Posts tagged with "bike lanes":

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MTA Gears Up to Consider Bike Lanes Across Verazzano Bridge

With the launch of the Citi Bike share program around the corner, New York City's bike advocates are focusing their efforts on the next cycling obstacle: the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. Harbor Ring, an advocacy project of the Regional Plan Association, is calling for a 50-mile cycling and pedestrian route encircling New York harbor. The group has published a new petition with over 1,000 signatures at press time pushing for the construction of a bike and pedestrian lane across the double-decked suspension bridge, which turns 50 next year. The Brooklyn Daily reported that bike advocates are hoping Governor Cuomo will support the proposal for the new bike path, which would not only connect Brooklyn and Staten Island, but also provide a critical connection for the Harbor Ring. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has said it will “consider conducting a feasibility study,” but not until 2014 or later. MTA spokesperson Judie Glave told the Daily, "MTA Bridges and Tunnels is considering this issue as part of a future Belt Parkway ramp reconstruction project." This proposal to add a bike path isn't new: A  feasibility study conducted in 1997 by the Department of City Planning revealed that it would be possible to build a bicycle lane without removing any vehicle lanes, but could cost around $26.5 million.
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Toronto Bikers Revolt Against Mayor’s Attempts to Remove Bike Lanes

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has proven to be a controversial public figure, whether it's unsafe reading while driving, or now, removing Toronto's recently installed bike lanes on Jarvis Street.  Yesterday, city crews showed up in large scrubbing trucks to scrape away thin dividing lines from the street, only to encounter a small collection of riders who would not stand by idly. Instead the cyclists chose to lie down, sit, and ultimately blockade the street scrubbing vehicles, eventually forcing them to leave for the day. A subtle part of the infrastructure that regulates a city’s traffic, bike lanes on Jarvis Street in Toronto have been voted out by City Council to make room for a reversible fifth lane meant to improve traffic flow for automobiles. The lanes were part of street safety measures enacted by Ford's predecessor David Miller. Cyclists have been unhappy with the decision declaring that removing the lanes puts their safety at risk. A few have chosen to make their thoughts known—including freelance writer Steve Fisher who noted that, prior to the lanes, he was hit twice by passing cars. The small group of protesters sat in the bike lanes as scrubbing machines approached and attempted to go around them, but a game of  leap-frog commenced as protesters again moved themselves down the road ahead of the machines. Removal of the lanes continued again today and currently the dispute remains unresolved. Unable to work at night—due to noise restrictions—the scrubbing crews must complete the removal during the day. Police were on site today in an attempt to usher back protesters and allow the work to continue. One man was reportedly arrested and taken into custody this afternoon as the protest continues. The scene has been carefully observed from coast to coast in the United States as bike advocates worry of potential bike backlashes in local politics. New York has already gone through a lengthy fight over bike lanes installed by Mayor Bloomberg and Janette Sadik-Khan along Prospect Park in Brooklyn, and many observers are closely watching political views as the city prepares to elect a new mayor next year.
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Even More Protected Bike Lanes to Serve Downtown Chicago

In a city where bicyclists may share a lane with Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein, last year’s promise by Mayor Rahm Emanuel of 100 miles of protected bike paths was cause for celebration. Chicago's latest project, announced Sunday, will be a protected lane along Dearborn Street in the Loop that will run in both directions from Polk to Kinzie. The new route connects the near north side with the south loop and is designed to appeal to young, tech-savvy commuters who work downtown. “It will help us recruit the type of people that have been leaving for the coast,” Emanuel said. “They will now come to the city of Chicago.” The Active Transportation Alliance circulated a petition to hold the Mayor’s administration to its word. Others, like the Sun-Times’ Mark Konkol, have called protected lanes a waste of money and decried a faulty “cyclist culture” that makes streets more dangerous for pedestrians and bikers alike. Chicago will add 22 miles of protected bike lanes by the end of the year, bringing the city's total to 33 miles.
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Will New York’s Bike Lanes Last? Gil Penalosa Addresses the Planning Commission

