On the street in NYC: Checking out the 9th Ave. cycletrack

“Over the few blocks that I rode, I saw it used in a number of ways, including actual cycling.”

While I was in New York City for a few hours on Wednesday on my way from New Haven to Baltimore, I took the Brompton for a rainy ride down the new 9th Avenue cycletrack. The cycletrack, common in Copenhagen and Amsterdam but still relatively rare in the US, is a bike lane that is physically separated from motor vehicle traffic.

Portland is building a cycle track in the Northeast Cully neighborhood, and new mayor Sam Adams has pledged to build a higher-profile one in his first 100 days in office.

StreetFilms captured some New Yorkers’ first reactions to this cycletrack, the city’s first.

Since then, New Yorkers have incorporated the cycletrack into their daily life. Over the few blocks that I rode, I saw it used in a number of ways, including actual cycling. Below are some photos and more of my thoughts:

The black sign on the left says “Bike Path” and below it is a car in a red circle with a slash through it. Note the deconstructed sharrows. (Photos by Elly Blue)
This section of cycle track is separated by paint and plastic bollards. You bike between the parked cars and the curb, with a nice buffer between yourself and the door zone.
This cycletrack is on the left of a multi-lane one-way street, and at many intersections users have separate signals to protect against left hooks. The person in the car here had a left turn arrow; the cycletrack user in the electric wheelchair had a red light (which he may not have seen, as he was going the wrong way).
Especially contested parts of the cycletrack are painted green, as in Portland. I watched as boxes of liquor were unloaded from this truck for at least ten minutes. Only two people biked by — this was during a downpour.
This lady stepped off the curb and the taxi driver pulled into the green bike lane with one fluid motion.
This part of the 9th Avenue lane isn’t separated, and it feels a lot different. You’re squeezed between parked cars and regular traffic, and are competing for space with taxi customers, among others.

See the Streetswiki entry on Physically Separated Bicycle Lanes for more on the difference between separated and unseparated bike lanes.

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