New York’s Next Generation of Vehicular Cyclists

This video critique of the new bike lane on First Avenue has been making the rounds, and it must give some comfort to John Forester and the vehicular cycling school. Vehicular cyclists reject all forms of bicycle-specific infrastructure and believe all cycling should be done in traffic. In this vid they can see a young cyclist claim that a bike lane protected from traffic has made the street “slower and more dangerous” than it was before.

The age range of the complainers here seems a little limited — I’m not sure anyone is younger than 18 or older than 30. New Yorkers whose knees might be a little creaky, or who are worried about getting sideswiped by a speeding cabbie, probably don’t mind dodging wayward pedestrians so much. I know I don’t.

Felix Salmon had a more enthusiastic take on the vid than I do, but I like his conclusion:

It’s going to be very interesting to see how fast cyclists cope with an influx of slower cyclists in Manhattan, as bike lanes continue to get built and average bike speeds continue to decline. I love to zoom down avenues at high speed, but I also love being safe. Maybe that means I’m just going to have to start going a little slower.

Salmon calls the slower cyclists drawn to the new lanes “hobbyists.” That seems like the wrong word. Maybe newer cyclists aren’t making 10-mile commutes, but there are plenty of other kinds of utilitarian trips besides getting to work. The most useful way to think about what the new lanes are accomplishing comes from (sorry for the anticlimax, folks) Portland:

strong_and_fearless

This graphic was developed by the Portland Bureau of Transportation, and it’s helped to guide their highly successful strategy for building bicycle mode-share (read how they came up with the categories in this PDF).

Back to the video… Narrator Rachel Brown starts off describing how it took her four years to start cycling regularly in New York, and how painted bike lanes helped her feel comfortable at first. I suppose that puts her in the “enthused and confident” category. Fast cyclists should have the option to ride in traffic instead of the new bike lanes, by all means. But if New York is going to make bicycling for transportation available to everyone who wants to do it, we need protected lanes like the ones on First and Second Avenue to get all those “interested but concerned” potential riders over the hump.

  • BicyclesOnly

    To clarify my last comment, while there is a greater likelihood of pedestrians and opening car doors in a bike lane as compared to the middle of a traffic lane, unless you’re exceeding the speed supported by the bike lane, those intrusions aren’t going to seriously injury you.

  • Serge Issakov

    “To clarify my last comment, while there is a greater likelihood of pedestrians and opening car doors in a bike lane as compared to the middle of a traffic lane, unless you’re exceeding the speed supported by the bike lane, those intrusions aren’t going to seriously injury you.”

    What is the speed range supported by bike lanes?

    What is the data that supports “those intrusions aren’t going to seriously injury you.”

    Does death count as serious injury? Relatively slow moving bicyclists in bike lanes are sometimes killed when a door causes them to fall into the path of an overtaking vehicle.

  • J. Mork

    BicyclesOnly:

    I don’t know which is safer.

    That study (http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/downloads/pdf/episrv/episrv-bike-report.pdf) only has this to say (as far as I can see):

    “Only one fatal crash with a motor vehicle occurred in a marked bicycle lane. This fatality occurred in Prospect Park,as a result of a motor vehicle colliding with a bicyclist.”

    And says later “the vast majority of deaths occurred outside of bicycle lanes and other bicycle facilities.”

    But this is meaningless, because it doesn’t say if the vast majority of bike riding was also done outside of bike lanes, which is what would guess (especially because the study years were 1996-2005).

    It’s even possible *based on this statement* that (these are made-up numbers) 2% of the riding was done in bike lanes, but 5% of the deaths occurred in them, which would mean that bike lanes are more dangerous than not-bike-lanes.

  • Joe R.

    “At 7 MPH, you’re very unlikely to be seriously injured by an opening car door–you have time to see the car occupant, time to see them begin opening the door, time to brake.”

    At 7 mph you’re very unlikely to be hurt at all, period, whether you can avoid the crash or not. In fact, any cyclist who learns to fall properly is unlikely to be seriously hurt in crashes from speeds of about 40 mph or less ( I crashed once from 37 mph with only road rash ). Cycling just isn’t the dangerous activity it’s often made out to be if you know what you’re doing. The problem is nearly no cyclists know how to deal with a fall when they finally realize it’s inevitable. Most will fight the fall. The end result is they get more seriously injured than they otherwise would. Even worse, if you fall improperly, you may stray left or right instead of continuing forwards, with the possible unhappy result of going under the wheels of a motor vehicle.

