As we've been reporting, there are some pretty big urbanism proposals being pushed in London right now. Next month, the city is expected to break ground on a massive cycle superhighway that will give cyclists about 20 miles of new protected bike lanes. Mayor Johnson is also supporting a plan to bury parts of major thoroughfares to boost walkability and development. But now, something even bigger is brewing in the London suburbs. People for Bikes reported that the city's regional government is investing $140 million into cycling, which could be "the biggest municipal bicycling investment in the history of Europe." This amount, which represents 10 percent of Transport for London's (TfL) ten-year bicycle infrastructure budget, will be used to turn three suburbs into what the agency calls "mini-Hollands." The goal in each of these three 'burbs (Kingston, Enfield, Waltham Forest) is to get people out of their cars and onto bikes—especially for short trips. To bring Holland to outer London, TfL is proposing to redesign town centers, build new suburban Cycle Superhighways, and create "Dutch-style roundabouts and rail superhubs." The TfL sees huge potential for bike transit growth in these areas where mass transit tends to be less convenient than what is offered in denser urban environments. "More than half of potential cycle journeys in London are in the suburbs," said the agency on its website. "This programme will aim to target these journeys, moving significant numbers of short car trips to bike." The agency said the boroughs are currently working on detailed designs and timelines for their plans.
Posts tagged with "bike lanes":
London is ready to one-up its bike-friendly European neighbors by building the longest, continuous protected cycleway on the continent. Mayor Boris Johnson has been emphatically endorsing the plan that would create two "superhighways" of bi-directional, curb protected bike lanes. The longer of the two paths would run 18 miles, past some of London's most iconic sites. This truly ambitious plan has been in the works for some time, but is expected to pass its final hurdle this week when it goes before the Transit for London (TfL) board for approval. If it is approved, which is expected, construction is slated to start this March with completion in 2016, according to Dezeen. The creation of the cycleway would not just be a major win for cyclists, it would significantly improve pedestrian safety as well. According to the mayor's office, the superhighway includes “22 new crossings and 35 shortened crossings and 41 crossings fitted with pedestrian countdown.” Given the scale of this plan, there of course have been some detractors—mostly drivers who don’t want to see their roads handed over to cyclists. Mayor Johnson said that the final plan takes concerns about increased car traffic into account while maintaining a continuous, curb-segregated cycleway. “We have done one of the biggest consultation exercises in TfL’s history. We have listened, and now we will act,” said the mayor in a statement. “Overwhelmingly, Londoners wanted these routes, and wanted them delivered to the high standard we promised. I intend to keep that promise.”
Urbanists rejoice! Montreal will tear down a major piece of one of its expressways and replace it with a multi-modal urban boulevard complete with parks, dozens of new trees, bike lanes, dedicated bus lanes, a dog park, and art installations. The Montreal Gazette reported that crews will start dismantling the city’s Bonaventure Expressway this spring, and that the entire $141.6 million project should wrap up as soon as 2017. “At the centre of the massive project, which was subject to public consultation in 2009, are 42-metre wide public-park spaces, totalling more than 20,000 square metres, that will separate the north and southbound roadways,” reported the Gazette. An original plan would have placed new buildings on the sites now slated for parks. Montreal’s mayor said that the city’s independent inspector will monitor the project for possible corruption. [h/t Planetizen]
With bikeshare launching in Philadelphia next year, Mayor Nutter is taking significant steps toward boosting cycling throughout the city. NewsWorks reported that the mayor recently signed an executive order to create the Philadelphia Bicycle Advocacy Board, which will advise him on implementing smart bike policy. This would include "[fostering] volunteer efforts that promote cycling and maintain cycling trails; encourage private sector support of cycling, especially among Philadelphia employers; and promote national and international races in Philadelphia to attract the most elite cyclists to compete in the city." Despite joining the bikeshare game pretty late, Philly routinely ranks as one of the country's most bike-friendly cities. AN recently reported that out of 70 large cities in America, Philadelphia has the 10th highest percentage of residents that commute by bike. Right behind Philadelphia is another Pennsylvania city, Pittsburgh, which is experiencing nothing short of a surge in bike commuting. Using Census Bureau data, the League of American Bicyclists found that bike commuting in the Steel City grew over 400 percent between 2000 and 2013. Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto wants to build on this, and has made increasing bicycle infrastructure one of his major priorities. "We got into the game late," he recently told Streetsblog, "we did our first three [protected bike lanes] in six months, though. And we're looking to do the first five miles in two years." These new lanes, he added, will become part of a "highway system for bikes." With this new infrastructure, and the city's impending launch of a bikeshare program, Peduto said Pittsburgh will "leapfrog" other cities when it comes to bicycling and livability. "We're not going to be able to settle at just being able to play catchup, we want to catch up and then go ahead," he said. Game on.
