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Transportation Nation

Not Even Zebras Can Stop Cars From U-Turning Through D.C. Bike Lane

Friday, November 08, 2013

WAMU

District officials want to prevent cars from making illegal U-turns through the Pennsylvania Avenue bike lane. But critics say the spacing of zebras -- so-called plastic barriers -- isn't doing the trick.

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Transportation Nation

De Blasio: Protected Bike Lanes Are A "Success"

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

New York City mayoral frontrunner Bill de Blasio has come a long way since his days of opposing the Prospect Park West bike lane.  At a speech Tuesday afternoon before a group of urban innovators, de Blasio said, "We see the success of the New York City’s bicycling program. Biking is up 60 percent since 2008. The designs innovated for the streets of Chelsea and the East Village are now seen in protected bike lanes on the National Mall in Washington DC, on Market Street in San Francisco and in cities across the country."

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Transportation Nation

Parking Concerns Lead D.C. to Tweak Future M Street Bike Lane

Thursday, August 15, 2013

WAMU

A new bike lane will be installed along D.C.'s M Street later this year. But after a local church voiced concerns about parking, one block of the lane will lose its protective bollards.

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WNYC News

City Deploys Agents to Police Bike Lanes Ahead of Bike Share Launch

Friday, April 26, 2013

Ahead of next month's launch of a new bike share program, the city’s Department of Transportation is deploying so-called "street safety managers" to restore order back to bike lanes and make sure cyclists — and pedestrians — are obeying traffic signals.

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Transportation Nation

A Bike Lane Grows in Manhattan

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Members of the public line up to speak at the Community Board 7's bike lane meeting (photo by Kate Hinds)

The Upper West Side's 'bike lane to nowhere' will finally go somewhere.

After lengthy debate -- not to mention two months of committee meetings -- Manhattan's Community Board 7 voted Tuesday night in favor of a extending the Columbus Avenue bike lane from 59th Street up to 110th Street.

The lane, which currently stretches from 77th to 96th streets, is the only protected on-street bike lane in the neighborhood. The extension will connect it to another protected lane running south of 59th Street down Ninth Avenue, as well as bring the city's bike network north to the fringes of Harlem.

The vote came after four hours of debate and public testimony. One of the sticking points for many board members was how the lane will traverse the so-called "bow tie" around Lincoln Square, where Broadway and Columbus intersect (map). Some board members wanted to defer the vote until the city's Department of Transportation came up with additional safety amenities for that segment, and several amendments to the board's resolution were proposed. (TN will have the text when it is made available.)

But at the end of the night, the board voted 26 to 11 (with one abstention) in support of the full lane, with calls for ongoing dialogue with the DOT about its implementation.

This reporter's unofficial tally of public testimony (photo by Kate Hinds)

The evening had its moments of levity. When debate opened, one board member raised his hand and said that he had a couple of questions about "the second amendment."

Pause.

"Oh, I thought you were talking about gun control," Andrew Albert, the co-chair of the transportation committee, said dryly. The room broke up.

On Wednesday, DOT commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan sent an email expressing her satisfaction with the board's vote. "The community’s ringing support will swing an even safer Columbus Avenue into high gear,” she said. “This project started with the community and Columbus is now a safer street with 100% of storefronts occupied. Residents, businesses and the entire community have seen that this project works.”

The DOT says construction of the bike lane extension will begin this summer and should take two months to complete.

Columbus Avenue bike lane, September 2011 (photo by Kate Hinds)

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Transportation Nation

DC Bike Advocates See U-Turn Enforcement as a Good Sign

Thursday, January 31, 2013

The bicycle lanes in the middle of Pennsylvania Ave. are off-limits to cars (photo by Martin Di Caro/WAMU)

Anyone making an illegal U-turn across the bike lanes on Pennsylvania Avenue in downtown D.C. will be subject to a $100 fine. District officials are wrapping up a public awareness campaign about the new law.

Employees with the District Department of Transportation were out on Pennsylvania Ave. Wednesday handing out fliers that to motorists that say, "Please help us stop the Pennsylvania Avenue U-turns."

The road is wide and drivers sometimes make mid-block U-turns across bike lanes. But as TN reported previously, almost 80% of the avenue's bike crashes are caused by cars making U-turns.

