TransAlt: De Blasio Needs to Ramp Up Protected Bike Lanes to Make More New Yorkers Feel at Ease on a Bike

The current rate of protected bike lane installation is not sufficient to meet the mayor's goal of doubling cycling by 2020, TransAlt says in a new report.

Highlighted routes are Vision Zero priority corridors that NYC DOT has identified as especially dangerous. Only the green routes have bike lanes of any type. Map: TransAlt
Highlighted routes are Vision Zero priority corridors that NYC DOT has identified as especially dangerous. Only the green routes have bike lanes of any type. Map: TransAlt

Mayor de Blasio needs to accelerate the installation of protected bike lanes in his second term to achieve his goal of doubling cycling by 2020, Transportation Alternatives says in a new report, BikeNYC 2020 [PDF].

In 2013, the de Blasio administration committed to doubling cycling rates in NYC by 2020. While the number of cycling New Yorkers has increased under de Blasio, progress has slowed according to some measures, and the city not kept pace with the mayor’s stated goal.

To better understand what’s holding people back from biking more, TransAlt surveyed 6,186 New Yorkers. The web survey, which was not a random sample, focused primarily on gathering feedback from people who bike.

Image: TransAlt
Image: TransAlt

Concern about physical safety was the primary factor discouraging more frequent cycling. Among participants who used to bike but stopped, 71 percent said they did so because drivers made them feel unsafe; 12 percent stopped after a collision or other “harrowing incident”; and 99 percent said more protected bike lanes would encourage them to ride again.

Even among self-described frequent cyclists, 88 percent expressed concerns about getting hit by drivers.

Among the 14 percent of respondents who haven’t started riding, four out of five said “fear of drivers” was holding them back, two-thirds “mentioned the lack of protected bike lanes making them feel unsafe.”

The current rate of protected bike lane installation is not sufficient to double the number of New Yorkers who feel at ease biking on city streets. Of the 83 new miles of bike lanes installed during Fiscal Year 2016-2017, only 20 percent were protected bike lanes, according to the report. In that same span, the city resurfaced 1,321 miles of roads, rarely if ever using the opportunity to claim street space for bicycling.

The report outlines a set of steps for the de Blasio administration to attain its 2020 bicycle mode share goal. Among the recommendations:

  • Guarantee that every New Yorker lives within a quarter-mile of a protected bike lane;
  • Include protected bike lanes in every major street redesign;
  • Installing safe bicycle connections on bridges that currently lack them;
  • Test out cycle superhighways, as well as protected intersections, and car-free streets;
  • Expand bike-share to all five boroughs;
  • End the NYPD’s crackdown on commercial cyclists and ticketing of minor cycling infractions, which discourage cycling;
  • Increase bicycle parking;
  • Passing a bill to exempt the city’s “Vision Zero Priority Corridors” from Local Law 61 of 2011, which requires community board hearings on any bike lane projects.
  • Simon Phearson

    Separation of modes is best for everyone.

    If strict separation just induces experienced and confident cyclists to switch to riskier routes – as I’ve done – how is it “best for everyone?”

    At the same time, it is appropriate for us to demand that this space meet the needs of various kinds of bicyclists — which, notwithstanding your charactarisation, they mostly do.

    This is disingenuous, and I suspect you realize that. If you ride in the protected bike lanes in this city, you understand the following:

    – It is unsafe to travel at speeds above about 12 mph in virtually any PBL along major pedestrian corridors or that’s parking-protected.
    – Many PBLs that are not along such corridors have design “features” like gaps, endemic car parking, circuitous detours, and poor pavement conditions, all of which also slow down travel.
    – Most major PBLs have additional features, like mixing zones and split-phase lights, which further impede cyclist traffic.
    – It is risky in most PBLs to attempt to pass slower cycling traffic, because in most cases you’ll have to dip into the door-zone of parked cars.

    The only PBL in this entire city where I can ride anywhere close to the speeds of which I’m capable (excluding bridge paths) is along Astoria Park, on Shore Boulevard. There, the PBL is two-way, so there’s ample room for passing; the protection is plastic bollards; there are several pedestrian crossings, but with good sightlines and so plenty of ability to anticipate conflicts; and much of the length of the lane is physically separated from the adjacent park path by a metal railing. I’ll take PBLs elsewhere if I don’t need to get anywhere in any particular amount of time. Like that’s where I’ll go if I’m steering a clunky Citibike or cruising on my Dutch-style bike. But if I need to go far or fast, I have to find alternative routes. Park instead of First. Manhattan instead of Kent. And so on.

