The New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) recently announced plans for new protected bike paths. The goal is to increase rider safety.
In 2017, motor vehicle and pedestrian fatalities declined in New York City. But for cyclists, 2017 was deadly. Fatalities climbed to 23 persons killed from 18 the year before. One of the fatalities last year was a first for the popular Citi Bike program when a 36-year old investment banker fell under the wheels of a bus when he had to swerve around a parked van.
By all accounts, bicycle ridership in New York City continues to increase. Between 2006 and 2016, annual bicycle trips rose 150 percent. Cycling is healthy, green, and inexpensive, but it is also dangerous.
Notes Commissioner Polly Trottenberg with DOT, “Too many of the cyclist tragedies happened along Midtown streets without protected lanes. With plans already in place to add new protected lanes for the L train closure next year, we look forward to consulting closely with Midtown Manhattan’s community boards and elected officials to address the need for bike lanes farther uptown. With its vibrant commercial activity, major transportation hubs and must-see tourist destinations, Midtown presents both great challenges and great opportunities for safer cycling.”
The new DOT proposals include:
- New protected bike lanes approximately 1.8 miles in length eastbound on 26th
- There is potential for an eastbound lane on 52nd Street, and a westbound lane on 55th Street.
- Earlier, the DOT announced plans for a two-way protected bike lane on 13th Street.
Street and another running westbound on 29th Street.
Protected bike paths offer some safety
Protected bike paths offer more structural safety to cyclists than painted roads. While painted roads define a space for bicycles, they do not prevent vehicles from veering into bike paths, nor do they create a buffer between bicyclists and motorists.
The protected bike lanes offer a curb on one side and a line of parked cars on the other, with an approximate two-foot buffer between parked cars and cyclists to avoid collisions caused by the opening of car doors.
The configuration of each block calls for variations in design and lane size, but the plan is to improve the safety and movement of cyclists without seriously impacting motor traffic or the ability of vendors and businesses to make deliveries.
When biking in New York City, watch for distracted drivers and obstacles in the road ahead and enjoy the ride.
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