The practice is now illegal, and after 30 days of issuing warnings, police will now hand violators a $100 ticket. Bicyclists say cabbies are the worst offenders, making U-turns to pick up passengers hailing from the other side of the street.

"Well, you are going straight down Pennsylvania Avenue and you are pedaling along, you have green lights, you are going quick, and then all of a sudden a car that you are thinking is going straight all of a sudden whips around and you are looking at getting t-boned on your bicycle," says Maggie Benson. "It's very scary."

Benson rides her bike to work every day down Pennsylvania Avenue. Before the law was passed, there wasn't much she could do.

"You kind of throw your arms up, kind of yell a little bit and keep pedaling," Benson says.

But bicycle advocates also see the need for the enforcement as a sign of progress. If D.C. hadn't seen such growth in bicycling, there'd be no issues with cabbies crashing into bicyclists as taxi drivers and others make illegal U-turns. If D.C. weren't such a big bicycling city, there'd be no bike lanes on Pennsylvania Avenue in the first place.

"It's about the next steps in integrating biking as a major form of transportation in this city," says Shane Farthing, executive director of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association.

There are now 56 miles of bike lanes in the District of Columbia, the most traveled being those on Pennsylvania Avenue, L Street and 15th Street. Farthing says the more bicyclists are on the road, the more drivers become accustomed to them.

"That's been proven to be true in cities across the country and the world, that the more cyclists you have the more motorists adjust and the safer cycling becomes overall," he says.

While police are responsible for enforcement, Farthing is focused on education for both motorists and cyclists, especially as D.C. adds even more bicycling infrastructure. "A lot of us took the driver's exam a long time ago when we didn't have things like center cycle tracks and dedicated bike lanes and things like that," he points out.

Pennsylvania Avenue is home to the city's only center bike lane, and it was prominently featured in this month's presidential inauguration.

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Transportation Nation

D.C.'s Pennsylvania Avenue Bike Lane Gets Presidential

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Inauguration Day 2013 (image courtesy of the First Lady's twitter account)

Monday's inauguration went off without any serious hitches. Sure, there's some Tuesday morning quarterbacking. It turned out that Beyoncé lip-synched the national anthem. Michelle Obama might have directed a sarcastic look at John Boehner during the post-inauguration luncheon. That could be a Supreme Court justice nodding off during the proceedings.

But the District's Department of Transportation (DDOT) couldn't have been happier.

"See that?! See that?! NO, not that great coat, the bike lanes!!!" the agency tweeted, referring to a photo of the First Couple walking on the Pennsylvania Avenue bike lanes.

The photo, which was circulated by the First Lady's Twitter account, quickly made waves among bike advocates.

"Obama Becomes First Prez to Walk Down a Bike Lane on Inauguration Day," read a Streetsfilms headline. One wishful bike blog took it a step further:

"One of the things that we were most proud about was that the inaugural parade was the chance to show off our bike lanes on Pennsylvania Avenue," said DDOT spokesman John Lisle. The lane, which was installed in 2010, did not exist during the last inauguration.

Lisle added that about 600 bikes were parked in the DDOT's bike corrals and bike parking lots as well -- a lower number than the 1,000 bikes parked during the 2009 presidential inauguration -- but then again, Capital Bikeshare didn't yet exist.

A DDOT bike corral on 17th and K (photo by Eric Gilliland via flickr)

As it turned out, fewer people rode Capital Bikeshare than expected. According to Lisle, there were 4,572 total trips on Inauguration Day -- but 5,772 the day before.

Meanwhile: D.C.'s Metrorail recorded 779,787 trips during the 2013 inauguration. That's about 70% of the ridership reached during the 2009 inauguration.

The transit agency chalked up the lower crowds to Monday's federal holiday, which cut down on work commuters.

Cowds outside of L'Enfant Plaza Monday afternoon after the temporary closure of the gates (photo by Jonathan Wilson/WAMU)

(with reporting from Martin DiCaro)

 

 

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Transportation Nation

Chris Quinn: Don't Talk About Bike Lanes at Dinner Parties

Friday, January 11, 2013

Bike lanes are now not good dinner party conversation.  So says New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.  "Bike lanes, I put that now in the category of things you shouldn't discuss at dinner parties, right? It used to be money and politics and religion.  Now in New York you should add bike lanes," the 2013 candidate for Mayor said, chuckling, as a luncheon audience of Broadway and tourism officials chuckled with her.

