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."
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Local government has given the go-ahead to a multi-tiered skatepark designed by Guy Hollaway Architects (GHA) to be built in the town of Folkestone, England. After multiple proposals from GHA and the design consultancy Maverick, the plans promise a state-of-the-art urban sports facility. This project's arrival comes at a time where skateparks face an uncertain future in Britain. Last year saw the closure of ad hoc skatepark Bristo Square in Edinburgh, Scotland. Down in London, plans to remove the iconic Southbank skatepark were halted by the "Long Live Southbank" group with the support of London mayor, Boris Johnson. This 10,700-square-foot structure features three floors, each containing quarter-pipes, ramps, and ledges. Two layers of metal mesh outline the skatepark to create natural ventilation on all three levels. In addition to skateboarding, the facility includes spaces for BMX-ing, rollerblading, and scootering. There are also plans for a bouldering gym, cycling center, boxing club, cafe, and rooftop area. With $12.8 million in funding secured from The Roger De Haan Charitable Trust, construction on the site can begin. The skatepark is expected to be ready for opening within the next two years. Folkestone's wider district of Shepway—and the members of the Shepway District Council, who approved the design—hope that it will become a national and international attraction while offering a recreational facility for local youth. With a monthly membership, residents will be offered lower prices as a way of protecting and expanding the local skate and BMX scene.
Since the turn of the century, the number of motorists in London more than halved from 137,000 to 64,000. In the same period, cyclist numbers trebled from 12,000 to 36,000, showing that more commuters are increasingly choosing two wheels over four to get to work. Britain now boasts over two million weekly cyclists—an all-time high, according to British Cycling, a governing body in the UK. Sales of U.K. manufactured bikes subsequently grew 69 percent in 2014 and the effect of this is most evidently seen in the capital. "You can probably trace it back to the bombing attacks in London in 2005," points out Simon Mottram, founder of cycling clothing firm Rapha, in a BBC report. "The day after, the tube lines were all still closed, and suddenly there were lots of people on bikes to get to work.” "Not to forget the government's Cycle To Work scheme [introduced back in 1999 and which allows people to buy a bike tax-free]. And the underlying increased focus on health and fitness” he added. Transport for London has described the shift in transport method as "a feat unprecedented in any major city.” However, change is not happening fast enough for some as London lags behind other European capitals. Such is the case with Madrid, which placed restrictions on vehicle types entering the city center. Oslo is banning all cars entering by 2019 along with large parts of the River Seine being pedestrianised in Paris. Dublin, too, will have pedestrianized areas by 2017. Cyclist safety is also hot on the agenda. In 2012, 14 cyclists died on London’s roads and a staggering 671 were severely injured. A year later, six more died in the space of three days. That period in late 2013 marked a turning point for changing attitudes towards cyclist safety in the capital. Campaigners prior to then had been calling for separate bike lanes for years, though only now are their efforts coming to fruition. Cycle “superhighways” have been introduced by Mayor Boris Johnson during his tenure, though many argue that while these are a step forward, they still fail to provide a physical barrier between cyclists and drivers. Changes, though, are still being made. Already, lower traffic lights for cyclists are being trialled across the city and new solutions are still yet to be implemented. These include a two-stage right turn system and early release for cyclists ahead of cars at traffic lights. Both can be seen in the video below. http://touchcast.files.bbci.co.uk/performances/6172b9e8049da6f6fa73b30a0ccd4f0c/A540765C-1265-4B0A-9F55-D947ACD20E0E.m4v “I think it is a lot safer for new cyclists, it will give them more confidence to cycle round London” said one commuter speaking to the BBC. According to city authorities, most superhighways should be completed by the summer. A map of all current superhighways can be seen below.