    As for speed ranges supported by bike lanes, it depends upon the traffic conditions and skill level of the rider. It is quite possible to safely go much faster than 7 mph in “door zone” bike lanes if you look for opening doors and ride towards the left side of the lane. On the left of the lane you’re incidentally also far more visible to cross traffic, making it much safer.

    In my opinion we shouldn’t focus on absolute numbers for speed here lest we give someone the idea that if they only go 7 mph or 10 mph then they will be unconditionally safe. It’s MUCH more important to get people used to looking out for obstacles they’ll encounter in the real world, and developing strategies to avoid them. I’m of the opinion people should aim to ride faster, not slower. You’re generally much more alert at higher speeds. Besides that, in the interests of transportation efficiency, higher speeds increase your commuting range. I’m seeing too many people looking at our cycling infrastructure only from a Manhattan perspective. 7 mph or 10 mph might be OK if you’re only going a mile or two. Try to do 10 or 15 miles like that and you’ll see how impractical it is. In fact, I’m of the opinion if you’re going to ride 7 mph you might as well just walk and save the bother of worrying about parking the bike. When you count the time at stop lights, you’ll likely make just as good time walking fast.

  • Joe R.

    J. Mork, thanks for finding that report. I browsed through it and can already say that they drew a few erroneous conclusions. You already picked up on the one regarding the recommendation to stay on designated bike lanes. The data there is at best inconclusive because they have no data on what percentage of riding was done on bike lanes. Second, the majority of fatal crashes involved collision with a motor vehicle at an intersection. A bike lane, as opposed to a bike path, doesn’t avoid crossings with motor vehicles. At best a bicycle lane might offer more protection from mid-block hazards. Note however that a relatively small number of crashed occur mid-block.

    Another huge erroneous conclusion was made regarding helmet efficacy. 92% of fatal collisions involved a motor vehicle. They also mention 97% of the time a cyclist who died wasn’t wearing a helmet. This is correlation, not causation. They have no way of knowing how many in that 97% might have been saved by a helmet. Generally, motor vehicles are traveling at speeds far above the 10 mph or so where a helmet might prevent serious injury. Also, perhaps non-helmet wearing cyclists in general ride more recklessly, and so end up in more fatal collisions. Here again, you really can’t draw any meaningful conclusions one way or the other from the data. More rigorous studies I’ve read tend to show very limited or no benefit from helmet use except for young children. This site is really the best place I’ve come across for unbiased information on helmet efficacy: http://www.cyclehelmets.org/index.html

    I tend to think a lot of our safety problems regarding cycling in this country is caused precisely by an overreliance on both infrastructure and equipment. The sole answers to bicycle safety are often just “ride in bike lanes and wear a helmet”. Instead, we should focus on defensive cycling techniques, proper bike handling ( just knowing what to do in a situation is meaningless if you lack the skills to execute it ), and also how to fall properly. This is where people like Serge and other vehicular cyclists have it right.

  • Serge Issakov

    The idea that you can ride slowly enough in a door zone to be safe is deadly.

    With headrests, tinted rear windows, vans/trucks without rear windows, etc., you’re fooling yourself if you think you can predict open doorings well.

    Even at 7 mph you’re moving 10 feet a second. If your reaction time is around average (2/3-3/4 of a second), you’re traveling 6-8 feet before you even put the brakes on. If someone suddenly opens the door just as you’re passing the rear bumper, or later but not clear of the door, you’re going down almost certainly.

    Even if you’re an expert at falling, the falling is not so much the problem as is getting run over by that overtaking vehicle that you fall in front of. Doorings tend to cause cyclists to fall away from the parked car, into the traffic lane.

    http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2010/03/17/2010-03-17_bronx_bicyclist_who_swerved_to_miss_car_door_is_hit_killed_by_city_bus.html

    http://gothamist.com/2010/09/12/biking_woman_doored_by_car_killed_b.php

  • Joe R.

    “The idea that you can ride slowly enough in a door zone to be safe is deadly.”

    You’re absolutely right about this. This is why I advocate riding on the left of door zone bike lanes, or even in the traffic lane if that’s what it takes to get outside the door zone. Door zone riding is an accident waiting to happen, no matter what the speed. I was doored twice in my 32 years of cycling, both times not long after I started riding regularly. That’s all it took to make me keep out of the door zone.

