New Ninth Avenue Separated Bike Path is Already in Place

The unprecedented new physically-separated bike path running along Chelsea’s Ninth Avenue has already been set up using temporary materials. The Department of Transportation is billing it as New York City’s "street of the future." New York 1 reported yesterday:

Bicyclists have a new lane to use in Chelsea, and the city is hoping to expand the project around Manhattan.

The new bike lane runs along 9th Avenue between 16th and 23rd Streets. Cyclists are protected by a lane of parked cars in the middle of the street. The city is also putting in special signals to make it clear when cyclists can cross.

Eventually a strip of pavement will separate cyclists from the parked cars. Even in its preliminary form, cyclists seem to be loving it.

"It keeps you away from the traffic so you don’t have to worry about the cars, and crossing over and stuff like that," said one cyclist.

Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan says it’s all part of the city’s bike master plan.

"We’re bringing in the best practices from around the world to the streets of New York City," she said. "Mayor Bloomberg has said that he wants us to look at ways that we can bring more efficient ways of moving around the transportation network, so it’s very much in keeping with PlaNYC."

  • gecko

    Extremely encouraging!

  • mork

    If only we had some video of it.

    (Tap, tap, tap.)

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    I know what you mean, Mork ;-), but you can get RealVideo of the NY1 segment by clicking the broadband link.

  • mab

    I’ve already seen a line of taxis parking in the bike lane at 20th St.

  • @alex

    The NY1 segment is interesting – where on earth did they get that guy with the incomprehensible quote “That’s why we have a law now … [bicyclists] can put on a helmet if you get into an accident”? Maybe he’ll be a spokesman for the anti-CP lobby? He’s got the suit and tie for it…

    As for the taxis in the bike lane at 20th – that block has been a taxi layover spot for a long time (there’s a great little hole-in-the-wall Indian deli “Dil E Punjab” on the east side between 21st and 20th which is very popular with the South Asian taxi drivers). A little outreach education on this will probably go a long way – and maybe the deli owners would allow somebody to put up a poster explaining how the bike lane works and asking drivers not to park there, Does T.A. have anybody who can write Hindi? I’m a bit surprised about this, though – with the plastic bollards visible in the NY1 segment, it would seem to take a bit of work to drive into the bike lane and park there. Were these taxis parked in the lane before the bollards went up?

  • Huh?

    “A little outreach education on this will probably go a long way – Does T.A. have anybody who can write Hindi?”

    English is (with Hindi) the “link language” of India. In my experience most Indians in NY – including those who drive taxis – speak highly educated (if accented) English. But if you want a Hindi translator, just go to Stuyvesant and take the top 25 students. Half of them will be Indian :).

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    Are the taxis parked in the Ninth Avenue bike lane or the 20th Street bike lane?

    Since the deli is called “Dil E Punjab,” then I’m guessing that most of the patrons will be Punjabi speakers. But as Huh says, all the taxi drivers are likely to understand a poster in English.

  • @alex

    I don’t know where the taxis parked in the bike lane were – I have to rely on my brother, who is still in the neighborhood, for updates on this. It’s probably true that most of the cabbies are Punjabi speakers, but I’d guess that between English & Hindi you would get all of the Punjabi speakers anyhow, plus some of the others who might be from other parts of the subcontinent.

    Speaking of updates, my brother told me today that they have already started construction of the curbed separation on the 9th Avenue bike lane (it might just be the pedestrian islands at the intersections, it wasn’t entirely clear). It seems that for the new DOT, “short term” = “next week” and “long term” = “next month” – the speed of this whole work just blows me away.

  • 37697. Remember that number.

    OK, I was just walking down 9th Avenue in Chelsea, admiring the work they’re doing on the new separated bike lane. (They’re currently putting in traffic islands at the start of each block to help keep cars and bikes apart – what a great idea.) Just then, a garbage truck comes barreling down the bike lane (12:30 p.m. around 19th or 20th streets, just before turning right onto a westbound street). OK, I’ll give our hard-working civil servants the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he was going to pick up trash on that block and was saving his herniated disc from having to drag a garbage pail an extra four feet or so before hoisting its contents into his refuse recovery vehicle. Well, no one really had their trash out, so it wasn’t garbage day and he didn’t even slow down to pick up the overflowing municipal garbage pail at the corner.

    Which is why I’ve been reciting the number 37697 on my way back to the office. That is the identification number on the upper left of his truck. Wish I had a nice digital camera to capture the moment. The whole incident reminds me of the death of Eric Ng, an NYU student run down by a car that careened down the Hudson River Park bike path last December.

  • gecko

    Garbage trucks seem to be exceptionally dangerous. Around 11 PM the commercial ones can be seen barreling around Union Square servicing the many restaurants wildly turning corners as bad accidents waiting to happen.

    There should be crack down before a lot of people get hurt.

  • mork

    Mark me down as “not going to ride in the 9th Avenue separated bike lane anymore.”

    I tried it out for the 2nd time today. Last time I had couple of close calls with cars who were turning and completely oblivious to the fact that there was a bike lane there. But I was being extremely cautious of that, so it turned out fine.

    But tonight, I encountered a pedestrian who was using the bike lane as a staging area for the red light (crossing perpendicular to my direction). I slowed down and tried to go behind him, but he froze, and then backed into me and knocked me down. Fortunately I was going pretty slow by the time we made contact. In retrospect, I think the max safe speed for that lane is probably about 5 mph.

    It was a nice experiment, but it’s not for me.

  • gecko

    Had the same thing happen on the West Side bike path several years ago the day I decided not to yell at pedestrians warning them that they should know what where they are and what they should be doing.

    Not issuing a warning, and going behind a jay-walking pedestrian by Chelsea Piers, she paniced at the last moment, went back the other way, I hit her and she knocked me into the curb. Luckily I was going slow and bore the brunt of accident with scrapes. She apologized and ran away to work.

    Now I warn or yell at anyone who seems not know what is going on or are ready to do the wrong thing, no matter how impolite it might seem.

  • gecko

    Most likely, only an elevated cycle rail will eliminate virtually all the conflicts so users will still have use caution on cycle track but a lot of the real danger should be eliminated.

    You did not tangle with a car or truck, which is still possible, but hopefully much less likely, though you report problems with cars also, and which could have caused some serious injuries or been deadly, even if you were going slow.

    Cars really have to be regulated so they can’t hurt people.

  • Jonathan

    gecko and mork, when it comes to avoiding pedestrians, I have learned always to aim directly at them while ringing the bell to draw their attention. They will either jump forward or jump back, leaving where they were clear for you to travel. If they don’t move, then you brake suddenly and stare at them.

    Nothing gets people out of the way like seeing a fast bicycle coming directly at them.

  • Hilary

    Jane Jacobs’ religion of short blocks and grids works for pedestrians, and I suppose we could say intersections “manage” vehicular traffic, but they don’t do much for bikes. Their great potential is released by dedicated, limited access pathways. Skyways would be nice. Parkways already exist.

  • gecko

    jonathan, actually my transport was speed inlines and stopping fast is not a real option.

  • mork

    For me, it’s not a question of avoiding pedestrians. I know how to do that in normal situations. Rather, it’s a question, unfortunately, of avoiding unsafe facilities.

    I was reading some stuff last night by the controversial John Forester about sidepaths and the cyclist inferiority complex, and I gotta tell you, I’m the kind of guy who falls for Forester at the drop of wayward ped.

  • Linda murphy

    Ninth Ave looks great with the exception of one building that has garbage pails outside in the teens. Is this allowed? A concerned citizen.


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