With only 75 weeks left in New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration, cyclists the city over will inevitably be concerned about the next mayor's stance on bike lanes and street designs lest initiatives put in place under Bloomberg fall from grace. One need only to recall Marty Markowitz's parodic tricycle stunts poking fun at bike lanes or former NYC DOT commissioner Iris Weinshall's efforts to remove a protected bike lane from Brooklyn's Prospect Park West to realize that the concern is not unfounded. At yesterday’s regularly-scheduled City Planning review session, former Bogotá Parks Commissioner Gil Penalosa was invited to give a pep talk, placing a particular emphasis on bike lanes. He warned an audience filled with commissioners and planning staff that as the weeks wind down before the mayor leaves office, they'd better get cracking at PR and permanence: the public needs to become even more familiar with the bike network and the infrastructure needs to become permanent—and striped bike lanes won't cut it! Penalosa now runs the Toronto-based non-profit 8-80 Cities, which espouses the philosophy that if a city is safe for 8-year-olds and 80-year-olds then it will be safe for all citizens. While the philosophy is applied to sidewalks as much as bike lanes, it is particularly interesting when applied to the great strides made in New York's bike network under current DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. Take 8th or 9th avenues in recent years as an example. You might not be too concerned if your kid or grandma pedaled along the green-painted, protected bike lanes in Chelsea, where the lanes runs between the sidewalk and a planted median, and is further buffered from car traffic by parked cars. But moving toward Midtown, the street shifts and bike are moved into narrower striped bike lanes or sharrowed streets at the Port Authority Bus Terminal with no separated bike lane at all. Fortunately in this case, the city recently announced that 8th and 9th avenues will be treated with protected bike lanes between 34th Street and Columbus Circle, filling in the missing teeth. Clearly some of Sadik-Khan's surgical approaches to curb traffic, increase safety, and make way for pedestrians and cyclists are working their way toward permanence, with Snøhetta's Times Square redesign being most extraordinary example. But Penalosa warned that an incremental approach to building a bike network is like the city building a soccer field in phases: We'll put up one field goal this year, then part of the field next year, and hopefully we'll get to the other goal before the next administration decides its a waste of money and abandons the plan. And with the city's 10,000-bike-strong Citi Bike bike-share system to be launched as soon as August, a complete bike network will be more important than ever. Penalosa said that the bike network as it stands is a very substantial start that has opened people's eyes. Cities the world over are pointing to New York's plan as an example, and some, like Chicago, are taking it even further. But he noted that without a network of protected bike lanes and lower traffic speeds, bike infrastructure will struggle to reach its full capacity beyond those who are already established cyclists. If the city wants to coax more people into the system, Penalosa said, then they need to feel safe. So, could all of New York's bike lanes be erased? While it seems unlikely today, one only needs to look to Penalosa's home base in Toronto where several pro-environment mayoral candidates on the left couldn't get their act together to protect strides made by former Mayor David Miller. The conservative candidate Rob Ford won the mayoral election promising to end the "war on cars" brought about by increased cycling. "Not even in his wildest nightmares did Miller think that Rob Ford would be elected," Penalosa said by phone from Toronto. "There's a point when the stars are aligned, when you have the right mayor and the right politicians, but you never know if the next mayor is going to be the same."
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Sadik-Khan Serves Up Some Mumford

Last night was a night of tough decisions. ArchNewsNow threw its tenth anniversary party at the Center for Architecture and DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan gave the Mumford Lecture at City College—on opposite ends of town at the same time. Impossible to do both, our Publisher Diana Darling partied down with ArchNewsNow and we headed for the Mumford Lecture, sending hearty congratulations to ArchNews editor Kristen Richards. Despite missing the party, the trip Uptown was well worth it... The event got off to a slightly late start. City College's urban design director, Professor Michael Sorkin couldn’t resist announcing that the transportation commissioner was stuck in traffic. Like so many Sadik-Khan events, high-ranking officials, like City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden, sat alongside bike-helmet-in-hand supporters. “She has reimagined our streets as places rather than appliances,” Sorkin said by way of introduction. At the podium Sadik-Khan was her usual irreverent and direct self, giving more of a presentation than a hard-core academic lecture. She tossed off casual tidbits of advice to students (practicing judo with your boss is a good way to release inter-office tension—she practiced with a former boss, not her current one). At another point when an audience member asked about the city’s plans for public restrooms she deadpanned, “Starbucks.” But on the subject of safety she was dead serious. She said that until the current administration, “Our streets were looked at through a 1950s ethos” of a car-centric culture. “We’re one of the premier walking cities but it's often dangerous to walk," she said. The commissioner quoted Mumford who called car accidents a “ritual sacrifice in worship of speed.”  Though fatalities in the city are at their lowest level in 40 years, she still sees a need for more “retrofits" of the streetscape. To that end the DOT is developing wayfinding signage for pedestrians that will be launched next year. The commissioner concluded by pegging sustainability to safety: “We can't get people on bikes unless they feel safe.”    
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Ride, Baby, Ride: Senator Chuck Schumer Caught Pedaling in Contested Bike Lane