In 2011 SWA built the nation's largest planned Zero-Net Energy (ZNE) community. Working in collaboration with the University of California Davis and developer West Village Community Partnership (WVCP), the project houses over 2,000 students and 500 staff and faculty families. When UC Davis started the West Village Energy Initiative (WVEI) in cooperation with WVCP in 2003, the university initially only aimed for a 50percent reduction in energy consumption (compared to the California Energy Efficiency Building Code). However, in 2008 the initiative proposed that without losing quality and at no extra cost to the developer, West Village could become a ZNE community. A public-private partnership with the developer and UC Davis has been able make WVEI's 2008 proposal a reality. SWA master planned the 225-acre neighborhood and prepared landscape strategies for its development. Included in the housing scheme is a network of parks, storm water ponds and corridors, bicycle and pedestrian trails, a community college, and retail and recreational services. These areas incorporate on-site energy generation which are aesthetically designed and in harmony with local environmental conditions. In preparation, SWA conducted analyses at regional, site, and building/garden scales in order to maximize opportunities for passive cooling. Designers arranged buildings in loose clusters that allow breezes from the Bay Delta to filter through the site. SWA also proposed the planting of deciduous shade trees, reducing the need for air conditioning. In a bid to promote zero-energy methods of transportation, SWA integrated an extensive cycling network into the scheme making it the primary way of getting around the neighborhood. Davis is, after all, home to the first bike lane in the United States. SWA integrated drainage into the site's system of parks, sports fields, trails, and gardens. Storm water drains to the site's large northern ponds, where it is purified by native wetland planting in a series of basins. The slopes of the site's ponds incorporate native shrubs and trees, selected in cooperation with UC Davis' horticulturists, botanical garden curators, and ground and maintenance personnel, to provide a sustainable habitat for migratory birds, while also providing a visually appealing natural landscape for residents year-round. UC Davis' internal monitoring shows that the West Village ZNE community achieved an exceptional 87 percent of initial ZNE goals in its first year. In 2013, West Village received the ULI Global Award of Excellence, which honors outstanding development in both the private and public sectors, with an emphasis on responsible land use.
Research by Casey J. Wichman for the think tank Resources for the Future (RFF) has found a causal relationship between bike sharing programs and traffic congestion in Washington, D.C. In a report summary by the RFF, "findings show a reduction in DC traffic congestion of an average two to three percent that can be attributed to the presence of a Capital Bikeshare dock." Wichman emphasizes the importance of such schemes noting its "health, environmental, and traffic congestion benefits." Another finding was that in areas adjacent to those with bike docks, traffic congestion actually increased. Wichman hypothesized that this might be the case due to drivers possibly opting "to avoid streets populated with cyclists." [h/t Planetizen.]
An iconic pedestrian bridge planned for downtown Cleveland has been delayed, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Steven Litt. Originally planned to be ready in time for the Republican national convention in 2016, the $25 million steel bridge would connect the northeast corner of Cleveland's downtown Mall to an open space on the shores of Lake Erie between the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum and the Great Lakes Science Center. Passing over two other designs, the Group Plan Commission also indicated a preference for a cable-stayed bridge designed by architect Miguel Rosales of Boston. But now the bridge, which will accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians, won't be complete until 2017, officials said. Cleveland and Cuyahoga County each agreed to pitch in $10 million for the project. The state of Ohio will pay the remaining $5 million.
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.”
