Search results for " bike lanes"
Consistently ranked as one of the most bike friendly cities in the United States, San Francisco—where over 3 percent of the population commutes by bicycle—has its sights aimed high. The long-term bicycle plan put into effect five years ago—officially dubbed the 2009 San Francisco Bicycle Plan––has lofty aims to increase bike ridership to 20 percent by 2020 through a series of projects. As of this year, 87 percent of the projects, or 52 out of the 60 projects in the 2009 plan, are complete.
This past year the Bay Area Bike Share opened, and other initiatives will soon see the light of day. A long-term goal includes adding over 30 miles of bike lanes to the more than 45 miles that currently exist in the city. Officials want to make cycling safer and more appealing to everyone. “We are focusing on better connecting the bike network. We don’t want a fragmented approach,” said San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) spokesperson, Ben Jose.
Opened last year, the Bay Area Bike Share (BABS) now has 3,000 annual members and 28,000 casual riders (those with one or three day passes). There are 350 bikes and 35 stations in San Francisco, with another 400 bikes and 35 stations in nearby cities including Palo Alto, San Jose, Mountain View, and Redwood City. The bikes and stations are operated by Alta Bicycle Share, and received $11 million in public funding.
Plans to expand are being put on hold. When the bike-share opened, the original plan was to push out 1,000 bikes across the bay and 50 stations in San Francisco within the first year. But completing this phase—distributing an additional 300 more bikes to the five Bay Area cities and 15 more stations in San Francisco—could take up to two more years. Alta Bicycle Share is changing ownership, and the companies providing the hardware and software for the bikes have filed for bankruptcy. The city wants to add 3,000 more bikes, but this would depend on securing an additional $25 million through sponsorships.
In an area that has become filled with coffee shops, cafes, and parklets, a portion of Valencia Street will get the first raised bikeway in the city (pictured, left). In an effort to improve north/south access, it will upgrade the southbound existing bike lane on a portion of Valencia Street, between Duncan and Caesar Chavez streets. The bikeway will lie in between the pedestrian sidewalk and the road.
This effort is part of the Green Infrastructures and the Mission & Valencia Gateway Projects, helmed by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and the San Francisco Public Utility Commission. Along with the new bikeway, the project will also widen sidewalks, build two greened plazas, and install permeable pavement and rain gardens to help capture stormwater. Construction is expected to be complete by mid 2016.
Other raised bikeways planned in the city are on 2nd Street and Masonic Avenue. Each will add a fourth type of major bike infrastructure to the city that currently offers off-street bike paths, protected bike lanes that run along the roadway, and shared bike and automobile routes.
Another planned Green Infrastructure Initiative is the Wiggle Neighborhood Green Corridor. SFMTA and San Francisco’s Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) are partnering on this project.
The much beloved Wiggle is a zig-zagged flat route (formerly a toll road) that stretches from Market Street to Golden Gate Park, enabling cyclists and pedestrians to circumvent the city’s hills. Bikers have been using the path for years, but new green sharrows were added in 2012 to make it easier for riders to see the route.
The Wiggle initiative is also focusing on improving stormwater management by bringing in new, permeable pavement. Traffic calming measures are also in the works, including a traffic diverter at Scott and Fell streets and a raised intersection at Page and Scott streets. Improvements are being funded by the Sewer System Improvement Program and the 2011 Road Repaving and Street Safety Bond. They will cost SFMTA approximately $1.4 million.
SFMTA is focusing on making several districts safer and facilitating greater movement in the city. One project, the Polk Streetscape Project, which will include enhancements like green bike lanes, protected bike lanes, and bulb-outs, is undergoing Environmental Review and will be up for approval by the beginning of next year.
SFMTA is also looking at collisions, and have designated areas in the city as Cyclist High Entry Corridors (CHEC). Two of these areas are South of Market and the Embarcadero Waterfront. Another focus is Howard Street in South of Market, which serves as an east-west connector. SFMTA wants to better organize the roadway so people are safer and better oriented. They will narrow existing lanes and install buffered painted bike lanes—a short-term improvement to increase visibility. This would be the first of 24 projects as part of Vision 0—an initiative to bring traffic fatalities in the city down to 0 by 2024.
SFMTA officials are also developing a concrete design for the Embarcadero Waterfront––a 3-mile-long, mixed-use promenade—and hope to have concepts ready by the fall of 2015.
