Bike Lane Solution. (Please view Large version, and read explanation below.)

**To see essential details, right-click image, then view "large."**


The text below is mostly from 2007, before NYC had begun experimenting with new bike lane designs, yet many of the new bike lanes from 2008-10 still suffer many of the same problems that this design addresses.


This is an idea for a bike lane for a one-way NYC Avenue. (There is also an alternative, less-preferred design at Click on "all sizes.")


The lane marked above with "?" represents a typical NYC Class 2 bike lane on a typical NYC one-way avenue.


Notice how on every block, the Class 2 lane suffers serious obstructions and hazards created by vehicles parked, parking, standing, or turning, and also by pedestrians. These conditions, and the frequency with which they occur as depicted in the graphic, are very common in NYC, 24-7-365. Sometimes, they render bike lanes nearly useless.


*The red lane in the middle of the avenue is a solution.* It's a *bike-and-fire-only* lane. (I only suggest it would work on one-way avenues. I don't claim the design would work on two-way streets.) It's as wide as all the other car lanes. Human-powered vehicles and emergency vehicles are allowed to travel in it.


By placing the bike lane in (or near) the middle, CYCLISTS ARE SPARED THE HAZARDS THAT CONSTANTLY APPEAR ON THE EDGE OF THE ROAD. They are also made more visible to motorists. They avoid vehicles parking, stopping, and standing, and they avoid pedestrians blindly stepping into the lane, or using the lane to move food carts/hand trucks, etc. Cyclists (and pedicabs) are given more room than they currently are in most Class 2 lanes, which are dangerously narrow--very often cyclists have to weave into car lanes to overtake one another. (Currently, cars are given room to overtake one another, so why shouldn't human powered-vehicles? There are certainly enough of them now.)


For traffic controls, there are BIKE-SPECIFIC green lights at ALL sides of all intersections. They give cyclists time to safely enter the lane from a side street, or safely exit the lane, before the cars around them start moving. To exit the red lane while cars are moving with a green signal, cyclists would have to cross car lanes, but the increased awareness of bikes this design would provide would mitigate that hazard. And of course, exiting cyclists could avoid that hazard altogether by simply stopping at a *green* light (the width of the lane would allow them to do that without impeding anyone), and waiting through the signal cycle till they get a "bike green." ***Please note--this is only one of two alternatives--the other, which I don't like as much, uses "bike boxes" instead of bike-only green lights.***


This design also accomplishes the worthy, and proven-often-harmless act of taking surface area away from cars, but much more cheaply than re-building entire avenues. (Such complex rebuilding would be necessary for some avenues, but this is another option that should be considered.)


This lane is NOT physically separated. Rather, it prominently, and repeatedly displays the text, "NO CARS EXCEPT X-ING," and "BIKE AND FIRE ONLY.&quot, and/or other text / icons. It is also colored differently from the rest of the road bed.


Here is the part that people think is crazy: Motorists would be allowed to cross the lane, but not stay in it. I think that with clear and highly visible road markings, most motorists would obey the rule.


If this design seems unrealistic now, I submit that that's only because there might not be enough cyclists yet to keep the red lane full enough of bikes to keep cyclists on motorists's minds.



Below, more rambling thoughts:


This center bike lane would create a sort of "bike thoroughfare" or "bike highway" for extended travel on a one-way Avenue like those in most of Midtown Manhattan. It's a lane in or near the MIDDLE of a one-way avenue (not on the side), colored and marked very visibly so that it's clear to motorists that at all times, it's only for emergency vehicles and human powered vehicles (HPVs). Motorists may cross it when needed, but not travel in it. (If people worry that THAT's unrealistic as far as self-enforcement, just look at the ONE good thing about Class 2 lanes--yes, motorists abuse them 99 different ways, but generally, they know not to DRIVE in them. And that's with just dinky little white lines!) To allow human-powered vehicles time to get into or out of the lane (from or to cross streets), at every side of every intersection, HPVs would have their own stop stripe, out ahead of the the stop stripe for cars (both on the Ave. AND on side streets).

  • satanslaundromat 8y

    But cars do drive in bus lanes all the time. What makes you think they'll stay out of a bike lane sandwiched between two "normal" lanes? I don't see it.
  • ddartley 8y

    What makes me think it would work, satanslaundro (I've always been a fan of yours, by the way), is the fact that it's colored, and that that if it were really implemented, it would be known as a lane that BELONGED to police, fire, and EMS. And so motorists would know that if they were in it for more than a moment to cross, and held up an emergency vehicle in this officially designated lane, they could really get in trouble, or would at least be very visibly THE a---hole.

    Yeah, some object that motorists' use of it might be a little chaotic or loose, and not as structured as the design seem to attempt to dictate. But it seems more and more planners and engineers are learning that a little chaos and looseness actually HELPS makes streets safer.
  • mostlyharm_ls 8y

    My primary concern with this idea is the amount of bike/car merging that would be happening. A normal bike lane has this problem only at intersections; with this design, merges would be occurring from both sides at all stretches of the road.

    The speed differential problem hits in both ways here. First, fast-moving cars cross into the bike lane without checking ahead of them (maybe a car in front is obstructing their vision). Or, when traffic is backed up, cars pull into the bike lane while underestimating the speed of a bicyclist coming up from behind.

    The early green for bicyclists is awesome, though... it completely solves the challenge of merging with traffic to make turns at intersections.
  • ddartley 8y

    Arthur, thanks for commenting.

