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NYC DOT explains Bike Lanes in the Big Apple

Bike lanes: In some cities people are literally dying to have them and some people go so far as to mark their own. Here in New York City, it feels like every time I get on my bike there is a new bike lane - sometimes on the left, sometimes buffered, and sometimes completely separated from automobile traffic.  To understand these lanes, I had the opportunity to go for a ride with the NYC DOT bicycle boys. They explained the classes of bike lanes and showed off some of these inventive facilities.  You can use Ride the City to find a safe bike route in New York City and watch this video to see what lanes are used on your route.

[music]
Hayes Lord: [0:08] I'm Hayes Lord, bicycle program coordinator. We're here to talk to you today about the different types of on-street bicycle designs that is making this a world class cycling city. The types of facilities that we are designing are based on the roadway web, the traffic volumes, the different type of vehicles that travel on the roadway as well as the various safety features. [0:28] As you will see that we are designing bike lanes, bike paths and bike routes on roads that fit within our New York City bicycle plan.

[musical interlude]

Preston: [0:39] Johnson: My name's Preston Johnson. I'm a project manager for the bicycle program at DOT. Bike lanes are the most commonly used bicycle facility in the New York City. We love to use them when we have enough width on the street. Bike lanes provide a defined place on the street. It's a safe place for cyclists to ride. Motorists will know where the bikes will be on the street and it makes it a safer street for all street users. [1:05] Putting the bike land on the left side of the street provides protection against cyclists being doored. They're more likely to be doored from the driver's side door when the bike land is on the right side of the street.

[musical interlude]

Preston: [1:20] Separate bike lanes are also a great way to reduce traffic speeds by reducing the width of the street. That encourages a traffic calming effect that makes drivers feel like they should slow down. Here's the five foot width of a bike lane. Then three foot buffer right outside of the parking lane and the moving lane over here. [musical interlude]
Alan Mob Mob: [1:46] I'm Alan Mob Mob project manager of the DOT. I'm here to talk about our innovative on-dtreet class one bicycle paths. Our main goals and objectives here on Ninth Avenue were to provide a well organized street and to provide safety enhancements for all users, that's cyclists, pedestrians, and yes even motorists. [2:01] The parking has been pulled away from the curb providing space for a curbside bicycle path. The flow in parking now provides a physical barrier between moving traffic and the new curbside bicycle path. Another big change you'll see is the concrete islands. More trees, more plantings, a lot more flowers. It really softens up a rather harsh streetscape.

[2:20] So Ninth Avenue being so wide the concrete islands really narrow the roadway for pedestrians, making it safer for them to cross, as well as provides an area of refuge.

[musical interlude]

Alan Mob: [2:30] As you move to the end of the block, we have these dedicated left turn bays, allowing cars to move through the intersections without any obstruction and to mitigate the left turn conflict of vehicles going over the bicycle path. We installed these new bicycle signals. These signals are different phased from moving traffic allow the cyclist to most through the intersection without any interruption or any conflicts of cars. [musical interlude]
Alan Mob: [2:54] On narrow streets curbside lanes are a great option when there's not enough room for a standards bike lane. Here we have a green painted high visibility bike lane that provides extra warning for drivers so that they don't park and block the bike lane. It also provides a traffic calming effect that warns motorists that this is an area where there are going to be cyclists. [musical interlude]

Ryan Risbecky: [3:20] My name is Ryan Risbecky. I'm a project manager at the DOT in the bicycle program. We're on Thompson Street in Greenwich Village. Thompson is one of our newer class three facilities. We implement a class three shared lane when the street is not wide enough to accommodate a class one protected path or a class two standard five foot bike lane.

[3:41] Class three route does not have a striped bicycle lane but there are other markings. There's a bike symbol as well as sharrows or chevrons. In addition, there is signage along the street indicating that this street is a bike route. In cases where there is curbside parking, like on Thompson, we put the markings 11 feet from the curb so that cyclists if they follow the markings will be safely outside the door zone.

[4:05] In addition, we stripe the parking lane which further delineates the space. Class three shared routes provide important connections to class one and class two lanes. A class three lane tells vehicles that cyclists will be traveling along this route and that they have a right to the space.

[musical interlude]

Alan Mob Mob: [4:24] So with our bicycle network, we've made it here today, all the way from 23rd and Ninth Avenue down to Grand Street in Wooster Street without leaving a bicycle facility. So here on Grant Street we have an on-street class one bicycle facility again, protected path, similar to Ninth Avenue. Parking has been removed from the curb to provide room for on-street bicycle path. [4:45] So the difference between Ninth Avenue and Grant Street is that Grant Street is a little narrower roadway, one lane of travel, slower speeds. To mitigate the turn conflicts between vehicles and cyclists, we have on-street pavement markings for vehicles which is represented here with these DOT, as well as signage that you can see at the end of the block, we have signs for vehicles telling them to be cautious and to yield to the cyclists. And for cyclists we have this green paint. It's closer to the intersection, the green paint stop, warning the cyclist that he has moving out of a safer zone and into a mixing zone.