  • Serge Issakov

    Since some car doors go out to almost 4 feet, and many bike lanes are only 4 feet wide, even riding at the left edge of the bike lane is often not outside of the door zone. As the two links to the news articles I posted in my previous post indicate, often just swerving to avoid the outside edge of the door can be deadly. If only the very outside edge of the door barely clips your bars, that could be enough to send you falling in front of traffic, or enough to cause you to swerve in front of traffic. The door zone is arguably wider than the widest doors can open, due to the flinch factor. Even if you’re just far enough out to not be physically affected, a sudden opening door could be startling and might cause you to flinch and swerve. I like to be at least 5 feet from parked doors so that there is no question that I’m clear. That means riding completely outside of any door zone bike lane.

    The whole topic about actual width of door zones (and how easy they are to underestimate) is explained well in the video discussed and linked here:

    http://commuteorlando.com/wordpress/2009/08/13/door-zone-video/

  • BicyclesOnly

    I’ve never met a NYC cyclist who doesn’t customarily ride in the door zone when MV traffic is heavy and congested. By riding in the door zone, you overtake the cars and leave the congestion behind. The alternative is to pretend to be an MV and ride slowly between two MV’s traffic that can quickly turn into stop-and-go. Does someone think that’s safer than riding in the door zone?

    We’ve all had our unique experiences riding in NYC–mine, since 1978, and with small kids since 2004–and I accept that reasonable minds can disagreeo n the possibilities of riding safely in the door zone. I’ve been doored three times during that period, and my son once, and none of the injuries were serious. Far more often–at least 30 or 40 times–my kids and I have avoided being doored by anticipating movements, bell-ringing, and braking as necessary.

    When riding at 10+ MPH, I never ride in the door zone, whether there is a bike lane or not. But I remain convinced based on my experiences and observations that a typical NYC Class II door zone bike lane is the more visible, safer place to be at 7-10 MPH, compared to the center (or even worse, the edge) of a general traffic lane. I’m not aware of any research on point, but I’d be interested in hearing from someone who actually makes a practice of riding at 7-10 MPH in the center of traffic lanes–especially, with kids.

  • Serge Issakov

    “The alternative is to pretend to be an MV and ride slowly between two MV’s traffic that can quickly turn into stop-and-go. Does someone think that’s safer than riding in the door zone?”

    I do. It’s called splitting lanes.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lane_splitting

    This is standard behavior for motorcyclists as well as bicyclists.

    Here’s a video demonstration, of course.

  • If one were to extend the analogy that Bike lanes are more dangerous, one can also claim that striped pedestrian crossings ,traffic signals are also more dangerous as they give a ‘false’ sense of security.A bike lane is not a ‘physically’ separated part of the street but merely designated by a painted line. If the driver of a motorized vehicle has a malfunction of the car, looses control or is too ‘edgy’ about the fast pedaling bicyclists the driving lane can be dangerous for the cars as well! I have invariably experienced a sense of anxiety while driving and passing (in fact on sighting a cyclist in the bike lane) in a small city like Santa Barbara (CA)mainly because of the unconcerned abandon and speed at which the bikers merrily pedal along unconcerned of the anxity that their behavior causes to the car drivers.This is not to belittle the need and importance of the Bike lane but just to remind the young bicyclist in the video that there are two sides to a coin.

  • Serge,

    You seem to be suggesting that lane-splitting is the safe alternative to riding in a dooring zone bike lane. That’s silly. The traffic lanes on First and Second Avenue (and many other Manhatan Avenues) are 10-11 feet wide, significantly narrower than the lanes shown in the California video you linked.

    Splitting lanes in NYC is a dangerous maneuver, even for experienced urban cyclists. Sure, the risk of dooring is low (though not nonexistent) when riding between two columns of motor vehicles. But the risk of getting squeezed between, and knocked under, a moving vehicle is much, much higher. Even the most temporary and minor distractions will lead motorists to wander up to or over the edge of their traffic lane, squeezing a cyclist who might be riding there. And motorists are not expecting to find cyclists splitting lanes with them, and may not be able to see lane-splitting cyclists from their side view mirrors. If you need a visual of what can happen, here’s one.

    You also seem to be getting hung up on terminology. Riding in or next to the dooring zone is splitting lanes too, it’s just that you’re splitting the parking lane and a moving traffic lane, as opposed to two moving traffic lanes. In New York, parking lanes may be wider than the moving traffic lanes, making them the best ones for cyclists to split.

