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Transportation Nation

NYC Defends Controversial PPW Bike Lane with Data

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Image: PPW Bike Lane. (NYC DOT)

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) In Brooklyn, New York one bike lane in particular is serving as a flash point for debate between motorists and cyclists over how to use the streets. The attention, and conflict, has also increased incentive to quantify and measure the impact of the Prospect Park West bike lane—that's good for any of us craving data on transportation policies.

So, the New York City Department of Transportation has just issued informative findings from their research on the PPW bike lane. Not surprisingly, it supports the DOT's decision to build the lane. “The traffic volume, travel speed and bike lane usage data support this traffic calming project, and it’s clear that the public supports it too. We look forward to working with residents and local officials to make it even better,” says DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan in an emailed statement.

The NYC DOT finds that weekday cycling has just about tripled and the number of people riding on the sidewalk, a hazard to pedestrians, has fallen dramatically from 46 percent to just 3 percent of cyclists. Additionally, the total number of weekday cyclists has almost tripled along the PPW route. Weekend bike ridership also more than doubled.

The addition of the bike lane included a new traffic pattern, designed in part to reduce car speeds by cutting the number of lanes from three to two along this edge of Brooklyn's iconic Prospect Park. The slowing effect seems to have worked according to DOT statistics. Before the bike lane, three out of four cars broke the speed limit. Now, the DOT reports, just one sixth of cars top 30 m.p.h.

What's especially interesting—and a little unexpected—is the impact on total usage. Commuter volume on the street has increased in both morning and afternoon rush hours. In the morning, there are both more cyclist commuters and more car commuters, though in the afternoon car commuting has dropped while bike commuting has spiked enough to compensate on the one way boulevard. Travel times along the route and nearby avenues are mixed; some nearby streets are now faster than before and some slower depending on time of day. Overall though, the DOT data show motor vehicle traffic has not been negatively affected while biking has increased dramatically.

See a power point slideshow of the full findings here.

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Transportation Nation

Survey: Three Quarters favor Brooklyn Bike Lane

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation)

Read the full survey here.

The two-way protected bike lane along Brooklyn's Prospect Park West has drawn controversy since before it was built.  The lane was heavily favored by the local community board, which asked the NYC DOT to come up with a plan to  slow traffic along the historic Olmstead-designed park, where more than half of all drivers routinely broke the speed limit.

Marty Markowitz, the Brooklyn Borough President, wrote letters, led protests, and otherwise, vocally objected to the bike lane.   The lane,  it was believed,  would inevitably cause congestion, would change the historic nature of the boulevard -- and cyclists could be perfectly well served by the a ride through the park (though only in one direction).

But the DOT installed the lane anyway, and this fall announced its results:  speeding had been reduced dramatically, and bike riding on the sidewalk -- something once done by nearly half of all cyclists -- had dwindled to almost nothing.

But unlike in other street-use battles, which tend to die down over time, after users get used to the new street design,   the normally voluble Markowitz has remained voluble, if anything stepping up his criticism.  And some residents of Prospect Park West, which borders the park have continued their loud protest.

Meantime cyclists have been equally fierce in defending the lane, extolling the safe new path to get to work or around Park Slope.

Into this roil comes City Councilmember Brad Lander, who surveyed three thousand Brooklyn residents, and found that along Prospect Park West, residents are evenly split about the lane.  But go a block away, and continue on, and there's overwhelming support:  By a margin of three to one, Park Slope residents believe in keeping the lane.

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WNYC News

Survey Shows Support for Park Slope Bike Lane

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

WNYC

A new survey of some 3,000 Brooklyn residents finds that, by a three to one margin, residents approve of a two-way protected bike lane along Prospect Park West. That support diminishes to just half, however, when only residents of the boulevard are surveyed.

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: All Aboard The European Road Train, A Possible Stay of Execution for LI Bus, and Santa Rides Chicago's L Train

Monday, December 06, 2010

The Washington Post's Dr. Gridlock ponders: is the federal transit benefit good transportation policy?

