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A look at NYC’s cycletrack on steroids

Posted by on September 24th, 2009 at 2:27 pm

New Sands Street bike path in NYC.
-Video below-

In Portland, we have many reasons to be proud of our Bureau of Transportation. They’re moving forward with new bikeway facilities that re-envision our roadways and give bike traffic the treatment it deserves.

But New York City is going beyond re-striping roads and demonstration projects. They’re aggressively remaking their city for non-motorized transportation (and let’s not forget, they installed a separated bikeway (a.k.a. cycletrack) two years before we did).

With their visionary, gutsy, and bike-intelligent Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan — whose “take back the streets” attitude has just been noticed by Forbes Magazine — NYC continues to push the envelope. Take this most recent example forwarded to us from our friends at Streetfilmsit’s a two-way, center-median, completely protected bikeway in the middle of a major street:

Here’s what Streetfilms has to say about it:

“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 [which you can see in the video] tell the delicious story.”

The most amazing thing about this is what we heard about this from one of our sources in the bike advocacy scene in NYC: “I can’t believe they came up with that idea. They are thinking SO outside the box, I wouldn’t have even proposed that!”

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  • Bob September 24, 2009 at 2:39 pm

    New York’s leadership is going to pay dividends in cities across the country. Kudos to them for aggressively reclaiming the streets for humans.

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  • Phil B September 24, 2009 at 2:44 pm

    I gotta say this makes me kinda jealous. PDX cannot fall behind on ideas like these.

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  • Brad September 24, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    …and we get the Sherwin-Williams treatment.

    PBOT – watch and learn.

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  • tbird September 24, 2009 at 2:53 pm

    Oh, yes!

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  • Jeff P September 24, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    I’m not certain I’d call that a cycle track on steroids – that’s looks like what a cycle track is supposed to be.

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  • Nick V September 24, 2009 at 3:11 pm

    I would guess that NYC has more money and MUCH more demand for something like this given their population.

    On the other hand, I gotta wonder about Sam Adams patting himself on the back for a few stripes of paint when meanwhile he only recently admitted that the CRC proposal is misdirected. “World Class”?!? Oh okay.

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  • Oliver September 24, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    Michael Bloomberg is obviously a communist.

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  • q`Tzal September 24, 2009 at 3:42 pm

    How do you get out at side streets?
    How is this any less noisy and inhospitable than the I-205 bridge path we have?
    Certainly looks like 2x more width.

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  • ambrown September 24, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    I’d imagine that NYC’s density makes such projects a lot easier to pull off. That said, I agree with the above commenters that are asking why the city of Portland isn’t leading the nation with these sorts of projects.

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  • jeff September 24, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    Having visited NYC a couple of months ago, they are way ahead of us in taking back public space from cars, in a way that I just don’t see happening here.

    Of course no one blinked when pedestrians jaywalked and cyclists ran signals. A sign of maturity and nuance.

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  • E September 24, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    Hi Portland, this is New York. Thanks for the love. Stop beating yourselves up about your “Sherman-Williams” treatments. Most of the really cool projects in NYC are mostly paint. This fancy one took 4 years. My entire route to work from Brooklyn to Manhattan is a guided by a mix of bike facilities. There’s a painted bike lane in front of my door, and its great. It takes a variety of solutions to make a network.

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  • Todd Boulanger September 24, 2009 at 4:22 pm

    They are lucky to have Janette. NYC is having to be creative to make up for NYC DOT stalling for too many years. (Even with decades of advocacy by TA.)

    The platinum bike friendly city center of the US has shifted east it looks to me – it also helps they have over 150k bike commuters on a bad day. ;-)

    (Jonathan/ Elly – I saw some new bike stuff in Amsterdam region today – will let you know more once I can sit down and write to you.)

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  • sabes September 24, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    Ah, here come the complaints that Portland govt sucks when it comes to bikes and bike advocacy. Yeah, sure. Whatever.

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  • Nick V September 24, 2009 at 4:35 pm

    #12 sabes,

    Nobody said that our gov’t “sucks” – not yet anyway.
    But there is always room for improvement and there is still time to re-think how our transportation money should be spent.