Mayor Bill de Blasio has signed legislation to lower New York City’s default speed limit from 30 miles per hour to 25. The measure was recently passed by the City Council and is one of the central policy pieces of Vision Zero—the mayor's plan to eliminate traffic fatalities in the city. “We’re here today to make good on a commitment to save lives in this city,” the mayor said at the top of the press conference, which was held on the Lower East Side near where 12-year-old Dashane Santana was struck and killed by a car in 2012. Dashane's grandmother, as well as other families who have lost loved ones in traffic accidents, stood behind the mayor as he put pen to paper. According to the mayor’s office, come November 7th, about 90 percent of the city’s streets will have a speed limit of 25 miles per hour or lower. To inform drivers of these changes, the NYC DOT has launched a public awareness campaign and will be installing 3,000 new speed limit signs over the next year. The five mile per hour change may seem minor, but an individual hit by a car traveling 30 miles per hour is twice as likely to die than from one traveling 25. Citing numbers from "last year" (which actually appear to be from fiscal year 2011–2012) Mayor de Blasio noted that 291 people were killed in traffic accidents in New York City. "That's almost as many people lost to traffic fatalities that were lost to murder," he said. Of those killed in traffic accidents, 115 were drivers and 176 were cyclists or pedestrians. In 2013, according to city data, 286 people died in traffic accidents in New York, but according to the New York State DMV, that number is actually higher, 294. "Part of the discrepancy may come from the fact that often people who sustain life threatening or critical injuries may not die for many months after being hit," said Alana Miller, Transportation Alternative's policy coordinator, in an email. The NYC DOT did not respond to AN's request for more information on the numbers mentioned by Mayor de Blasio. These recent figures, though, follow about 10 years of dropping traffic fatalities. "The significant decline in traffic deaths over the last decade is not an accident," said Miller. "It is the result of smart traffic safety policies that have redesigned dangerous streets, installed protected bike lanes, widened sidewalks and put in pedestrian islands, created safer speed limits around schools and slow zones where communities have identified speeding problems, and installed cameras to deter driving behavior." Now, thanks to early Vision Zero interventions, Mayor de Blasio said the rate is once again decreasing. "As of last Thursday, citywide pedestrian fatalities were down over 20 percent from the same point last year," he said. "Overall traffic-related fatalities were down nearly seven percent. Vision Zero has just begun, but look at that progress." At this point, it's hard to say if that reduction is from Vision Zero, or if the numbers are reverting to the early-2000's trends. Despite this year's reduction in traffic fatalities, the numbers are still quite grim—especially for cyclists. According to data compiled by WNYC, as of mid-October, 200 people have been killed in traffic accidents this calendar year. The rate is down slightly from last year, but WNYC noted that 17 cyclists have been killed since January 1st, which is more than twice as many were killed last year.
