Wednesday, December 17, 2014
By Martin DiCaro : WAMU
Tuesday, June 17, 2014
By Kate Hinds
New York City's transportation commissioner said she wants to make sure street transformations like bike lanes and pedestrian plazas make it to all five boroughs — not just Manhattan.
Wednesday, November 06, 2013
By Kate Hinds
To the delight of D.C.'s cycling community, the District Department of Transportation is photographing -- and tweeting -- pictures of scofflaw cars that use dedicated bike lanes as parking spaces.
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
By Martin DiCaro : WAMU
WAMU - Washington —
A controversy over the design of a protected cycle track in the heart of Washington, D.C. is forcing District transportation planners to balance competing interests in the use of public streets.
Monday, August 05, 2013
NYC Mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner wants to expand Citi Bike to all five boroughs, according to a new list of policy proposals issued by his campaign. He also wants to require landlords to offer bike parking.
Saturday, May 11, 2013
Joe Lhota calls Port Authority police officers "mall cops," as other candidates tap dance around the politics of bike lanes. And Corruption sweeps Albany. Again.
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
For New York mayoral candidates, bike lanes are complex. That's why City Council Speaker Christine Quinn proclaimed them off-limits for dinner party conversation. It's why Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, who's criticized the way the city approves bike lanes, leapt Wednesday to issue a statement proclaiming "bike lanes make NYC streets safer."
On the one hand, some of the Democrats running for mayor use bike lanes as a signifier for what they see as Mayor Michael Bloomberg's high-handed, top-down approach to decision-making.
On the other hand, polls show New Yorkers like bike lanes--particularly environmentalists, Latinos, young people, and techies, all of whom may play unpredictable roles in the 2013 vote. Independent polls show pretty consistent majorities in almost all categories approving of bike lanes, and an even bigger majority approving of bike share.
And yet every single one of the major Democrats has at some point criticized the mayor for not fully consulting communities about where to install new bike lanes, even though the plans for such lanes must be approved by community boards.
So while today's New York Times article--headlined, "Anxiety Over Future of Bike Lanes"--captures a real fear among bike advocates that the next mayor may not be as friendly towards biking as Mayor Bloomberg, this dance isn't over yet.
"The need for safer streets for bikers, walkers, and drivers is one I feel in my core," de Blasio said in his statement. "For that reason, I fully support bike lanes and I want to see them continue to expand around the city. They are clearly making many NYC streets safer."
Okay, now wait for it:
"But I think we need to take an approach different from the Mayor’s. While more and more communities and riders want bike lanes, the City still hasn’t come around to proactively engaging those who are concerned by them. We need to increase our outreach and bring more residents and small businesses into the discussion early so we can fine-tune designs and parking rules from the get-go. Just going to community boards is not enough. Proactive outreach seems to be the Bloomberg Administration’s last resort. I think we need to make it uniform practice, and put it at the front end of every project.”
Watch this space. This is going to get interesting.
Friday, January 25, 2013
By Julie Caine
A prominent bike lane in San Francisco may be suffering because of its unique design. The ambitious, and expensive, bike lane striping of Golden Gate Park stands out from the other projects of San Francisco's bike plan for the criticism it draws from cyclists and drivers alike, in part for a disorienting placement of line of parked cars.
“I think it’s one of the dumbest things I ever saw that they put these stripes down here,” says driver Jimmy Harris of the lanes, pictured above.
Average speeds of drivers and bike riders have both fallen, a success at what's known as traffic calming. But also a stark test case of transportation psychology as users cite narrow lanes and an unusual arrangement of parked cars as confusing.
Ben Trefny and Rai Sue Sussman took a ride along JFK Blvd, with a measuring tape, to see why these particular stripes are raising hackles of bike riders and drivers. Give the audio version a listen.
For a bit of background, the streets of San Francisco are changing. There are separated bike lanes on Market Street. There’s green paint all over the much-used bike path called the Wiggle. The city is definitely becoming more bicycle-friendly.
After many delays, the city’s bike plan is taking effect, with streets long-designed for car traffic being reconfigured for other modes of transportation. Four years ago San Francisco had 45 miles of bike lanes. Today there are 65 and with more on the way. Plus, 75 more miles of streets will be stenciled with symbols designating them as bike-friendly routes. It’s all having a big impact.