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  • Paul in the 'Couv September 24, 2009 at 4:57 pm

    I rode in that area several times just back in July. I didn’t realize that was the construction project I saw. One important thing that isn’t stressed in the Video is how important this particular link is for medium to longer length trips across Brooklyn and linking to Manhattan. This partly answers the question posed by #8 above. This street connects the waterfron with gentrifying / infilling industrial and abandoned inner city neighborhoods to two major bridges – the Brooklyn and the Manhattan. This area makes PDX traffic look like Mayberry. Bike riders in this area are focused on getting across 5 parkways / expressways. I can’t wait to ride this route next spring when I go back.

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  • wow September 24, 2009 at 6:09 pm

    a very interesting and impressive project…

    It also was in the planning phase for 3.5 years and cost $3-4 million (a guess, would be a nice part of the story) — kind of reminds me of the creativity incorporated in portland’s steel bridge/esplanade project…

    we will need projects like this and many, many more much lower cost projects to achieve a 25% mode split

    three cheers to NYC and future NYC/PDX partnerships

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  • kitty September 24, 2009 at 7:35 pm

    Portland! We need a high-profile facility like this. I nominate the Fremont Bridge Bike Freeway: steal some lane from Kerby onramp, install a jersey barrier and fence, re stripe pavement up and over the topdeck of the Fremont Bridge, build a special bike-only center ramp to connect to Glisan and Voila, the world’s first bike freeway! There is plenty of lane width for the taking on the top deck, and Kerby is grossly over-built for a single lane, so why not? Forget about bike congestion into downtown from NE. Can you imagine the decent into NW and the views??!

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  • BURR September 24, 2009 at 10:24 pm

    so my problem with Portland is that once it is down on the street they are unwilling to change it even if performance demonstrates that it doesn’t work.

    IMO, NYC, Seattle, San Francisco and a bunch of other cities are much more proactive and pragmatic about using sharrows and altering treatments that have been demonstrated not to work than Portland is.

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  • Dabby September 24, 2009 at 11:55 pm

    Cycle tracks are a huge step away from the direction we appear to have been heading? As in sharing the road?

    Did some of you forget about that whole slogan thing?

    Cycle tracks are a separation, and clearly have nothing to do with sharing the road..

    They are a step backwards….

    And what ever happened to turning left and right where needed? Instead of where the cycle track/city planners are telling you to go……

    I mean, many of us can bunny hop the curbs, but not all.

    Cycle Tracks?

    An entirely bad idea.

    Entirely….

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  • joe September 25, 2009 at 12:33 am

    kitty for mayor!

    glad that nyc is moving forward with cool projects like this. a little competition is going to be good for PDX and our self congratulatory pose.

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  • [...] September 25, 2009 NYC’s cycletrack on steroids Posted by anguskingston under Uncategorized Leave a Comment  via bikeportland.org [...]

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  • Stan September 25, 2009 at 8:59 am

    Brooklyn!

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  • El Biciclero September 25, 2009 at 9:42 am

    Didn’t New York start out as New Amsterdam?

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  • Paul Tay September 25, 2009 at 9:46 am

    Yeah, but, how do you git to where yer goin’, instead of where cycletrack takes ya?

    Doesn’t look like there’s a way to get off at the exit ramp. And, perfect place to jack someone’s bike.

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  • Rico September 25, 2009 at 9:47 am

    Too bad Bloomberg’s idea of implementing congestion pricing for automobiles like London didn’t proceed. Then you’d see some bike traffic!

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  • Richard September 25, 2009 at 9:54 am

    This is kind of what the Springwater Corridor would be if, instead of putting it in a beautiful spot along the Willamette River, the City had stuck it in the median of 99E. The Springwater between Ross Island Bridge and Oaks Park has only one “exit”, but it still serves a great purpose. And the location is so much better than what I see in the photo.

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  • Michael M. September 25, 2009 at 10:47 am

    q’Tzal & Dabby — You don’t turn left or right or get to the side streets off the cycletrack here. That’s not what it’s for. It connects two neighborhoods with major established routes for getting around Brooklyn and getting from Brooklyn to Manhattan. You may as well ask “how do you turn off the I-205 bike path when you’re on the bride?” You don’t, unless you’re planning to jump.

    “Cycletracks everywhere” is as myopic as “share-the-road everywhere.” Different areas, different neighborhood characteristics, different commuting and transit patterns call for different solutions.

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  • Anonymous September 25, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    BURR #18: “IMO, NYC, Seattle, San Francisco and a bunch of other cities are much more proactive and pragmatic about using sharrows and altering treatments that have been demonstrated not to work than Portland is.”