In the age of apps, we have seen basic human activities like eating, dating, shopping, and exercising be condensed into simple swipes and clicks. It’s a brave new world and one that has folded-in the complex process of financing, developing, and designing new projects. And in recent years, there has been a batch of new apps designed to help planners, architects, cities, and the general public create more livable cities. Here are a few of those apps that caught AN’s attention. StreetMix Imagine if you could redesign a city street in an instant—without the hassles of political approval, community input, or extensive planning. Sounds pretty nice, right? Well, an app called Streetmix lets you live that urbanist dream, at least in a two-dimensional, cartoony kind of way. In the Streetmix world, if you want a wider bike lane, you can go right ahead and build a wider bike lane. You want light-rail? All aboard. You want a wayfinding sign? Done. How about two wayfinding signs? They’re already in. It’s just that easy. Now, obviously, the app is not intended to be an actual data-driven planning tool. For starters, there are no implications if you, say, remove all driving lanes and mass transit options and replace them with trees and benches. And that’s the fun of it. Instead, Streetmix was designed as a user-friendly program that lets everyday citizens understand what's possible on a typical city street. Lou Huang, of Code For America, which is behind the app, told Next City that he hopes these people can then use this knowledge to better engage in their community's planning process. WideNoise and Stereopublic A neighborhood's lively mix of restaurants, bars, streets, and shops can be both its biggest draw and its most frustrating feature. All of that street-level action may signify a vibrant and livable slice of the city, but try living directly above it. Try getting some sleep with all of that constant chaos. For those who have to wear earplugs, and sleep alongside a white noise machine, there are two apps that may be able to help you out. The first is called WideNoise and it allows users to track noise pollution across an entire city. It’s part of a larger, open-source EU project called EveryAware which monitors all types of pollution. WideNoise is focused entirely on the noise side of things. “With WideNoise you can monitor the noise levels around you, everywhere you go,” explained the app's creators on its website. “You can also check the online map to see the average sound level of the area around you. Do you live in a ‘sleeping cat area’ or in a noisier ‘rock concert area’?” So WideNoise might not be a huge help to those currently living in a noisy area, but it could be a helpful tool when they try to escape it. A somewhat similar crowd-sourcing, noise-tracking app is the less-official-sounding Stereopublic. The app's creators describe it as "a participatory art project that asks you to navigate your city for quiet spaces, share them with your social networks, take audio and visual snapshots, experience audio tours and request original compositions made using your recordings.” OppSites and OpportunitySpaces Officially launching this fall is OppSites, an app that connects cities that want to develop with national investors who can make it happen. To do that, the platform allows cities to “promote their development priorities and share local knowledge” with interested investors. There is a free service that offers investors real-time market and civic updates on certain sites, but those willing to shell out a few dollars can get the premium level that provides visualizations of development opportunities. There is also a similar website with a similar name, OpportunitySpace, that offers a similar service: portals that visualize under-used or vacant sites that are all publicly-owned. The idea is roughly the same—connect developers, investors, and the public with information about cities, but the website is focused entirely on government properties that have seen better days. In June, the site’s cofounder and CEO, Alex Kapur, told CityLab that all the information they display is publicly available, it's just not publicly accessible.
After four years of stops and starts, MyFigueroa, the $20 million proposal to transform Los Angeles’ Figueroa Corridor from a regional throughway to a bike- and pedestrian-friendly destination, appears to be moving ahead. Overseen by the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) with design assistance from Melendrez, Troller Mayer Associates, and Gehl Architects, MyFigueroa will add separated cycle tracks or buffered bike lanes, bike racks, and improved transit shelters, lighting, and landscaping to 4.5 miles of streets between LA Live and Exposition Park. The project hit its first major bump in the road at the end of 2011, when the Supreme Court of California dissolved the state’s redevelopment agencies, including the original custodian of MyFigueroa’s Proposition 1C grant funding. In April 2012, LADOT agreed to take over, and the project appeared to be on track. But in 2013, a traffic study indicating negative impacts combined with fierce local opposition to prompt changes to the design. Progress on MyFigueroa slowed to a crawl as stakeholders failed to agree on a path forward. On August 28, 2013, Councilmember Curren Price filed a motion calling for further traffic studies and design alternatives that did not involve removing a lane of automobile travel. Two weeks later, Shammas Group CEO Darryl Holter, who owns seven car dealerships along the Figueroa Corridor, filed a formal appeal against MyFigueroa. The fate of the project remained uncertain until March 2014, when, before a hearing of the City Council’s Planning and Land Use Management Committee (PLUM), representatives from the offices of Mayor Garcetti and Councilmember Price announced that the opposing parties had agreed to work together toward a solution. Throughout this time, LADOT and Department of City Planning put in long hours of research and analysis, first to answer Councilmember Price’s motion [pdf] and, later, in response to requests made by the stakeholders’ summit [pdf]. Finally, at the end of April, their hard work paid off as the Shammas Group withdrew its appeals. LADOT’s Tim Fremaux confirmed that MyFigueroa will move ahead with only minor changes, including tweaks to left turn pockets to facilitate ingress and egress at auto dealerships, and the formation of an advisory group to explore the possibility of bike lane closures during large events at Exposition Park. MyFigueroa is still in the design phase, said Fremaux, so the construction advertise/bid/award process has yet to begin. If all goes well, construction may start in January 2015. Funding, meanwhile, is an open question. Under Proposition 1C, the $20 million grant was to have been spent by the end of 2014. LADOT, said Fremaux, is waiting on official confirmation from the state that funding will be extended beyond December 2014.
