Prince Street in Soho is a candidate to receive the city’s first “green wave” — traffic signals timed to align with cyclists’ travel speeds — after a vote of support from the Manhattan Community Board 2 transportation committee.
Prince Street sees some of the highest bike mode-share of any NYC street, but the signal timing doesn’t synch up with comfortable cycling speeds, leading to red light-running. A green wave would re-time the progression of traffic signals so that drivers and cyclists can travel smoothly at a pedestrian-friendly 10 to 15 mph. In San Francisco, the treatment has proven popular on Valencia Street, a major bike route.
Members of CB 2’s transportation committee were very supportive when proponent Ian Dutton showed them a presentation about the concept [PDF], but they also said that the street is already cluttered and they didn’t want too much additional signage. (In an effort to keep drivers from rapidly accelerating only to stop at the next block, signs are usually posted to inform them of the slower timing.)
Although a green wave on Prince may not retime stop lights at high-volume cross streets like Broadway and Lafayette Street, it would still improve on the current stop-and-start timing for cyclists while calming car traffic.
A green wave has been discussed since bike lanes were first proposed for Prince and Bleecker Streets in 2007, but DOT and the community board have so far taken little action to make it a reality. Dutton’s presentation to CB 2 does not include Bleecker, though he noted that because it’s an important route for cyclists traveling south and east from Ninth Avenue, Bleecker might also be a good candidate for signal retimings.
On December 6, CB 2’s transportation committee approved a resolution supporting the green wave, 10-0, with one absence. Supporters are cautiously optimistic.
“It’s hard to tell what will happen when it comes before the full board at its next meeting,” committee chair Shirley Secunda told Streetsblog in an email. The full board will take up the matter on December 20.