According to the San Francisco Bike Coalition, bike trips have increased more than 70 percent since 2006. But the planners’ choices for JFK Blvd. havn't been implemented so smoothly – and it’s flat-out rankled many of the bicyclists it’s supposed to serve.
The wide JFK Blvd. used to have almost no stripes whatsoever. Now, it’s full of them, creating several chutes designated for different purposes: there’s a bike lane at either the edge; then buffer zone; a lane for parking; and then in the center a car lane in each direction.
Last spring, we talked with Leah Shahum, executive director of the San Francisco Bike Coalition, about that project: the striping of Golden Gate Park
“Imagine the parking lanes that are kind of being moved out more into the center of the street, and the bikeway – the dedicated bikeway – will be against the curb, or against the green space, or the sidewalk area,” she said. “So that people biking actually have that physical separation from the moving traffic. JFK we think is a good street to try this because it is a very wide street it's way wider than most streets in San Francisco, so there was room there to try something different.”
It cost at least $425,000 to lay the stripes down – and the MTA estimates more than that to plan it all out.
So, what do the people who travel along JFK think about the new configuration?
“From a drivers’ standpoint, it’s pretty bad,” adds Daly City’s Nick Shurmeyetiv. “Honestly, the first few times I came in – like the first few times it really threw me off. I wasn't sure what was going on. I thought it was a traffic jam, or I don't know what,” he said of the parked cars that appeared to be a lane of traffic.
Frank Jones, from Concord says, “Well, we did pull up and stop behind somebody. And we thought, ‘They're not moving.’ Then we realized – there was nobody in the car! So we went around them.”
A count of cars lined up in the designated parking lane across from the De Young Museum one Friday afternoon showed 11 of 46 vehicles at least partially in the buffer zone. They followed a pattern: typically, each vehicle was aligned with the one in front of it. So if one missed the mark, many more would do the same. And they never missed on the side with car traffic. Only on the side toward the bikes.
“Yeah, you know the roadway, the width is a little narrower, but for the most part, this isn't a place to be going really fast from A to B,” says Peter Brown, who works as an SFMTA project manager.
If it’s the SFMTA’s goal to slow traffic on JFK, it’s been successful.
For cars, average speed has dropped about two or three miles per hour since the road was striped, according to a preliminary report. It makes sense, as the thoroughfare is much more narrow, now, and cars have to fully stop if anyone in front of them is trying to park.
Average bike speeds have also dropped, from an average of 14-and-a-half miles per hour to less than 13 during the week and a little slower on weekends. The report suggests that’s because bicyclists who used to cruise really fast up or down Golden Gate Park now have to slow down for other cyclists and the people who are trying to get across the bike lanes to their cars. Calming traffic, on paper anyway, arguably makes the route more accessible and safer.
The SFMTA surveyed people who use JFK both before and shortly after the new stripes went in. Almost 90 percent of responders felt like they understood the striping, but only about 60 percent liked it. Some people, like Lita Ward, don’t.
“I've had several incidents where I've nearly collided with people getting out of their cars, that are crossing the bike lane into the sidewalk area,” says Ward. “Obviously, we can't stop quickly enough... I think it's a great concept, but drivers need to be aware of what that change means for bicyclists."
It didn’t take long, wandering around JFK to see that scenario unfold. Just west of the De Young, two teenagers on mountain bikes blew through a stop sign on the downhill slope. A pedestrian crossing the bike lane to get to his car had to jump out of the way as they rapidly approached. The kids obviously hadn’t anticipated his presence, and the pedestrian didn’t notice until it was nearly too late.
Some people think better signage and public awareness campaigning would solve some of the ongoing issues with the newly striped lanes of Golden Gate Park, including longtime bike activist Chris Carlsson, who runs Shaping San Francisco, which looks into ways to improve the city.
“A proper educational campaign, in conjunction with an infrastructural transformation, I think could be really successful,” says Carlsson, who is one of the founders of Critical Mass.
The people who most advocated for – and implemented – the striping of Golden Gate Park are examining the effects. The SF Bike Coalition has a webpage devoted to the “JFK Separated Bikeway Project.”
The page addresses some of the problems: cars that aren’t parked where they’re supposed to be; people crossing the bikeway without looking. SFMTA has a page called the JFK Cycletrack. It includes a survey in which people can share their thoughts about what they like and don’t like.
Even with the imposed structure, people are making the new configuration work for them. Sporty bicyclists take the car lane (which is allowed) to avoid slower-biking tourists and families; pedestrians walk in the bike path to avoid sprinklers; and cars drive through like they did before – only slightly slower.