(For a famous dinner party conversation about bike lanes, read here.)

"Start wherever you want," urged WNYC's Brian Lehrer, who was hosting the event.  "But talk about bike lanes, and pedestrian malls, and all things Bloomberg and Sadik-Khan."

More chuckling.

"Bike lanes are clearly controversial," Quinn said. "And one of the problems with bike lanes -- and I'm generally a supporter of bike lanes --  but one of the problems with bike lanes has been not the concept of them, which I support, but the way the Department of Transportation has implemented them without consultation with communities and community boards. "

The City DOT disputes that, and has provided reams of evidence over the years of community board interest in bike lanes.

In her remarks, Quinn kind of acknowledged that, but still maintained there wasn't enough community notification.

"So, for example in Chelsea, the Ninth Avenue bike lane south of 23rd street was put in place -- and the Community Board Four loves the bike lane, LOVES the bike lane, been asking for bike lanes for years and years and years.  It was put in on Ninth Avenue without notification to my office, and I was speaker at the time.

"That's a problem, right?," Quinn went on. "That's a problem particularly in a community like Chelsea, where there is such interest in bike lanes but then you just create tension. It's also a problem for example in Lew Fidler's district in Brooklyn, where I'd say the jury's mixed about bike lanes.  They were okay with the idea of the bike lane, they just wanted it moved one block over. "

Quinn's remarks -- a variation of which have been uttered by many of the Democratic candidates running for Mayor -- came despite polls showing bike lanes are favored by a majority of New Yorkers.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

Columbus Ave. Bike Lane Stand-Off

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Kate Hinds, producer/reporter with Transportation Nation, talks about stalled plans to extend the protected bike lane along Columbus Avenue and the effects of bike lanes on commerce. Mel Wymore, former chair of Community Board 7 and proponent of the bike lane, joins the conversation.

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Transportation Nation

Manhattan Community Board Rejects Bike Lane Extension, But "We're Not Done With This"

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

(photo by Kate Hinds)

Over 100 people turned out Tuesday night for a marathon community board hearing to discuss extending the Upper West Side's only on-street protected bike lane. The city wants to extend the Columbus Avenue lane from its current terminus at 77th Street down to 59th Street, where it would connect to a bike lane on Ninth Avenue, giving Upper West Side bikers a protected ride to Midtown Manhattan.  The city would also lengthen the Columbus Avenue bike lane up to 110th Street.

Many of the attendees wore stickers supporting the Columbus Avenue lane, and over the course of the meeting, dozens of people -- including the former "Ethicist" columnist for the New York Times -- spoke out in favor of a proposal to double its length. But by the time the three hour meeting was over, the transportation committee of Community Board 7 failed to pass a resolution supporting it.

Here's how it went down.

First up: the  New York City Department of Transportation presented data about the Columbus Avenue protected bike lane as it exists now.  The DOT's Hayes Lord painted a rosy picture: cycling has increased by 48 percent since the lane was installed. Vehicular speeding is down. The travel time for cars has improved. But the real benefit, Lord said, is that while total crashes have increased slightly, pedestrian injuries along the corridor have dropped by 41 percent. Moreover, he said, the bike lane is good for business: the retail occupancy rate for the Columbus Avenue BID south of 82nd Street is at 100 percent.

("I don't believe a word of it," hissed a man sitting next to me, one of the relatively few naysayers in the audience.)

Josh Benson (L) and members of Community Board 7 (photo by Kate Hinds)

In fact, said the DOT's Josh Benson, who was up next to talk about the lane's extension, the biggest problem with the lane is its "lack of connectivity" to the city's bike network.

As Benson got into the nuts and bolts of how the lane would be extended, two facts immediately stood out:  to accommodate necessary turning lanes and pedestrian islands, he said, the DOT would need to eliminate about 61 parking spaces along the east side of Columbus Avenue -- affecting 24 percent of the available parking. Also, because of the way Columbus and Broadway intersect, the bike lane south of 69th Street would not be protected. Instead, he said, it would be an "enhanced shared lane" -- meaning cars and bikes would mix together in a travel lane, with the understanding that cars won't be allowed to pass bicyclists. And south of 64th Street, ongoing long-term construction projects would hamper the installation of a permanent lane.

