Drivers Respect Grand Street Parking-Protected Cycle Track

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Though modest by comparison, here’s another first for this historic day. Manhattan Community Board 2’s Ian Dutton sent over photos of the new Grand Street cycle track, the city’s initial attempt at a parking-protected design.

Says Ian:

With a one-block exception, from Varick St. to Centre St. seems to be
open for business, only lacking the bicycle symbols on the lane itself.
The section through Little Italy and Chinatown is nearly complete, with
a few minor surface details remaining.

My experience on two circuits today was that it worked beautifully.
Cars were parked as expected and the "mixing zones" accommodating
turning vehicles across the bike lane were handled unusually
respectfully from drivers, who were probably not sure how to treat
them. Not bad for the first (or maybe second) day.

There were a few pedestrians who stepped off the curb to cross the
street and waited in the bike lane, but that is no different than any
other bike lane. I’m very hopeful that we’re off to a good start.

Photo pool contributor Jacob-uptown had similar things to say after cruising the new Grand: "Cars have learned where to park … This is a huge precedent for creating these cheap yet highly
effective bike lanes."

More pics after the jump. Note the overhead signage.

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  • How will they sweep or plow the street with these signs glued down? Ditto for the Botts Dots on 34th.

  • Mike

    That’s great! It looks like signage is making all the difference.

    Is it really 21-hour-a-day free parking, though? No Muni Meters?

  • J

    Greg, I think, with the 5 foot bike lane and the 3 foot buffer, that a street sweeper can actually fit in the lane without moving the signs. Otherwise, my guess is that they remove the signs at 3am, sweep the street, and put them back.

    Mike, there are definitely some sections with hotel loading zones. I’m pretty sure the north side of the street has extensive loading zones to allow trucks to make deliveries to local businesses.

  • Geck

    More please.

  • My experience is the same as Ian’s; the new lane has already made the eastward traversal much easier (luxurious, even). I hope the same treatment is in store for Lafayette, which currently does have about that much space committed to its lane but doesn’t effectively protect it from stopped cars and trucks (and, most dangerously, cars using it for a passing lane).

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Greg, I think, with the 5 foot bike lane and the 3 foot buffer, that a street sweeper can actually fit in the lane without moving the signs.”

    No alternate side of the street? Now THERE is a way to get drivers (or at least parkers) on the side of cycle tracks! And as long as the spaces are occupied 24/7, there is no need for a concrete barrier, as a steel one replaces it.

  • Woohoo!

  • Can’t wait to try it!

  • Larry Littlefield

    They should do this on Prince and elsewhere.

    Drivers double park in the bike lane without even thinking about it, but won’t block a moving lane. So if there is only one moving lane, there is no double parking, and the bike lane stays clear.

  • Streetsman

    Man, if they could do this on the long and busy Dean/Bergen east-west pairs in Brooklyn, that would be a magnificent.

  • Car Free Nation

    It seems to work pretty well, although I saw a minor accident yesterday where a car turning right appeared to have hit a cyclist. From what I saw, the cyclist wasn’t hurt (I imagine the car was moving slowly, since it seems that the new configuration has really slowed the cars), but the mixing lane is not a panacea.

    I think that one of the reasons this works is that Grand is fairly wide for a one lane street. I know DOT was talking about switching 5th and 6th avenue in Brooklyn to 1-way. That might actually make sense if they did something like they did on Grand. Currently 5th ave only has sharies at the North end, which is not ideal. It’s really not fun to ride with my nine-year-old in such situations.

  • Grinner

    Shoot, Car Free Nation, i don’t think it is really fun to ride any stretch of 5th Avenue in Brooklyn. I’m really dreading the next several months, because i’m too much of a coward to ride 4th Avenue in the dark (before 11 PM), so my ride is going to be on the 5th Avenue standing/unloading/drop-off lane from 9th to 24th, and then through the parking lot that is 5th in Sunset Park.

  • Jcat123

    I agree with Larry, posting #8, they should do something about the Prince Street bike lane.
    It has become the weekend pedestrian tourist-walk-lane as well as double park-unload-your-truck-lane.

    It creates so much trouble and I’ve come close to getting hit by cars while trying to avoid the congestion.

    Why can’t we all (cars, pedestrians, bicyclists) just get along???

  • This is incredible news. It would also be a perfect treatment for 5th ave. along Central Park, and CPW too. I love these initiatives going on downtown, just wish I had a safe, efficient way to get there without dodging speeding traffic in Columbus Circle, etc.

  • Now THAT’S a Bicycle Lane! It even complies with the law in allowing and keeping cyclists 3-4 feet from car doors, unlike the older dysfunctional car door/double parking lanes.