A shocking cellphone pic of New York's senior Senator has transportation circles abuzz across the Internet today. While not so much a scandal as a beautiful bike ride in the park, Senator Chuck Schumer was photographed pedaling down a contested bike path in Brooklyn on Sunday by Paul Steely White, director of Transportation Alternatives. Given his close ties to a group fighting the bike lane—his wife and former NYC DOT commissioner Iris Weinshall was among the most outspoken opponents to the path—a hypothetical snapshot of the senator biking had previously been called the Holy Grail of livable streets activism and been the punch line of April Fool's jokes, but Schumer, who had never taken a public stance on the protected lane, sure appears to be enjoying himself in New York's unseasonably warm weather. The Orwellian-named Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes had actually been fighting the protected bike lane since it opened in 2010, but a judge threw out the case last year, citing a lapse of statute of limitations. The group has since appealed the decision. Steely White told WNYC's Transportation Nation, "I saw what looked like Senator Charles Schumer riding on the Prospect Park West Bike lane. I whipped out my cell phone and snapped the shot, and as I was taking the photograph he looked at me and smiled and said, 'I ride all the time.'"
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Quick Clicks> Postal Nostalgia, Storing & Riding Bikes, Pocket Parks, & Zaha

  Postal nostalgia. During the Great Depression, the WPA built a post office with a tile roof, marble steps, and an intricate mural in Venice, CA.  The LA Times noted that the historic post office may now close down due to USPS budget cuts, much to the chagrin of Venice residents. A place for bikes.  The number of indoor bicycle storage rooms at offices is slowly increasing throughout New York City.  Though expensive to maintain and space consuming, the NY Times asserted the presence of a bike room benefits the real estate industry (by increasing interest) as well as residents. Biking Memphis.  StreetsBlog reports Memphis Mayor AC Wharton has proposed 55 miles of bike lanes to be inserted into existing streets.  Local businesses are subsequently concerned about slower traffic. Parking in LA.  The LA Times reported LA Mayor Villaraigosa has announced he wants to build 50 “pocket parks” in the next two years.  First on the agenda, is the construction of several parks ranging from 5,000 to 20,000 square feet in Southern Los Angeles that begins next month. Hadid no diva.  Zaha Hadid sat down with Newsweek and Daily Beast editor Tina Brown to discuss her life, her career, and her reputation.
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Proposal Transforms Park Space Under the Manhattan Bridge

Let’s face it, outside of Central Park, Manhattan isn't known for its abundance of open space. This is beginning to change, however, as in this increasingly innovative architectural age, people are looking to odd, underutilized remnants in the city, from abandoned rail lines to decrepit industrial buildings and toxic waterfronts to create the next amazing public space. One such space sits just beneath the Manhattan Bridge, where Architecture for Humanity has secured a grant and invited nine design firms to take on Coleman Oval Skate Park. Holm Architecture Office (HAO) with Niklas Thormark has taken on the challenge and revealed their program-driven proposal. HAO looked to the surrounding Lower East Side and Chinatown neighborhoods for inspiration and the site conditions informed their comprehensive program strategy. Currently shrouded by the massive legs of the Manhattan Bridge, the design seeks to address the park’s lack of exposure by providing opportunities for local artists to create murals, signage, and other installations, giving the park local identity. Other program intentions include adding bike paths (above), an elevated dog-run with views to the East River, the opportunity for a pop-up movie theater under the bridge (bel0w), and a space for potential street festivals and markets.               At the heart of HAO’s proposal is the skate park. The design combines successful elements of other skate parks in New York City but maintains its originality and affords the opportunity for iconic status by using the existing bridge structures as walls for a "super-pipe." It's hoped this new layout developed with skate consultants Shan Reddy and Jack Dakin will not only challenge skaters, but also perform as the stage for a complex design strategy, befitting of the entire local community. Check out the rest of the proposal:
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Video> Lithuanian Mayor Goes on Bike Lane Offensive