  • Simon Phearson

    So I can tell you that a bicyclist taking the lane will inevitably slow down the traffic behind it;

    Inevitably? No. On my routes, I’m the one slowed down by car drivers. And that isn’t a mere boast – traffic speeds are actually quite low in anything like typical congestion, even in slight congestion.

    Maybe cyclists can’t maintain traffic speeds on major thoroughfares with light timing designed to facilitate through traffic. But just about everywhere else I ride, if I can catch up to a group of 3-4 drivers sitting at a stop light, we’re not breaking 15 mph before the next stoplight.

  • JarekFA

    Some people like to deny that running red lights gives our enemies free ammunition and pushes more people into our enemies’ camp,

    It depends on how you do it. I do it a manner in which I’m visible, slow and predictable and I obviously give way to pedestrians if any are in the area.

    My manner of “law breaking” is aspirational insofar I’m demonstrating the absurdity of strictly enforcing red lights rules on bikes. Anyone who sees me proceeding slowly, with my head going left and right scanning all cross traffic and giving space to peds — should be able to see the absurdity of it.

    And to wit, if so many of a particular class break a rule, it’s worth asking if that rule should be change. That’s exactly why we have a 2 way “protected” bike path going from the BK Bridge into FiDi. Beforehand, to legally “comply,” you’d have to either take a dangerous and longer route or walk your bike on a crowded sidewalk for 100 meters. So, most people just salmoned to the bridge, illegally, and DoT ultimately made it legal.

  • Joe R.

    People like my sister helped the smoking ban along also. Back when she was dating her former husband in the early 1990s they were eating out with his family. A woman at another table lit up. Of the exchange, her boyfriend’s sister said “I thought she was going to kill that woman”. Doubtless other non-smoking “advocates” like my sister helped things right along. I’m not as extreme as her, but I wouldn’t hesitate to extinguish someone’s cigarette on their forehead if they didn’t heed my request to stop smoking near me after a few tries.

  • JarekFA

    We are already allowed to leave a bike lane for several legitimate reasons, such as obstructions or bad pavement or any other unsafe conditions

    I sometimes don’t take the bike lane and take the travel lane if the bike lane is too crowded. You get that at Hoyt St and Jay St (evening rush) in Brooklyn. I wonder if that’s ticketable? My reason would be, uh yah, it’s too crowded. And in fact, you’ll get 15 or so bikes during one light cycle in the evening on Jay st while just 3 or 4 cars. It’s amazing how little traffic goes through there in the evening.

  • Ah, good point. I am reminded of the ride I took this past summer out to Long Beach. I took Rockaway Boulevard all the way into the Five Towns area. Normally I get off of that street at 147th Avenue; but this time I stayed on it and took it around the curve of the airport and into Nassau County precisely because of the tremendous congestion. The mass of auto traffic made the prevailing speed lower, which allowed me to take a lane at a speed which was doable for me (anywhere from a maximum of 15 miles per hour down to standstill) without slowing down the cars behind me.

    I work on Water Street in Manhattan; and, now that I think about it, I frequently take the lane on southbound Pearl / Water once I pass Peck Slip. In fact, I often take the left lane, which allows me to make the left at John Street in order to enter my building; and this is made easier when there is more congestion.

  • My assumption is that you could indeed be ticketed for riding outside a bike lane if your reasoning was that the bike lane is too crowded with other bicyclists for your tastes, as opposed to its being obstructed by something that shouldn’t be there, such as a car.

  • Simon Phearson

    Nonsense. I will bring up again that I ride 6000 miles a year, mostly in New York City; and I stop at all red lights.

    This statistic, as much as you’re proud of it, is a little misleading. For instance, it’s much easier to log these miles in the outer boroughs than just about anywhere in Manhattan. You take whole days off just to bike, and you take long trips out of the city by bike, too. So it’s not as though your experience means that red light-rolling isn’t an essential technique for the commuting cyclist. It just means you have an extraordinarily forgiving work arrangement and aren’t in any particular hurry.

    Personally, the only way I make red light observance work for me is sprinting between lights – which does a number on my drivetrain -and riding primarily in the outer boroughs. That way, I make about as good a time as a driver – a bit better, when you consider that I can filter through standing traffic (curious as to whether you view that as out-of-bounds, being the rules-stickler that you are) – which I figure is only fair. If I had to ride downtown in Manhattan on a regular basis, I would probably either stick to the roads without PBLs or roll through reds.

  • Simon Phearson

    You’re allowed to leave the lane to pass slower cyclists, aren’t you?

  • @Blackcatprowliii – I have been to public “comment sessions” in NYC and they are not as you depict. Too often a good project is scuttled just because of screaming and complaints that have no substance. Same problem in San Francisco, only worse. I do believe in a robust public process, even if it means enduring fact-free ranting, but fact-free ranting should not block good policy.