[5:18] It turns into a shared markings here on the road as well. This design is all done by on-street pavement markings. It's a simpler implementation and more cost effective.

[musical interlude]

Alan Mob Mob: [5:29] The facilities that we are designing are encouraging more and more cyclists to jump onto the road and ride. [music]

[5:36]



Elizabeth Press is a Filmmaker for Streetfilms. She joined Streetfilms in 2007 to focus her video work on advocating for better biking, walking and mass transit.

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  • http://www.livablestreets.com/people/ShawnCell shawns.

    Lets say we have this installed on Singapore streets, do these lane types actually force drivers to not use them or do these lanes work only depending on the driver's courtesy? Cos' Singaporean drivers are one nasty lot. Note: This is coming from a Singaporean.

  • http://www.streetfilms.org/ Elizabeth Press

    Some designs do rely on the "driver's courtesy" but class 1 bike lanes are physically separated from cars. Check out this primer on biking rules for more details on the different types of lanes. http://tinyurl.com/yjzarol

  • Green with Envy

    Gotta love the green lanes. Nevermind the physical separation, even green paint on some lanes would help in my hood.

  • Rafael

    São Paulo needs that!

  • Allan

    interesting to see that even in the video, pedestrians are using bike lanes for non-biking purposes

  • http://www.livablestreets.com/people/grenavitar Fritz

    I'd love physically separated lanes on K Street here in DC... or even a shared (buy physically separated from cars) bus lane so that the Circulator (bus) could mingle with the bikes but still get priority. I might be mistaken, but I don't think DC has any physically separated bike lanes, and DOT has a propensity to put the lanes close to car doors and areas where you can't rely on traffic yielding, not dooring... like on 14th St. DC has an overuse of class 2 facilities in areas that aren't necessarily safe for class 2 and an underuse of classes 1 and 3. When you build a class 2 facility too close to car doors and traffic what ends up happening is you push the biker towards the doors which gives car traffic more space which allows them to go faster. In such lanes I often end up riding a little out of the bike lane just so cars know I'm there and slow down for me rather than pushing me into doors.

  • http://ciclonomade.net eduardo green

    Hi!

    One more excellent video from Elizabeth and Streetfilms.. very well done!!

    And it seems like a revolutionary work from DOT in the biggest US city.. good example

    Any connection with Critical Mass and popular pressure??

    ;) :Dudu - Brasil

  • http://pedaladas.wordpress.com RC

    We in Brazil are so far from implementing such solutions this video becomes depressing. There is no social or political willingness to change the one person per car concept that is clogging our streets and roads and turning ourselves into drones. Thanks for sharing this anyway!

  • Lixy

    It seems very few cyclists in NYC wear helmets. Maybe if we had nice lanes like that in SF maybe I wouldn't either :-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/startswithj Janas

    Transportation engineering is hot!

  • http://www.livablestreets.com/people/edpino Ed Pino

    Education is the way to go.
    Thanks guys

  • Oliver Burke

    10/28/09 
    The day I finally see this in America!
    We're getting more European (some parts) in our bicycle infrastructure. How relieving it is to see the green. Reminds me of Amsterdam and Munster. 

    EXCELLENT JOB NYC BIKE GROUP!! Keep it up!

    Check your bicycle mirror!! SFBC is right behind you!

  • mohamamd nouri

    these bike facilties creat busy environemnt resulting in a safer operation for all the users. Keep it up NYC.

  • Mike Smith

    In general I'm very highly in favour of all the schemes described in the video: It's encouraging people to cycle, increasing the feeling of safety and is making cycling much much more visible and "normal".

    One slight concern is whether a cyclist can use the normal traffic lane if he/she wants. I find here in Edinburgh, some bike lanes actually are worse than useless (e.g. have pedestrians on, parked cars, or constantly are yielding to other roads) and that I'm generally forced to use the main road. The drivers become annoyed that I'm on 'their' road and not on the cycle track... any thoughts?

    Great site and great vids btw!

  • Gene Morris

    This would be a lot better and more effective if the driving public were informed and educated on these lanes. I have driven in NYC for over 35 years and only know that the bike "markings" were put on the streets. No notifcation was ever sent out to let drivers know how to understand them. I just happened to stumble on this website while "surfing" the net.

  • td

    Making it obvious to motorists that they are sharing the road with bicyclists is very important, many of these improvements do that well.  

    I feel it important, however, that information about bicyclists, a motorists responsibilities vis a vis bicyclists, and policy regarding bicycles should be included in all motorists handbooks published by the States, and same information should be part of the new drivers'curriculum.

  • MAURICIO ROJAS

    .LOVELY BUT HONESTLY DO YOU THINK A LITTLE NIP OF THE CORNER IS GREEN COMMUNITY?

  • TH

    In addition to motorists, pedestrians need to be educated. Riding in a left side bike lane along Prospect Park, I had crashed while trying to avoid a group a pedestrians idling in the bike lane as they packed up their parked car adjacent to the bike lane.