to plan it for everyone.

  • nimby pimby

    With regard to the issue of smartly placed bike lanes and connectivity, I’m a little shocked that no one has mentioned that there is a bike master plan for NYC (and it’s on the city bike map) and DOT (at least so far) has been picking the lanes based on that plan. It’s a plan for a connected bike network, not just lanes here and there. With that in place, having a mileage metric is great and you can see how the network becomes more connected (not saying that should necessarily be the ONLY metric, though). Any discussion should take the master plan as a starting place. If you want to talk about where the lanes are and talk about connectivity, take a look at the master plan and make smarter criticisms of it. One could also push for a quicker creation of specific master plan routes.

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    Hilary, I don’t think it’s the youth or maleness of the cycling advocates that drives the focus on bike commuting. It’s the ultimate goal of the advocates.

    For me personally, increasing the number of cyclists is not an end in itself, only a means to an end. That end is a “walking, biking city,” meaning one where walking and biking have priority over driving. We’ve pretty much agreed that anyone who drives for recreation in New York City is nuts, so if biking and walking are to increase their share and their prominence, it has to be in the areas of commuting and what the Planyc folks call “family and personal business.”

    Cycling for recreation is more or less irrelevant to the goal of a biking and walking city, except when it can increase the market share and prominence of cycling for commuting and family and personal business. There’s also a danger when cycling gets too associated with recreation – it gets seen as a childish toy, not serious or important enough to deserve funding, streetspace or right of way. This is true for walking too, as the Prevention ranking shows.

  • Angus,
    I agree that the goal is serious cycling and walking. But it should be as accessible, safe, and pleasant as recreational cycling because that’s what attracts mass number of users. Look at the west side greenway. I have no idea who’s pedalling to work or to a pleasure destination, but there are lots of them. That’s what’s Theimportant.

    I would approach the design question from what breeds the most success. Limited access (few lights), separated, green or park-like, connected. NYC’s park and parkway network is pretty ideal. Share those corridors with bicyles, not trucks. 🙂

  • Steve

    Hilary and Angus each have good points, but this commuter/recreational paradigm ultimately is limiting. I think Hilary is right that the key for increasing ridership is a pleasant, safe ride, but too great an emphasis on Class I lanes does not do enough to support utilitarian trips. Angus is right that we need a “walking, biking city,” but that somewhat abstract-sounding goal should not override the need to provide a pleasant, safe commute.

    My experience may be atypical; through a combination of luck and sacrifice I live within 3 miles of work and our kids’ schools. Many others have longer commutes. But I think that the thousands of people who do make most of their trips within a relatively compact area are a key target population for increasing ridership.

    My day usually starts with a commute crosstown to school with my son through the park and on-road at a slow pace (~5-7 MPH). We talk and take pictures en route and enjoy the mental and physical health benefits discussed in the WSJ article about European cycling that Aaron has been posting. (We’re probably late to school more often than we should be, but there are more important things in life than being on time!). After drop-off at school, I try to get to work as quickly as possible. The Greenways aren’t convenient to my workplace so I’ll usually pick a five-lane one-way southbound avenue to make the best speed. At ~15 MPH+, there’s no point in seeking out a bike lane and the attendant errant pedestrians, double-parked cars and dooring. When this two-leg trip is made by public transportation, it’s between 55 and 75 minutes of pure misery on a bus and four trains; by cab it’s at least $22 and has never taken less than 35 minutes (even when I make the two legs of the trip on a single fare); and by bike it’s about 50 minutes (excluding stops), its free, I get exercise and time with my son.

    I would not take my son to school by bicycle without the 103rd St. Class I CP transverse and the Class II bike lanes on the CP loop and on West 77th/78th Streets. A Class II lane is reasonably safe for a properly-trained 8+ year old riding at approximately 5-7 MPH, with an adult riding protectively just behind the child’s outside flank. At that speed, the dooring hazard in the bike lane is not so great, and the adult can provide verbal guidance, spot hazards ahead in advance, and block hazards from the rear. Without the Class II lane it’s much harder to protect the child’s space, and the child doesn’t have the lane markings as a guide for where to ride.