When we talk about cities boosting bike infrastructure, we’re typically talking about adding bike lanes and launching, or expanding, bike share. Building a multi-million dollar velodrome for high-speed, Olympic-style, indoor track racing isn’t typically part of that equation. But it now is in Philadelphia. Shortly after Mayor Nutter created the Philadelphia Bicycle Advocacy Board to help make the city a world-class cycling destination, he has thrown his support behind a private plan to build a $100 million velodrome inside FDR Park. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that if the city hands over four acres of public parkland for the project, the arena’s organizers would provide between $5 million and $15 million in improvements for the rest of the 384-acre park. They would also create a four-acre replacement park. While the plan, titled Project 250, may sound like a subterranean, missile silo hidden somewhere in Nevada, it would actually bring a prominent architectural statement to Philadelphia. The Sheward Partnership has drawn up plans for the velodrome which would be a swooping, parabolic structure with a 55-foot-high roof. The building, with its lifted entrances, can perhaps best be described as Pringle-like or at least, Pringle-ish. Since velodrome cycling isn’t necessarily all that popular in the U.S., the 6,000-seat arena would be also programmed with concerts, and tennis and volleyball matches. Organizers told the Inquirer that it would be open to the public 80 percent of the time, and that amateur cyclists could buy hourly memberships. There would also be a classroom to teach free track-racing to low-income teens. Before any bikes can hit the track, however, Project 250 needs to be approved by the Parks & Recreation Commission, the Historical & Art Commission, and the City Council.
Among the appeals of train travel is the ability to move between urban city centers easily, but until now, bringing your bike along for the ride was a burdensome venture. Well, good news cyclists. Amtrak is making it a whole lot easier to bring your bike aboard its trains. Gone are the days of having to break down your bike, pack it into a box, and stow it with luggage. The train operator is set to launch new storage cars that include bike racks. “The new baggage cars will be used on all 15 long-distance routes, which means the benefits of improved reliability and an enhanced climate-control environment for baggage will be available to our long distance customers by the end of 2014,” Amtrak said in a statement. “Also, the new cars will be equipped with built-in luggage racks that will be able to secure unboxed bicycles (hooray!).” Hooray is right. In recent months, Amtrak has made some high-profile attempts to appeal to a younger demographic. There is, of course, the Amtrak Residency program, which allows "creative professionals who are passionate about train travel and writing to work on their craft in an inspiring environment." And then there was that time Amtrak invited 30 young, media types to take a free ride from Los Angeles to SXSW. But while bike storage may appeal to younger riders, this move by Amtrak is more than an attempt to grab headlines—it is a tangible way to make train travel work better for everyone. [h/t Pittsburgh Post Gazette]
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."
Portland, Oregon to Portland Place, London: Job Done! Architects Complete Cycling Tour Across America
[ Editor's Note: Peter Murray, of the New London Architecture center, together with a dozen architects and planners, is biking from Portland, Oregon to Portland Place in London, studying how cities are responding to the demand for better cycling infrastructure. He reports from the start of his ride. The Architect’s Newspaper is USA media sponsor of the trip and will post periodic updates of these architects on bicycles. ] We had a fantastic welcome in London on Saturday, a fitting and rewarding end to our great adventure. There were over a hundred riders who set off with us from Savill Gardens in Windsor Great Park. The weather was fair and The Crown Estate kindly provided coffees and bacon butties for everyone, served from the elegant gridshell of the Savill Building designed by Glenn Howells. I had selected this as our starting point for the ride into London because, not only did it provide a good meeting point at a reasonable distance from Portland Place, but back in 2005 I organised the design competition for the building—and was pleased to see it maturing so beautifully, the green oak sourced from the Royal Park now sporting a rich grey patina with the warping slats adding to its rustic air. Riding with such a big group into London is a major logistical and herding exercise—the riders were of a wide variety of skills and the peloton spread out at times to several hundred metres. Luckily we were able to call on the skills of Nick Hanmer, the Chief Executive of Cycle to Cannes (C2C). He and his four motor cycle outriders skillfully brought the riders into The Mall in one bunch, a phenomenal achievement. I was especially pleased because I started C2C nearly ten years ago and Nick has brought great professionalism to its organisation and safety as well as