Port Authority looks to recommit ARC money, dusts off repair wish list. (Wall Street Journal)

"Road Trains" --known as the European Union’s Safe Road Trains for the Environment (or EU SARTRE--you can't make this stuff up)-- move closer to reality in Europe. (Wired)

Traffic fatalities are down in DC. But: "Just because there are fewer deaths doesn't meant that there are fewer accidents and injuries. Further, the fatalities MPD reports are just pedestrians, they don't take bicyclists into account." (DCist)

The Virginia Department of Transportation has wrapped up the installation of 70 mph speed limit signs on various rural sections of interstate. (Land Line Magazine)

If your NYC Metrocard is damaged or expired, chances are a token booth clerk can't help. (NY Daily News)

Bike lane editorials in the New York Daily News: First, Transportation Alternative's Paul Steely White sings their praises, but the editorial board wants Janette Sadik-Khan to prove the lanes' worth.

In Lyon, cyclists travel faster than cars during rush hour. And, interestingly, they ride faster on Wednesdays than the rest of the week. (Alt Transport)

Will the Long Island Bus be saved? New York's MTA has told Nassau County that it will conditionally keep operating the Long Island Bus through next year even if Nassau can't immediately fulfill its obligation to fund the system. (Newsday)

In Chicago, Santa rides the L train. "Santa and his reindeer can be found on a flat car in the middle." (Chicago Tribune)

(Flickr/Sabrina)

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: Copenhagen To Open Bike Superhighways, and the Return of the Roosevelt Island Tram

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

More on the FTA demanding repayment of $271 million in ARC Tunnel money from New Jersey Transit in the Wall Street Journal.

Construction company Schiavone, which has worked on the subway stations at Times Square and South Ferry, admitted that it defrauded government programs and evaded federal minority hiring requirements. (New York Times)

Copenhagen to open bike "superhighways," which will hopefully alleviate the "two-wheeler traffic jams (which) are especially regular on the main Noerrebrogade thoroughfare used by around 36,000 cyclists a day." (Grist)

Lufthansa says it will begin using biofuel on a daily flight beginning next year. (Alt Transport)

RadioBoston looks at a new interactive map that shows all of Boston's reported bike crashes.

London Underground employees take part in another 24-hour strike--and say that walkouts could escalate in 2011. (BBC)

In Pakistan, trucks aren't just vehicles--they're art. (World Vision via WBEZ)

Some cities are testing a new network-based approach to parking. "Streetline...mounts low-cost sensors in parking spaces, retrofits existing meters and ties them into a mesh wireless network to draw a real-time picture of the spaces available, the cars needing tickets and how much to charge for parking." (Wired)  One of those places is Roosevelt Island, which may also begin its own bike share program. (DNA Info)

Speaking of all things R.I., the Roosevelt Island tram returns to service today. Just to be on the safe side, pack some lunch and forego drinking liquids 12 hours before boarding.

The Nissan Leaf wins the 2011 European Car of the Year designation. Take that, Chevy Volt! (USA Today)

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Transportation Nation

NY Deputy Mayor: Bike Share Isn't about More Bike Lanes, High Rises Could Pay for Transit, and Other Ideas...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Installing the First Avenue Bike Lane photo: Marianne McCune

(Andrea Bernstein) WNYC's Brian Lehrer asked his listeners today for suggestions to help New York City Deputy Mayor Stephen Goldsmith raise money for New York City.  Two ideas were suggested by BL callers: 1) make business improvement districts contribute to the MTA, based on the theory that high rises directly profit from all the transit riders the subways bring to their doorsteps and 2) charge cycling licensing fees.  Here's Goldsmith's answer, and a back-and-forth on bike lanes and bike share.

(You can listen to the segment here, the transit discussion starts about 15 minutes in and the answers excerpted below begin at 16:45.)

BL:  And the buildings with proximity to transit?

SG: You have a great show, these ideas are great.  So there is for new development a kind of a concept that you have transit-aided development, so if you have a subway stop in a place, it's going to create value for the buildings that are around it.  It does create value.  Without that stop, the buildings have less value.  And it's legitimate then to create a district to take part of that increment into generally the capital budget of that project.  Whether you could do that on the operating side is an interesting one, particularly with

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Transportation Nation

The Winding Path to Build an Unusual--and Expensive--Bike Lane

Friday, November 19, 2010

(Minneapolis -- Dan Olsen, MPR) An unusual, and expensive, bike trail through one of the most hectic areas of Minneapolis may not open this year. The Cedar Lake bike trail, just slightly more than one-mile long, is eagerly awaited by cycling enthusiasts, but the path to building it has been long and difficult.