    Try riding in the outer portion of the right hand parking lane of 5th Avenue between 110th and 86th Street. Because the parking lane is 14 feet wide, there is about 5-6 feet (including the dooring zone) available for cyclists. Your 5-foot rule would lead you to either (1) ride in the middle of a traffic lane or (2) in between two lanes of moving traffic (the traffic lanes on Fifth are about 11 feet wide). In traffic moving fluidly at 15 or more miles per hour, I would agree that it’s safer to take the traffic lane and move at the same approximate speed as traffic. But if I’m with my kids, or ghost riding one of their bikes, or carrying heavy or unwieldy cargo, it’s much safer for me to use the outer edge of the parking lane, keep my speed at or under 7 MPH, and keep an eye out for car doors. And without question, it’s less stressful.

    One of the main reasons this is true is that motorists expect slower cyclists to be at the margins of the roadway, because the law requires cyclists to proceed as close as is safe and practicable to the left or right hand side of one-way roadways wider than 40 feet. All things being equal, it’s always better for cyclists to ride where motorists either (1) can see them–in the middle of a traffic lane–or (2) where a thoughtful motorist would expect to find them–towards the curb.

    And when there is a bike lane in the dooring zone, it is that much safer, because of the added visibility and anticipation on the part of motorists that cyclists will be present (in addition to the safety in numbers effect you correctly pointed out). I know that only a minority of motorists are aware of bike lanes, but it is a substantial minority and it is growing. This is probably one of the reasons why in the seminal ten-year study of cycling fatalities and serious injuries in New York City, only one out of 225 cyclists fatalities was found to have occured while the cyclists was riding in a bike lane, and only six other bike-MV crashes occured near a bicycle lane (see page 14 of report).

    Clearly, cyclists have greater visibility to motorists in a bike lane than riding between two lanes of moving traffic. At a pace of 7 MPH, the risk of serious injury or death due to dooring cannot be higher than the risk of proceeding at that pace in between two columns of moving traffic. The data in the 10-year survey is consistent with this conclusion: out of 225 cyclist fatalities over ten years, only seven were caused by dooring (see page 14 of report). That’s less than 3% of all fatalities, despite the fact that so many cyclists ride in the dooring zone (including, unfortunately, riders moving at higher speeds).

    Of course the hazards of dooring and other obstacles are serious, including in bike lanes. But there’s too much needless fearmongering out there by people who fail to distinguish between faster and slower riding, as well as by those who eschew hand brakes. Sweeping statements about bike lanes and bike paths being less safe than no infrastructure at all ignore differences between cyclists as well as the data showing where cycling fatalities actually occur.

  • Serge Issakov

    “Even the most temporary and minor distractions will lead motorists to wander up to or over the edge of their traffic lane, squeezing a cyclist who might be riding there. ”

    Motorists that are stopped don’t move at all, by definition. If they do start moving, it’s from 0 mph, so easy to predict, especially if you’re aware of how their front wheels are angled.

    With respect to semantics, lane splitting usually does not include parking “lanes” as being one of the split lanes, though that’s still considered “filtering forward”.

    When “filtering forward” in stopped traffic I prefer:

    1) When no cars parked at curb: using space on the right if available, bike lane or not.

    2) If parked cars: Splitting traffic lanes (to avoid door zone)
    3) Stop with traffic(rather than ride in door zone).

    “But there’s too much needless fearmongering out there by people who fail to distinguish between faster and slower riding, …”

    I have provided links to actual fatal doorings that occurred when cyclists were riding slowly. It’s not the impact with the door that is the fatal threat (for that speed matters); it’s the divergence by the opening door (whether due to avoidance/swerving or hit in the bars) into/under overtaking traffic that matters, and that is speed independent.

  • NattyB

    1st Ave Bike Lane SUCKS!

    1. It’s like being in a cross-fire

    2. You have dumbass peds stepping into the lane without looking from both directions

    3. You have left turning cars who then stop in the bike lane to let peds cross the street, so you have to jump back into the MV lane.

    4. Tons of Salmon

    5. It’s like a cruel joke man. Why couldn’t they replicate what they did on 8th/9th ave! Instead we have this half-ass bike lane that nobody likes.

