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Ninth Avenue Gets a Physically Separated Bike Lane

With Ninth Avenue getting a physically-separated cycle track, The NYC Department of Transportation has set the bar high for the nation. Though the innovation is still being rolled out - eventually there'll be green pedestrian refuges, exclusive light signals for cyclists, signage, stencils and more - that didn't stop StreetFilms and the cycling denizens of Gotham from using it today. Looks good!

Even not complete, drivers seemed to generally get the idea. Lots of smiling riders; food delivery specialists seemed to really get a real kick out of it.

I am sure the debate will begin. Good, let it. Also, a special thanks to Au Revior Simone for lending us a tune to celebrate this happy occasion.

Oh, and in case you were wondering how we got here, here's proof video activism works!


Mark Gorton: [00:00] One thing that could be done to make bike lanes like this safer would be to switch location of the bike lane and the parked cars. So that way it would go sidewalk, bike lane, row of parked cars. And that row of parked cars would act as a physical separator between the bike lane and the fast moving traffic.

[music]

http://transcriptdivas.ca/transcription-canada/

Clarence Eckerson, Jr. has been making fantastical transportation media in NYC since the late 1990s. He's never had a driver's license and never will.

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  • mike

    Woo, Au Revoir Simone!

    Oh, and nice video Clarence. ;)

  • queensborobiker

    I, I, I, just can't believe this. This is great! Thank you for making since I normally don't get over there.

  • http://www.openplans.org/ Nick Grossman

    Sweet!

    I was riding my bike down 9th Avenue the other day, along the right side of the street, and actually pulled over, waited for the light to change, and then crossed over so I could ride in the bike lane.

    Great video Clarence -- this is proof positive that it can be done and it doesn't have to hurt!

  • Clarissa

    Wowee!! That looks amazing! I can't wait to go there and ride on it just because I can.

    9th Ave suddenly felt more European just by watching this video. Hmmm....

  • Greg Raisman

    Go NYC!!!!

  • http://www.markpaints.com Marcusnyc

    I live at 23rd and 9th Ave. and was taken by surprise by this sudden change on the street. I read on another blog what was going on and was impressed. I gotta get my bike out this weekend and give it a go! Great idea, I hope it gets extended up Ninth Ave.

  • http://www.markpaints.com Marcusnyc

    I live at 23rd and 9th Ave. and was taken by surprise by this sudden change on the street. I read on another blog what was going on and was impressed. I gotta get my bike out this weekend and give it a go! Great idea, I hope it gets extended up Ninth Ave. Great video too!

  • Ben Salzberg

    Wow, look out Portland! NYC may before the bike friendliest before we get a chance to go platinum.

  • Terminator

    Wow! And I love this music selection. The video is not bad...want to see more when finished

  • http://bikexprt.com John S. Allen

    You start your video with a blanket statement, that one thing that could be done to make a street safer is to place bicyclists behind a row of parked cars.

    The research literature shows that this usually decreases cyclists' safety, yet you make your assertion without qualifying it or acknowledging any need to defend it. Do you consider this a resposible way to address the public, and if so, why?

    Now, granted, 9th Avenue is one-way, eliminating some conflicts, and also, by providing special turn pockets for motorists, this project removes one of the major issues with placing bicycles behind parked cars -- the inability of bicyclists and operators of turning vehicles to see each other when approaching intersections.

    But then, the markings in the design drawings show that this advantage is vitiated as the motorists are directed to turn across the bike lane rather than bicyclists' and motorists' merging to avoid that conflict, which is a leading cause of bicyclist fatalities in urban areas.

    There are some issues I can't comment on until I have a look and ride here: are the effects on travel time, and temptation to ignore traffic signals, conflicts with pedestrians, wrong-way cycling in this one-way separated facility.

  • Wrong S. Allen

    John S. Allen,

    Your ideological opposition to separated bike paths is tiresome, selfish and irresponsible. The literature you cite is not at all conclusive. We are only at the very beginning of building and testing these types of bike facilities in the US.

    I ride a young child to school on the back of a bike every day in NYC. I want and need this type of bike facility on our busy avenues or I simply can not use them. I am not a vehicular cyclist. I do not have the expectation of being able to ride fast and straight and unobstructed for long stretches. I expect every intersection to have cars turning in front of me, behind me and potentially into me. As long as I'm given a parking space or two of daylight at the intersections, I'm very happy to have physical separation from traffic. It helps me as a cyclist on NYC avenues. It prevents cars from double parking in my bike path and forcing me out into fast moving traffic. It enables me to stay off of our city's crowded sidewalks.