But more than six months in, because of ongoing parking issues and -- for San Francisco -- the unusual off-curb parking situation, it appears that the striping of Golden Gate Park is not working quite as it was originally imagined. The removal of more than 80 parking spaces alone will be enough to change usage of the road. And unless a large-scale redesign is implemented, an experiment in shared road design may simply require users to get used to a number of imperfections.
Friday, December 28, 2012
One facet of the ongoing debate over expanding bike lanes is their effect on shopping.What about you? Have existing bike lanes affected your shopping habits? Are you a store owner -- are people biking or driving to your shop? Call 212-433-9692 and share your specific experience, or post here.
Thursday, December 20, 2012
Yesterday's big news from the MTA includes fare and toll hike approval and Joe Lhota's resignation as chairman, which opens up the possibility of him running for mayor. Plus: The disputed expansion of Columbus Avenue's protected bike lane and its potential impact on retailers; the series with Judith Rodin of the Rockefeller Foundation continues with a look at infrastructure resilience; and Slate's Farhad Manjoo answers your questions on tablets.
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Some two thirds of New Yorkers say bike lanes are "a good idea," according to a New York Times poll. By a 66 to 27 percent margin, New Yorkers are in favor of bike lanes.
The poll shows even larger margins in favor of bike lanes than last year's Quinnipiac College poll, which found 58 percent of New Yorkers favor bike lanes, compared to 37 percent that do not. But because different polls have different methodologies, it's hard to conclude a trend from two different polls.
A more recent Q-poll found support for bike share at 74 to 19, up slightly from 72 to 23 in October. Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Friday bike share would be delayed until next spring because of software issues. It was originally to have launched last month.
The New York Times concluded that "the poll results suggest that the city's residents have gradually become accustomed to bicycle lanes, which have been frequent targest of tabloid ire and are already emerging as a flashpoint in the 2013 mayoral race."
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Newark, New Jersey now boasts 277,000 residents and one bike lane. Six more green textured bike paths are set to open by the end of 2012.
The inaugural lane runs eight proud blocks through downtown, roughly half a mile along Washington Street. The official city statement explains: "The route runs by Rutgers-Newark, the Newark Museum, the Newark Public Library, and Washington Park."
Rutgers, the state university of New Jersey, paid for the design work and the city covered the construction costs of $100,000.
Mayor Cory Booker issued an car-metaphor as encouragement to cyclists. "I commend the Department of Engineering and Rutgers-Newark on this partnership, and urge residents to put the pedal to the metal on Washington Street." We assume he means bike pedal.
Newark has invested in other traffic and public spaces redevelopment recently, but not many bike additions. Park expansion has received over $40 million in the past several years, and Newark just launched a $27 million plan for streetscaping, road re-surfacing, traffic calming, and traffic signal installations.
As we've reported previously, pedestrian deaths are correlated with lower income neighborhoods, making Newark is particularly dangerous for pedestrians. Lack of safety-conscious shared street design is part of the reason. So are lack of non-car transport options.
Cycling will, hopefully, get a little safer with these new lanes.
If you live in Newark, here's where the new lanes are coming next:
- Mt. Prospect Avenue between City Line and Heller Parkway
- Irvine Turner Boulevard between Clinton Avenue and Springfield Avenue
- Jones Street between Springfield Avenue and South Orange Avenue
- Norfolk Street between South Orange Avenue and West Market Street
- Clifton Avenue between Orange Street and Victoria Avenue
- First Street between West Market Street and Sussex Avenue
Thursday, May 31, 2012
By Kate Hinds
How are oversize sodas and bike helmets alike?
According to a New York City official, they're really not.
New York City Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson -- an avid bicyclist -- was at a press conference Thursday for Mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposed ban on super-sized, sugary sodas. He was asked why the mayor didn't support mandatory bike helmet legislation for all riders (like the bill just introduced into New York's City Council by council member David Greenfield.)
You can listen to Wolfson's explanation below, or read his response.
