Fast on First Ave.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The City is moving forward with plans to install Bus Rapid Transit on 1st and 2nd Avenues in Manhattan. WNYC's Andrea Bernstein discusses the plan and the city's larger transportation goals.


Andrea Bernstein

Comments [41]

Carol from Manhattan

How crazy would it be to do all that work on Second Avenue as it is being torn up left and right for dozens of blocks to put the subway in? You'd build the bike and bus lanes only to be torn up for the subway construction. Waste of money and bad timing!

Jan. 24 2010 08:09 PM
Pete from Bay Ridge

As a cyclist, I am all for more bike lanes and the enforcement of them being just for bikes. If you have ever tried to bike in the city, via the bike lanes, you'll be sure the find hordes of pedestrians either walking in them, holding hands (especially the protected ones around 30th street & Broadway), taxi cabs pulling in and out of them without hesitation, people opening car doors, standing waiting for lights to change, trucks parked in them, unloading whatever etc. So naturally, cyclists will leave them or not rely solely on them because they are unreliable.

You can give cyclists all the bike lanes in the world, but if no one is enforcing the fact that they are bike lanes for bikes, then they are just lines on the asphalt.

I wouldn't mind ticket enforcement of "bike salmon" as BikesnobNYC calls them. They are those who go against traffic on their bikes which is extremely dangerous for every biker, pedestrian and car. Delivery men on their bikes also need to learn and follow the rules. They are notorious for biking against traffic and have nearly collided with me multiple times.

I think it all comes down to mutual respect, but in this city, that's going to be tough.

Jan. 22 2010 01:46 PM
Roger Bergman from NYC (Second Av/ E69th St

Tried to call in to Andrea Bernstein/Brian Lehrer about bicycle plans on Second Av, but I couldn't get to the phone fast enough.

I operate Pedal Pusher Bike Shop on Second Av at 69th St. As you can imagine, we would love to see more bicycle activity here.

Regarding impolite and dangerous cycling practices, I advocate enforcement of bicycle riding laws. In fact, I volunteer my time as an Auxiliary Police Officer. Ironically, when I was in London last summer I saw many signs warning cyclists that offenses are punishable by fines. I do not see such signs here in NYC. (They would have to be in many languages here, wouldn't they?)

Merchants who complain about reduced customer activity if bike lanes are installed are simply mistaken. Just as pedestrian areas (Times Square, Trafalgar Square, the Stroget, Las Ramblas) attract walk-in customers, so bicycle areas improve customer visits. A cyclist can stop at the pharmacy, the florist, and the post office MUCH easier on his way home from work than a driver in a car.

I would love to continue the conversation any time.

Roger Bergman

Jan. 22 2010 12:55 PM
joe from manhattan

let's face it, the situation is a bit of a war.
most cyclists on manhattan's streets AND sidewalks are not simply enthusiasts, they are messengers and delivery people.
to this fact, many self-serving 'arguments' are presented: we'd be safer if we had our own lanes; most cyclists abide by the law; i abide by the law on 9th avenue because there are bike lanes there.

i have yet to see many cyclists on the new lanes on 8th or 9th avenues.

the "whole point" as a cyclist wrote earlier is not to weave in between traffic. as a cyclist, you are a vehicle subject to the same laws as automobiles.
the most honest cyclist i ever saw was on NY1 a few years ago when the city did a photo-op week of handing out tickets to cyclists for traffic violations. he basically said, 'i don't care, i've got a living to earn.'

pedestrians in the city are not looking to take away your livelihood. we just want to feel and be safer. i was hit by a cyclist in the middle of the day. i guess it was my fault for not looking uptown during a red light: he was riding downtown on 6th avenue. after he knocked me over, he started to chastise me!

i have to hand it to entities like the NYBMA as they and others have clearly made their case to the city and the bloomberg administration.
it has become too much of a political fire cracker to enforce laws already on place and would be seen as hurting working new yorkers.
the police are too busy with more serious crime and with the current trends in urban design, the cyclists get to claim that the city is safer while they pretty much do what they want.
this is a great metropolis, isn't it?

Jan. 22 2010 12:20 PM
EJ from NYC


You're absolutely right about a cyclist's vulnerability starting up from a dead stop. Some intersections have staggered lights, where the walk sign for pedestrians turns green before the one for cars- I imagine that's because it increases pedestrian safety. I'd like to see the same for bicycles.

I'm thankful that Ms. Sadik-Khan is focused on these issues, and that Transportation Alternatives works to make the city safer for everyone; pedestrians, cyclists and cars, through advocacy and things like the Biking Rules! campaign (no, I don't work for them, but I am a member. Go, T.A.!)

Jan. 22 2010 12:08 PM
nat from Brooklyn

#35 EJ: I'm with you there. I personally see more cyclists abide by laws in bike lanes. The more built up the lane, the more legally observant the rider.