Crowd at CB7 meeting (photo by Kate Hinds)

When the public comment period opened, most people spoke out in favor of the extension. School children talked about commuting to school on the protected lane. The manager of the local Patagonia store said "it has been nothing but a positive for our business." The worries of a business owner -- who operates a moving company -- were assuaged by the DOT's assertion that it could create loading zones for moving trucks.  Two future City Council candidates spoke in favor of the lane. Even Randy Cohen -- the former "Ethicist" columnist for the New York Times-- said supporting it was a moral imperative.  "The improvements in safety are so fantastic," he said, "it seems like an ethical responsibility." But even that impassioned plea couldn't save the proposal.

When debate opened, it became apparent that committee members were divided. The loss of parking was a major objection. There were other, more arcane concerns: if the lane is on the left side of the street, one wondered, how would bicyclists safely make right turns? And some worried about the safety of the proposed enhanced shared lane. "Perception is everything," said board member Ken Coughlin. "If the lane is perceived as being unsafe for cyclists, it's not going to be used by cyclists." He presented a resolution in support of the lanes -- and asking the DOT to look into turning the shared lanes into protected lanes when construction of the water tunnel is done. But Coughlin made clear, "I would rather see an enhanced shared lane than nothing."

Nothing was what he got. When it came time to vote, Coughlin's resolution didn't get the majority it needed for committee support.

But Mark Diller -- the chair of Community Board 7 -- said it's not over.

"The resolution failed -- for tonight," said Diller. "But there's still potential for other resolutions, so we will continue to work on it."  Because the community board had to be out of the space by 10pm, the clock ran out. At future meetings, Diller said, "I'm sure somebody else will present another resolution, and I'm sure that will be discussed and hopefully we'll finally get to one we can approve."

Andrew Albert, co-chair of the transportation committee, said the board wanted more details about parking, loading zones, and its outreach plans for local businesses. "When DOT gives us the information we asked for," he said, "next month there will probably be a very different kind of vote."

"We're not done with this," added another board member, "by any means."

For a PDF of the DOT's presentation, click here.

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Transportation Nation

Could NYC's 'Bike Lane to Nowhere' Get A Boost?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

(photo by Kate Hinds)

A previously-tabled Manhattan bike lane plan will get another look at a community board meeting Tuesday night.

As Transportation Nation reported in October, the Upper West Side's Community Board 7 is taking another look at extending the neighborhood's only on-street protected bike lane.

The Columbus Avenue bike lane is occasionally referred to as a "bike lane to nowhere" because it's less than a mile long and doesn't connect to other bike lanes.

Here's some history: in 2009, the community board requested a study from the city for two bike lanes: one on Columbus Avenue lane from 110th Street to 59th Street, and a matching northbound lane on Amsterdam Avenue.

After heated debate in 2010, only the Columbus Avenue lane went in -- and only from 96th to 77th Streets. (Amsterdam was considered too narrow by the NYC DOT to accommodate a bike lane.)

On Tuesday night, the New York City Department of Transportation will make a public presentation about bike lane usage in the neighborhood -- and weigh in on the Columbus Avenue extension. TN will cover the meeting -- and, should our cell phone signal allow, live tweet.

Columbus Avenue , with a protected bike lane on right side (photo by Kate Hinds)

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Transportation Nation

D.C.: Car U-Turns Through a Bike Lane Are, In Fact, Illegal

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Pennsylvania Avenue bike lane (photo by Elvert Barnes via flickr)

Almost 80% of bike crashes on Pennsylvania Avenue -- home to the city's only center bike lane -- are caused by cars making U-turns. But until recently, there was some confusion over whether the maneuver was illegal or not.

Earlier this month, DCist reported there were apparent inconsistencies in D.C. law regarding when and where U-turns are permissible.

On Wednesday, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray ordered an "emergency rulemaking" to leave no doubt: cars can't drive across a bike lane to turn around.

"This is an effort to ensure the safety of our increasing numbers of cyclists in the District by closing a regulatory gap,” Gray said. “This action is in line with my efforts not only to protect public safety, but also to encourage a greener, healthier, more sustainable District through my Sustainable DC plan.”