At a recent transportation forum hosted by the New York Building Congress, New York City Transportation Commissioner, Polly Trottenberg, laid-out her agenda for the city’s streets. She said implementing Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero plan to reduce traffic fatalities remains the department’s first priority, but made clear that, under her leadership, the NYCDOT will be doing more than safety upgrades. Trottenberg praised her predecessor, Janette Sadik-Khan, for “cracking some eggs” and fighting for bike lanes, bikeshare, Select Bus Service, and pedestrian plazas when it was not politically popular to do so. She explained that Sadik-Khan’s commitment to these types of programs—and the Bloomberg administration’s ability to realize them—makes her job that much easier. The challenge now is keeping up with the demand for new public space. According to Trottenberg, the NYCDOT is actively pursuing ways to expand these initiatives around the city—especially farther out into the boroughs. The department's wildly popular pedestrian plazas, though, could be more difficult to implement outside of Manhattan and hotspots in Brooklyn. In places like Times Square and Herald Square, explained Trottenberg, the plazas' construction and maintenance can be supported by Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) and deep-pocketed interests. This type of financial backing may be harder to secure in more middle-class and working-class neighborhoods. But while the most high-profile plazas are in Manhattan, this program has already been successfully implemented in parts of the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens. The commissioner also expressed support for congestion pricing, but did not explicitly endorse any plan. When asked about recent polling on the issue—which found modest support for the idea—she dismissed the numbers outright, saying poll respondents will always say "no" when asked about paying more for something. For congestion pricing to happen, she said, it will take politicians who can see past the politics. “If you’re waiting for a magical poll where people say, ‘yes, I’ll pay,’ it’s not going to happen,” she said. While Sadik-Khan broke significant ground on New York’s public space—physically and metaphorically—continuing to change the streetscape will not be easy. “We make things in New York very complicated,” said Trottenberg. A big reason for that is what she called the “Byzantine nature” of how the city’s infrastructure is divvied up between agencies and jurisdictions. It can be difficult, even for her, to know who oversees what road or bridge, and why exactly that is. Still, the city is in a much better place to make the case for public space than it was just a few years ago, back during the infamous bike lane wars of 2011. Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Sadik-Khan blazed the path, and now their successors seem intent to pave it forward.