The perception that I have as a cyclist is that I take my safety more seriously than traffic laws. That means yielding to oncoming traffic as well as pedestrians. Though the other side of that is the fact that I am the most vulnerable as a cyclist when I'm getting started from a total stop. I'm wobbly and slow, with slower reaction times. It takes me about half a block to get up to top speed. Given the common driver tendency to explode from the light (particularly long ones), and turn as quickly as possible across the cyclist's path, it just makes sense to be a half a block down and already going full speed - the cars see you, you can maneuver faster and generally be safer than dealing with impatient drivers honking you through the intersection.

Jan. 22 2010 11:26 AM
EJ from NYC

As a cyclist, I ride pretty cautiously and take great care around pedestrians, but I'm as guilty as anyone of doing the "Indiana roll" through a red light when there are no cars or people crossing (I'm a native New Yorker; maybe jaywalking is in the blood, bike or no).

Here's the thing:
On the protected bike lanes on 8th & 9th avenues, I tend to obey the red lights MUCH more often.

Why? I think it's because the protected lane keeps me safe, and the separate lights for bikes and turning cars assure that everyone gets a turn (whereas riding on the street is more often a free for all, where cars forget that I weigh in at 160 lbs., bike included, to their 3000+ lbs. of steel).

I'll bet I'm not alone in this. Maybe better bike lanes make for better bicyclists.

Jan. 22 2010 11:16 AM
nat from Brooklyn

To all of you callers and listeners worried about bikes I urge you to think about these issues like rational adults who can take facts into account.

The numbers are there; a pedestrian dies as the result of a car in New York City on average every other day. As of last Friday 14 people had already died this year. Cars hitting pedestrians are the number one killer of children in the five boroughs.

Over the last ten years only one, that I know of, pedestrian has been killed by a cyclist. This is a number supported by the basic physics of it, a cyclist just can't slam into you with the same force as a car, and if it rolls over you, likely will not crush your bones and organs.

Furthermore, I've noticed a sort of confirmation bias; critics only notice the cyclists doing stupid things, and not the ones who patiently wait at lights, or yield to pedestrians. I see dozens of cyclists doing this in bike lanes every day. Seriously, try counting you will be surprised how many respectful cyclists there are in this town, particularly the ones drawn to bike lanes.

And finally, on the enforcement issue, the police do a terrible job at enforcing all traffic laws. I watch cars do illegal things like block crosswalks, or turn through pedestrians' right of way all the time. Drivers run red lights, they speed, they park in bike lanes. Its not a lack of enforcement for bicyclists, its a general lack of enforcement of traffic law. Quite frankly, since we know that things like bigger sidewalks, corner neck-downs and separated bike lanes enforce laws (and thus improve safety) through better design, we should embrace these ideas and not let the number one killer of our children be the failings of a car centric design of the city streets.

Jan. 22 2010 11:11 AM
lorenzo sanguedolce from Brooklyn, NY

commenting on the woman who is terrified of bicyclists: pedestrians also have to learn to be aware of bicyclists. often pedestrians rely on their ears, and because they don't hear a motor fast approaching, they don't always look before stepping out into the street. They also assume that because cars are stopped in a line of traffic that it is safe for them to cross, not realizing that bikes can fit between cars and do not stop in traffic (that's the whole point of biking through the city).
As a biker, I just want to stress that pedestrians (as well as drivers) need to be more alert and learn to be aware of the presence of bikers on the streets.

Jan. 22 2010 11:11 AM
joe from manhattan

for the cyclists who are claiming that they will be safer and law abiding if they have their own lanes, how much money and resources has the city spent on the new bike lanes?
the cyclists do NOT use them.

Jan. 22 2010 11:09 AM
Dan from Brooklyn Heights

If you want to know if this will work just walk down 34th Street until you get to the platoon of police vehicles idling in the bus lane. Counting on the NYPD to enforce the bus lanes is never going to result in the level of enforcement that bus mounted cameras would bring.

Andrea got this wrong in her report. The question of red light cameras is seperate from the issue of bus mounted cameras which take pictures of vehicles that block bus lanes and automatically send tickets. Bus cameras have not approved by Albany in any form and are really the only way to enforce non physically separated lanes.

Its exasperating to listen to a show about BRT that allows itself to be hijacked by people complaining about the behavior of cyclists. The odds of being struck and injured or killed by a car are orders of magnitude greater than your chances of being struck by a cyclist. I was nearly killed by a minivan running a red light the other day. If that van had hit me I would have died. I have never been traveling fast enough on my bike to kill someone.

If I run a red light or make an illegal turn I rarely endanger the safety of pedestrians. Unfortunately motorists believe the same thing is true of their vehicles and also unfortunately, they are wrong.