    I’m not buying the gub’ment control angle. Car-priority infrastructure does a far more effective job of that. As for developers, they have a tendency to try to shove more parking into every building.

    (As a side note, attempting to doxx me is a violation of this site’s policy and is especially cowardly when done from behind an anonymous handle.)

  • This statistic [6000 miles ridden a year on average], as much as you’re proud of it, is a little misleading. For instance, it’s much easier to log these miles in the outer boroughs than just about anywhere in Manhattan. You take whole days off just to bike, and you take long trips out of the city by bike, too.

    It’s not misleading. I live on the Brooklyn/Queens border; so it’s about eight miles to get to Manhattan no matter what bridge I use. And, while I do ride in Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx, I think it’s safe to say that in my pleasure rides I ride in Manhattan more than in any other borough. For instance, on a 50-mile day, less than 20 miles of that will be on the way into and out of Manhattan; and the rest will be within Manhattan.

    I do indeed take trips out of town, having ridden to Philadelphia and even to Washington. I also like to explore northern New Jersey, and I sometimes go out to Long Island or up to Westchester. But, still, most of my rides are entirely here in New York City.

    So it’s not as though your experience means that red light-rolling isn’t an essential technique for the commuting cyclist. It just means you have an extraordinarily forgiving work arrangement and aren’t in any particular hurry.

    My work arrangement is not extraordinarily forgiving. I earn my vacation days, and choose to use them in a particular fashion, i.e., on individual days in the summer depending on the weather, rather than the way most people do, which is a week at a time.

    And, when I am commuting, I am in as much a hurry as any other office worker. I start at 9:00; so I leave home somewhere between 7:30 and 7:45 for my trip which takes just over an hour. This is not much different to the time that I leave home on days when I take the subway.

    I mentioned in another response that I live the perfect distance from my job; the 10- or 11-mile trip fits into a reasonable commute time. If I worked farther away from where I live, then I would be less likely to ride to and from work. I know a guy in Ridgewood, New Jersey who rides into his downtown office only once in a while; he laments that the long commute distance, something like 25 miles, prevents him from riding to work regularly.

    But on my pleasure rides, I am definitely not in any hurry. I am concerned only with experiencing the City and getting the feel of the streets in different locations.

    Personally, the only way I make red light observance work for me is sprinting between lights – which does a number on my drivetrain – and riding primarily in the outer boroughs.

    Does sprinting between lights increase your chance of hitting a green at the next one? I suppose it must, otherwise I can’t see the reason for doing it.

    For me, while I rarely hit a “green wave” as nice as the one on the two-mile stretch of Skillman Avenue, I don’t notice any serious impediment from the normal practice of just stopping at red lights where I encounter them while riding at a comfortable rate.

    That way, I make about as good a time as a driver – a bit better, when you consider that I can filter through standing traffic (curious as to whether you view that as out-of-bounds, being the rules-stickler that you are) – which I figure is only fair.

    I’m afraid that I don’t know what you mean by “filtering through standing traffic”. Do you mean lane-splitting and weaving between lanes? If so, I will say that I typically don’t do that, mainly because it seems pretty dangerous.

    I would also like to emphasise that I follow the rules not out of any basic tendency to be a stickler, but purely as a strategy designed to protect our bike infrastructure. Before Bloomberg transformed the City with bike lanes, I did not stop for red lights. I didn’t see the point. On the philosophical level, I reasoned that I had no moral obligation to obey laws that were crafted without taking any account of me as a bicyclist; I believed that the social contract did not apply to bicyclists.

    This changed once I experienced the bike lanes that came in rapid succession during Bloomberg’s administration. Having received recognition and accommodation by the powers that be, I then acknowledged my responsibility to do my part under the social contract and to follow the law.

    More important, I quickly understood people’s resentment and anger at seeing bicyclists breaking the law (even in safe ways); and I saw that the widespread public hostility towards bicyclsts posed a threat to the expansion of — even the continued existence of — the bike infrastructure that has so improved our quality of life. I didn’t want to be a part of that problem, so I resoved to ride legally and to implore other bicyclists to do the same.

  • @Simon Phearson – What is “the advocacy community?” I have been a bike advocate for decades and it’s always represented a range of views. The one exception has been VCers who brook not one iota of deviation from their dogma, even from those who agree with them 95%.

    I have advocated the elimination of mandatory sidepath laws for years, and have been attacked by VCers for not advocating their whole magilla. I have even been attacked by the very VCer who wrote California’s mandatory sidepath law in the 1970s (reluctantly, he claims, as political expedience), based on the bizarre formulation that supporting a PBL impedes the reform of that law (which he wrote).

    It’s not “the advocacy community” who can’t work with others, it’s the dogmatists.

