In the Spring of 2003, the New York City Department of Transportation tested a new “shared lane” bike route pavement marking on a six block stretch of University Avenue in the Morris Heights section of the Bronx. The new, six-foot high markings feature a bicycle symbol but no bike lane stripes.
The shared lane marking is an effective, flexible alternative to striped bike lanes and can be used to improve cyclist safety and make connections between bike lanes, greenways and bridge paths on streets too narrow for standard five-foot wide bike lanes. Last year, the San Francisco Department of Parking and Traffic surveyed motorists and cyclists about “shared lane” bike symbols and found that 80% of respondents understood the symbols to mean “share the road” and drive and ride cautiously. Berkeley, California uses thirty-foot tall bicycle symbols and arrows to mark “Bicycle Boulevards,” which are traffic calmed, priority cycling streets. The New York City DOT should use ten- to fifteen-foot tall bike symbols coupled with bicycle signs to encourage New York City drivers to share the road with bicyclists. (The six foot symbols the agency is using are too small to catch drivers’ attention.)
Chambers Street between Centre and West Streets is a prime candidate for shared lane markings. Chambers is the most direct cycling route connecting the Brooklyn Bridge and the Hudson River Greenway, and motorists should be aware that it is a heavily cycled street.
The City DOT should make shared lane pavement markings a permanent part of its cycling toolbox.
Encourage the DOT to use “shared lane” markings to connect bike lanes, greenways and bridge paths.
Commissioner Iris Weinshall