(As he put it in a tweet, "U-turns across bike lanes are illegal. Fine=$100.")

Pedro Ribeiro, a spokesman for Gray, said "in 2010 and 2011, 11 of the 14 bike crashes on Pennsylvania Avenue involved vehicles making those U-turns."

Mid-block U-turns on Pennsylvania Avenue are one of the biggest safety concerns in the District. Dave Salovash bikes on the street every morning with his ten year old daughter. When he noticed the frequency of the mid-block U-turns, he decided to bring his camera one day.

"So I picked one spot and just stood there for half an hour and counted U-turns made across the bike lanes. I saw about 25 people doing it and managed to get pictures of about 20 of them," Salovash says.

The bike lanes have been in Pennsylvania Avenue's center median since 2010.

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Transportation Nation

NYC DOT Study: Street Redesign Good for the Economy

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Union Square's pedestrian plaza (photo by Kate Hinds)

New York City's Department of Transportation says redesigned streets have been very, very good to small businesses.

A new report says that retail sales are up along city streets that have bike paths, pedestrian plazas, slow zones, or select bus service.

In some cases, the increase is dramatic: on Brooklyn's Pearl Street, where the DOT maintains retail sales have increased by 172 percent since a parking triangle was turned into a pedestrian plaza.

In Measuring the Street, the DOT lays out metrics for evaluating street redesign projects. These include benchmarks like injuries, traffic speed and volume. And now it includes retail sales data along redesigned routes.

The report casts the city's street redesign in a favorable light just as hundreds of planners descend on the city for the Designing Cities conference, happening this week at New York University.

"For the first time, we have years of retail sales that were reported to the Department of Finance, and we were able to look at that data and apply it directly to the SBS corridors, the bike lane projects, etc.," said DOT commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan.

Sadik-Khan ticked off a list of streets that she said economically benefited from being overhauled.

"On Fordham Road [in the Bronx], we saw the growth in the retail sales by local businesses -- and these are not chain stores -- grow 71 percent following the introduction of the SBS route there in 2008, which is three times the borough-wide growth rate."

The report says that along Ninth Avenue, retail sales are up 49 percent -- sixteen times the borough growth rate -- three years after that street's protected bike lane went in. Manhattan's Union Square, which was revamped in 2010, reports a lower commercial vacancy rate.

Sadik-Khan said the reason for increased sales is straightforward: if you build it, the people will come.

And presumably those people have wallets.

"We've seen anywhere between a 10 to 15 percent increase in ridership on all the SBS bus routes," Sadik-Khan said, "amid a citywide decline of 5 percent on bus routes."  She said more riders along a route means more people getting on and off the bus, which means more foot traffic.

The DOT looked at sales tax records reported to the city's Department of Finance. The data excludes large chain stores and non-retail businesses.

 

 

 

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Transportation Nation

In Test of NYC's Public Support for Bike Lanes, A Tabled Plan Gets Second Look

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Columbus Avenue bike lane in September, 2011 (photo by Kate Hinds)

A stalled idea of putting a protected bike lane on a stretch of a Manhattan avenue is coming up for air, offering a test of public sentiment about New York City's often-contentious bike lane boom.

On the docket Thursday for Community Board 7's Transportation Committee meeting: whether to ask the New York City Department of Transportation to look at lengthening the existing two-year-old Columbus Avenue bike lane -- and redesigning Amsterdam Avenue to accommodate one.

Again.

When the Upper West Side's CB7 first began mulling over bike lanes in 2009, the group requested a study looking at protected lanes on both avenues, stretching from 59th to 110th streets. The DOT came back with a proposal for a single Columbus Avenue lane, running southbound from 96th Street to 77th Street. Amsterdam Avenue, the DOT decided, was too narrow to accommodate three travel lanes and a protected bike lane. The Columbus Avenue proposal was passed by the full board -- after failing at the committee level -- in 2010.

So why is an Amsterdam Avenue lane back on the table?

"This is an effort to see whether our priorities as a community might have changed," said Mark Diller, the chair of CB7, "not whether the width of a lane or the width of an avenue has changed."