City of Minneapolis civil engineer Jack Yuzna says building this stretch of the Cedar Lake biking and walking trail in downtown Minneapolis is one of the most challenging projects in his professional career.

Yuzna says it involves negotiations with office building owners, a railroad company, various levels of government and the Minnesota Twins.

"We're actually walking underneath the promenade overhead of the Target Field ball park," Yuzna said while showing the project. "And if you listen you can hear there's a freight train passing through which was all part of the complexities of building the ball park along with the trail."

Bicycling advocates have been waiting 20 years for the link.

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Transportation Nation

NYC Health Commissioner: Urban Design is a Public Health Issue

Friday, November 19, 2010

(New York, NY -- Jim O'Grady, WNYC)  New York City's Health Commissioner Thomas Farley, was the keynoter at the Transportation Alternatives Speeding Summit today, pledging a major new public health emphasis on urban design.

"After quitting smoking, there's probably no behavior that promotes health more than regular physical activity," Farley said. "Okay, that's great. So what are we going to do about that? To me, the answer to that is thoughtful urban design and transportation infrastructure. "

Though the NYC Health Department last summer released a report saying 25 children's lives are saved a year because fewer New York City children ride in cars than in other cities, most of New York's traffic safety campaign has rested on the shoulders of NYC DOT, and its commissioner, Janette Sadik-Khan.

It's Sadik-Khan who's taken fire from protesters, like Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, and more recently, some orthodox Jews in Brooklyn's Borough Park.  But Farley signaled that with a report coming out Monday on traffic injuries and urban design, he'll join Sadik-Khan in promoting public health benefits of slower driving speeds and more pedestrian-friendly environments.

Farley also said he would send staff to community board meetings to explain the safety benefits of bike lanes.

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Transportation Nation

NYC Quietly Removes Staten Island Bike Lane

Thursday, November 18, 2010

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) There's one fewer bike lane in New York City, but no one seems to want to comment.

After repaving a major traffic artery on Staten Island, the City DOT is replacing the bike lane along Father Capodanno Blvd. with parking and a bus lane.  The lane used to connect the Staten Island Ferry Terminal to local light rail.

The lane had been a point of contention among local drivers and cyclists for some time. The borough's newspaper even called for its removal, saying it endangered cyclists -- and arguing there were alternative routes (though those routes are shared with pedestrians, and after a certain hour, require a detour.)

There was no public announcement about the removal of the bike lane, but DOT chief, Janette Sadik-Khan told the Staten Island Advance, "we heard from the community and worked closely with local leaders to engineer a solution that works whether you’re on transit, a bike or behind the wheel."

Local politicians also supported the move, but did not return calls on the topic.

Local bike advocates are irate. Transportation Alternatives issued a statement lamenting the lack of formal process in removing the bike lane, citing a similar move a year ago in Brooklyn that was politically motivated.  WNYC last year had reported that City Hall wasn't denying that the removal of that lane, through a heavily orthodox Jewish section of Williamsburgh,  was a political favor delivered after Mayor Michael Bloomberg's narrow election victory.

They point out that this bike lane was part of the bike masterplan, and see this as a step backward from building a bike friendly city.

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Transportation Nation

1st and 2nd Avenue Bike Lanes: Not in 2010. In 2011?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

NYC DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan and NYC Council Member James Vacca measure car speeds on Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, with P.S. 261 fourth graders (Kate Hinds)

UPDATED WITH NEW COMMENTS FROM JANETTE SADIK-KHAN  (Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) We've been following New York City's plans to build protected bike lanes on Manhattan's  east side. These lanes were initially planned to stretch from Houston Street in the East Village up to 125th Street in East Harlem, but construction has stopped at 34th Street. Last week supporters held a rally urging the city to move forward on the lanes' full implementation. So when we saw the city's transportation commissioner, Janette Sadik-Khan, in Brooklyn this morning, we asked her if the lanes would be extended north of 34th street. Here's the exchange.

