Mapping Your NYC Bike Commute
Regardless of age or ability, everyone deserves the right to a safe and convenient bike commute. In New York City, every day the DOT is making that more of a reality - thanks to an incredible diversity of bike facilities. The city has moved past simple, striped bike lanes and on to refreshing configurations like curbside, floating parking-protected, physically separated, two-way bike paths.
Bike riding is on the rise. Commutes that were unthinkable years ago, are becoming attainable. Riders are more confident in their knowledge of the street grid. One resource that helps is the NYC Cycling Map. Use this cycling freebie to not only link up to the best routes in your neighborhood, but also to find alternatives and experiment with your riding. You'll be amazed how easy - and safe - it can be.
So for inspiration and major cajoling, I decided to hop on my Batavus Dutch crusier and show you my new commute from Jackson Heights, Queens all the way to the Streetfilms offices in lower Manhattan via the Manhattan Bridge. It's a hardy 11 miles each way, and yet almost 90% of the journey is on some sort of bike facility or marked bike route. Furthermore, about 5 miles of it is on completely separate car-free bicycling paths, its no wonder that many days I arrive at work in a zen-like state.
Streetfilms would like to thank Bicycle Habitat for sponsoring this film.
Clarence Eckerson Jr.: [00:16] Statistically, visually or anecdotally, whatever way you want to measure it, bicycling is way up in New York City in the last few years, and I’d like to do whatever I can to keep that trend going and I thought, what a better way to do that than to convince you to bike to work. Now I recently moved to Jackson Heights, Queens, and if you look at where that is in relation to Lower Manhattan where the Streetfilms headquarters is, it might seem a little daunting to get there by bike. But I’m here to say that if you use a little moxy and the New York City DOT Cycling Map, it’s really not that hard at all. I figure out a few different ways to get to work from here, but my safest and most enjoyable option takes me through Brooklyn using the Manhattan Bridge. At eleven miles each way, it’s a few miles longer than my other options, but I enjoy coming into Manhattan with only about a half mile up you’ve got to go to work. Plus by going this way I get to enjoy some of New York City’s most diverse bicycle facilities. Let’s go. I start my commute by riding one mile on the 34th Avenue bike lane in Jackson Heights, Queens. It’s one of the city’s oldest bike lanes. One of the nicest features about it is it has a green medium with trees and plants, and it helps calm traffic. For the next two miles I ride a complementary series of sharrows and bike lanes which weave you safely through the Sunnyside neighbourhood. Sharrows are a Class 3 bike facility and feature big bike stencils on the ground that show the rider where to safely ride out of the door zone, and also tells drivers they should be looking out for cyclists here and to share the road. Eventually the bike lane on Skillman does end, leaving me with about a mile of riding on streets with no bike lanes, but nothing dangerous here at all. Next up we reach the Pulaski Bridge. It’s an integral link in the cycling network and connects the communities of Green Point, Brooklyn and Long Island City, Queens. Sometimes during rush hours it can get quite crowded with pedestrians and bicyclists, and what I would like to see someday is to see one of the lanes on the roadway taken back and given exclusively to cyclists.
Clarence Eckerson Jr.: [02:13] So here we are at the Kent Avenue bike lane, and this has got to be one of my favourite bike lanes in all of the city. It’s a Class 1, two-way, floating parking protected, separate bike path which runs for a few miles along the Williamsburg Waterfront. I love this path. It’s swift and safe. It’s remarkable. Beautiful. And it’s always packed with cyclists most of the day. A popular route and works well with this type of facility.
Clarence Eckerson Jr.: [02:44] The Kent Avenue bike lane eventually deposits you on Flushing along the Brooklyn navy yard. This time the physical separation is done with concrete barriers instead of the floating parking. When the two-way bike lane ends, on the westbound side it becomes a kerbside lane, which I particularly like and have been impressed that few people have been parking in it. Approaching the Manhattan Bridge, you’ll get to use another incredible bike facility on Sands Street. Check out how innovative this physically separated centre median, two-way bike path works. One part is safely physically separated right down the middle of traffic while another long block has a raised bike path in the median.
Clarence Eckerson Jr.: [03:23] At this point it’s over the Manhattan Bridge, and if you know anybody who rides a bike over it, they’ll tell you how packed it is with cyclists just about any time of the day, but particularly during rush hour, much like what you would see in San Francisco on Market Street or on the Hawthorn Bridge in Portland. It’s just totally cool to ride with this many cyclists.
Clarence Eckerson Jr.:
[03:44] So once I get off the Manhattan Bridge it’s only about a half
mile of riding on Manhattan streets to get here to work. And I’m
here and I’m happy. Now to recap – that was almost an eleven
mile trip all the way from Jackson Heights to Downtown Manhattan.
The breakdown goes as follows – we had 1.6 miles of roads with sharrows,
we had three miles of roads with bike lanes, almost five miles of parking
protected, physically separated bike facilities, and only 1.6 miles
which had no bike lanes at all. So we hope by showing you my commute
I may have encouraged you to try to do the same. I mean use that
New York City bike map experiment, try to link up some of the safest
routes and get yourself to work. Hope to see you out on the roads.