Eyes on the Street: Cycle Track Construction Porn

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There’s a lot of protected bike infrastructure in various stages of completion right now, and I had the chance to take some pictures on the way to the office today. Above is a trench for part of the Sands Street bike path, the long-awaited Manhattan Bridge approach in Brooklyn that was originally slated to start construction in 2006. The middle of the road has been dug up from Gold Street to Navy Street. Someone on the crew said it will be a while before the project gets finished.

In Manhattan, markings are down for the Grand Street cycle track, a path that will rely on parked cars for physical separation (no digging required, see DOT’s PDF). Below is the "mixing zone" at the intersection of Wooster Street. Note the van pulling out over a curb cut into the bike lane…

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…here’s that van again, which a parking lot attendant left in the bike lane while the owner (carrying bag) came to drive it away.

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Here’s a shot of the mixing zone signs and markings, looking in the opposite direction…

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…and here’s the same view from a little further back. The space to the left of the buffer is for parking.

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The concrete has set on this pedestrian refuge at the corner of Bank Street and Hudson Street, which is where the Eighth Avenue cycle track (part of a broader re-design — PDF) will begin.

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Another refuge in the works one block north, where Hudson turns into Eighth.

  • Thanks for tracking these changes. It’s great seeing this stuff.

    Question for anyone – has DOT explained how they expect to maintain these markings? Part of their effectiveness is because they represent a new traffic pattern, but I can’t help but think their vibrancy also helps with enforcement.

    Does DOT have a plan for maintaining all these white lines and green strips? It’s very ambitious and I’m not knocking it, just curious…

  • zinka

    Wait, so the Grand Street path won’t have any bollards between the bikes and the parked cars? What’s to keep cars from parking on the bike lane?

  • I do like the effort, but paint ain’t going to cut it these days. I really wish sands street was done years ago,

  • J

    Shishi,

    While I understand your cynicism, I think you underestimate how New Yorkers drive. People repect signs and regulations in general, except when they are breaking them for a relatively short time (double parking). If the cars parked alongside the bike lane on Grand Street are there for more than a few minutes, which they most likely will be, then they’ll park where the lines tell them to.

  • Streetsman

    Hey, let em try it out. They can’t build concrete medians overnight – they need to test out the new traffic patterns in stripes and see how they work. Glad to see a narrower treatment than 9th Avenue. This is much closer to the successful designs seen all over Copenhagen.

  • I think if they build cycle tracks do it the right way. Put in a curb, otherwise people will still drive over it.

  • Big Bobs

    I’ve been biking along Grand the past few days, and I’ve yet to see anyone use the dedicated parking lane. Everyone pulls all the way to the curb, blocking the bike lane.

    Here’s a photo just west of 6th Ave:
    http://www.graffitibiz.com/grand.jpg

    If the police can’t even get it right, I’ll be surprised if anyone else does. Hopefully things change once everyone gets used to the new set-up.

  • Big Bobs
  • Johnny Walker

    I was in Chinatown and SoHo this weekend. There were more cars unloading or idling than bikes using the Grand St. lane.

    Actually, the pedestrians were utilizing it, like they use the Prince Street bike lane.

  • Geck

    I walked by the Grand Street lane on Friday and I only saw one UPS van blocking the bike lane, while NO ONE was parked in the parking section for blocks. Clearly the motor vehicles don’t yet understanding the new arrangement. Maybe it is just a matter of time but it is odd for all those parking spaces to go unused in Manhattan. I guess DOT needs to put in some kind of special signs.

  • chris

    Not only is nobody using the parking spaces (I checked it out 3 or 4 times over the weekend), but they are using teh parking spaces as a second car lane. A disaster, they need to put in a curb, wide enough to ensure no dooring occurs, between the bike lane and the parking lane like every other place with this arrangement.

  • Dudes (and/or dudettes) – you’ve gotta chill.

    The bike lane installation isn’t even complete yet and you’re knocking it? You sound like the Little Italy Merchants Association!

    There is no signage indicating a bike lane, no signs to indicate the parking regulations that will create the “floating” parking lane, not even any little bike symbols on the green paint. All the white lines aren’t on the ground even.

    All it is right now is a confusing jumble of paint unlike anything else in NYC – or the US for that matter. Hopefully DOT will get the project completed soon – and if you’d like to be of some assistance there, why don’t you call the local elected official that has been blocking this and similar improvements in street and pedestrian safety in this area and tell him that you support DOT’s newfound direction towards improving public spaces and reprioritizing the city’s streets?

    Is it going to work perfectly? I’ll wait until it exists before I render a verdict.

  • Johnny Walker

    ^ Sure the Grand Street bike lane will eventually work.

    Just like the Prince Street bike lane works so well. Right!

  • Just like the Prince Street bike lane works so well. Right!

    FUnny you mention that – after voting on Sullivan St. at 9:30, I walked my wife up Prince St. to the subway at Broadway. There was a constant stream of cyclists – they outnumbered the cars on Prince St. during our walk. By West Broadway, there was a group of about a dozen bikes passing by – people riding to work, some maybe shopping or voting or delivering something – going about their business. Many might have chosen to ride along the much more dangerous Houston St. were the Prince St. lane not there, and maybe we’d be looking at a greater number of injuries and fatalities on Houston St.

    That’s what I call a success. What about you, Johnny?

  • Johnny Walker

    ^ writes: “That’s what I call a success. What about you, Johnny?”