He said that a member of the CB7 board wants the city to take another look at an Amsterdam Avenue bike lane -- as had other community groups. " It's a matter that's of interest to members of the community," said Diller, "so the community board will respond by taking a careful look at it."

And lessons learned during the first few months of the Columbus Avenue bike lane could help smooth the way for future lanes in the neighborhood.

Amsterdam Avenue and 84th Street (image from Google street view)

But Andrew Albert, the co-chair of CB7's transportation committee, said he couldn't ballpark what was going to happen at Thursday's meeting. "Because this hasn't come up yet, we don't know how the discussion is going to go."

Albert -- who in 2010 didn't support the installation of the Columbus Avenue lane --  said the committee wasn't won over by the idea of putting in another protected lane a block west. "There's a good number of people that don't believe the Columbus one is working as intended," he said, "so we're going to reserve judgment on Amsterdam for sure."

In one respect, said CB7 chair Mark Diller, the neighborhood had gotten off easy with the Columbus Avenue lane. Installing something similar on Amsterdam could require a politically sensitive decision that could spark some...lively debate. "Are we willing to trade a travel lane for a bike lane?" he asked.

Another view of  Columbus Avenue, with protected bike lane on the right  (image from Google street view)

 

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Transportation Nation

The New York City Council Praises Sadik-Khan, Instead of Burying Her

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

NY City Council Member James Vacca during a 2011 hearing (photo by William Alatriste via flickr)

Let's go back in time to December 2010. The city's tabloid editorial pages are just beginning to sink their teeth into the transportation commissioner, Janette Sadik-Khan, for -- among other things -- her avid support of bike lanes and pedestrian plazas. In Brooklyn, well-connected residents are preparing to sue to remove a bike lane.

On December 9, New York's City Council holds a standing-room-only, overflow-room-inducing, five hour-plus hearing on bikes and bike lanes in New York City. Bronx councilman James Vacca, who chairs the council's Transportation Committee, kicks things off first by warning the crowd to be polite, then sets the stage by pointing out "few issues today prompt more heated discussion than bike policy in New York City."

In the hours that followed, he was proven correct: Sadik-Khan was grilled, interrupted, and accused of ignoring the will of the public, prevaricating, and acting by fiat.

And she was put on the defensive, repeatedly exclaiming "That's what we do!" when yet another council member excoriated her for not soliciting sufficient community input.

At one point, Lewis Fidler, a council member from Brooklyn, told Sadik-Khan her answer was "kind of half true. I don't say that to be snooty. I say it because I think maybe you're not aware."

And then he reeled himself him. "This is not like you've got to be for the cars or you've got to be for the bikes or you've got to be for the buses. It's really not...the cowmen and the farmers can be friends."

The mood at this week's Transportation Committee hearing, held in the same hearing room as the 2010 hearing -- and with many of the same players in attendance -- was markedly different.

Now more New Yorkers are biking. More than two-thirds give the city's bike share program, which is launching in July, a thumbs-up. Traffic fatalities are at record lows.

"I want to first off say thank you to the agency," Fidler started, before launching into an encomium. "Quite frankly I don't always get the answer I like from DOT, but we get a lot of answers from DOT. And they're very responsive, your agency, your Brooklyn office continues to be a very responsive one."

He then waxed on about major construction work going on on the Belt Parkway -- a roadway almost entirely in his council district. "I will say for a project of that size to have gone on, without my getting repeated complaints from constituents -- that says something all by itself, and the work that's been completed looks really good."

Back in 2010, Fidler's questioning of Sadik-Khan was one of that hearing's most contentious exchanges, with the two of them repeatedly interrupting each other. Fidler at that time told Sadik-Khan that her answers were "half true;" he later accused the DOT of failing to solicit community input on bike lanes -- a charge Sadik-Khan repeatedly denied.

On Tuesday, Fidler asked Sadik-Khan to look into repairing a bike lane in his district (a lane under the Parks Department jurisdiction since it's on their land. Sadik-Khan said she'd make sure her office reached out to the Parks Commissioner, Adrian Benepe.)

So maybe the cowmen and the farmers might be friends after all.

(You can listen to the audio from the 12/2010 hearing -- and read the transcript -- here. A video of the 5/29/12 hearing can be found here; the transcript isn't available yet.)