KH: Are there plans to build out the East Side bike lanes?

JSK: We’re working on what we’re working on right now. We’ve got a full plate.

KH: I know you had said in the summer it wouldn’t happen in 2010; is it on the table for 2011?

JSK:  Not at the moment.

KH: Not at the moment?

JSK: No. Our plans are our plans and we continue to work with communities about what’s the right set of tools and what works best, tailored to meet community needs.

(You can hear the exchange here.)

KH: Why did the city back away from the original plan to go north of 34th street?

(answer after the jump)

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Transportation Nation

Stand By Your Lane: Do Cyclists Have Hope to Cling To?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

City Council Member Melissa Mark Viverito holding 2,500 petitions in support of extending the East Side bike lanes (Kate Hinds)

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) “No bike lanes to nowhere” was the message today from bicycle advocates, who were rallying on the steps of City Hall this afternoon to deliver about 2,500 handwritten letters to Mayor Bloomberg. They want the city to follow through on a proposed plan to build protected bike lanes along Manhattan’s First and Second Avenues, from Houston Street to East 125th Street. The lanes were initially endorsed by the city—but construction has stopped at 34th Street, with no plans to move northward at this time.

The rally, which was sponsored by Transportation Alternatives, drew about 50 people, including elected officials State Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh, State Senator Jose Serrano, and City Councilwoman Melissa Mark Viverito.

Viverito, who represents East Harlem, said that extending the lanes to 125th Street was only fair. “We're also talking about equity for our neighborhoods,” she said. “Why should only Midtown get the benefit of having these protected bike lanes and pedestrian islands?”

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WNYC News

Bike Lane To Nowhere?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

“No bike lanes to nowhere” was the message today from bicycle advocates, who were rallying on the steps of City Hall this afternoon to deliver about 2,500 handwritten letters to Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: A Birds-Eye View of the Marathon, LaHood Threatens to Pull WI Stimulus $, and FTA To NJ: Where's Our $271 Million?

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Ray LaHood's "congratulatory" phone call to Wisconsin's governor-elect, Scott Walker, involved threatening to yank $810 million in stimulus money if Mr. Walker doesn't soften his opposition to a high-speed rail line between Milwaukee and Madison (Wall Street Journal). Don't worry, Wisconsin--Illinois will take that federal money off your hands.  (But hey! New York already called dibs on that cash!)

Speaking of money, the Federal Transit Administration sent New Jersey a bill for $271 million for the canceled ARC tunnel, plus the promise of an audit. (AP via WSJ)

Illinois senator Dick Durbin wants the EPA to investigate complaints that toxic diesel pollution is inundating commuter rail cars and Chicago's two major rail stations. (Chicago Tribune)

Last night's Community Board 7 meeting about the new Columbus Avenue bike lane focused on complaints from business owners about parking--and an admission from the DOT that the actual number of spaces taken was 67, not the 55 that was originally projected. (DNA Info)

New York's MTA put together a birds-eye view of Sunday's marathon, weaving together footage from its traffic cameras.

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WNYC News

Brooklyn Residents, Cyclists Debate Park Slope Bike Lane

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Park Slope residents and cycling advocates led two boisterous rallies on Thursday, over the future of a protected bike lane along Prospect Park West.

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: Toyota Recall, Dueling Bike Rallies in Brooklyn, and Swedes Invent Invisible Bike Helmet

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Toyota recalls 1.5 million vehicles worldwide for brake and fuel problems. (New York Times)

Midterm elections may reroute high speed rail projects. (Marketplace)

Tough week for transportation in DC: The Virginia Department of Historic Resources is objecting to a change in the planned Metrorail line to Dulles Airport that could save more than half a billion dollars (WAMU). And DC failed to win TIGER grant money to help expand its bikeshare program.