  • GregKamin

    Sure, you can and should drive in traffic lanes if the bike lane is full of slow pokes. Never said otherwise. What you are really doing there is trading safety for speed, and that’s the same tradeoff I was describing for those who instead choose the slower bike lane.

    But it is an offense in most, if not all, States to obstruct the flow of traffic. So I would temper your “it’s just too bad that you’re stuck behind me” attitude with that caveat. Moreover having frustrated angry drivers on your tail isn’t optimal.

    But I absolutely respect your right to choose which route you prefer.

  • GregKamin

    I think we do know how to solve your dilemma. You need bike lanes that are wide enough to allow passing. But that takes more real estate and so other classes of road user suffer.

    It’s the paradox of success. If we install a bike lane and it’s successful and well used, then it becomes inadequate and slow. So then you want a “passing” bike lane or a wider bike lane. Much the same dilemma that happens with vehicles where, when we widen a road, the congestion doesn’t improve. Induced demand negates the improvement.

  • Well, Rules of the City of New York, Title 34, Section 4-12(1)(p) gives the following exceptions to the requirement that bicyclists use a bike lane if one is provided:

    (i) When preparing for a turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.
    (ii) When reasonably necessary to avoid conditions (including but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, motor vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, pushcarts, animals, surface hazards) that make it unsafe to continue within such bicycle path or lane.
    (Emphasis supplied)

    We can see that bicycles are listed amongst the list of “fixed or moving objects” that bicyclists may leave a bike lane in order to avoid; but note that the standard is that these fixed or moving objects must “make it unsafe to continue within such bicycle path or lane”. So the case that you describe, in which slower bicyclists are just cramping your preferred style, does not rise to the standard given in the law.

    Still, I would say that leaving the bike lane just for a momentary act of passing and then returning to the bike lane is pretty much within the spirit of the law. Whereas ignoring the bike lane altogether out of an unwillingness to deal with slower bicyclists is not.

  • Joe R.

    I do exactly the same thing. Never had any complaints from pedestrians, and only a few from drivers.

    DOT can make this practice legal right now, even with no Idaho stop law, by putting bike signals at intersections which flash either yellow or red when motorists get a red light. Yellow (yield) would be fine in most places. Red (stop and proceed if safe) would apply in places with poor lines of sight.

  • Joe R.

    Don’t like a lot of snow, either, even though I look forward to fall and winter, just the opposite of you. Snow means no riding, often for long stretches. I know people can and do ride in snow. I just prefer not to given the much higher possibility of having a fall.

  • Joe R.

    I think it’s more like drivers get annoyed with a cyclist in front of them regardless of the cyclist’s speed. When I take the lane I have motorists from behind trying to pass me all the time, even when I’m keeping up with the vehicle in front of me.

    In most of NYC a decent cyclist taking the lane can keep up with traffic on many arterials, particularly during peak hours when you have a vehicle in front to help break your wind.

  • Joe R.

    If the vehicles ahead accelerate slowly so I can stay close enough to catch a draft off them, I usually have no problems keeping up with traffic on most NYC arterials, particularly during peak hours when speeds rarely exceed 30 to 35 mph, often much less. Off-peak though, forget it. I can’t keep up with the 50+ mph traffic late nights in my area, short of when I’m lucky enough to draft off a loaded semi slowly accelerating. I think that happened twice in my life.

  • @Vooch – I’ve been on the bike route from München to Deisenhofen. In the 1920s, when it was first built, 13,000 bikers headed south to an inn in Deisenhofen, where the innkeeper had to add limonade to pilsner to keep up with demand (and with hydration needs).

    Thus was the Radlermaß born, from a prototypical Kritischemaße.

  • Standing in the middle of the street amounts to obstructing the flow of traffic. Riding a bicycle at the speed that you’re capable of does not.

    At one point during my bike ride to Washington last year, I found myself on two-lane highway in rural Maryland. While on a stretch with no shoulders or intersections, there wound up being plenty of cars and even trucks behind me. I just continued at my normal speed; and no one honked at me or encroached on my tail. They all seemed to understand that they had to be satisfied with going at 15 miles per hour for that segment of road.

    When I eventually found a driveway to a house, I pulled into it in order let the mass of vehicles go past me; and then I resumed riding on the road. More cars and trucks wound up behind me, until we got to a section of the road that had a shoulder, at which point both the drivers and I could proceed at our normal speeds.

    The point is that happenstance will sometimes leave you behind a slower vehicle. You have no right to harass the operator of that slower vehicle, and you simply have to accept that condition, as those people in Maryland clearly grasped.

