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Reader: NYC Bike Lanes

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9th Avenue

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Madison Square Park

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Madison Square Park

A reader submitted these photos from New York City to show what is being done with bike lanes there and as an example of what we should be thinking about doing in the 195 Street Grid:

Attached are photos of bikeway conditions at two intersections in New York. Ninth Avenue in Chelsea that shows one of the new bike traffic signals and partial island separations that NYCDOT has recently been installing around Manhattan. The other two show part of a complex intersection at Fifth Avenue and Broadway at Madison Square Park. The images reveal a hierarchy of use between the automotive traffic-way and stop-line, bikeway crossover, and pedestrian crosswalk. Bicycles usually are signalized along with automotive traffic. The bike crossovers act as a safety buffer between vehicles and pedestrians.

These conditions could provide examples for alternatives approaches for the Wickenden Street intersection. The potential for dangerous interactions between cyclists, pedestrians, and vehicles with the current auto-centric design seems great. RIDOT may have legitimate concerns about traffic backing up on the highway, but its design comes at the expense of everything else.

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15 Responses to Reader: NYC Bike Lanes

  1. Jim September 13, 2009 at 5:53 pm #

    I would love to see bike lanes with a physical barrier from auto traffic on some of our wider streets (Broadway, Smith St, Blackstone Blvd, Pleasant Valley Pkwy when it turns into a one way pair).

  2. Tony P September 13, 2009 at 7:48 pm #

    I completely agree with Jim. I’d serious dig a dedicated bike lane on Broadway that connects to downtown on one end, and straight through to Olneyville in the west.

  3. Corey September 13, 2009 at 11:54 pm #

    Yeah, except that sticking a physical barrier in the road would cannibalize all the parking on Broadway. Bad idea.

  4. Will September 14, 2009 at 12:44 am #

    It’d be nice if they could incorporate the “real bike lanes you can actually see” on Blackstone Blvd. or Narragansett Blvd., maybe as a test case. Unless you are really playing attention, they’re hardly noticeable.

  5. Faiser September 14, 2009 at 1:48 am #

    Nice photos, but they show primarily empty bike lines.

    I wonder if the photographer has ever seen what these lanes look like during rush hour. The threat of tri-body collision of ped/biker/car is still very real.

    @Corey
    The physical barrier in nyc along other avenues and streets is actually parked cars. It’s interesting to see parking spots nearly in the middle of the street, but seems to a viable option nonetheless.

  6. Jim September 14, 2009 at 7:06 pm #

    @Corey: What I envision is similar to what Faiser mentions. It’s a small curb that is only a couple feet from the current curb. It would make Broadway more narrow, slowing down traffic, which is needed. There would still be room for parked cars as Broadway is really wide, even with cars parked on both sides.

  7. Jef Nickerson September 15, 2009 at 3:05 pm #

    Grand Street Buffered Bike Lane

    Photo (cc) K_Gradinger

    This is from Grand Street in NYC and is what Jim is talking about. This can be done with paint as it is here in New York, or a low curb and/or stanchions can be placed between the parking lane and bike lane.

    the lane itself / kontrapas w ca?ej okaza?o?ci

    Photo (cc) krakow.bicycles

    This bike lane in Krakow, Poland combines the bikes with the pedestrians separated with a small curb. Stanchions separate the lane from the street which has streetcar tracks in it.

    Yield to bike lane

    Photo (cc) Payton Chung

    This bike lane in Montreal is separated from the parking lane by a small curb.

    Bike Lane

    Photo by Jef Nickerson

    This bike lane on Vassar Street in Cambridge goes up onto the sidwalk.

  8. Frymaster September 17, 2009 at 10:49 am #

    First of, I can’t say this enough every time bike lanes come up. NORTH. MAIN. STREET!!!

    RIDOT and the Bike Coalition – for some bizarre reason – think that Hope St is a better N/S route than No Main. My suggestion: try riding a bicycle. We cyclists are notorious wuss-bags who will always take the flattest route. And that route is No Main. To act as if No Main is not the actual preferred route is willful ignorance. Just go to No Main and count the bikes. It’s a lot!

    Okay, I feel better.