    6. The scowflaw cyclists. Yah, I said it. I run reds like everyone else, duh, but, I do so respectfully by braking and looking both ways, and not buzzing peds. But man, I almost hate other cyclists as much as the Blackberry readings peds who STEP FIRST THEN LOOK. But those scowflaw cyclists, the ones who give the rest of us a bad name, oh man, they’re the worst. And they love to dance around the 1st ave bike lane too.

  • BicyclesOnly

    Natty B.

    I think the First Ave bike path is great.

    You’re right that the left-turning cars don’t yield to bikes, but have you tried simply passing them on the right, along the small striped buffer that separates the mixing zone/turning lane from the left-most thru traffic lane? Works like a charm for me.

    What times of day/day of the week are you finding the heavy salmoning and pedestrian invasions?

  • Serge, I finally had a chnace to take a look at the links that you claim describe dooring incidents where the cyclists were “riding slowly.” There’s nothing in the articles at those links, nor in any of the other coverage of those two tragic fatal incidents that I’ve seen, that suggests one way or the other how fast the cyclist was going. Tell me if I’m overlooking something.

    I’m not saying dooring isn’t a serious hazard that people should try to avoid. The best way to avoid it is to ride on a bike path or lane that is outside of a door zone. People who are comfortable riding with MV traffic, by all means take the lane–it eliminates the danger of dooring or sideswiping.

    But what to do if you’re riding at 7 MPH or so and all you’ve got is a dooring zone bike lane? Few people feel comfortable taking a lane on a Manhattan Avenue at that speed, for obvious reasons, unless riding as part of a group. In that situation, IMO it is safer to ride in the lane, riding slowly and looking for car occupants and opening doors, than to try to hold the lane.

    Your entitled to your own opinion, Serge, but not your own facts.

  • Serge Issakov

    “I finally had a chnace to take a look at the links that you claim describe dooring incidents where the cyclists were “riding slowly.” ”

    Sorry, I should have said I provided links about fatal dooring incidents in which it probably would not have mattered how fast the cyclists were going, because the opening door caused the cyclist to swerve and fall to the left, into the path of an overtaking vehicle. My point is that that can happen regardless of how slow you are going, and can conceivably even happen if you’re stopped alongside a parked car at just the right point to be toppled if the door is suddenly opened. That area exists, and no matter how slow or fast you’re going, you have no choice but to pass through it when you’re riding in a door zone bike lane. If you do that habitually it’s probably only a matter of time before you’re doored, hopefully not fatally.

  • Scottilla

    Sorry, the bike lane on Ocean Parkway has been a bike lane since 1898. That’s 112 years, and it’s still full of pedestrians. Just how long is this adjustment period supposed to be?

  • #117 Scotilla, “Sorry, the bike lane on Ocean Parkway has been a bike lane since 1898. That’s 112 years, and it’s still full of pedestrians. Just how long is this adjustment period supposed to be?

    Cool! Then it’s safe to cycle with pedestrians and the law restricting cyclists on sidewalks is bogus!

  • Steven F

    Scottilla and Gecko: sorry, you are both wrong. The Ocean Parkway Bike Path was opened in 1895, not 1898. It was a dedicated – exclusive bicycle path, separate from the carriage road in the center drive, from the pedestrian sidewalks installed along both outsides where the housefront sidewalks now are, and separate from the two way service road that is now the southbound service road, and from the equestrian path that is now the northbound service road.

    There was a 10,000 cyclist parade down Ocean Parkway June 1895, sponsored by the League of American Wheelmen and lead by the City of Brooklyn’s bicycle police. Some of the earliest electric street lighting was hung along the path for night cycling.

    The path was so successful that the northbound mall was converted into a one way northbound path in 1896, making the original path one way southbound.

    What we now see as the current single west side bike path, split with a pipe rail fence for pedestrians probably dates from the reign of Parks Commissioner Robert Moses and his WPA rebuilds in the 1930’s. It was certainly that way in the 1950’s when I first rode on it. The major change was the 1970’s-90’s restoration of the path at the Shore Parkway after Moses cut 3 blocks out of it to “improve” car movements in the Ocean/Belt Parkway cloverleaf in 1939-41.

    The Report of the Parks Commissioner of the City of Brooklyn for 1895 is a good source for the history of the bike path. The weekly LAW journal also covers the opening.

  • #119 Steven F, Not clear how I am wrong if cyclists and pedestrians have been coexisting on major walkways and bike paths for years without serious issues.

  • Steven F

    GecKo:
    The DATE! The Date is wrong! 1895 not 1898!
    ’98 was when the City of Brooklyn was stolen by New York City.

