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Sands Street Gets a Sassy, Center-Median Cycletrack

Chalk up more bikeway innovation to the folks at the NYC Department of Transportation. Now nearly complete, the Sands Street approach to the Manhattan Bridge is now safer and more enjoyable thanks to a first-of-its-kind in NYC: a center-median, two-way, protected bike path. Frankly, the facility is a perfect solution to counter the dangers posed by a tangle of roads and highway on-ramps that burden the area. Dramatic before and afters tell the delicious story.

We'll also take you back into the archives to April 2005, when following a severe injury to Transportation Alternatives' then Deputy Director Noah Budnick, advocates held a passionate rally to ask Mayor Bloomberg to not only improve bike access to the Manhattan Bridge, but to all East River Bridges. Four years later, there's much to be proud of. As Ryan Russo, NYC DOT Assistant Commissioner for Traffic Management points out, back in 2005 about 800 cyclists used the bridge daily. In 2009, those numbers have soared to over 2600. That gives us a serious case of happiness.

<blockquote class="_text"> [music] </blockquote> <blockquote class="speaker_1_text"> <cite class="speaker_1" >Clarence Eckerson Jr.:</cite> [0:25] Hey, everybody. Streetfilms here to talk about something new and exciting here in New York City. It's a physically separated, bidirectional bike path that's located right down the middle of the road. It's the Sands Street bike path. [musical interlude] </blockquote> <blockquote class="speaker_2_text"> <cite class="speaker_2" >Ryan Russo:</cite> [0:41] If you take a look over here, we've got two entrance ramps, for the two directions of the BQE, on the right-hand side of the street. And on most two way streets, that's where cyclists ride and that's where the bike lanes are, on the right hand side. So, what we did here was, there's so many cars and trucks turning on those ramps, it wouldn't be safe to have the cyclists and those cars and trucks mix. </blockquote> <blockquote class="speaker_1_text"> <cite class="speaker_1" >Clarence Eckerson Jr.:</cite> [1:03] The Sands Street bike path has two different sections to it, really. One is a completely physically separated lane, right down the middle. The other section, which runs right through the middle of the Farragut Houses, has this mountable curb. </blockquote> <blockquote class="speaker_2_text"> <cite class="speaker_2" >Ryan Russo:</cite> [1:16] There's a unique design on each block. The block we're standing has the barrier wall, so it's very unique. We have the bike path in the center, and it's raised, and it's protected on this block by a concrete barrier. The other block, between Gold and Navy Street, is actually unique as well. It's our first bike lane with a three level roadway design. There's a sidewalk level and a roadway level and a bike path level, which is in between the two, and it's separated by a sloped curb so that bikes can get safely on and off. [musical interlude] </blockquote> <blockquote class="speaker_1_text"> <cite class="speaker_1" >Clarence Eckerson Jr.:</cite> [2:16] It was near here in early 2005 at one of the approaches to the Manhattan Bridge that TA's deputy director, Noah Budnick, was severely injured while scouting out approaches to the bridge for cyclists. Transportation Alternatives held a rally in April 2005 right behind me, where they celebrated cyclists' bravery for bicycling over the bridges. [2:34] They're asking Mayor Bloomberg to make major safety improvements to all East River bridge approaches, starting with this, the Manhattan Bridge, but also the Brooklyn, the Queensborough, and the Williamsburg. How many people here bike the East River bridges? [cheering] </blockquote> <blockquote class="speaker_1_text"> <cite class="speaker_1" >Clarence Eckerson Jr.:</cite> [2:50] But now much happier times are here, because Transportation Alternatives, a few weeks ago, was able to hold a ribbon cutting, a celebration of the new Sands Street bike lane. And Noah Budnick was there to talk to us. </blockquote> <blockquote class="speaker_2_text"> <cite class="speaker_2" >Ryan Russo:</cite> [3:01] I'm here to welcome you to our celebration of what Graham Beck at TA has named the Budnick Bikeway. It's really one of the highlights, for me, of biking in New York City. It's one of my favorite parts of my day when I cross the bridge. The special thing about it is that the more people who cross it, I think the more glorious it becomes. [3:23] In 2005, the year we planned this project, about 800 or 900 cyclists would use this bridge in a 12 hour, typical day. I'm pleased to say that in our most recent 12 hour count, over 2,600 cyclists used this bridge. </blockquote> <blockquote class="speaker_1_text"> <cite class="speaker_1" >Clarence Eckerson Jr.:</cite> [3:38] So this is just another sign that cycling is getting safer and more accessible to cyclists in New York City. Hopefully, we'll see more to come. [music] </blockquote> <br/><br/>
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  • http://twitter.com/dudeonabike dudeonabike

    That is downright awesome. But whenever I see that type of amazing progress in other cites, it makes me so frustrated--as it tends to do little more than reaffirm that LA is stuck in the stone-age transportation-wise. Some of our elected leaders have said just that, but even still, where's the beef? Looking forward to seeing this in LA in my lifetime....

  • http://www.livablestreets.com/people/mepstein8 Mike Epstein

    Love the illegal and dangerous left turn in the background at 0:28.

  • http://www.livablestreets.com/people/futurebird Susan Donovan

    I love this!!! Great video too!

  • Shrinkage

    Egads! A mountable curb!! Hmmmm....

    Okay seriously, that is a nice job. Hopefully other cities will continue to learn from Streetfilms.

  • Rick D.

    About 5 years ago I remember walking from Juniors to and across the Brooklyn Bridge. It was a weekend, but I remember the tangle of streets.

    Good job, TA!

  • http://cartky.org Dave in KY

    The "sidewalk level" to the unseperated section sure doesn't look very wheelchair accessible with all those lamp posts in the middle of the sidewalk. What's the story there?

  • http://www.galfromdownunder.com Galfromdownunder

    Cool bananas Clarence! Hey, your Bike Friday matches your t-shirt matches your e-corporate livery here. Very metrosexual.
    Here's a bit of ancient history about Clarence and his BF:

    I recall riding a similar center bike thruway somewhere in Portland ... I am sure readers will be able to tell me where it is ... felt a bit like entering the star chamber a la 2001 a Space Odyssey.

  • Pat


    Pat from Chicago here. What a great addition to cycling in New York. I have posted a link to your post on the Chicago Active Transportation Alliance blog.

    I hope someone in Chicago picks up the ball on this one.

  • Ian

    After many years in NYC, I live in Holland, likely the most bike friendly place in the world. I think the DOT should send a team to the Netherlands to see how it can be done. There are bike paths everywhere here and the road is shared not only with cars and pedestrians, but with trams as well.

    Congratulations to NY for taking the first important steps to helping all New Yorkers to a greener, more healthy and more fun future!!

  • http://www.livablestreets.com/people/justinleemiller Justin Lee Miller

    I love it! I haven't tried it yet, but from the video, it's the kind of thing that's needed in the place it's needed. Most cities put in bike lanes on pleasant empty streets, not where the traffic is difficult to maneuver for bikes.

  • Brodie Costigan

    I like turtles.