    For me, personally, I’d rather ride (in a marked bike lane) with the cars thanup on the sidewalk with the peds. I’m going a lot closer to car speed than I am to ped speed. In bicycle vs ped, the bike wins. And peds can potentially wander and make strange unexpected about-faces. They’re just scary.

    But I _do_ wish the had reversed the bike/parking lanes on BS Blvd, although that make cross streets a little scary.

    And, Will, Narra Blvd bike lane is an utter joke. There’s so much sand and trash in it that they should advertise it as a mountain bike path. Oh, yeah, and there seems to be some law that if you’re at the strip club, you can park in the bike lane. So utter lack of 1) maintenance and 2) enforcement make that a non-bike lane.

    Jeezum, have I got some bile this AM. Well, it’s a natural by-product of cycling in PVD.

  9. P Boyce September 17, 2009 at 1:39 pm #

    I just spent 10 days in Amsterdam and it gave me a new view of how bikes, pedestrians, cars, and Streetcars can all intertwine. Most major streets there have a Streetcar “Tram” in the middle with one lane for cars in each direction, then parking, then a bike lane, and then a large sidewalk. Each lane was separated by a small curb. And it all seemed to work as long as everyone Pays Attention, each mode of transportation was equal, it was great to watch. I would love to see something like that down North Main or else where in Providence, but I think it would take a lot of determination by many.

  10. Dan September 18, 2009 at 10:43 am #

    I think that painting the bike lanes on Blackstone Blvd like they do in NYC would go along way to making the lane more visible to cars. Having ridden it, I don’t mind the way its laid out.

  11. Jef Nickerson September 18, 2009 at 1:56 pm #

    In the first photo I posted in the comments, I like the treatment of the bike lane crossing the cross street. The chevrons and the dashed lines. It indicates to traffic entering the street that something is happening in this area and you need to take note. That treatment does not exist on Blackstone currently.

  12. Frymaster September 18, 2009 at 10:28 pm #

    Bike lanes painted across cross streets? In Providence? Don’t ever let it be said that you don’t dream big, Jef.

    Over the years I’ve ridden, oh, a couple hundred laps on Blackstone, and it really is a special case, almost a cycle utopia. First, the road is one-way, which eliminates left turns crossing traffic, the #1 cause of accidents. Then, the road surrounds a park which automatically calms the drivers down. Plus, the police have had pretty aggressive enforcement of speed, so the actual average speed is around 30 mph, which you can deal with.

    All of that said, it’s also probably the _least_ heavily trafficked major route in PVD and a super-wide street and it’s a focal point for recreation. If there were a place to work out various ideas, that would be the place.

    Personally, I’m much more interested in developing No Main and Elmwood Ave as major bike routes using some sort of “soft” lane. The idea is that bike get the right lane; cars have to pass on the left. Cars can be in the right lane if there are no bikes. It’s pretty simple to understand, lets those roads become bike routes with a minimum of time/construction/cost and it sets a precedent that bikes are allowed to be on the street. It’s not illegal (as jacka** in a pick up assured me this afternoon on Cranston St.).

    Finally, on the topic of New York City and the great way that peds, bikes and cars work together, here’s a little piece I wrote called Complex Adaptive NYC. NYC has a strictly enforced standard of behavior, as opposed to a rigid set of rules. It lets things like beneficial jay walking and Idaho-rules cycling take place without any formal regulations.

  13. Frymaster September 18, 2009 at 10:31 pm #

    OMG, look at the traffic light in the very first photo. See? It’s a special green light for bikes. I think I’m gonna cry…

  14. jencoleslaw October 12, 2009 at 1:21 pm #

    Here’s an interesting article about a book being published to highlight Worst Case Practices regarding bike lanes and signage:

    http://www.architectsjournal.co.uk/news/daily-news/crap-cycle-lanes-astragals-book-of-the-month/5209193.article

  15. Matthew Coolidge October 13, 2009 at 11:29 am #

    Jen, those are fantastic photos. I considered taking some myself this weekend as I biked down Allen’s ave. There, the bike lane simply disappears onto Eddy St, as does the shoulder when approaching Davol Sq. And don’t get me started about broken glass…

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