    As a bike commuter in Seattle, I have to disagree. Just one example are Sharrows installed on Beach Drive; tiny, little things that hug the white fog line and even one place on the PARKING side of the fog line. In spite of numerous requests by cyclists year after year to fix this rather large error, SDOT has not done so. Sharrows are installed on streets way too far to the right, the south end of Seattle has shared bike lanes/parking lane (imagine that one!) in which the bike lane disappears once a vehicle is parked in it. Same with Sharrows along 4th Ave.

    From my visits to Portland I think Portland has done an astronomically better job installing infrastructure; bikes boxes that make sense, bike lanes everywhere, bike parking all over the place, signage, public education. It’s a huge difference. Seattle is far, far behind.

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  • dabby September 25, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    Micheal,

    Exactly my point.

    In order to get where I want on the northbound 205 bike path, when I am on the bridge, many times I jump over the barrier and cross the freeway, instead of going more than a mile out of the way.

    This is exactly what we do not need!!!!!

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  • Duncan September 25, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    sharing the road an separate facilities are both tools to obtain a goal- feasible and safe bike transportation. If you follow either to the exclusion of the other you will end up with unsatisfying results. I think good planning should be based on effectiveness not blind adherence to dogma.

    Or to say- John Forrester is not God…

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  • BURR September 25, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    Who said anything about John Forester being god? If anything, John has done nothing but set the vehicular cycling movement back 50 years, with his crackpot social theories, his support for the American Dream Coalition, his cantankerous attitude and his insistence that his way is the only way.

    http://americandreamcoalition.org/forester.pdf

    However, that doesn’t mean that you have to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

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  • kww September 25, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    To Paul in Vancouver, the video states that bridge traffic (1 of the 2) is still under 2600/day.

    Hawthorne has more traffic, so please don’t be dropping the Mayberry moniker…
    http://www.portlandonline.com/shared/cfm/image.cfm?id=158299

    Especially when you consider that PDX has less total population and less density…

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  • BikeR September 25, 2009 at 2:03 pm

    how about reusing an old bridge to help some peds/bikes cross I-405 in the middle of downtown. This was a small but powerful project for livability, and a missed opportunity.

    http://bikeportland.org/2008/04/08/bta-activists-work-to-save-sauvie-span/

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  • Q`ztal September 25, 2009 at 2:45 pm

    Michael M. #27

    “Cycletracks everywhere” is as myopic as “share-the-road everywhere.” Different areas, different neighborhood characteristics, different commuting and transit patterns call for different solutions.

    This is the Internet and we won’t stand for myopic, middle of the road opinions like this.

    /sarcasm

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  • coyote September 25, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    “…John has done nothing but set the vehicular cycling movement back 50 years…”

    BURR, you got some wood on the ball with that one.

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  • Duncan September 25, 2009 at 5:16 pm

    Ok since no one could get the statement for the joke, here is the statment (sans joke).

    sharing the road an separate facilities are both tools to obtain a goal- feasible and safe bike transportation. If you follow either to the exclusion of the other you will end up with unsatisfying results. I think good planning should be based on effectiveness not blind adherence to dogma.

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  • Paul in the 'Couv September 25, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    #32 KWW the Mayberry monikor was not in reference to the *bikes* it was in reference to the cars. There is NO WHERE in PDX where there are anywhere near the number of cars and heavily traveled streets that their are in this area of Brooklyn.

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  • Brendan YOUR-INN.COM September 26, 2009 at 11:47 am

    First off riding in NYC and PDX are VERY VERY different.
    The biggest difference is in how people DRIVE. In NY cars do not stall in intersections for a long time waiting for everybody except them to go, this makes intersections very dangerous in Portland.
    This is only a small span of a bike path in a very congested area, there are not many areas in Portland where the traffic is a busy.
    THe final difference is that cyclists have much more freedom in NY and are more dependent on common sense than traffic lights. You will not receive a big ticket for running a light in NYC, but then again if you do not have your head up, a car probably will not stop for you if you are in the way.
    Overall comparing NY to PDX is like apples to oranges. NY is huge and comprised of many boros, while downtown Portland is less than 30 blocks wide.

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  • Wade September 26, 2009 at 9:04 pm

    I rode that stretch (precyclotrack) during my commute but now I live in Portland, Or. I’m not a big fan of cyclotracks but there is makes total sense, especially providing safe passage for cyclists moving past the BQE onramp.

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