Big Apple Bikes

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Big Apple Bikes

Postby paul h » Sun Jan 06, 2008 9:25 am

A Busy City Street Makes Room for Bikes

Cyclists and pedestrians never quite imagined it this way, but maybe there is a use for all those cars after all.

The city is planning to remake seven blocks of Ninth Avenue in Chelsea into what officials are billing enthusiastically, perhaps a bit hyperbolically, as the street of the future.

The most unusual aspect of the design, which will run from 16th Street to 23rd Street, is that it uses a lane of parked cars to protect cyclists from other traffic.

It does this by placing the bike lane directly next to the sidewalk on the eastern edge of Ninth Avenue, which is the right side of the street for those facing north, in the direction of traffic. The plan also takes a lane from cars, creating more room for pedestrians and for the bicycle lane.

“I think it’s a sneak peek at the future streets of New York,” said Janette Sadik-Khan, the city’s transportation commissioner. “It represents the kinds of innovative ideas that we can explore to make the streets more livable.”

Next to the bike lane, which will be 10 feet wide, will be an eight-foot section of pavement that will act as a buffer, with plastic posts and large planters to keep cars from entering. The parking lane will be to the right of the buffer zone, and beyond that will be three lanes for traffic.

The result will be a barrier of parked cars between cyclists and moving vehicles.

“For cyclists, you’ve got a physically separate lane that prevents motorists from coming in,” Ms. Sadik-Khan said.

It is a design that has been used in cities in Europe but never in New York City.

Another feature will make life easier for people on foot. At each intersection, a raised island will extend into the avenue. Called a “pedestrian refuge,” it has the effect of shortening the distance traveled to cross the street to 45 feet, from 70 feet.

Ms. Sadik-Khan said that work would begin shortly and that the remade street would be completed by next month.

As part of the plan, single-space parking meters will be replaced by Muni-Meters, which control many spaces, and the cost of parking will increase to $2 an hour from $1.50.

Ms. Sadik-Khan said the makeover of the avenue was possible because traffic volume in the area was low enough that cars could move as smoothly in three lanes as in four.

It is not difficult to see how that rationale could dovetail with Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s proposal for congestion pricing, which would charge drivers a fee to use the streets of Manhattan below 86th Street. The fee is supposed to reduce the volume of traffic, which could theoretically free up street space for other uses.

Noah S. Budnick, the deputy director of Transportation Alternatives, an advocacy group that works to improve conditions for cyclists and pedestrians, said he thought a protected bike lane would encourage more New Yorkers to get on bikes.

“If you talk to the average New Yorker, they’d ride a bike, but most people say the traffic is too scary,” Mr. Budnick said. He pointed to the example of a popular bike path in Hudson River Park.

“If you provide protected space for riding bikes, New Yorkers are going to use it in droves,” he said.

Mr. Budnick was asked if the idea of parked cars protecting cyclists changed his view of the oversized S.U.V.’s that are often the bugaboo of bikers and environmentalists. After all, the bigger the car, the better the barrier.

“As long as they’re not moving,” he said.

nothing major here really, just for those of you who may think ny is some 'inhuman' place:p
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Re: Big Apple Bikes

Postby ctesiphon » Sun Jan 06, 2008 10:40 am

This got a mention in the Spacing Magazine blog* late last year too: Seems like a promising development. I'm not sure about the design - I'd need to see the details before I make uip my mind - but in principle it gets a thumbs up. I should be able to check it in a couple of months, assuming it's in place by then.

Also, there's something a little sad about Dublin admiring the cycle facilities of notorious NYC, though to be fair it's not like the road space doesn't exist over there, and the grid can better accommodate something like this than Dublin's higgledy piggledy organic streets.

*Though it's Canadian, that site is a great resource for general architecture, urbanism, transport, etc. matters, if anyone's not already aware of it.

EDIT: Here's another link to a Spacing entry on cycling in NYC: Worth a look for fans of Talking Heads (and follow the links in it too).

"Can I ride... right onto the stage?" :D
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Re: Big Apple Bikes

Postby notjim » Sun Jan 06, 2008 3:27 pm

I used to cycle in NYc when I lived there, it was actually easier than here because the roads are mostly straight, there are fewer buses and the junctions are predictable, the problem, of course was that the penalty was higher: you were less likely to have an accident but, because the traffic is much faster, much more likely to be killed if you did.

The hard, and maybe most thrilling part, was cycling through Times Sq, the traffic actually moves pretty fast and it comes from funny angles and the taxis weaving in and out force you into the centre of the road and the noise and lights and pedestrians and everything: it was so hard to concentrate and impossible to go slow. It was a real buzz, I'd come out the other side and suddenly realize I was shouting obscenely at the top of my voice: who is that person shouting "die fuck die", oh its me, how embarrassing!
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Re: Big Apple Bikes

Postby paul h » Mon Jan 07, 2008 3:48 am


Its suprisingly easy to bike around as the city is relativly compact
Although cycling over queensboro bridge is a real test of endurance
I must admit its very rare for me to be out on the bike - excuses, too cold or too hot:D
May/early june and sept/early oct only comfortable times for me (LAZY)

There is actually a few bike lanes already in existence in manhattan , ive seen them down towards village direction, but they're not worth a sh*t, merely 3ft wide painted white lines - on the traffic side of the parked cars
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Re: Big Apple Bikes

Postby paul h » Wed Jan 09, 2008 3:51 am

If anyone is interested just a pdf released with some extra bike lane details .
edit - ive just noticed this link is not working for some reason but here is a link to a page where it will work
i cannot upload directly because of upload limits
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Re: Big Apple Bikes

Postby Adolf Luas » Wed Jan 09, 2008 9:53 pm

The idea of parked cars acting as a barrier for cyclists from moving cars is a good one (when there's room). My only concern is for pedestrians leaving their parked vehicles and getting mown down by bicycles. I spent a couple of years in New York City in the late eighties, in the first four months I lived there, three people were knocked down and killed by cyclists (although I couldn't be sure, I think these were the mercenary bike courier variety). As a cyclist in Manhattan I found things safer than they had been in London or have been for the last eighteen years in Dublin, due, mainly to the abundance of one-way systems and the predictability they afford. Physically separating cycle lanes from the traffic (as is proposed here) is the only really effective method of ensuring safety and doing away with the only real excuse as to why people won't cycle in Dublin (other than getting wet and arriving at work drenched in sweat).
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