    Much of your skepticism is right, but in fact I see most of the skeptical things you say as merits for the design:

    Motorists, even if they recklessly merge into the red lane, would be slowed down at least a little by the fact that their Avenue is now one lane narrower.

    Those bikes in the red lane that would be that motorist's victims, would have to be aware of the constant possibility that a car might enter their lane ahead of them--but that's the same as now!

    Bikes would be able to travel in a straight line for long stretches, and that's the safest way to ride a bike in New York City.
  • Mark Forscher 8y

    looks interesting.. as a fellow cyclist, i'm curious.. how do you imagine cyclists will enter and exit the bike lane you propose safely?
  • ddartley 8y

    garbnzgh, cyclists/HPVs ENTERING the lane from a cross-street would be very protected, since they would get their own green light before the motorists around them got theirs.

    Exiting the lane is also protected when it's done from a stop: You're on a bike, in the middle of cars, and you're all stopped at a red light. You want to exit the lane and turn onto a cross-street. Again, you get your own green light first, and you get to go before the cars around you get to move.

    Exiting the lane while you're NOT stopped at a red light is the only time it gets tricky. That's the only time you have to compete with cars around you. I would suggest getting out of the middle lane well ahead of the point where you want to turn off the avenue. Keep in mind, this is for a CITY avenue, so the cars around you you'd have to compete with would not be traveling at highway speeds--in fact, they'd generally be going a little slower than what New Yorkers are accustomed to, because this design takes a lane away from them, and that slows cars down, at least a little.
  • grenavitar 7y

    It may beat the outside next-to-car lanes but it doesn't beat other options. I think the best is Sidewalk-bike lane-curb-parking-car lane. That's how they have it many places in Paris and you're kept off the roads and away from car doors. I think it will only calm traffic if there are always bikers present in the lane--which isn't likely to happy. I also foresee being hit into opposing lane of traffic... I think there are other workable ways and traffic calming can be done in better ways... like extended curbs at cross walks, etc.
  • ddartley 7y

    You're quite right in a lot of that...

    I present this as an OPTION for times/places when the big project of renovating into "sidewalk-->bike-->car parking-->street" is not practicable/desirable.

    And yes, this design does only have a chance when there are more cyclists.

    ***Not sure what you meant about being hit into opposing traffic. In this design, the bikes go in the same direction as the cars, and it would ONLY be used on one-way avenues.

    Thanks for commenting.
  • xsmurf 7y

    I have to say sidewalk-lane-curb-cars can be pretty bad also. Peds try to go on the curb to wait for their green light, totally ignoring the fact that they are crossing a lane with people riding 30km+. Cars don't watch bike traffic incoming in the same direction in the lane when turning and are always blocked by the first car turning from opposite bike traffic. The situation gets even worst when the lane is placed on the left side of a one way street where lots of people turn left. It's totally chaotic. And the lane that comes to mind is indeed always *full* during rush hours (and throughout the day)
  • ddartley 7y

    Absolutely right, xsmurf, and I've tried to depict the problems you describe IN my picture. Notice near the bottom, the string of cars lined up behind one car making a left turn.
  • futurebronxbird 7y

    I like this a lot. It'd be perfect on 3rd and 2nd ave.
  • p3200tmz 5y

    I don't use a bicycle but I have the same idea, except that the bike lane is the same width as the current bike lane width. That along with eliminating your "?" lanes would maintain another lane of motor vehicle traffic (very necessary for reasons relating to commerce and public safety), AND a narrow center bike lane would naturally be clear from 4-wheeled motor traffic.

    My idea includes delineating it with the same dashed lane markings as standard lanes except painted in green as most Manhattan motorists now associate green paint with bicycles. The green lines would alert motorists to use extra caution crossing over the bike lane. No special signals for bicycles. Waste of money, as a group they completely ignore them anyway. The lane should NOT be filled in with paint. The painted lanes only show dirt you never knew was there and I'd imagine are dangerous when wet, and is a colossal waste of taxpayer money.

    A center bike lane would also encourage more bicyclists to travel the proper direction on the one way avenues.

    I have alot of other ideas related to traffic engineering, including eliminating lane markings on the wide avenues (seems to me traffic flows better and is safer during that period after a street is repaved and before lanes are painted, however crosswalks and the center bike lane would remain), and creating a law and posting signs on crosstown streets for motor vehicles to form two lanes in slow traffic in order to alleviate overflow into intersections. I would also pave the avenues with cobblestones (except the center bike lane) as a natural form of "traffic calming" (otherwise I hate the concept), encourage through bicycles to stay in the asphalt paved center bike lane, and increase pedestrian safety because they would better hear cars coming, especially with the quiet hybrid cars that are all over the place now.

    I would also propose an "el" over 34th St. with (from the center) 4 bus lanes, 2 pedestrian promenades that double as bus stops, and at the outer edges 2 bike lanes. The surface would be a translucent material such as glass so that the street isn't darkened as associated with rail els and elevated highways. This would allow unrestricted bus and bicycle travel across town, and speed motorists traveling on the surface of 34th St. through Manhattan that are traveling to/from the Lincoln and Midtown tunnels that otherwise have no desire to be driving there.

    Another Idea relating to 34th St is to make is one-way eastbound, as 35th and 33rd have plenty of capacity for westbound traffic (if 33rd is reopened at Park and 6th Aves). However, this wouldn't be popular with bus riders or suburban motorists that only think of major 2 way streets as crosstown routes.
  • Mas Hengky 2y

    thank you for your post, it's real nice
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