    Is physical separation wanted or needed on every NYC street? Of course not. On some? Of course. Nothing in the video above suggests that cycle tracks need to be on every street. That is your own interpretation.

    Why don't you wait until DOT is done building this out then come down to NYC and ride on it and then let us hear your first-hand observations of the new facility instead of harping away with tired assumptions, theories and hardened ideological positions that have no basis in the day-to-day reality of many many NYC cyclists who want to see cycling normalized.

  • http://www.livablestreets.com/people/trorb/ Clarence Eckerson, Jr.

    To the above commenters:

    Thank you for both expressing very obviously different point of views. I hope we can keep the spirited debate as civil as possible.

    On that note, let me say that I do agree with almost all of what #11 has posted here.

    Mr. Allen, one of the reasons I usually do not respond to many of your missives is because you make leaps in logic and assumptions about our videos that are just not there. NEVER have we EVER stated that we want there to be physically separated facilities on ALL roads. It certainly is not the way to go on the majority of streets. And due to the fact that I have now posted this at least 4 or 5 times in various places in response to comments of yours proves you just don't like to read other people's comments.

    As #11 points out, there are so many people: young, old, inexperienced, handicapped, etc. who would love to see many of these lanes pop up in Manhattan. As you do not ride here, it is a little bit disingenuous - expertise or not - to try to decipher what is better for our city.

    Anecdotally: I ride 9th Avenue often, I rode it before the new experiment was put in and have recently. It is a far safer and peaceful ride now. You talk about the problem with left hand turns. Sure, there are conflicts and the DOT is doing a great job to minimize those, but those conflicts were there BEFORE the experiment.

    I would much rather be able to ride safely for the majority of 9th Ave and then worry about turning cars THEN not be able to ride safely and STILL have to worry about turning cars.

    In closing, let me say that I am glad to see that Mr. Allen's rhetoric at least contains a final paragraph about waiting and seeing, that in itself is an improvement on past commentary. Yes, come ride it, you might be surprised.

  • http://massengale.typepad.com john massengale

    Dear Street Films,

    Why do you make your videos so hard to reuse? A few of your videos are at YouTube, but not many, and not this excellent video which I'd like to put on my blog. It would be simple for you to put embedding code, but the code you have, as you probably know, can't simply be cut and pasted.

    These are exciting times for New Yorkers. For fifty years we've allowed traffic engineers to turn our streets into auto sewers, and now we are finally taking back the streets.

    The streets are the public realm, where we come together as citizens. They are the physical manifestation of the common good. For that reason, it is all for the best that we are reintroducing bikes and reintroducing balance.

    I have some problems with the physical form of the experiments going on today, and not just in bike lanes. Separated bike lanes are great. Big white stripes and plastic barriers in the middle of the public realm are not good, unless they are temporary experiments on the way to something better. The stripes on 9th Avenue are very ugly, and visually degrade and already degraded environment. Ninth Avenue needs separated bike lanes, and wider sidewalks, and trees that visually support the division of the space, and probably two-way traffic again. Ninth Avenue could be as beautiful as the streets in Paris and Munich that have all these elements, making safe bike riding just one element in the design of great streets.

  • Birgit Cory

    Thanks for sharing. Beautiful music with a great look at NYC folk.

  • http://myspace.com/bryanehale Bryan

    Love the concept, also love that song. But really, the lanes are kind of ugly. and there's an excessive buffer between the parked cars and the bike lane. that could easily be cut in half (you still need something to prevent an opening door from clotheslining a cyclist.) It's funny how little road is left when you add a bike lane plus all the extra buffer required. Maybe as the concept evolves it will become a little more efficient.
    All in all i think it's a step (perhaps too far?) in the right direction.

  • http://www.openplans.org/ Nick Grossman

    I rode to work again today, making my way across 23rd street and then down 9th avenue.

    I must say that the transition is startling -- heading across 23rd (which I wouldn't recommend to any biker) is a harrowing experience, full of near misses.

    Turning onto 9th ave and heading down the bike lane was a spectacular experience - I immediately felt comfortable and safe, and my stress level decreased by orders of magnitude.

