Thursday, April 22, 2010

Exciting!

And makes me happy I voted for Janette... I mean Mike.

The plans for 34th St. as reported in the Times.

I'd like to go on the record right now as saying their prediction of an "up to 35 percent" increase in crosstown bus speed as a vast underestimate (so they can gloat later). Mr. Astoria Bike predicts, if the plan goes ahead as described--dedicated bus lanes, ticket buying options (not as good as pre-pay), and light timing--the increase will be more than 50%. Currently the schedule lists an over 30-minute journey during rush hour and 20-minutes at night. It's less than 2 miles! There's no reason a bus couldn't do this in 10 minutes (which is only an average speed of 12 miles an hour... But it sure beats the 4 miles an hour it's going at now).

This will benefit, as Janette says, "the majority of the people who are actually using the street." According to the city, only 1 in 10 people travel 34th Street by car or taxi.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Queensboro Bridge, Manhattan Side

Horrible bridge access is the weak link for any Queens to Manhattan commute. Improvements here would be the best way to positively impact and improve the commute for a large number of riders. Best of all, it can be done with very little money and no (God forbid) hindrance to motorists. It just takes will.

[I wrote about Queensplaza and the Queens side of the Queensboro Bridge here.]

1) From the Queensboro bridge heading west.

So simple. Just leave as is and do not close the obstruction fence again.

A bike lane should be painted the middle of 60th St, between the bridge exit and 2nd Avenue. This lane could be on the left (south) side of street or just the left of the buses at the bus stop. Plenty of unused street space there for this. No car traffic disruption. Cost: a few lines of paint.
Notice the "free parking" on the sidewalk.

If there's space for illegal parking, there's space for a bike lane!

2) From the Queensboro bridge heading south. Continue on the bridge bike path east past the u-turn half-way toward 1st Ave. Then make right (south) cutting under the bridge in what is current some public works parking/storage.

Notice more free parking.

From the south side of the bridge (59th St), paint a lane for bikes to go to west to 2nd Ave. There is currently plenty of unused real estate there that could be used for that.
It's like the bike is already there! ...If stripped white paint meant bike lane. (And crossing the traffic entering the bridge there is never hard.)

The goals/advantages are to 1) avoid pedestrians on 1st Ave and 2) avoid the traffic mix/mess heading on to the bridge at 2nd Ave.

If the tunnel path under the bridge can't happen, then make a legal path going south on 1st Ave under the bridge. Continue west on 59th St to 2nd Ave. Ideally this bike path would be between the bridge and the pedestrian sidewalk to avoid conflict with pedestrians.

Currently, the left (west) lane of traffic under the bridge is unused because of the left-turn-only lane at 59th St. The sidewalk could be moved to this lane with the bike lane replacing the sidewalk.
It's already a bike lane, of sorts.

This could also serve as access to the bridge coming from the west. But see next point for alternative.

3) Heading to the bridge from the west, heading east on 59th St.

Stay left as if you were going to go over the bridge. Cross 2nd Ave and wait in a to-be-created holding pen in front of old trolley-line entrance pagoda in the middle of all the traffic. Again this is putting to good use a currently (rather large) are being put to absolutely no use.

Imagine waiting bikes here.

Then when the light changes, simply cross over to E 60th St and head to the entrance.

4) 59th St between 3rd and 2nd Avenues is already very narrow for three lanes of traffic. But bikes do and have to travel on it. Why not make it official and give bikes a super narrow 2 foot bike lane? It would be better than nothing.

It could even be a crypto-bike lane. This is what I call the little "path" at Queensplaza just after you veer right from Northern Blvd heading to the bridge. It is made (in this case unintentionally) by a slight rise in the pavement.

Notice the cryto-bike lane on right. Without even really noticing it, cars naturally stay away from the right few feet of the lane. It's actually much more observed by cars than a line of paint would ever be. And it's the perfect amount of space for a bike to go buy. And it's all done down-low and on the Q.T.

The same could be done on 59th Street.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Our Queensboro Bridge (Manhattan Side)

I'm kind of afraid to write about this less somebody "corrects" the situation. But on the Manhattan side of the Queensboro Bridge, it's been great ever since the barrier blocking the pedestrian and bike exit has been nudged to the side.

Pedestrians no longer have to climb over a dirty metal barrier. And bicyclists going west no longer have to go four blocks out of the way, bothering pedestrians and riding on a brief but dangerous stint on 1st Avenue.

The impact on cars? None. Zero. They line up for the red light on 1st Ave just like they always have. I'd still like to talk to the idiot who decided that all bikes and pedestrians from Queens needs to exit on 1st Avenue.

Now how to we get it to stay this way? We probably have a little while, as the rehab of the tram won't be done any time soon.

And while we're at, I have a few great ideas as to how to make 2nd Ave and the bridge exit leagues better for bikes with no major expense and zero impact on cars. Why does nobody ever ask me?

Talking Traffic

There's a good interview in Streetsblog:
It would make me feel warm and fuzzy if Kelly said that bike safety was a top priority. But that wouldn't do anything to change the car-centered attitude of the rank-and-file.
...
sometimes what is needed for traffic violations is simple mind-numbing zero-tolerance enforcement. It's grunt work.
...
even if I could wave a magic police wand I wouldn't stop jaywalking in New York City. It's beneficial to urban life here. But you wouldn't know that if you've never walked the streets.
...
In a crash with a car, why is it that a bike or pedestrian has to be 100 percent right to not be at fault, but all a car has to do is stay at the scene and not be drunk?...I mean, most drivers don't want to kill you. They just drive stupidly until they do.
Well said.

Three Cheers for Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes

He's actually charging a driver for killing a bicyclist.

Usually to get away with manslaughter all a driver has to do is stay at the scene and not be drunk. By the normal rules, the bicyclist would be blamed for biking without a bell.