Jan. 22 2010 11:08 AM
Ryan from Barcelona (transplanted Jersey) addition, there are "bus lane control vehicles" that circulate around the city in the bus lanes with a camera on top of the car (almost like that crazy Google Street View car) and it takes pictures of any car that violates the bus lane regulations. Fines are mailed directly to the address where the vehicle is registered and (as with any moving violation that is fined via photographic controls) the owner of the vehicle has 15 days to inform "Motor Vehicles Agency" who was driving the vehicle at the time of the violation. If they do not, they are automatically held responsible for the violation.

Jan. 22 2010 11:05 AM

If you whiny drivers had the visibility and maneuverability of a cyclist you would be inclined to take driver controls less seriously. Traffic lights & road signs are a distraction from the real action - people, traffic, parked cars, etc. You've already ceded your legs to a machine; please don't do so with your brain.

Jan. 22 2010 11:03 AM
June from NYC

I'd love to see the bike lanes. They're great in Amsterdam. It makes the city move very quickly. But, riders here don't follow the rules, someone on a bike ran my husband down! The bike was going the wrong way on a one way street. This guy never even stopped to see if my husband was ok, he just got up and went on his way leaving behind bruised ribs and a black eye! I went for a ride down the lovely west side park this fall for the first time, which was great, but when I stopped at the red light for bikes, I was the only one, all other bikers blew right past me like I was a fool!

Jan. 22 2010 11:02 AM
Ryan from Barcelona (transplanted Jersey)

here in Barcelona, the circulation laws are applied to the bicycle riders/users as well ...

...if you run a red light, you can be fined and get the points applied to your driver's license ... the laws of using the "via publica" or "public roadways" are universal for bicycle operators and motorists alike. .... it seems to help, things aren't perfect ...

it seems surprising that there is a virtual "lawlessness" when it comes to NYC bike riders ...

Jan. 22 2010 11:01 AM
db from nyc

... and furthermore (ha!)!

TICKET daydreaming, gadget fiddling, jay walking, dim-witted pedestrians.


Jan. 22 2010 11:01 AM
Joachim from across from macys

As a cyclist I would like to comment on the statement the older women made about cyclists being dangerous. The most dangerous thing to cyclist on the streets of NYC are pedestrians. Hands down. If people would stay on the sidewalk, cross at cross walks and cross when the light is green while NOT talking on the phone or texting it would really make us more likely to be kind to pedestrians. There are to many people walking around in the street not paying attention.

Jan. 22 2010 11:01 AM
Amy from Manhattan

If BRT is implemented, will transfers be extended so people can take an express bus, transfer to a local one going the same way, & switch to a crosstown bus on 1 fare? The same trip can be done on 1 fare on the slower buses--we'd want to encourage people to take the rapid ones, right?

Jan. 22 2010 11:01 AM
Robots Need 2 Party from NYC

If you've ever ridden a bicycle in NYC you'll know how difficult it is to get anywhere safely and obey the laws for cyclists. It's just not safe for the rider. Many of the infractions cyclists make is due to their own safety. If this city actually had safe bike lanes many of the pedestrians concerns about dangerous bicycle riders would be alleviated.

Are people seriously more afraid of bicycles than cars? Are we really debating that bikes are bad?

Jan. 22 2010 11:00 AM
smidely from

Maniacal bikers are the last vestiges of our formerly untamed city, for worse and for better. BOO!

Jan. 22 2010 11:00 AM
Cassandra from Bushwick, Brooklyn

the reason that so many people bike on 1st and 2nd Avenue is that it just isn't practical to bike along the waterfront path, which has a huge gap in the middle of it. it just doesn't make sense to take the bike path because you'd have to exit the path in the 30s/40s, ride a few blocks west when the path ends, then ride back east to rejoin the path when it starts back up. it's a huge waste of time so most cycilsts just stick to 1st and 2nd avenue. I vote for overhauling the East Side bike path to make it a more viable option, which would also relieve bike traffic on the Eastern avenues

Jan. 22 2010 10:59 AM
j from ues

Great news! Thanks
Any plans for covering the bikelanes so we can ride dry in the rain?

And to all the outraged. Where's your fear of cars.

Jan. 22 2010 10:59 AM
Dave from Teaneck New Jersey


When I was in Munich Germany for work back in July 2008, as a pedestrian you had better pay attention to all traffic, bicyclist, buses and taxis.

While in Germany, I was almost hit by a cyclist because I was paying more attention to car traffic while accidentally standing a little in the bike lane.

I am a cyclist and roller blade skater myself and I have almost mowed over unconscious pedestrians.

Jan. 22 2010 10:59 AM
Stephen from Manhattan

I'm all for reducing pollution by encouraging bicycling, but bicyclists MUST be licensed and the cops MUST enforce traffic laws. I was mowed down by someone in Central Park who thought he was in the final leg of the Tour de France. I spent the day in the emergency room and the cops didn't even take his name despite there being dozens of witnesses who saw him run a red light and hit me IN THE CROSSWALK. Bicyclists are almost a bigger menace to pedestrians than cars.