    Sure, cyclists and pedestrians can coexist, and do it a lot better than pedestrians can coexist with cars.
    But coexisting is still easier if there is a separate bike path adjacent to a separate pedestrian – jogging path/sidewalk. The 1890’s Ocean Parkway was two dedicated cycletracks for separate cycling directions. They were not shared use paths. There were separate sidewalks.

    Technically, the current Ocean Parkway is supposed to be dedicated bikes in the wider area outside the fence, and pedestrian on the bench side of the fence. How often are people walking 3-4 across on the bike side? And the east mall is entirely a pedestrian path. So we share…

    The 1941 Belt Parkway Bike Paths were built with parallel 12 foot wide cycletracks and 10 foot walkways. The Bay Ridge section of Shore Parkway still retains these two parallel paths, so that high volumes of bikes and high volumes of walkers, joggers, dog walkers, etc. don’t have to conflict with each other.

  • I know this is a MAJOR long shot, but couldn’t elevated bike lanes, pedestrian free, be implemented by private contractors, ie, an international consortium of bike makers and concerned parties? Even toll bridges: I would pay $2 to ride, pedestrian-free, on an elevated loop circling Manhattan, wouldn’t you? Or hell, just build a few bike bridges connecting the west side greenway to the hypothetical east side greenway. And maybe one elevated path going up Lafayette to Park, all the way up to Harlem. Then that “el” could be connected to the various east-west “els”.
    And we still haven’t seen what Congestion Pricing or a free parking ban could achieve.

    Bridge riding is the perfect example.

    Even on the WB Bridge, where, admittedly, phalanxes of stroller-wielding pedestrians encourage their kids to dart into the bike lane [and where said pedestrians are NOT supposed to be]the difference is clear. Imagine feeling that safe INSIDE one of the boroughs, on a similar structure.
    If you really want to know what could be achieved, try riding the RFK Bridge to Randall’s Island (sp?) and then, again, over to the Bronx. Nobody would ever drive again in Manhattan if this simple solution could be achieved.

    It’s not really rocket science—how much would a few bike bridges cost?
    Twenty million bucks? I know it sounds naive, but it’s not unthinkable.
    They could even be toll bridges until they get funded by charities or bike builders or whomever.

    Does anyone else find this a logical proposal?

  • I disagree utterly with the post that says Second Ave. lane south of E. 34th is safe. The congestion and traffic speed is horrific, everyone going downhill, with many of the motorists suddenly remembering they need to suddenly turn left in the East Twenties to get to First Avenue.
    I would rather ride west, thru traffic to Broadway and take the protected lane south.
    It’s weird; I’ve never been so freaked out as a cyclist than NOW, with all of the bike lanes in place.

  • Streets are spaces between buildings, traditionally used by people walking in all directions… and then there are the one-way motor vehicle sewers in Manhattan.

    We need bi-directional streets. If not that, then two-way bike paths for people going slower and the continued legal right to use the lane up to its top speed, which should be 20 or 25mph. It is really simple, actually.

    People.Will.Always.Salmon if they need to head directly towards something. NYC DOT implements bi-directional lanes in a few spots, but they need to do it on the Avenues and B’way, too. It will need more space but no one is entitled to parking.

  • dporpentine

    People.Will.Not.Always.Salmon.If.They’re.Ticketed.or.I.Scream.at.Them.Every.Time.

  • I’ve noticed more and more that the salmon are pulling over or turning off of First when they see a Biking Rules messaging ride coming

  • 127 Steve Vaccaro,

    Much rather see a sign “Why don’t we have a 2-way bike lane to 125th Street?”

  • 128 Gecko: Exactly. While thin two-way bike lanes on the sides of wide traffic sewers might require some awareness-education, if they complement legal contraflow on one-way side streets (crosstown streets) there is a certain consistent logic, i.e. “two-ways for bikes, one-way for cars”.

  • Serge Issakov

    Two-way for bikers, one-way for motorists does seem logical. The problem in practice is that contraflow traffic is unexpected and bicyclists traveling in that direction are much more easily overlooked.

  • 130 Serge: Like I said, it would require training etc.

    But better would be if the Avenues were two-way in their entirety with lower speed limits. It’s really annoying how Transportation Alternatives and many other entities give this anti-cycling design their (at least) tacit support. It’s like they think the Avenues were born to the world, that Manhattan or indeed NYC could not exist without them.

