There is a cultural aversion to cycling in New York City. At least, that’s the belief of one Lower Manhattan-based engineering firm with a plan to upgrade the network of biking opportunities in the city. Though recent news has reminded New Yorkers that cycling here is dangerous, there seems to be a less-than-friendly approach to changing the inefficient system despite it. Mayor Bill de Blasio has advocated for Vision Zero since he took office in 2013 and continues to push for net-zero carbon emissions across all five boroughs, yet the build-out of safe bike lanes has been incredibly slow and not very innovative. Buro Ehring, a local studio that specializes in structures, facades, and fabrication, has envisioned a world where all this is different: New Yorkers can cycle underneath the Brooklyn Bridge instead of on top of it; an elevated bikeway lined with trees runs above Canal Street; 31st Street is completely and solely dedicated to pedestrians—no cars allowed. These speculative improvements, created under a masterplan called CycleNYC, would decrease commuting times, separate cyclists from vehicles, enhance air quality, and in turn, add joy to the art of bicycling in a major metropolis. It’s not a far-reaching proposal. In fact, some of want they want to actualize is very doable. "CycleNYC at its core simply seeks to repurpose last century infrastructure and elevate it to meet the growing needs of New Yorkers," said Andres De La Paz, a designer at Buro Ehring. But in order to make a series of infrastructural, cultural, and formal moves that turns that aversion upside down—as the team at Buro Ehring aims to, it will take the help of city agencies, local community boards, alternative transit advocates, other design professionals, and maybe even CitiBike. Here’s what they propose: Greenways Arguably the most construction-heavy part of CycleNYC, greenways would require the build-out of elevated bike infrastructure above the city’s busiest east-to-west corridors. In a study, Buro Ehring found that the bike network running north to south in New York is much stronger than its perpendicular counterpart. To fix this problem, those busy axes would be relieved with an above-the-street cycling track. Remember Foster + Partners’ raised bike path for London? It’s like that, but possibly with less glass. Buro Ehring reimagines New York’s most traffic-ridden (and most deadly) thoroughfares with this unique infrastructure. For context, Canal Street’s cycling track would span 5,843 feet starting from the Manhattan Bridge, Delancy Street's path would stretch 9931 feet from the Williamsburg Bridge westward, and there would be similar structures on Vernon Boulevard in Long Island City, Kent Avenue in Williamsburg, Houston Street in Manhattan, as well as Myrtle Avenue and Sunset Park in Brooklyn. By calculating the exact measurements of these potential bike highways, Buro Ehring outlined the amount of material needed to build these greenways as well. One of the biggest benefits to this idea—besides the increased safety of cycling out of sight from cars—would be the advanced purification of the surrounding atmosphere. Buro Ehring proposes that the sustainable materials used to build these greenways include titanium-painted panels that absorb respiratory pollutants, as well as self-cleaning protective rain screens. Artificial LED lights also installed along the way could help grow the tree screens that envelope the legs and walls of the tracks. Pathways Just as buildings get expanded and retrofitted to accommodate new programming, so can New York’s bridges and elevated subway lines, according to CycleNYC. The goal is to increase interborough connectivity and remediate air pollution that cyclists experience when they cross the East River next to idle cars and their heart rate rises due to the gradual incline. Buro Ehring proposes using existing pieces of infrastructure and building cycling tracks underneath them in order to provide healthier links. Think: Manhattan Bridge with a bike path hanging below the highway instead of structured on its northern side as it is now. In another example, the Queensborough Bridge could feature a pathway that’s 6561 feet long and creates a smoother connection to Roosevelt Island and Cornell Tech. The bike path would spiral down onto the small island and stop commuters from having to cross into Queens before taking the pedestrian bridge or the tram from Manhattan. Pedestrian Walkways This idea doesn’t include building anything, but instead, paving over everything. Buro Ehring sees some of New York’s most packed streets as pedestrian- and cycling-friendly only. A 14,540-foot-long, green-covered walkway on 30th Street could increase the desire to be in Midtown, while a similar car-free space across 61 Street and through Central Park could be a new east-to-west axis. With all these solutions, Buro Ehring also sees the construction of cycling-specific hubs placed on the edges of the boroughs for commuters and advocates to join forces, and create solidarity. Not only that, but there could be a serious placemaking effect from the integration of these healthier cycling options. Just as the High Line spurred both high-design and community-based development along it and underneath, so too could these greener, cycling-centric spaces help influence growth throughout New York. "A simple idea like improving the bicycle network can have a domino effect of positive impacts on the city," said Ryan Cramer, a project manager. "The infrastructure is all in place. It's now just a matter of implementing the solutions."