  • Vooch

    you might get a kick out of this video – Englische Garten

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=4oKRxIHkzKU

  • @Ferdinand Cesarano – NYPD harasses bicyclists who leave the bike lane. Their citations usually use the NYS law that 1) lacks these exemptions and 2) does not apply inside NYC.

  • You may not get complaints to your face. But you can be sure that your act of rolling through red lights has inspired your share of dinner-table rants that start “Those bicyclists are so arrogant…”. Doesn’t matter if your practice was safe; it inspires resentment all the same, as witnesses conflate it with incidents of their having been buzzed by a truly dangerous cyclist, which does happen a lot.

    My hope is that, by my stopping at red lights, I will cause someone somewhere to respond to that rant by saying “Well, not always. I saw a bicyclist who…”

    Bicyclists are a group that exists on the margins of society. Therefore, whether we like it or not, whether we accept it or not, each one of us is like an ambassador to the mainstream; and for that reason every one of our actions takes on greater siginficance than the actions of individual members of the dominant group (drivers), despite the fact that the dominant group is doing plenty of harm while we’re doing essentially no harm. This is not fair; but this is reality. It is our choice whether to use this enhanced scrutiny to help advance bicyclists’ interests by presenting ourselves as good citizens, or to help damage them by pissing people off unnecessarily.

  • Simon Phearson

    So the case that you describe, in which slower bicyclists are just cramping your preferred style, does not rise to the standard given in the law.

    I don’t think that can be right. Think about how you’re interpreting “unsafe to continue.” It’s not literally “unsafe to continue” in a bike lane, if there’s a car stopped in it. You just can’t. But it would be absurd to suggest that the law doesn’t contemplate people leaving the lane to pass parked cars or stopped pedestrians or cyclists. The ordinance also clearly contemplates avoiding moving objects. So what does it mean for another moving object to make it “unsafe to continue” in the bike lane, if not “unsafe to continue” while passing it? I think any ordinary interpretation of this provision – and not just its “spirit” – would be to say that leaving the lane in order to pass slower cyclists, particular where there is not enough room within the lane to do so safely (which will be most of the time).

    Note also subsection (2) of this same provision, which provides that drivers may enter bike lanes in order to safely pass their own “obstacles.” So, on your interpretation, this provision permits using the bike lane to pass obstacles in the main traffic lanes, but not vice versa.

    I more generally agree that the law can’t be interpreted to say that slow cycling traffic can’t be used as a justification for disregarding the lane altogether. I think what the law contemplates is a single file of riders who might pass one another occasionally by leaving the lane.

  • Simon Phearson

    Are you arguing that we should design cycling infrastructure so as to discourage cyclists from using it for extended distances?

  • I want no part of snow or ice. That’s worse than rain. I can’t imagine how other cyclists are willing to ride in those conditions.

  • If a cyclist were acting within the RCNY, then presumably that cyclist could use this as a defence when fighting the ticket. But fighting a ticket is a huge hassle; so the tendency is probably just to pay it and get on with life.

  • Simon Phearson

    For instance, on a 50-mile day, less than 20 miles of that will be on the way into and out of Manhattan; and the rest will be within Manhattan.

    Yeah, and how much of that is on the Avenues, as opposed to the Greenway(s)?

    My work arrangement is not extraordinarily forgiving.

    You seem to take vacation days on far shorter notice than I’m allowed, for instance.

    And, when I am commuting, I am in as much a hurry as any other office worker. I start at 9:00; so I leave home somewhere between 7:30 and 7:45 for my trip which takes just over an hour.

    You haven’t mentioned how much of your 8-mile commute is in Manhattan vs. the outer boroughs, but I can say that eight miles, beginning in Queens and ending in midtown Manhattan with a minimum of Manhattan grid-style riding, would take me about 35-40 minutes. And that’s not me bragging about speed – that’s due to more forgiving light timing, longer stretches without lights, and easier traffic conditions. Typical Manhattan riding, when you abide by the lights, is stop-and-start, and slow, unless you’re on a Greenway. So it sounds like you might be losing up to about 40-50 minutes a day due to your compliant riding.

    Does sprinting between lights increase your chance of hitting a green at the next one? I suppose it must, otherwise I can’t see the reason for doing it.

    I do it for a few reasons. One is, yes, it makes it easier to hit greens. Second is that it’s safer to travel near to traffic speed, particularly when you’re not sure how courteous the drivers behind you are going to be. This is true even when riding in a painted bike lane, because it’s easier to merge into traffic when you encounter a parked car (or jogger, or cyclist) if you’re going near to traffic speed. Third is that it gives me a “lead” on stopped drivers, who often take a few seconds to get going out of a red light – you’ll recognize that as an excuse for a lot of cyclists to run the red. I get the same effect while complying with the law.