It is not just about making isolated bike infrastructure improvements, Jose emphasized. “It’s about complete streets, a new look at public right of way.”
In early September, New York City Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg hopped on a Citi Bike and pedaled up Manhattan’s newest protected bike lane. She was headed to a press conference where Bicycling Magazine would announce that the country’s biggest city was also its most bike-friendly. In just one year, New York had jumped from seventh place to first—topping the likes of Portland, Minneapolis, and Boulder.
Trottenberg touted New York’s bike culture, but acknowledged that the city’s top billing was not necessarily her doing. After all, she had only been commissioner for nine months. The credit, she explained, went to her predecessor, Janette Sadik-Khan, the firebrand commissioner who fundamentally transformed New York City’s streets under Mayor Bloomberg. At the announcement, Trottenberg promised that the new administration would build on that impressive legacy.
During Bloomberg’s tenure, over 350 miles of bike lanes were created (about 30 of which were protected), 16,000 bike racks were installed, and Citi Bike was launched. According to a new Department of Transportation (DOT) report, these investments paid huge dividends: As significantly more cyclists appeared on city streets from 2001 to 2013 the risk of them getting seriously injured dropped 74 percent.
During these years, the politics of bike lanes shifted dramatically as well. There is perhaps nobody who personifies that change more than Bill de Blasio. The politician who once called Sadik-Khan a “radical” and labeled himself an “incrementalist” on bike lanes, is now trying to double the amount New Yorkers bike by 2020. De Blasio likely knows that if he is serious about hitting that ambitious goal, he will not be able to do things incrementally.
While the mayor and his DOT have not offered many specifics about where and when bike lanes will be installed, de Blasio has pledged to add more bike lanes and expand Citi Bike into the outer boroughs. But before the popular, yet financially strained, bikeshare program can be completed it has to be bailed-out. Now, after months of negotiations, it is widely expected that Related Companies will do just that. If a deal is finalized, more blue bikes should appear on the road next year.
Despite the mayor’s promise to make the city better for cyclists, he has been met with skepticism, and often criticism, from some bike advocates. They say the NYPD is too aggressively ticketing cyclists, too often parking in bike lanes, and that bike safety is not featured prominently enough in Vision Zero—the administration’s initiative to reduce, or eliminate, pedestrian fatalities.
Paul Steely White, the executive director of Transportation Alternatives, disagrees. He said that the administration’s focus on street safety will improve conditions for everyone, including cyclists. “In establishing Vision Zero as the new framework for New York City transportation policy, the administration set the stage for a significant gain with the bike network,” he said. Looking forward, Steely White hopes the administration will make a strong push for bike lanes, especially on major arterial roads, but in the meantime, he explained, lowering the city’s default speed limit makes a big difference for anybody crisscrossing the city by bike.
As the final bike lanes planned under Mayor Bloomberg appear on city streets, there is reason for cyclists to be optimistic about what’s next for New York’s bike infrastructure. If Citi Bikes start appearing in more neighborhoods, there will likely be enough public, and political pressure, to ensure that bike lanes start forming around them. In Manhattan, the Trottenberg-led DOT could continue the island’s impressive transformation into a bike-friendly hub by approving plans for a pair of bike lanes that cut through the heart of Midtown—one going up 6th Avenue and the other down 5th Avenue. A decade ago, that type of proposal would have been unthinkable, but things have changed dramatically since then. And soon enough cyclists will know if Mayor de Blasio really has too.
Pursued by both San Francisco and Los Angeles, George Lucas ultimately chose Chicago for his Museum of Narrative Art, an archive for the Hollywood icon’s extensive collection of movie memorabilia and modern art.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel celebrated the announcement, calling it a “cultural and job creation asset.” The museum is part of Emanuel’s agenda to promote cultural tourism downtown. After a nonprofit in San Francisco rejected Lucas’ original proposal to build near the Golden Gate Bridge, Los Angeles, and Chicago—home to Lucas’ wife, Melody Hobson—moved quickly to woo the Star Wars creator into building elsewhere.
But some are challenging the Chicago site slated for The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, which a press release claims “will be a gathering place to experience narrative art and the evolution of the visual image—from illustration to cinema to digital art.” A task force targeted 17 acres of lakefront space between Soldier Field and the McCormick Place Lakeside Center currently occupied by two expansive surface parking lots. Emanuel commissioned the task force, directing 12 business, art, and non-profit leaders to find somewhere for “a new iconic structure” that is “accessible to everyone… has the requisite space” and “needs no Chicago taxpayer dollars.”