  • Serge Issakov

    Training is not a viable solution. For the vast majority, the only training they ever get is when they get their license initially. Everything else is school of hard knocks.

    Even if you somehow manage to “train” some significant number of drivers to remember that “one way” is not really “one way”, some significant number will never think or treat it that way, to the peril of the bicyclists riding the “wrong way”. I just don’t see any way around that.

    I agree two-way for all is better.

  • Steve Vaccaro

    Gecko, et al, I’ll meet you half way. I’ll be out with signs (and ~2,500 handwritten letters) in favor of one-way bike lanes on each of First and Second, all the way to 125th Street, on November 10 at noon (city hall).

    I hope you’ll join us!

  • #133 Steve Vaccaro, ” . . . First and Second, all the way to 125th Street . . .”

    Some motivation:

    cityroom NYTimes City Room
    Cyclist Fatally Doored in East Harlem http://nyti.ms/cT9gVt

  • Andrew

    There is no bifurcation of cyclists into slow and fast. There is a continuous spectrum of cycling speeds. I know this because I am in the middle. On the Hudson River Greenway, there are about as many hotshots passing me as slowpokes obstructing me. I think the faster cyclists also tend to be reckless and bad for our reputation, especially with pedestrians.

  • John Hayden

    I found the vidoe interesting but pretty misleading. The claims made by several of the cyclists that the bike lanes make cycling more dangerous are simply false. The New York Transportation department has been keeping stats on number of cyclists and number of accidents that happen each year since they started putting in bike lanes. The results are pretty amazing. A 79% increase in the number of cyclists while at the same time there has been a drop in accidents involving cyclists. These numbers are consistent with what other cities such as Portland and Copenhagen have seen as they have implemented more bike lanes. The lanes do in fact make more cyclists feel safer biking in areas of heavy traffic and they do reduce the number of traffic accidents.

    The video conveniently left out discussion of the use of the striped buffer zone that allows car doors to open without impeding cyclists and cyclists to go around slower cyclists and pedestrians to get out of the way of cyclists. They also did not portray any of the hazards that a cyclists encounters riding in traffic with cars such as cars changing lanes and buses and angry motorists behind cyclists honking. This is a shame. Instead of creating an honest discussion, the video is clearly a one sided piece of propaganda. Pretty much indicative of public discourse and debate in our country today.

    The 1% of cyclists who feel safe riding in any kind of traffic, of which I am one, can still do so. Ride away, ride all day in traffic. No one is stopping you. But I also realize that only a small fraction of people are going to feel safe riding the way I do. I want more people to get out of their cars and choose cycling as a healthy form of transportation. It’s vitally important to the future of our planet that this change take place. Bike lakes, bike tracks, bike boulevards are helping more people switch from cars to bikes all over the World. If you look at the data collected in cities that are adding lanes it clearly supports the thesis that bike lanes will reduce accidents and make more people feel safe riding in the street.

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Making Room for Modes Other Than Cars

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When we talk about competing modes of transportation we’re usually focused on the strained relationship between drivers and cyclists, or drivers and transit, or drivers and pedestrians. With so much street space taken up by cars, tensions also erupt, of course, between cyclists and pedestrians, and even cyclists and transit. We’ve written before about the […]

Cyclists and Pedestrians: Fighting Over the Scraps

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Cyclists and pedestrians somehow managing to get along with each other in Copenhagen. "Gridlock" Sam Schwartz’s op/ed piece in the Times City section yesterday is generating lots of discussion in the cycling community. Weirdly headlined, "Rolling Thunder," the editorial briefly examines the conflict between cyclists and pedestrians on New York City streets, acknowledges the antipathy that many walkers feel […]
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America Could Have Been Building Protected Bike Lanes for the Last 40 Years

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Salt Lake City is on track to implement the nation’s first “protected intersection” — a Dutch-inspired design to minimize conflicts between cyclists and drivers at crossings. For American cities, this treatment feels like the cutting edge, but a look back at the history of bike planning in the United States reveals that even here, this idea is far from new. In fact, […]

Questions Arise Over Placement of Chelsea Bike Lanes

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On Wednesday, DOT outlined a proposal for new Class II bike lanes in Chelsea between Eighth and Ninth Avenues and the Hudson River Greenway. While safe streets advocates welcomed the news, there is concern that their planned location, on W. 29th and W. 30th Streets, may not be ideal for unprotected lanes. According to DOT’s […]