    For me, while I rarely hit a “green wave” as nice as the one on the two-mile stretch of Skillman Avenue, I don’t notice any serious impediment from the normal practice of just stopping at red lights where I encounter them while riding at a comfortable rate.

    In the outer boroughs, I would agree. It’s nuts downtown though. How often do you ride in the CBD or downtown?

    I’m afraid that I don’t know what you mean by “filtering through standing traffic”. Do you mean lane-splitting and weaving between lanes? If so, I will say that I typically don’t do that, mainly because it seems pretty dangerous.

    Conditions vary. I will typically only do it when there’s enough space to safely pass definitely-stopped traffic. Apart from jaywalking and dooring risk – and I take a slow pace for that reason – it’s not too dangerous. I will weave through traffic on congested cross streets in Manhattan, though. It would quadruple my travel time if I stood in line like drivers did.

    I would also like to emphasise that I follow the rules not out of any basic tendency to be a stickler,…

    Well, you contradict yourself with your talk about observing the “social contract.” But we’ve discussed this before. Your usual instrumental justification doesn’t fully explain the circumstances in which you will closely observe the law. Even, right here, you embraced an absurd reading of an ordinance that no one would reasonably expect cyclists to follow!

  • Simon Phearson

    Yeah, none of the streets I ride on are like that. The closest one to it is Vernon, but the layout there is such that I think most drivers would be to freaked to go more than 30. When it’s free-flowing, in the mornings when I ride, traffic moves between 25-30, I think. And it’s usually much slower than that, owing to being a truck route with multiple industrial driveways. I guess I’ll ride on Northern for a block?

  • Yeah, and how much of that [pleasure riding] is on the Avenues, as opposed to the Greenway(s)?

    Most of it. I much prefer the Avenues to the Hudson River Greenway. Please understand that I appreciate Greenway and am glad that it is there; I take it a few times a year just to have the experience, and to see whether the encroachment by pedestrians is getting any better. (It ain’t.) But I cannot say that I really enjoy riding on the Greenway, mainly because it is far outside the main part of the City. When riding on that road, I don’t get a strong feeling of being in New York.

    Whereas riding on the Avenues immerses you in the fabric of the City; and this is what I am after when doing my pleasure rides. I greatly prefer that feeling; and I will tend to take the Avenues over the Greenway almost every time.

    You seem to take vacation days on far shorter notice than I’m allowed, for instance.

    The rule in my company is a week’s notice. But department managers have broad discretion. So, while I can usually give a week’s notice based on the weather report, sometimes I give a little less. My boss, who has worked with me in my department (first as a staff attorney, then as manager) for about 20 years, uses his discretion to approve these requests.

    You haven’t mentioned how much of your 8-mile commute is in Manhattan vs. the outer boroughs, but I can say that eight miles, beginning in Queens and ending in midtown Manhattan with a minimum of Manhattan grid-style riding, would take me about 35-40 minutes.

    I mentioned that it is about eight miles to get to or from Manhattan from my home, no matter which bridge I use. The full commute to or from work is about 10 or 11 miles, with the office sitting about 2 1/2 miles from the Williamsburg Bridge and about 1 1/2 miles from the Manhattan Bridge. So, for my commuting, the greater part of my ride is in Brooklyn and Queens; whereas, for pleasure rides, the greater part is in Manhattan.

    [Sprinting out of a light] gives me a “lead” on stopped drivers, who often take a few seconds to get going out of a red light – you’ll recognize that as an excuse for a lot of cyclists to run the red. I get the same effect while complying with the law.

    That I can understand. I also tend to start moving about a second before the light actually turns green. I have actually had to readjust this at those intersections that have leading pedestrian intervals, because if I start moving based on the cross-street’s light going red, it will be far too early. Even if we don’t get an Idaho stop law, I’d love it if we got the right to proceed on the LPI.

    In the outer boroughs, I would agree [that stopping for red lights is generally not a problem]. It’s nuts downtown though. How often do you ride in the CBD or downtown?

    Every day for commuting, since I work on Water Street. In pleasure rides I don’t usually go Downtown; but I am in Midtown an awful lot. Even there, I don’t have any problem with red lights. I mean, I don’t like stopping at red lights; but the need to do so does not noticibly diminsh my enjoyment.

    Conditions vary. I will typically only do it [weave amongst lanes] when there’s enough space to safely pass definitely-stopped traffic. Apart from jaywalking and dooring risk – and I take a slow pace for that reason – it’s not too dangerous. I will weave through traffic on congested cross streets in Manhattan, though. It would quadruple my travel time if I stood in line like drivers did.