    I also had some first-hand experience with the potential dangers of left-turning cars cutting off the bike lane (which is on the left-hand side of the street). In every case, it appeared that the drivers had ample time and a clear line of sight to see bikers coming from behind -- the way the median tapers to allow for the turning lane seems to be very effective.

    Also, they're beginning to install actual medians and curbs to replace the white stripes.

  • nemi

    I ride almost everyday in NYC or SF. I rode the 9th ave lane yesterday and agree with a previous comment that the buffer between the lane and parked cars is excessive. I also think that it's dangerous to have pedestrians and truck delivery people crossing the bike lane. I clearly see how some people find it safer, but I did not like and hope we don't have more than one or two. Nor do I look forward to cyclist signals. The best difference can be made by ensuring better paved streets and employing public transportation, i.e. trains, to have bike cars during rush hour.

  • http://www.livablestreets.com/people/trorb/ Clarence Eckerson, Jr.

    Reminder: this is a work in process. There are still concrete islands to come in places. So the excessive space will change to a degree. We shall see, that is the fun part about this revolutionary idea.

  • Chrisser

    Wonderful! I'm so glad to see this experiment so well executed and documented. Now, how about convincing NY cyclists to wear HELMETS, eh?

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  • Jon Hastings

    Glad I found this. Sending it to my cities planning board. Their morons and will probably ignore it, but hey it's worth a shot.

  • http://www.cirtyeconomist.com John Tepper Marlin

    My lovely wife Alice and I have just been in Paris where we cycled up and down the Seine on bicycle paths using the municipal bicycles.
    At some points the bicycle paths are two-way. Why not make the Ninth Avenue bicycle paths go both directions? The width of the path could take two lanes.
    John

  • http://datadirt.wordpress.com Andy

    Thank you for this great video! Is there any possibility of uploading this one to Youtube so I can put it on our blog? We'd really like to use some of these concepts here in Duluth. Thanks!

  • http://bikexprt.com John S. Allen

    Thanks for posting my comment.

    I have attended Josh Benson's presentation at the 2008 Pro Walk-Pro-Bike conference. I also have now ridden the 9th Avenue bike lane and find that it is by far the best separated bike lane I have ever ridden -- for the very reasons I gave.

    I still hold to my opinion that it would work better if bicyclists were encouraged and legally permitted (as in most other states) to merge out of the bike lane into the left turn lane so as to continue moving on the left-turn signal phase -- rather than having to wait through most of a cycle for the next cyclists' green in order to comply with the law and avoid conflicts. There is no physical impedimant to ththe merge. The left-turning vehicles don't move any faster than a bicyclist, and often the lane is empty.

    No blanket statement can be correct, and I don't back down from my distaste with blanket statements about separated, "protected" bike lanes. They are not all the same. Example: I also rode the Broadway separated bike lane, and found it almost unusable due to sight line obstructions and encroachment by pedestrians.

    As to "Wrong S. Allen" who responded to my comment, I would appreciate it if he or she would use his or her real name instead of calling me names, so we could have a real dialog. As to whose opinions are ideological, or flexible and based on experience and study, judge for yourselves.

  • whoopieyaya

    Nice vid. I've been doodling for a few days now, and 9th ave isn't the only place that you could put a separated bike lane. 3rd, 2nd, and 1st avenues could all receive the same treatment. I was just looking at this lane yesterday. Well, I think it's amazing. Bicycles have plenty of room to pass each other, and there's plenty of room for those cool bakfiet cargo bikes, which could never have full protection on that tiny stripe on the ground that they have on some streets, like Bleeker Street.(I don't think I spelled that right) I think that these big wide bike lanes ought to be expanded farther up to the upper west and east sides. As I mentioned earlier, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd avenues on the east side could accomodate these, as can Columbus, Amsterdam, and Broadway on the West side. However, the development of these farther up the island all depend on the projected usage. When the price of oil goes up, (which won't be too long) the number of cars go down, and the number of potential utility bicyclists go up. However, many will abstain because of inadequate bicycle facilities in their area. That's the moment where DOT sweeps in from the skies and plants some serious bike lanes everywhere. And once that happens, everyone will be either biking or taking public transportation everywhere.

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  • Wendi Vera

    I need to hear exactly what has to say about this?!?

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    Helpful blog, saved the site for interest to see more information!

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  • http://www.theoliviawilde.info/ Olivia Wilde

    I'm happy to see this and would love for it to spread to other major cities.

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