While Atlanta celebrates its $47.6 million streetcar grant, other area residents are annoyed that a highway project didn't get funded. "Because it's more important than a streetcar. Peoples' lives depend on it." (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Dueling rallies over Park Slope's bike lanes to take place in Brooklyn today. (New York Daily News)

The Swedes have invented an invisible bike helmet, modeled on a car airbag, that will go on sale next spring. (Popular Science)

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Transportation Nation

Union Square Pedestrian Plaza Unveiled Today

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation)  Crossing the streets around New York City's Union Square got a little bit easier today, with the official completion of the redesign of the sidewalks and streets surrounding the area. The neighborhood, which hosts the city's flagship Greenmarket four days a week, sees tens of thousands of visitors on a daily basis, and there have been 95 pedestrian injury crashes from 2004 to 2008. The updates include a bike line and changes to the traffic pattern, and a pedestrian plaza has been added to the east side of Broadway between 17th and 18th Streets.

Looking north on Broadway from Union Square (Kate Hinds)

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Transportation Nation

NY's New Deputy Mayor Likes BRT and Congestion Charging -- But Does He Like Bike Lanes?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) There have been some interesting political alliances in the transportation world -- former Charlotte Mayor Pat McGrory, a conservative Republican, has been one of the nation's biggest backers of transit. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg,  also a Republican, who has also run on the Republican line, has found himself lauded by scrappy environmentalists who would probably otherwise hang with the far left. But when Bloomberg last spring appointed a former Republican Mayor of Indianapolis -- and adviser to George W. Bush -- to oversee Parks, Environmental Protection, and Transportation, a bit of a frisson shuddered through the transit world. Turns out Goldsmith is a huge supporter of congestion pricing, which he's called "terrific" and "imperative." He loves BRT and has seen it in operation in Curitiba, Brazil. He's studied bike share and thinks it's compatible with the short distances New Yorkers travel. But does he love bike lanes as much as Janette Sadik-Khan? Here's a bit of his exchange with me --

BERNSTEIN: There was some thought -- the commissioner wanted to have bike lanes all the way up First and Second Avenues. And then that plan was pulled back and that was around the time that you were coming and there was some speculation that was because you were concerned about that. Is there any truth to that?

GOLDSMITH: No. Not exactly. The mayor and I are concerned about getting the balance right. How to make the city more livable in a way that doesn’t create ancillary byproduct problems. And how extensive the bike lanes should be and where they should be is a legitimate question. I had a conversation about this with the mayor this morning. You know, he is interested in getting the balance right. He asked me a lot of questions and asked Janette a lot of questions about it, as he should, and I’ll continue to work on it.

BERNSTEIN: That was a very evocative ‘not exactly’. Can you expand on that?

GOLDSMITH: No.

Audio, and full transcript, after the jump.

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WNYC News

New Deputy Mayor Loves Congestion Pricing, But as for Bike Lanes...

Thursday, August 12, 2010

WNYC

Steven Goldsmith has been New York City's Deputy Mayor for Operations for six weeks. A former Republican Mayor of Indianapolis, Goldsmith was known for both cost-cutting and rebuilding that city's downtown. In New York, he's become associated with several new initiatives, including wireless water metering, a possible fee for garbage collection, and expansion of the private commuter van industry.

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Transportation Nation

Report: Cycling Accidents Down Along Minneapolis Bike Lane - So are Cyclists

Friday, July 30, 2010

Photo: MPR

Photo: MPR

(Minneapolis -- Madeleine Baran, Minnesota Public Radio)   Minneapolis city officials say bike lanes have made biking safer -- but cyclists say new routes are confusing, and the number of cyclists along those routes is actually down.

Minneapolis is known as one of the more bike-friendly cities in the U.S. and has the largest-scale bike-share program in the U.S.

The city's report examined data from the first six months following the changes. The report found that the number of bicycle crashes on the downtown stretch of Hennepin and First Avenues dropped from a yearly average of about 12 to zero in the past six months.

"Although a longer study is needed, the data so far shows greatly improved bicycle safety in the corridor," city officials said in a statement accompanying Tuesday's report.

Despite the improved safety record, the report found that six months after the changes, bicycle ridership on the downtown blocks of Hennepin Avenue had dropped by more than 50 percent.

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Transportation Nation

Bike lanes come to the President's Doorstep

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Andrea Bernstein and Brian Lehrer discuss the controversy over bike lanes on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, why US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is such a surprise, and what the new Times Square should look like. Listen Here.

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