Given the severity and number of challenges facing Detroit, streetscape improvements might not seem like a very high priority. But in the Motor City's Midtown, one of the city's relatively resurgent neighborhoods, a local planning non-profit is betting that encouraging more bicyclists and pedestrians will be a boon for the area. As a result, Detroit may soon get its first buffered bike lanes. Between Temple Street and Warren Avenue, Midtown’s 2nd Avenue is the target of a substantial road diet, as first reported by ModeShift. As Curbed Detroit put it, “The street is practically wide enough to land a jumbo jet, so carving up this turkey will provide cyclists and drivers with large portions of road,” creating a backbone for bike infrastructure between Wayne State University and the waterfront. The 5-foot bike lanes would run for approximately one mile on both sides of 2nd Avenue, separated from 8-foot parking and 11-foot drive lanes by a 3.5-foot, diagonally striped buffer. Midtown Detroit is pushing the diet as part of a larger campaign to repurpose a slew of extra-wide and outmoded one-way streets in the city’s central business district. City Council has already approved the larger project, which includes opening 2nd Avenue to two-way traffic. In 2012 work began on the "Midtown Loop," which turned two downtown one-ways into two-way streets and made bike lanes out of car lanes in this district dense with cultural institutions and new downtown development. ModeShift reports the project should cost $200,000 plus inspection fees. The Michigan Department of Transportation will oversee the work, which is expected to win some federal money. MDOT previously authorized $1 million for non-car "enhancements" along Cass Avenue in 2014. As MDOT gears up to revamp I-375, alternative transportation advocates are pushing for green space and pedestrian-friendly accoutrements in the wake of the downtown highway's car-centric legacy.
Cyclists in Cincinnati will soon have a separated bike lane along Central Parkway—a major connector between neighborhoods including Downtown, the West End, and Over-the-Rhine—following a narrow City Council vote last week. On April 30th, City Council members voted 5-4 to approve the city plan with a modification, adding $110,000 to the $625,000 project. Chris Wetterich of the Cincinnati Business Courier reported the city now will pave a tree-lined right-of-way near a building in the 2100 block of Central Parkway, responding to concerns from building owner Tim Haines and his tenants. As Wetterich reported, the bike path will still be built, but it’s unclear what implications the move could have for the project’s future:
Councilwoman Yvette Simpson reluctantly supported the measure but said she fears that council set a precedent by which other businesses will expect the city to provide free on-street parking in front of their buildings.Portions of the pathway—which will run through Downtown, the West End, Over-the-Rhine, University Heights, Clifton, and Northside—have been fine-tuned before. Community feedback led to some tweaks in the design between Elm Street and Ludlow Avenue, scaling back plans to widen the street in favor of a re-striped bikeway. Construction on the protected bike lane is supposed to begin soon. The city's website says, "Spring of 2014."
New York City’s bike infrastructure is expanding into new territory with new greenways connecting the city in a web of safer transportation options. And as it does, the Department of Transportation is working to significantly improve the bike lanes that already exist. In recent weeks, significant progress has been made on the Brooklyn Greenway—a planned 14-mile stretch of protected bike lanes along the borough's waterfront. Volunteers have been busy prepping an empty lot in the Columbia Waterfront District to become one of the Greenway’s many landscaped parks. This two-acre lot is designed by Rogers Marvel Architects. A little farther north in Williamsburg, the blog Greenpointers spotted new markings along Kent Avenue to connect one of the Greenway’s missing links. An existing on-street bike lane will be moved to create a two-lane, buffered bike path with more insulation from moving trucks and cars. And over in North Manhattan, the NYCDOT recently proposed two-miles of bike lanes for Washington Heights and Inwood. Farther south on the island, existing bike lanes in Tribeca and the East Village are being converted into protected lanes. So what will all these bike lanes mean for New York? Are drivers doomed to sit in increased traffic? Simple answer, no. As Fivethirtyeight recently explained, "bike lanes, if they’re planned for the right streets, can be created without greatly increasing vehicular congestion."
[beforeafter] [/beforeafter] The streets of downtown Seattle are set for a major overhaul, thanks to a new masterplan by Gustafson Guthrie Nichol. As AN reported in our recent West Coast edition, the Seattle-based firm has made recommendations to improve the pedestrian realm "centers on uniting the fragmented parts of the Pike-Pine corridor, two major thoroughfares at the heart of the retail core running east-west from Interstate 5 to the waterfront." Check out their dramatic proposed transformations overlayed on Seattle's existing streetscape for a better look at how pedestrians and cyclists will fare under the plan. [beforeafter] [/beforeafter] [beforeafter] [/beforeafter] [beforeafter] [/beforeafter] [beforeafter] [/beforeafter] [beforeafter] [/beforeafter] [beforeafter] [/beforeafter]