expanding the number of rides the team organises and supports. Riding up The Mall—lined with clapping tourists and union flags—was very special; we rounded Trafalgar Square and pedalled into Waterloo Place where we met up with more riders including Lord Richard Rogers (on a Brompton), Sir Terry Farrell, RIBA President Angela Brady, Rab Bennetts, Robin Nicholson, and Sunand Prasad. Then on up Regent Street to our final destination: Portland Place and the RIBA building! There was an unexpectedly large group of friends and relatives outside the RIBA. Angela Brady opened a couple of bottles of champagne and welcomed us to the Institute. But we weren’t able to hold our final arrival in the RIBA building because it had been hired out for a wedding and a bunch of sweaty cyclists would not have been welcome guests. So we moved on to the New London Architecture Centre (NLA) on Store Street where we were able to party in the newly pedestrianised crescent space. Now we could relax, chat to the riders who joined us for the day as well as discuss our achievements together. We had met up with Angela in Ireland—she joined us when we arrived in Shannon from New York—and proved a wonderful host to the Emerald Isle. Then ex-RIBA President and now Mayor of Bristol, George Ferguson, met us at the Severn Bridge and rode with us under the Clifton Suspension Bridge and into the city where AHMM put on a party for us in the Architecture Centre. It was a great end to a great adventure. I was particularly pleased that my four children were able to ride in with me—Sophie, William and Alice on bikes, and Rupert, who is making a documentary of the ride,on the back of a motor bike with camera. Everybody asks—how do I feel now that it's over? I feel relief and satisfaction that we got everyone home in one piece and we had no serious accidents; I feel enriched by the places I have seen and the people I’ve met; I feel strong and fit and pleased at my physical performance; and I look forward to using the huge amount of information we have amassed about cycling in cities to promote better cycling conditions generally. Finally I am very grateful for all those that have supported the ride—our main sponsors and the many, many contributors. Once we have done the sums I will let you know the total amount we have raised. What next? I’m cycling in the RideLondon event on August 4—a 100 miles sportif from the Olympic Park to the Surrey Hills and back—so I will be keeping in shape for that—and I will get myself a shave! I need to get back into the swing of things at the NLA where the fantastic staff have been covering for me over the last two and a half months. I am very grateful to them too. We’re holding the NLA London Cycling Summit on July 31, for more details and registration go to www.newlondonarchitecture.org/events
With summer just around the corner, bicyclists are getting excited to try out the new bike-share systems being installed in many cities across the nation. After initial delays, New York City's bike-share program is set to open by the end of the month, and San Francisco, Seattle, and Hoboken have similar plans of their own on the horizon. San Francisco: SPUR reports that the Bay Area Air Quality Management District signed a contract with Alta Bike Share to spin the wheels on a bike-sharing program for San Francisco. Alta Bike Share runs similar bike programs in Washington, D.C. and Boston and will be the operator of new programs in New York and Chicago this year. San Francisco plans a two-year pilot program consisting of 700 bikes in 70 locations that will launch this summer throughout the San Jose to San Francisco region. Last year the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition set a goal of 20 percent of trips in the city on bike by 2020 and now, after several delays, the plan will be the first regional program in the country. Seattle: Considering Seattle’s distinctive challenges of hills and mandatory helmets, Alta Bicycle Share has devised a plan for the city’s bike-share program that includes seven-speed bikes rather than the standard three-speed ones, reported BikePortland. The Portland-based Alta, adding to their bike share empire across the country, will also employ an integrated helmet vending system to accommodate the city’s mandatory helmet law. The city’s bike-share program will consist of 500 bikes distributed throughout 50 stations. The program will launch by the start of 2014 and continue to develop throughout the Puget Sound region. Hoboken: The City of Hoboken, in partner with E3Think, Bike And Roll, and Social Bicycles, across the Hudson from Manhattan, is also getting into the bike share game with a system radically different from most other cities: the “hybrid” bike-share plan. The six-month pilot program employs traditional bike rentals, but users reserve bikes online and, unlike the majority of existing bike-share systems that depend on “Smart-Dock” bike racks for storage, Hoboken's program utilizes a “Smart-Lock” method. The city hopes this approach will be more affordable and permit further development of the system. Bicycle repair stations, more bike lanes, and additional bike racks have bolstered the city’s campaign to become more bike-friendly.