    Me? What do I call it?
    A wise man said it best:
    There’s no success like failure, and failure’s no success at all.

    Perhaps there is an odd time like 9:30 in the a.m. on a weekday when cyclists on their way to work outnumber cars. Perhaps. Perhaps that is your idea.
    But for most of us NYErs, we perceive a different reality in Soho: cars overwhelm the bikes whenever Johnny walks on Prince.

    When Johnny walks on Prince Street on the weekends and late afternoon/early evening, Johnny sees dozens of street vendors standing or sitting there obstructing the bike lane – as well as tourists strolling in it.
    Not to mention the cars parked there while loading at Apple or other of the many stores, or hubby parked in the bike lane, idling the car while the wife shops. Or taxis discharging passengers.

    This Saturday after a meal in Chinatown, Johnny saw a delivery guy pushing a grocery cart up the middle of the Prince Street bike lane, commandeering it.

    Johnny saw the cyclists ride in the center of the Prince Street along with the cars, not in the bike lane.

    Another wise man once sang:
    Between the idea and the reality…falls the shadow.

    Very true.

  • Whatever happens on the weekend (or is recounted in irrelevant folksy quotations) doesn’t make the Prince Street lane any less effective when I take it every morning to work. I am surprised to see pedestrian and vedor misuse of a bicycle lane at times of leisure advanced as a reason not to have it at all, but I would rather face non-lethal obstacles than automobiles on any day of the week. And yet none of these are a serious a problem for me and everyone else riding a bicycle on weekday mornings: the Prince Street lane “works” to get us to work. Grand Street’s lane needed greater protection from autos, and it’s getting it.

    What isn’t working anymore is blanket cynism and opposition to all change.

  • Johnny Walker

    Doc,
    Anyone who considers T.S. Elliot ‘folksy’ has forsaken credibility.

  • If you’ve got an argument to make, go for it. Otherwise you can reread The Screwtape Letters in private.

  • Johnny Walker

    With guys like you, Luke 23:34 is more appropriate to reflect upon.

  • Lame.

  • Johnny Walker

    Fine.

    Just be careful on Prince Street on your way to work tomorrow, little fella. Don’t get hurt.
    I need you to toy with some other day.

  • Don’t worry about me, Screwtape. I’ll be around, but I can’t promise to waste any more words on a vaguely salacious Bartlett’s fiend that can’t mount an argument.

    (Congratulations to President Obama, everybody else!)

  • Davis

    I’m finding Prince Street to be a really nice crosstown bike route. I use it regularly and I see lots of other cyclists using it as well.

    Still, I’d like to see Prince Street made into a mostly car-free corridor, particularly on weekends. There is very little reason to continue to allow private automobiles on that street.

  • Johnny Walker

    Doc, If you mount a bike like you mount an argument, you better wear a steel jock.

  • Grinner

    I have two Prince Street complaints: that left from the Bowry can be rough, and the timing of the lights always makes me stop at Mercer or Greene. Otherwise, the only problems i’ve had have been the yellow cabs that make the sudden dash into the bike lane to discharge passengers. And that only happens in front of me once a week or so. I’ve had no issues with push-carts or pedestrians spilling off the sidewalk into the bike lane, not even when the iPhone 3G turned the Apple Store into a campground. But, like Messrs. Dutton and Barnett, i am not riding it during prime tourist hours.

    I rode Grand on the way home last night. It was a mixed experience. On the one hand, the parking-as-bikeway-buffer seems to be working, east of 6th. On the other hand, the stripped buffer + green bike lane seems to be just wide enough for Lexus SUVs to drive on for unloading boxes. I suspect that’ll work itself out before long, though, as usage of the bikeway increases. Mr. Walker’s prediction of pedestrians on the green was also born out, though not in the masses seen on Broadway. And, unlike many points on my route, they actually stepped out of my way once they realized i was there. And, shoot, that’s all i really ask when i’m riding through town (i’m a little more demanding on places like the West Side Greenway, but then i am also more demanding when i’m a pedestrian and cars are driving on the sidewalk): just treat me with the same courtesy you expect.

  • Johnny Walker

    Grinner, Thanks for your cogent and frank appraisal: “But, like Messrs. Dutton and Barnett, i am not riding it during prime tourist hours.”

    It is these hours that I happen to witness – and these conditions comprise a good portion of the day on Prince Street – that led to my assertion that the Prince Street bike lane is far from a success.

    I suppose I am now open to more excoriation from the amen corner when I cite another ‘folksy’ ditty: “people hear what they want to hear and disregard the rest”.

  • Grinner

    Mr. Walker:

    I think i’m pretty firmly in the amen pew: having ridden Prince pre-bike lane and post-bike lane, i feel that the bike lane does work well. Does it work perfectly? Certainly not. But, it works for me when i ride in the mornings, unlike 3rd (northbound), 4th, and 5th in Brooklyn, or the Bowery, and Rivington in Manhattan.

    During tourist hours, the entire environment is significantly more crowded (funny how sidewalks designed for a population of 1 million get crowded when 7 million people are trying to use them), so i am far less concerned with Speed Cabby trying to hit 50 mph before 6th Ave. I am, consequently, less concerned with moving out of the bike lane to avoid “hazards.” Plus, a bright green bike lane allows me to indulge in righteous indignation during these times.

  • Johnny Walker

    Fair enough.

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