Jan. 22 2010 10:58 AM
Dan Kinch from Brooklyn

The animosity from pedestrians re bikers is a real problem for me as a bike commuter. I don't want to minimize the fact that there's an average of 1 cyclist-caused pedestrian fatality a year--but there are an average of 200 car caused pedestrian/cyclists fatalities in any given year. The problem is that police don't ticket bicycles--and they really don't ticket motorists.

Jan. 22 2010 10:58 AM
Scott from Brooklyn

Honestly almost half the time pedestrians freak out when cyclists push through a light that is theirs already. NY'ers are just so used to jaywalking and they don;t respect bicycles as vehicles WHICH IS what the city says they are. Look up and look out...

Jan. 22 2010 10:58 AM
David Aronowitz from Riverdale

NYPD does not enforce bus only lane that is the holy grail.

Cars parking at bus stops [maybe you Brian Lehrer are guilty too of that practice - for a minute to get my java and bagel and I am out of the bus stop] while the disabled is waiting in his wheel chair to get the bus.

As you may recall recently there was a car parked when they got a ticket and it was publicized in NYT that the mother was breast feeding her baby, thenafter it was revealed that the father went upstairs to his work place.

Jan. 22 2010 10:58 AM
db from nyc

... then ENFORCE the damn bike lanes!!!

a strip of paint does not save lives.

Jan. 22 2010 10:57 AM
adsf from

" 1902 had more traffic deaths than 2009."

Is there a record of average traffic speeds in those years?

Hard to die when you get hit by a vehicle travelling 2 mph (approx rate of the 42nd st crosstown bus in 2009)

Jan. 22 2010 10:57 AM
kate from washington heights

In the spirit of keeping bus service moving more quickly and making it easy for riders, I would appreciate some ideas addressing the extremely rude behavior of many people, especially kids after school, who cut into the long lines of passengers waiting to get on the bus. Ive seen innumerable people weave themselves into a bus line by just approaching the bus door from the side, instead of going to the back of the line.

Jan. 22 2010 10:57 AM
a from brooklyn

are you KIDDING????

pedestrians should be worried about dying under the wheels of cars- check the numbers.

the pedestrian-bike accident rate is factors of ten LESS than pedestrian-car accident rates.

Jan. 22 2010 10:57 AM

cars kill people everyday and people still voice their paranoia about bicyclists being reckless and not law abiding. sure, bicyclists should ride safely, but let's not blame the victim.

by the way, the rear doors on buses needn't be pushed to open. people don't realize that the rear doors have small buttons that one can push.

Jan. 22 2010 10:57 AM
Nancy from Manhattan

Wouldn't bicyclists who had a protected lane be "better behaved"?

Jan. 22 2010 10:56 AM
db from nyc

license cyclists!!!

i hate cyclists!!!

and i'm a 20 year nyc urban cyclist/advocate.

Jan. 22 2010 10:56 AM
Matt from NYC

There is no less safe to ride a bike than this city. Buses, cabs making sudden stops, people opening doors without paying attention, poor roads and worst of all people trying to catch a string of green lights and go too fast. This city would be so much better if the lights were less timed and cabs picked up from designated corners.

Jan. 22 2010 10:56 AM
Dale from Brooklyn

I just do see this working on Manhattan, because there is intersections, and the buses are not separate from the intersections. Intersections always get jammed up during rush hours. So unless the NYPD really gets cracking and start enforcing traffic rules, which generally they don't seem to do (they have bigger problems), I don't see how this is ever be better than a subway, which is completely separate from cars.

Jan. 22 2010 10:52 AM
hjs from 11211

buses should take pics of double parked trucks; tickets to be mailed

Jan. 22 2010 10:52 AM
Julie from bronx

WHat makes the BX12 fast is that passengers prepay at the bus stop.

Jan. 22 2010 10:48 AM
john from the office

Brain, ask if this is the same idea being tried in South America?? Where it works.

Jan. 22 2010 10:47 AM
Jesse from Westchester

By now, BRT should have stood for Bullet Rail Train!

Jan. 22 2010 10:47 AM
Daniel Parietti from Washington Heights, Manhattan

At face value, Bus Rapid Transit(BRT) promis es to be a cost effective form of mass transit expresss service. I do not use it on a regular basis, but I did so once, by accident, on the BX12 line and felt it worked OK. I liked the fact that it transfers the fare collection component of travel time from the bus to the transit/bus stop. Although the planning and implementation process to use this type of bus service to other parts of the City is difficult, I hope the City DOT can succesfully expand it.

Jan. 22 2010 10:43 AM

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