Photo via Wikimedia
Crosstown protected bike lanes may finally come to Manhattan’s Midtown neighborhood, the first of its kind in New York City. The city’s Department of Transportation presented on Wednesday a series of proposals to create bike lanes that stretch from the East River to the Hudson River, traveling east to west instead of north to south. The first two protected lanes are proposed to run east on 26th Street and west on 29th Street, where an existing lane will be replaced. Officials are also looking to add a lane moving west on 55th Street and east on 52nd Street. DOT’s move to add more protected bike lanes in Midtown comes after the city experienced an increase in the number of cyclist deaths in 2017, despite it being the safest year on record for traffic fatalities.
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Ocean Parkway circa 1894, via NYC Parks
While many hipsters can be seen trekking through Brooklyn on their bikes today, the borough’s infatuation with cycling actually dates back to the nineteenth century. On June 15, 1894, Ocean Parkway became the first street in the U.S. to have a designated bike lane. The nearly five-mile stretch of road was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, the urban planning masterminds behind Central Park and Prospect Park. Originally, their design for Ocean Parkway was to be one of four spokes originating at Prospect Park and spanning across the borough. Today, the road doesn’t actually start at the park but runs parallel to Coney Island Avenue to reach the beach.
The full history this way
Vehicles parked smack in the middle of bike lanes are among the biggest scourges faced by city cyclists. It’s illegal (yes, there’s a $115 fine) though the law is rarely enforced–but it’s not just a modern obstruction. As it turns out, the main reason early bike lanes were created in the 1890s was because of lobbying by cyclists in the hopes getting more open riding space. New York City began paving whole streets and laying down asphalt strips specifically for cyclists–and, ironically, carts, wagons and other vehicles immediately began blocking them.
Naming and shaming the scofflaws
, Wed, September 14, 2016
The city’s newly released, five-year transportation plan is all about the bikes. As part of his larger Vision Zero initiative, the Mayor announced yesterday that he’ll roll out 75 miles of new bike lanes by the end of this year, which includes 18 miles of protected lanes, reports Gothamist. They’ll be dispersed throughout the five boroughs, but centered in areas where the highest number of cyclist and pedestrian fatalities occur.
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With CitiBike expanding deeper into NYC’s many neighborhoods and 70-plus miles of new and upgraded bike lanes added this year alone, it comes as no surprise that more and more New Yorkers are taking to the streets on two wheels. However, while things appear to be changing for the better, it may come as a surprise to many that when it comes to bike-friendliness, NYC still lags way behind other urban hubs. Ahead Michael Seth Wexler of Copenhagenize, a Copenhagen-based consulting firm that publishes the world’s bi-annual bicycle-friendly city index, gives us some insight into why New York can’t seem to catch up with other cities, as well as what can be done to foster a safer more inviting space for cyclists.
MORE ON NYC AND BIKING HERE…
The Department of Transportation just released the downloadable 2016 New York City Bike Map ahead of a paper version due next month. This year’s map shows 70 miles of new or “upgraded” bike-specific lanes, twelve of which are protected (physically separated from auto traffic). Also on the map are seven miles of newly-created off-street bike lanes.
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, Wed, September 23, 2015
1,010.2 miles to be exact. Yesterday morning, NYC reached the milestone figure with the painting of its latest lane in the Lower East Side along Clinton Street. In addition to this, the Department of Transportation announced that yet another 12 miles of protected lanes would be completed by the year’s end between West 14th Street and West 33rd Street. The number is above the city’s five-mile annual target, and the highest amount ever installed in any year. The news, a blessing to cyclists citywide, certainly supports the fact that New York is set on strengthening the cycling culture of the city—which has already been named by Bicycling Magazine as 2015’s best American city for bikes.