Fall 2001, p.17

Bike Lanes: Quality over Quantity

Connections between bridge paths and existing bike lanes should be the DOTís top priority.While the Department of Transportation's Bicycle Program is energized these days, debate is stirring around their policy of "opportunistic bike lane striping." Currently the DOT Bike Program intends to install bike lanes wherever and whenever it can. DOT bike planners watch the agency's repaving schedule and look for chances to squeeze in a new bike lane.

While this sounds good on the surface, the reality is that the opportunity costs (i.e. the time, energy, and political capital) of this approach are very high. Getting a bike lane installed requires extensive community outreach and is enormously time consuming. For instance the St. Nicholas bike lane required seventeen Community Board meetings. Realistically, the DOT has the staff to install only a few bike lanes a year. It would be better if new lanes were planned to connect with the existing network of bike routes, lanes, greenways, and bridge crossings.

T.A. recommends DOT Bike Program's top priorities be:

  • To create safe congenial bicycle connections between the Harlem and East River Bridges and nearby city streets. This includes both sides of the Brooklyn, Manhattan, Williamsburg, Queensboro, Willis Ave, 3rd Ave, Madison Ave, 145th St, Macombs Dam, Washington, W. 207th University Heights, and Broadway bridges. The bike lane on Centre St. in Manhattan is a good example of a short, key connection, as it leads cyclists safely away from the Brooklyn Bridge and towards the lane on Lafayette St.
  • To connect New York City's greenway system to local streets and bike lanes.
  • To synchronize parking regulations with new bicycle lanes to avoid double parking conflicts in bike lanes.

New Paths

DOT must make sure its' bike planners have an important say in how new bridge paths and their approaches are built. The opening of the Manhattan Bridge path demonstrated that it takes time and energy to make proper traffic improvements like those now in place on the Manhattan side. DOT Bicycle planners should be involved at every stage of Williamsburg and Manhattan Bridge bike paths construction to ensure that cyclists can easily get to and from them when the paths open.

Write to the DOT's Bicycle Program and tell them that connecting the planned north side bicycle lanes on the Williamsburg and Manhattan Bridges to the street network is an essential part of improving the cycling environment of New York City. Please also cc T.A. at info@transalt.org.

Write to:
Andrew Vesselinovitch
Bicycle Program Director, NYC DOT
40 Worth St., Room 1035
New York, NY 10013

Now Thatís Smart!  New Bike Lane on Central Park West

As we went to press, the City Department of Transportation announced that they are striping a new 5í wide bike lane northbound on Central Park West from 62nd St. to 109th St. CPW is being restriped, but no motor vehicle lanes will be removed, so traffic capacity analysis was not required. It took just a short time for the City to convince Community Board 7 to support the project. Installing new lanes as part of paving on bike routes in neighborhoods where the community board is receptive, is a smart use of the DOT Bike Programís limited staff time. Congratulations on a job well done to Manhattan Borough Commissioner Andrew Salkin and Bicycle Program Director Andrew Vesselinovitch.

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