    I can’t wait for these to come to my neighborhood!

  • SoHo Resident

    I absolutely HATE this thing.

    Having said that I will say that I do endorse bike lanes and bicycle friendly initiatives. THe bike lane on Lafayette is great though often unenforced.

    But this Grand Street bike lane is a traffic choke if GIGANTIC proportions as well as being dangerous. I predict some accidents with vehicles crashing into the parked cars just east of Broadway.

    Also (and please mark my words) some Cyclist is going get “T-Boned” when turning left (north) from this bike lane onto the narrow streets of SoHo. It almost happened to me the other day.

    My opinion is that protected bike lanes are for the fearful unskilled cyclists. I say ride in traffic like real New Yorkers!

  • Ian Turner

    Resident,

    You’re probably correct that protected bike lanes are for “fearful, unskilled cyclists”, if by that you mean new cyclists. But that’s precisely the point: Without protected bike lanes and other infrastructure like this, you won’t get more people getting into cycling, which mean you won’t get safety in numbers. How is New York supposed to increase the number of cyclist commuters without making it appealing for new cyclists?

  • To Soho Resident…I ride in traffic daily, anywhere and everywhere. It is still an absolute delight when I get to the cycle track on 9th ave. and can relax. Regardless of our relative skill levels, handicaps, or age, cyclists deserve a devoted infrastructure.

  • If someone’s going to crash a car on Grand east of Broadway, better it’s into parked cars than people.

    The great thing about this arrangement is that is uses the same amount of space as a buffered lane, while offering substantially more protection. If it feels like it’s constraining traffic more, it’s because automobile traffic is physically unable to violate the buffer and bicycle lane. If enforcement practice ever matched enforcement talk, buffered lanes would block traffic just as much as parked cars do (except for truly accidental incursions, which would still be entirely possible and lethal).

    And I would talk to the moose huntress in manolos about how well branding regressive attitudes as the “real” native ones has worked out for her.

  • But this Grand Street bike lane is a traffic choke [of] GIGANTIC proportions as well as being dangerous.

    Funny, I just read a paper that argues that the DOT could substantially reduce congestion on surrounding streets by removing all through car traffic from Grand Street west of Lafayette. But thanks for playing, traffic expert!

  • Ian Turner

    Interesting paper. Maybe NYCDOT should hire Youn, Jeong, and (or) Gastner to study this effect on New York City’s actual and multiplicitus traffic demand.

  • Very nice! I am a Boston urban cyclist and although I am comfortable riding anywhere, I would prefer this design because it increases community feelings between bicyclists (slow bicycle movement) and it does get new cyclists out there!

    One suggestion for simple change – turn the sewer grates perpendicular. My skinny tires got caught in a Boston grate and it scared the shit out of me. Now I’ll do anything to avoid them.

  • Ian Turner

    The best bicycle-friendly sewer grates, in my opinion, have relatively wide trapezoidal openings.

  • Kyle

    Rather than striping the lined area where there is a ‘void’ (between the bike lane and the parking lane) why not move the bike lane closer toe the parking and extend the sidewalk. The sidewalk along this street is rather busy and pedestrians, cyclists, and all would benefit from not having any wasted space on the street.

  • J

    Kyle,

    The buffer is to protect you from being doored. I agree that pedestrians need more space as well, but I think that would require removing parking from an entire side of the street. With the amazing fuss about reversing the bike lanes with parking lane, I imagine removing parking would be quite difficult.

  • TrinitySquared

    This experiment is a**-backwards. The residents’ that LIVE on this bike route are exasperated by it. We have long suffered from cross town traffic between the lower Manhattan bridges and the Holland Tunnel. Our nerves are raw from the constant horn blowing and the difficulty of movement of emergency vehicles along Grand Street. Pedestrians far out number cyclists and always will, but no accommodation has been made for them in this plan.

    Grand Street is also a favored film location, and that has not abated since the bike lane has been installed.

    The facts are you “bikies” don’t observe any rules of the roads. At least cars stop at lights and for pedestrians. They also don’t ride on sidewalks. Bikes are a hazard to pedestrians in New York, ask anyone who’s ever walked on a street.

  • At least cars stop at lights and for pedestrians. They also don’t ride on sidewalks.

    What planet do you live on?

  • Rob

    overall, cars have been respecting the new lanes; although last week i have seen one car standing on the curb in the bike lane. a bicyclist approached, had to stop, get off on foot, and squeeze by the car before continuing on. i didn’t see no traffic cop around otherwise i would have told him to ticket the car.

  • SecondAveBiker

    what happened to the paths east of broadway? they’ve been gone since 2011!

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