Posts tagged with "bike paths":
The East Coast Greenway Alliance (ECGA) has already completed almost a third of the 3,000-mile-long path, which would ultimately connect 15 states. The ECGA uses its resources to fund and organize local groups and volunteers to build sections of the path. The Durham, North Carolina-based organization has highlighted that this approach fosters a feeling of community ownership of the path while taking advantage of local knowledge in planning and executing its construction. The growth of the path can be piecemeal, but 834 miles are already in place, and the ECGA hopes to add another 200 miles in the next 4 years. When complete, the path will run from Calais, Maine to Key West, Florida, and could be used by locals or serious cross-country travelers alike. More details on the ECGA can be found here.
After more than a decade of planning and three years of construction, Queens Quay in Toronto has been turned into a veritable urbanist's dreamscape on the waterfront. Four lanes of traffic have been reduced to two making room for a separated bike path, separated light rail, benches, thousands of new trees, and extra-wide pedestrian promenades with pavers set into maple leaf patterns. https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=54&v=gIv4dCDfIlc In 2006, West 8 and local firm DTAH, won an international design competition led by Waterfront Toronto to fully reimagine the area. "Once uninviting, the opening of the new world-class Queens Quay, links major destinations along the water’s edge creating a public realm that is pedestrian and cycling-friendly," said West 8 on its website. "It offers a grand civic meeting place and an environment conducive to economic vitality and ground floor retail activity." (In April, West 8 won another Waterfront Toronto competition to reimagine the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal and Harbour Square Park.) In the video above, West 8 explains the massive undertaking, which included significant infrastructure upgrades below the new public amenities. While the long-awaited revitalized Queens Quay has been celebrated and enjoyed by pedestrians and cyclists, the new configuration (notably the reduction of traffic lanes) has been confusing, and frustrating, some Toronto drivers. This learning curve should straighten out soon, though, as the Toronto Star reported that new signs and street markings are on the way to clear up any questions about who and what goes where. Check out the video below, as Toronto Star reporter Stephen Spencer Davis bikes along the Queens Quay.
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."
500-cyclists and pedestrians an hour simultaneously traveling along the same route bordering the Regent's Canal in north London certainly makes for one congested—and with cyclists and pedestrians jockeying for limited space, a treacherous—commute. According to BD Online, landscape architect Anthony Nelson, director at Design International, has proposed a dramatic solution that could resolve the long-standing battle between fast-moving cyclists and slower pedestrians. The plan would elevate cyclists up to 13 feet into the air on a lightweight steel platform interspersed with cultural hubs, a sort of High Line for bikes, to completely detach the bicycle path from the pedestrian walkway. Nelson told BD challenges include raising the path to allow large boats to pass beneath and crossing other bridges where clearance won't allow the path to cross underneath. Nelson plans to gain additional feedback from waterway users this summer—during the months in which waterway congestion is at its highest—before presenting the project to politicians in the fall.
Most people would think that politicians would want their cities to be declared in compliance with Clean Air Act standards, but not Chicago! Illinois Governor Quinn and others the EPA lobbied to make sure Chicago is counted as having dirty air, in spite of initial findings from that Chicago's pollution levels had improved significantly from 2008 to 2010. Why? Money of course! According to Crain's, a cleaner air ruling would have jeopardized up to $80 million in funding for projects to promote cleaner air, including transit upgrades and bike paths. While the logic is mind-bending, at least it means better public transportation and biking options!