"First of all, there's no other major city in the country that has a mandatory bike helmet law, and there's a reason why. The thing that actually saves the lives of cyclists is protecting them from drivers, which we have done more in this city than any other city in America. It's why our fatalities are down in this city, accident fatalities are down to an all-time low. So we are making enormous progress in keeping cyclists alive. I understand there is a council person who has promulgated this. He is not a friend of bicyclists. He is against bike lanes. So I'm not going to take -- and this administration is not going to take advice on protecting cyclists from somebody who has consistently been against the things that saves the lives of cyclists. As somebody who bikes to work nearly every day, I can tell you what saves the lives of cyclists. It's separating cyclists from cars. And we've done more of that in this city than any other city in America. We're going to keep doing that, we're going to keep driving down fatalities, we've been successful at it. We're not going to take advice from people who aren't actually on the side of cyclist safety."
Wolfson also underscored his point by tweeting it at Greenfield.
Thursday, March 22, 2012
By Jim O'Grady
(New York, NY - WNYC) Central Park is getting a new two-way bike lane this summer.
The NYC Department of Transportation will create it by removing a vehicle lane from a roadway that crosses the park from east to west at 72nd Street. The roadway, called The Terrace Drive, passes next to Bethesda Fountain and is open to cars on weekdays between 8 and 10 a.m.
Doug Blonsky of the Central Park Conservancy says the change is needed to keep the growing number of recreational users safe from each other.
"The park is getting so popular and so busy that there's so many more people and there's so many more bicyclists," he said. "We have to, as much as we can, try to separate the two."
Blonsky said 38 million people visit Central Park per year, a greater than threefold increase since 1984.
The park has three types of east-west crossings: below-grade transverses that are mainly used by cars, roadways like The Terrace Drive, and non-vehicular pathways. The new crosstown bikeway, which is a pilot program, will be the second of its kind in the park. The first is on a non-vehicular pathway at 96th Street. Park rules require cyclists to walk their bikes on east-west crossings that don't have bike lanes.
Blonsky said the NYC DOT will be adding traffic lights where the new bike lane crosses the park's circular roadway in two places. He said a DOT study found reducing vehicular traffic from two lanes to one on the half-mile-long drive shouldn't delay drivers more than a few seconds per trip.
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
By Kate Hinds
Top stories on TN:
NY City Council Summons Police on Traffic Crime Investigations (Link)
Transpo Bills Set Off on A Long, Bumpy Road (Link)
NY MTA Chief Apologizes for Rat Comments (Link)
DOT Head Ray LaHood Takes Another Whack At House Transpo Bill: It “Takes Us Back to the Horse and Buggy Era” (Link)
Brooklyn Bike Lane Lawsuit Rolls into 2012 (Link)
New York Senate Votes to Restore a Tax Break for Transit Riders (Link)
USDOT: On Time Airline Arrival Highest in 17 Years (Link)
Regulators Soon To Release Reports On Yellowstone River Pipeline Break And Oil Spill (Link)
New York has asked the federal government for a $2 billion loan to help finance the $5.2 billion Tappan Zee Bridge replacement. (Bloomberg)
And now transportation sits firmly atop the political agenda. (AP via Bloomberg BusinessWeek)
The Port Authority will spend half a billion dollars to renovate the George Washington Bridge. (nj.com)
Nine New York city cyclist deaths that raise questions. (MetroFocus)
A New York law cracking down on distracted driving has generated nearly 119,000 tickets statewide to motorists using their cell phones or texting while driving since July. (New York Daily News)
The green paint used in Los Angeles' bike lanes is not digitally erasable -- causing some film crews to have to relocate to bike lane-free streets. (Los Angeles Times)
Chicago's transit agency wants customers to know that its survey about "hypothetical fare scenarios" doesn't mean that it's hiking fares. (Chicago Tribune)
A group of bus companies is suing New York after the city's Department of Transportation gave Megabus a free spot outside the Port Authority Bus Terminal. (DNA Info)
Australia pours money into its car industry while slapping huge tariffs on used cars...but some are arguing for the New Zealand model, where second-hand cars are much cheaper. (The Global Mail)
DC's Capital Bikeshare has hit 1.5 million trips -- in less than a year and a half of operation. (TBD)
New York is phasing in new benches in its subway system. Goodbye, wood; hello stainless! (New York Daily News)
Monday, January 30, 2012
Seventeen miles of bike lanes have been painted in San Francisco since summer 2010, and more are in the works, including the city's first parking protected bikeway--a bike lane separated from car traffic by a row of parked cars.
Other plans include removing a lane of parking or of traffic to lay down a dedicated bikeway. That might cause a backlash as similar moves have in other cities.