To be fair, Tuesday's hearing was not one in which members of the public could comment (public hearings on the budget will be held next week), and biking wasn't the only topic on the agenda.

But still:

Peter Koo is the Queens councilman who represents Flushing (a neighborhood so heavily trafficked by pedestrians that the DOT said Tuesday that it's slated for a sidewalk expansion project.) At the 2010 hearing, Koo complained that bikes lanes had been implemented at the expense of motorists and pedestrians, and that they were empty. "I hardly see any people using the bike lanes," he said at the time. (Transcript here; Koo's remarks begin on page 39.)

At Tuesday's hearing, Koo had a different complaint. "I find a lot of bicycles chained to the fence, to the trees, light poles, meter poles, everywhere." He wants the NYPD to cut the chains of bikes that are illegally parked. But before that happens, he said, "we have to find a place for them to park."

Letitia James   -- long a bike lane supporter, put the cherry on the Charlotte Russe. "Commissioner, I want to thank you for all the docking stations in my district. I want to thank you for the bike share program. I want to thank you for using my picture, my image, on your website, on the bike -- it's absolutely fabulous. Thank you for the plazas in my district...thank you for all the street renovations...thank you for the bike lanes, thank you for recognizing that we all have to share the space and no one is entitled to a city street."

A few minutes after James spoke, the May 29th hearing ended.

"I do think since that hearing in 2010, many actions my committee has taken, and the legislation that we have passed, has brought New York City DOT to a realization that they could do a better job when it comes to community consultation," Council transportation chair Jimmy Vacca said in a phone interview.  "I think there's been more outreach, there's been more involvement, so I think that the strongly held views that existed in 2010 have somewhat been mitigated by DOT realizing that it's better to work with local neighborhoods where possible and to try to seek areas of consensus."

And is he happy with bike lanes? Yes -- even though he said the ones in his Bronx district weren't heavily used. "I do think in time, though, people will be bicycling more in neighborhoods where they are not bicycling now. And I think the groundwork that we've laid legislatively will make that reality more positive, have a more positive impact on neighborhoods throughout the city."

Vacca said the Bronx bike lanes have been successful in reducing speeding.  "They've had an impact in slowing down vehicular traffic, and that's always a positive thing," he said, adding that that's a persistent issue for his constituents. "In my neighborhood there's not a block party I go to, there's not a civic association I go to, where people are not demanding speed bumps, where they're not demanding police enforcement for ticketing of people who speed in their cars."

Next up for the City Council: reigning in rogue delivery people -- a project they're collaborating with the DOT on. "We cannot have commercial bicyclists driving the wrong way on one-way streets, we cannot have them ignoring red lights, we cannot have them on sidewalks," Vacca said, adding that he's working on legislation to address this. "I think within the next several weeks we should have a consensus bill that will reflect my views as well as the views of the Department of Transportation. We're working together to come up with type of bill, and I think we're making good progress."

 

 

 

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Transportation Nation

Brooklyn Bike Lane Lawsuit Rolls into 2012

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Brooklyn's Prospect Park West bike lane (photo by Kate Hinds)

Opponents of a bike lane in Brooklyn's Park Slope neighborhood are formally appealing a judge's decision to dismiss the group's lawsuit.

Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes/Seniors for Safety had sought removal of the mile-long protected bike lane, claiming the city had pitched it as temporary. But their argument was dismissed by a judge, who ruled in August 2011 that the group had “presented no evidence that D.O.T. viewed the bikeway as a pilot or temporary project.”

NBBL said in September it would appeal. And on February 10th, it filed a brief with the appellate division of the Kings County Supreme Court. (You can read the formal appeal document here.)

"We still want to have a full hearing on all the issues raised by the DOT’s failure to conduct a proper safety study and collusion with pro-lane advocates,” said Georgia Winston, an attorney for Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, the firm representing NBBL.

Mark Muschenheim, the attorney who has argued the case for the New York City Law Department, said in an emailed statement: "We are confident that the trial court's decision in our favor will be upheld on appeal. The popular bike path continues to enhance the safety of all who use Prospect Park West."

The city has 30 days to respond by submitting its own brief, after which point the court may schedule an oral argument.