A few days ago on July 30, Arturas Zuokas, the mayor of Vilnius, Lithuania, became fed up with cars illegally parked in the city's bike lanes. To prove his point, he ordered in a tank and proceeded to crush a Mercedes-Benz stopped not only in a bike lane but partially in a crosswalk. The mayor then takes all scofflaw motorists to task, declaring, "That's what will happen if you park your car illegally!" Perhaps, best of all, the Zuokas swept the broken glass from the bike lane and hopped on an electric bike and rode off into the horizon. Can you imagine such a thing happening in America? (Via Urban Velo.)
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New Chicago DOT Commissioner Could Rival Sadik-Khan

Progressive transportation commissioners have become heroes in planning circles. There's a lot of excitement surrounding Chicago Mayor Emanuel's appointment of Gabe Klein as DOT commissioner. Poached from Washington D.C., where Emanuel saw his work first-hand, Klein has extensive experience instituting new transportation ideas, including the nation's largest bike sharing program and a new streetcar system.  The Chicago Tribune has a good roundup of Klein's thoughts so far, which include focusing on improving the CTA rather than building a new High Speed Rail Line to O'Hare, increasing traffic calming measures and pedestrian upgrades, expanding bike lanes and bus rapid transit. Overall he wants to dramatically increase biking, walking, and transit use and diminish the presence of cars, especially in the central city. Before transitioning into government, Klein worked in the transportation field as an executive at a bicycle company and at Zipcar. More broadly, the appointment signals an openness on the part of the Emanuel Administration to bringing in new people and new ideas into Chicago's government agencies, a welcome shift from the patronage system of the Daley regime. Janette Sadik-Khan in New York and Jan Gehl of Denmark may have a new rival for the title of progressive transportation star.
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TEN Arquitectos’ Hot Plan For Tabasco, Mexico

If opponents of New York's bike lanes think bikers get the upper hand, then they'd be stunned to see what TEN Arquitectos has planned for the main drag of Villahermosa, the capital of Tabasco, Mexico. Of course, accommodating bikes is only a small part of what is intended to overhaul the city's spine including an eye catching pedestrian bridge anchoring the project. The perforated, metal-clad boomerang of a bridge links two lakeside parks, the Tomas Garrido Park and Lake of Illusions. At street level the illusion takes hold as the bridge morphs into the shape of a giant alligator.  A large amphitheater sits at its base with the park serving as backdrop. The project is set for dedication next week.
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Quick Clicks> Lahood Rides, High Line Booms, Detroit Blooms, Weiner Wilts

Lahood Bikes to Work: The Transportation Secretary biked to work with other DOT commuters yesterday morning, as seen in this video. He wrote, "The route was safe and well-marked; we enjoyed some exercise; and we didn’t burn a drop of gas–which saved us some money." Since taking office in 2009, the former Republican congressman has prioritized light rail development and overseen $600 million in TIGER II grants to projects that promote livability. John Norquist, president of the Congress for New Urbanism, tells us Lahood is the best Transportation Secretary this country has seen since Secretary Coleman under President Ford.

The High Line: "Economic Dynamo." The New York Times reports "preserving the High Line as a public park revitalized a swath of the city and generated $2 billion in private investment surrounding the park." The development of the High Line (the second section of which opens tomorrow) has spurred the construction of hundreds of deluxe apartments, art galleries, restaurants and boutiques nearby and the addition of 12,000 jobs, which more than make up for the $115 million the city spent on the park. Can Detroit Come Back? With a dwindling population, low literacy rates and vacant housing, Detroit is one of America's biggest underdogs. But the city's woes also make it the perfect laboratory for experiments like Hantz Farms plan to create the world's largest urban farm. OnEarth takes a look at the different ideas percolating in Detroit. Anthony Weiner on Bike Lanes: Anthony Weiner's getting some serious flack, but let's not forget: he also hates bike lanes, says Transportation Nation. At a Gracie Mansion dinner for New York’s Congressional Delegation last June, Weiner told Mayor Bloomberg: “When I become mayor, you know what I’m going to spend my first year doing? I’m going to have a bunch of ribbon-cuttings tearing out your [expletive] bike lanes.”