Some local observers recommended the former Michael Reese Hospital site—a vacant lakefront expanse in Bronzeville that has also been suggested for a casino and Barack Obama’s presidential library. The task force said infrastructure improvements to the site would require too much public money. They also cut sites in the Calumet Region on the city’s southeast side, near O’Hare International Airport, and near the Pullman neighborhood in favor of a more centrally located site.
Chicago’s Lakefront Protection Ordinance, passed in 1973, bars private development east of Lake Shore Drive. The group Friends of the Parks said allowing Lucas to build his museum on the Museum Campus between Lake Shore Drive and Burnham Harbor would encourage lakefront development.
The city’s Plan Commission and City Council still need to approve the site, but Emanuel has said the development is on solid legal ground. He said the museum, built with private money, would legally be a public development as part of the city’s Museum Campus. Its construction is expected to move all existing parking on the site underground, resulting in a net positive number of parking spaces.
“[T]he South Parking Lots site provides a unique opportunity to reclaim hardscape and turn it into green space along our lakefront,” reads the city’s task force report. In addition to building new park space on site, the report recommends tying programming into nearby Northerly Island, which is currently undergoing a redesign led by Studio Gang.
The report also suggested transit upgrades, including new bike lanes and/or a special bus route, updating the 18th Street Metra stop and reconfiguring McCormick Place for CTA buses.
But Friends of the Parks said proponents of building the Lucas Museum on the lakefront are underestimating the cost of development and could be setting the city up for a bait and switch.
Alderman Bob Fioretti, a likely mayoral candidate, has said he would support a legal challenge to the museum. Emanuel has not budged on the recommendation made by his task force, citing figures of economic development in excess of $2 billion. “The Task Force strongly believes that the Museum should be a gift for the entire city—not just for one neighborhood or region,” reads the report.
At press time a design team, including Beijing-based MAD Architects and Chicago-based VOA Associates, was announced for the museum, which is expected to open in 2018. Studio Gang, working with SCAPE, will design the landscape, as well as a new pedestrian bridge to Northerly Island.
News broke in late June that Chicago plans to kick off a new tradition in 2015. Every two years the city will host North America’s biggest exposition of international and contemporary architecture—its own biennial, taking after the famous gathering in Venice that has inspired global design pilgrimages since 1980.
The goal of the event is to renew Chicago’s vaunted place among the international design community, and to nab tourism dollars for economic development. It’s a bombastic proposal, perfectly in line with Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s promotion of cultural tourism.
And why not? Chicago’s history as a center for modern architecture is evident to anyone who has strolled The Loop or surveyed contemporary design history. Two of the stars on our municipal flag are for expos (the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893 and the Century of Progress Exposition in 1933–34), so maybe it’s in our DNA to seek out the world stage through such shows.
Ironically there’s a certain parochialism that comes with Chicago’s desire to host an international design expo. Implicit in the announcement is a bit of boosterism—as much as the aim of the event is purportedly to survey contemporary design from around the world, it wouldn’t merit mayoral fanfare without the requisite language about Chicago’s integral place in shaping the discipline throughout the 20th century, and its “world-class” scene today. It’s the Second City complex: we want the cultural influence enjoyed by New York and L.A.
So let’s celebrate our industrial heritage—trains, stockyards, manufacturing—Nelson Algren, Studs Terkel, Adler & Sullivan, Holabird & Root, and so on. Sure, show off the reborn riverfront to signal the return of urban waterways thanks to environmental protections and investments in public space. Hold up resurgent downtown real estate, bike lanes, and high-tech jobs bringing young people back to cities that used to make up the Rust Belt.
But if this exhibition is more than a tourist brochure, it should delve into our challenges as well as our victories. Let’s see exhibitions on poverty, crime, and segregation. Show off gun violence, class divides, and the concentration of wealth and political power among a proportionally smaller group of individuals than at any time since the Gilded Age. Hold up our nation’s struggles with its successes, and then we’ll have a show that people will travel far and wide to see.
After all, it has been said that Chicago is the most American of American cities. These are American problems, and they deserve solutions. It’s the first American biennial; what’s more American than public debate? This is a perfect time and place to put big questions to our designers, artists, and architects, pressing them to start a conversation that will go beyond the expo pamphlets and cocktail parties.