 

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Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: Bus Service Cuts Lead to Subway Ridership Boom, Bike Subsidies Lead to Better School Attendance in India

Monday, November 28, 2011

Top stories on TN:

Service on Metro-North's Port Jervis line resumes today, after months of storm-related repair. (Link)

Railroads are benefiting from the oil boom in the Montana/North Dakota/Canada area. (Link)

East Harlem bike lanes hit a speed bump. (Link)

Crowded subway car (photo by lizzard_nyc via Flickr)

A year and a half after the MTA's service cuts, more New Yorkers are riding the subways. (NY Post)

The booming redevelopment of New York's west side Hudson Yards is better off without the Olympics. (New York Times)

New York Times op-ed: the collapse of the car-dependent suburban fringe caused the mortgage collapse.  (For more on this story, listen to our documentary, "Back of the Bus:  Mass Transit, Race, and Inequality.")

A Los Angeles Times columnist takes a new bike lane downtown for a test drive. (LA Times)

A bill that would lead to the creation of Detroit's third bus system -- and its first BRT -- will be introduced in Michigan's state legislature this week. (Crain's Detroit)

More than 870,000 schoolgirls from the Indian state of Bihar have received subsidies to buy bicycles -- and now their school attendance rates have tripled, to 90%. (The Guardian)

 

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WNYC News

Future East Harlem Bike Lanes Hit A Speed Bump

Sunday, November 27, 2011

After voting in favor of a pair of protected bike lanes along First and Second Avenues, from 96th Street to 125th Street, East Harlem's Community Board 11 voted last week to rescind that support.

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Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: Lima's Public Transpo System is a "Killing Machine," Two Domestic Airlines Now Using Biofuels, Capital Bikeshare Expanding This Week

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Top stories on TN:

Mica: the Northeast Corridor must be our high-speed rail priority, and Amtrak can keep it. (Link)

A graphic rendering of Boston bus speeds (image courtesy of Bostonography)

Lima's public transportation system is a "killing machine;" the mayor has vowed reform. (AP)

Two domestic carriers are now using biofuels on some flights. (NPR)

Chicago is installing new cars on the 'El' train. (WBEZ)

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is set to mark up a two-year highway and transit bill today. (Politico)

It looks like the NYC DOT won't be installing a two-way bike lane along Plaza Street in Brooklyn. (NY Daily News)

Why are America's roads so bad? Because the network was built to withstand cars, not heavy trucks. (Gizmodo)

DC's Capital Bikeshare is expanding. (Washington Post)

A ballot measure on tolling and light rail in Washington State is too close to call. (Seattle Times)

Durham County (NC) passed a sales tax to pay for public transit expansion. (Herald Sun)

A new study says biking can save cities billions of dollars in health costs. (Good)

Want to the see the MTA's time-lapse video of the NYC Marathon? Check it out here.

Cartographers are using Boston's real-time bus location data to depict bus speeds (image above). "As you can see, most of the MBTA system would be toast if faced with the classic Speed scenario." (Bostonography)

 

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Transportation Nation

Poll: New Yorkers Support Bike Share, 72 to 23

Thursday, October 20, 2011

(Photo Kate Hinds)

In a city where you can have four people and five opinions, three in four support the city's proposed bike share program, according to a Quinnipiac University poll.

Pollsters asked "New York City is starting a program to rent bicycles.  This will add 10,000 bicycles to New York City streets and create park lots for bicycles.  Do you support or oppose this program allowing people to rent bicycles in New York City?"

Among young people, the number supporting bike share rises to 87 percent, as close to unanimity as you'll ever see in a poll.  Bike share is the least popular in Staten Island, but even there, bike share is supported 52 to 42 percent.

Republicans, Democrats, Independents, Men, Women, Whites, Blacks, and Hispanics said they would want "bike rental lots" (presumably bike share stations) in their neighborhoods, as did residents of all the boroughs except Staten Island, and ,members of all age groups except for those above 50.

However,  only 45 percent said they'd used the bike share, compared to 53 percent who said they wouldn't.

The poll found support for bike lanes overall holding steady at 58 to 37 percent.  But when asked if they wanted more bike lanes in their neighborhoods, New Yorkers were divided, with 46 percent saying yes and 48 percent saying no.

The poll of 1,068 registered voters was taken October 12-16, and has a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

 

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