    I will move into the space between the rightmost lane and the next lane over if the first several cars stopped at a light are all signalling a right turn. I suppose there are a few other occasions when I might split lanes when traffic is completely stopped; but it’s pretty rare.

    Well, you contradict yourself with your talk about observing the “social contract.” But we’ve discussed this before. Your usual instrumental justification doesn’t fully explain the circumstances in which you will closely observe the law. Even, right here, you embraced an absurd reading of an ordinance that no one would reasonably expect cyclists to follow!

    I did not contradict myself. I just described a change in my thinking. I formerly didn’t feel the need to follow the law; but that changed when the City government’s treatment of bicyclists changed. Even still, I am no stickler for rules; I have broken plenty of rules when the rule is unjust or when there are no bad consequences. But I think that there are bad consequences for bicyclists breaking the rules now, namely the exascerbation of hatred from an already hostile general public.

    Finally, I emphatically reject the assertion that my commonsense reading of RCNY 4-12(1)(p) is absurd. You yourself said in a previous comment: “I think what the law contemplates is a single file of riders who might pass one another occasionally by leaving the lane”. I share this view. But this act of passing is very different from riding outside the bike lane altogether, which is prohibited by this rule.

  • GregKamin

    I’m arguing that you need to decide what it is you really want. If you want safety then the result is more slow cyclists, who in turn slow you down. Then you end up asking for 2 bike lanes, and so on.

    Are you willing to ride slower to promote the safety and popularity of cycling?

  • GregKamin

    In California you’d be breaking the law if there were more than five vehicles stacked up behind you. The law requires you to pull over to let them pass. Most cyclists get around that by riding to the right where the prevailing traffic is faster.

  • Simon Phearson

    Nnnnnnope!

  • Eli

    Just wanted to say thanks for taking the time to answer. Damn, I know who to ask to find out where to go biking near NYC now! 😉

    To an earlier point you made – I’ve actually had pedestrians thank me when I stop at a traffic signal on my bike, so they definitely notice.

    (That said, I don’t think people have a right to expect cyclists to wait irrationally when the infrastructure incentivizes running reds anymore than we would expect pedestrians. But I still mostly do it, more out of lack of situational awareness of knowing when it’s safe to run the red.

    Plus, I don’t even bike in the winter anymore, since it’s dark whenever I’d be riding, and I don’t trust the infrastructure/drivers.)

  • GregKamin

    OK, well at least you are honest about your selfishness, so there’s that.

  • Blackcatprowliii

    That is bull! Advocacy groups have been demeaning VCs to push their agenda, while VCs have been pushing for actual safety through options & smart design.

  • Blackcatprowliii

    Making bike lanes more usable is a good idea, but using the full lane can be safer. Safety for a bicyclist is about options & design that is not dangerous~ which is why Idaho Stop & Delaware Yield are needed because of the poor design ideas that have been implemented this past quarter century. These poor ideas are now being even more directed under the guise of “bicycle friendly”. Especially, now that some see dollar signs & power involved, that pushes things even more in the wrong direction. The reduction to safety for all cannot be done with the present infrastructure~ is, in fact, dangerous! I am for “bike highways”, but they have to be legitimate attempts to make the the roads safe for conscientious people, but not this isolationist power grab that now exists. This attempt by a faction that has aligned themselves with others that do not care a iota about bicyclists, opening an easy way to get bicyclists off the road. It will not be stood for, here.

  • Blackcatprowliii

    Bicycles are a different class of vehicle, which is where the Idaho Stop & Delaware Yield come from. Make the laws appropriate to realities & that removes a big sticking point with drivers. Stop the anticar designs & attitude to further eliminate friction. Further, ca drivers have to learn how to drive & accept others on the road. I do not mean the ludicrous idea that pedestrians can simply walk into the road. I mean, accepting the rules of the road & road design, which has been undermined & has driven up accidents, injuries & deaths. The local commission just voted themselves immune from any danger their design ideas cause persons. When they fully well know that their are dangerous designs out there. The ideas that VCs are against are the same that car drivers are against. Except that some seem to think if there protected bike lanes, bicyclists shouldn’t use the regular lanes. On top of which, there is the seizures of the present bike path for “walkability”, suggesting that the future protected lanes could also be seized at some time. The answer is not making the roads smaller, per se, but enlarging them so that each can have a piece. The present strategy is dangerous to everyone. I am not big on government power seizing, but the answer is use of eminent domain to protect people on the roads as well as greenery, which developers refuse to obey their own voluntary agreement on. Developers are majorly failing in their chance to prove themselves to be respectable, which will result in laws having to be made to compensate for their failure. Bicyclists~ not those touted in studies of people who do not ride, as is the case with most of these pushes~ are not in conflict with people who know how to drive, just some who will not yield, do not understand roads, or are interested in power grabs for money, such as “walkability”. It is a coalition that is ginning up anger among the people against bicyclists, walkers, drivers, to push their control agenda.