    With more people choosing to raise kids in the City, targeting bicycling infrastructure toward school commutes is a legitimate way to increase cycling rates. Kids hate mass transit even more than adults do and will insist on bicycling once it is an option, helping to overcome adult inertia. Put the adult on the bike to school, and the rest of the trips that day (including commuting to work) are more likely to be by bike. And one hopes that kids who bicycle in the City will continue to do so when the grow up.

    It may seem counter-intuitive to focus efforts on school commutes. Most people are shocked at the thought of bicycling with kids on the street in NYC. I saw 4 other parents taking their kids to school by bike this morning–which happens to be the most I have ever seen in one morning. Apropos of Hilary’s comment, I can’t recall ever seeing a Mom taking a kid to school by bicycle on-street; it’s always Dads. This has got to be the fear factor at work.

    The best way to address this fear is to expand the network of Class II lanes on traffic-calmed streets that reach into residential neighborhoods where homes and schools are located. The point of doing this is less to establish that “biking [has] priority over driving” as Angus advocates, but to increase ridership. And getting parents to take the dramatic step of bringing their kids onto the road would probably do more both symbolically and in reality to give bicycling priority; parents will make sure that to the extent safety is an issue, they and their children get priority over the cars. A parent that takes the risk of riding with their kids on the street does much more to signal the ascendancy of bicycling than does the Class II bike lane on First Avenue, which is used by almost no one because of the heavy truck traffic and rampant double-parking.

    Folks interested in “serious” commuting on roadways like First or Second Avenues or on Houston Street don’t need a bike lane to make time; in fact it might even slow them down or put them in relatively greater danger than simply riding with traffic. Putting the Class II lanes on truck routes may yield a margin of additional safety and convenience for those already on their bikes, but I don’t see it generating that many new riders.

    The priority for the 200 of miles of Class II bike lanes (which is most of what PlaNYC has to offer bicyclists) should be getting more people onto bikes. That means putting them on already calmed streets where they will run past the doorsteps, grocery stores and schools of people who might use them, and have real impact on traffic. These Class II lanes should be accompanied by 15 MPH limits. As long as the NYS/NYC traffic laws remain unchanged, this network of Class II lanes will serve to increase ridership by overcoming the fear factor, without adversely affecting “serious” commuters who can continue to use the streets or bike lanes as they choose.

  • if the priority is “getting more people onto bikes” in any serious numbers, a painted line between parked cars and moving cars is simply not going to do it. as enrique peñalosa says, a bikeway that is not safe enough to send a child on ALONE is not worthy of the name!

    i talk to many non-cyclists about this topic (how to increase cycling), and most say that if there were a truly safe infrastructure they would enjoy riding to work, school, etc. most people are not afraid of the exercise, they just don’t want to be maimed or killed!! unprotected bike lanes do NOTHING to inspire confidence in people who are too scared to ride under current conditions.

  • Steve

    Anne, I understand what you are saying and would far prefer Class I separated lanes. (I’m the guy who was crucified on this site for daring to propose that the Central Park transverse roadways be converted to combination Class I bike paths and agoras with farmers’ and merchants’ stalls.) Having been chastised to be “realistic,” I am looking at what’s on the City’s front burner (and the issue the post addresses), the installation of 5 miles of Class I paths and 150 miles of Class II paths over the next three years. I think it is likely that if a 91th Street Class II lane is installed, at least some people who live in the far East 90s (which has a high concentration of relatively affordable rental housing) would begin using a bike to access work, school, and shopping locations located around Central Park (with or without kids in tow).

    I would dearly love to see NYC bike lanes safe enough for kids to safely ride alone. I think one way to get from here to there is to increase the number of escorted kids riding now. If the City is determined to install 150 miles of Class II’s in the next three years, I say put them on relatively calm residential streets where thee is a chance they will be used by families, not on truck routes. We should advocate for more than the measly 5 miles of Class I routes the City is offering, but if the question is where do you put the 5 miles, I say dole it out in small segments in spots like the Q’boro Bridge plaza/off ramp system in Manhattan where all the bicyclists are getting injured and killed.

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