KALW discussed all this and more with the San Francisco Bike Coalition's executive director, Leah Shahum, who says there will need to be some "creative solutions" for lessening the impact on drivers.
Here's an interview by KALW's Ben Trefny with Shahum.
Full transcript at KALW.
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
The Netherlands are lauded the world over as a biking success story -- but as this documentary shows, it wasn't always that way. In fact, the model cycling culture that exists there today is the product of a protest movement to revive a historical bike legacy that had been lost.
In the early 1900s, bike use was so common that bike infrastructure wasn't needed because there were more bikes than cars.
"After World War II everything changed," the documentary explains. As the country grew in wealth, the Dutch could afford cars in record numbers, clogging old cities not designed for automobiles. Buildings were torn down to make way, and "city squares were turned into car parks." The daily travel distance went from 2.9 miles in 1957 to 14.2 miles in 1975. The car took over.
A rash of children on bikes being hit by cars led to the protest movement in the early 1970s just as the oil crisis hit. The government began a concerted and creative push to remake city centers for pedestrians and bikes.
Watch the video for the rest of the details, and story of the protests:
An October post by Mark Wagenbuur on bike blog Hembrow has more history as well.
Thursday, January 12, 2012
SCROLL DOWN FOR TRULY FUNNY VIDEO OF MAYOR "RIDING" TO THE STATE OF THE CITY
In his state of the city address today, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg promised to add more protected bike lanes and touted the city's planned summer launch of North America's largest bike share program. He also promised to step up traffic enforcement.
The Mayor started off with highly-produced video (at the bottom of the post) nodding to several of his signature initiatives from last year, including creating a plan to allow hailing of livery cabs outside of Manhattan. The video also featured a cameo of Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson and Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan riding a bike in a bike line, as Bloomberg admonishes Wolfson to "stay in the bike line."
The Mayor has faced withering criticism and even a lawsuit -- since dismissed -- over protected bike lanes, particularly one along Prospect Park, in Brooklyn.
“Now, I realize the debate over bike lanes has sometimes been hot and heavy," the Mayor said in his address, delivered in a Bronx High School and largely focusing on education.
"But the reality is more and more New Yorkers are biking, and the more bike lanes we put in, the fewer deaths and serious injuries we have on our streets."
“This year, we’ll take steps to enforce the law requiring every delivery rider to have proper safety equipment and clothing that identifies the name of the business. At the same time, we’ll launch the largest bike share program of any city in the country. Those bikes will create another option for getting around town faster and easier, and so will new Select Bus Service in Brooklyn, which we’ll launch in partnership with MTA Chairman Joe Lhota."
The Mayor, whose NYPD has also faced criticism over lax traffic enforcement, also promised more vigilance.
“We’ll also make our city smarter and safer by deploying Traffic Enforcement Agents to safety hot spots at key intersections, doubling the number of 20 mile-per-hour zones for schools.
The Mayor also name-checked the proposal to start a "select bus service" in Brooklyn, with off-board payment and priority lanes.
TN MOVING STORIES: LaHood Wants Federal Ban on Texting While Driving, Cuomo Threatens to Veto Street Hail Legislation, and the 10 Best Transit Poems
Thursday, December 08, 2011
By Kate Hinds
Top stories on TN:
Transpo advocates are livid over deeper cut to NY MTA revenue stream. (Link)
A lawsuit challenging Port Authority's toll increases is in court today. (Link)
Cities have their moment -- and the 2012 TED Prize. (Link)
LOOK: NYC unveils haute scaffolding. (Link)
Ray LaHood wants a federal ban on texting while driving -- and he'll announce today that traffic fatalities in 2010 have hit the lowest level since 1949.(USA Today)
Governor Cuomo says lack of resolution over accessibility issues means he'll probably veto Mayor Bloomberg's plan to allow livery cabs to pick street hails and start over next year. (New York Daily News)
More people are walking in New York City, according to the increasing "pedestrian volume index." (New York Times)
Public transit ridership is up. (USA Today)
Why Gabe Klein (Chicago's transportation commissioner) is the way he is. (New City)
Atlantic Cities has a list of what it says are the world's 10 best transit poems. Like this one, by Carl Sandburg: Night from a railroad car window/is a great, dark, soft thing/broken across with slashes of light
Peer-to-peer bike sharing gets rolling. (Fast Company)
A new app turns riding the London Underground into a game. (Good)
How a bike recreated the light ribbons from Tron. (Guardian)