DOT has unveiled plans for a Grand Street cycle track [PDF] that bear the fingerprints of Danish planner Jan Gehl. It would be Manhattan’s first cross-town protected bike path.
Grand Street is narrower than Ninth Avenue, where the existing protected path runs. Whereas the Ninth Avenue cycle track uses signal timing to prevent conflicts between bikes and turning vehicles, the Grand Street plan uses what DOT is calling a "mixing zone," a space shared by cyclists and drivers at the approach to an intersection (shown above).
In an unusually thorough and bike-positive story about cycle tracks (headline: "Streets are on track for safer bike lanes"), Villager reporter Gabriel Zucker explains:
The narrow-street pilot on Grand St. lacks these special lights;
instead, a 90-foot “mixing zone” where the bike lane merges with a
right-turn bay will allow cyclists and motorists to negotiate the
intersection themselves. The mixing zone, like the entire cycle track
design, was copied from Copenhagen, Denmark. According to Josh Benson,
New York City D.O.T. bicycle program coordinator, the zones have led to
a steep decrease in intersection crashes in Copenhagen.
The Grand Street cycle track would run from Varick Street to Chrystie Street, making the lack of a protected path on Chrystie, a north-south route, look like an even bigger missed opportunity. As DOT creates a network-within-a-network of safer bike lanes, what’s holding back protected paths? Community Board politics seem to be the determining factor. While the Grand Street path falls almost entirely within the boundaries of CB2, which recently approved an Eighth Avenue cycle track, Chrystie Street is the domain of CB3. Community Board votes are not binding, but they are seen as a proxy for public opinion.
CB2 voted on the Grand Street cycle track last night. A CB2 representative was not able to retrieve the results of the vote this morning.