  • Simon Phearson

    Oh, fuck you. You’re setting up a false dilemma, saying in essence that we shouldn’t build bike infrastructure that could accommodate users of different skill levels, because if we do that, they’d actually use it. And why is that a problem? Well, because then we’d have to take a parking lane, or narrow a main traffic lane… so… the problem being…?

    The “paradox of success” is not a limiting principle. It’s just a way of identifying for us that, at some point, we have to decide what kinds of behavior we do want to incentivize, what traffic patterns we want to induce. It’s not always prudent to build highway lanes to accommodate demand, because that just pushes us down an expensive cycle of building infrastructure, building over useful land, etc. But serve that demand with mass transit instead and the exact problem recurs, but instead for transit. The same goes with bike lanes in the city.

    So, yeah, if we can get enough bike traffic going in this city that a five-foot bike lane no longer serves would-be cyclists, then we should expand at the expense of parkers and possibly even drivers, to the extent we’re able to substitute one mode for the other. I don’t want to sacrifice speed – and so, the ability to commute longer distances – just so that we can avoid crowding out drivers’ less economically-efficient uses of the street. I reject the choice you’ve presented to me because it implicitly takes for granted the status quo.

  • GregKamin

    Not at all. I’m simply stating the obvious truth that, at least to some extent, bike infrastructure can be self-defeating in the way that we often argue that highway widening is – both cause induced demand.

    And in the case of a bike lane, induced demand means slower less skilled cyclists, who in turn slow down the regulars.

    Sure you can try and finesse that greater ultilization into rationalising a demand for a second or even third bike lane. But the pushback increases as you crowd out other classes of road user who are probably always going to constitute a majority.

    Oh, and lose the obscene abuse. I guarantee you that you will never get your way like that.

  • Simon Phearson

    Not at all.

    As you walk right past the point I made. So glad I put the time into spelling it out for you.

    But the pushback increases as you crowd out other classes of road user who are probably always going to constitute a majority.

    Drivers don’t “constitute a majority” now, genius.

    Oh, and lose the obscene abuse. I guarantee you that you will never get your way like that.

    So fuck this, too. I’m under no obligation to respond to your passive-aggressive, disingenuous bullshit – recall that you point-blankly called me “selfish” previously – like you’re an adult capable of rational, civil discussion. I only whip that kind of language out for people who have demonstrated their own lack of respect or good faith in the conversation.

  • GregKamin

    In most places, drivers are a majority. 70% where I am, 90% about 20 miles away. And even in the handful of places in the US where that isn’t true, there is still a significant minority who either want or need to drive. In including those who deliver everything you consume, emergency services, utility trucks, buses, cabs, Uber, shuttles etc.

    You can swear and become as abusive as you like. But you can’t expect readers to infer anything from that other than you know that you’re losing the argument and lashing out. To get things done we have to work with those who disagree with us.

  • Simon Phearson

    In most places, drivers are a majority.

    I thought we were talking about NYC.

    And even in the handful of places in the US where that isn’t true, there is still a significant minority who either want or need to drive. In including those who deliver everything you consume, emergency services, utility trucks, buses, cabs, Uber, shuttles etc.

    Right, the whole, “some people rely on driving, therefore hands off!” line of argument.

    Again, you’re just walking right past the point I’d made. Which is that the “paradox of success” does not mean we need to limit cycling facilities lest they overwhelm everything else. It just highlights the need to make an evaluative judgment of which modes of transportation we should serve.

    Having lived in parts of the country where most people drive, I can affirmatively say that a lot of people drive there not out of some general sense that that’s what they’d prefer to be doing with their time, but because those communities have already been designed around the presumption that people will drive everywhere. Change that normative presumption, you’ll change what people will do.

    You can swear and become as abusive as you like. But you can’t expect readers to infer anything from that other than you know that you’re losing the argument and lashing out. To get things done we have to work with those who disagree with us.

    I’m not an advocate. I’m not trying to convince idiots to go along with my approach to things by sweet-talking to them and pretending they’re not ignorant. What I care about are facts and good reasoning. You apparently don’t, and would prefer to “win” an argument by whinging about the language I use. So you’re an idiot. You win on that front.

  • GregKamin

    OK, as long as you admit you’re just ranting and have no desire to actually work with those trying to improve things or those with the power to change things, then I get why you are the way you are.

    Fortunately the advocates who do work to increase safety are more diplomatic and therefore more successful.

    The argument for bike lanes is safety. If the result of those bike lanes is that it saves lives but costs you some time, I suspect that the rest of us can live with that.

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