04 October 2009

Copenhagenize Rides NYC

A trip from my hotel on W 52nd to W 18th.
Yes. I stop at red lights. Yes. I know this is anti-NYC. Sorry.
And turning down the one-way street near Times Square was not on purpose. The bike lane just ended, out of the blue, and I couldn't quite see which way they wanted to send me.


Joel said...

Where are all the other cyclists on the bike lanes, like in Copenhagen? A bit of a rhetorical question.

Brent said...

I had to laugh at the video's "BIKE LANE" exclamations. Here in L.A., I've been eyeing with jealousy New York's burgeoning protected bicycle lanes. Meanwhile, I was thinking yesterday that I'm grateful to have been hit (rear-ended) only once by a car, and that the crash didn't send me to the hospital...

Sara said...


kfg said...

"Here in L.A . . ."

My condolences.

Jacob said...

The signs in that area are a bit confusing. They tell you to walk your bike through the pedestrian section of Broadway in Times Square and the bike lanes picks up again south of 42nd Street (again on Broadway). That is my route to work every day. You picked up the Broadway lane again towards the end of your ride, however you basically could have ridden in a protected bike lane the entire way down. The way back uptown is another story.

Yes, the bike lanes are nowhere near as well used as they are in Copenhagen. Then again, protected bike lane first arrived in NYC only a few years ago.

Looking forward to hearing you speak at Walk 21.

azphotomac said...

Wondering what the music is?

Sean said...

As a New Yorker, I thank you for stopping at red lights during your visit here. It's not anti-NYC at all.

One day, while stopped at a red light, a cab driver struck up a conversation with me. He said that he'd never seen anyone on a bicycle stop for a red light before and exclaimed "You're the coolest!" Ironically, I saw the same cab driver a few days later where he smiled and waved at me.

Perhaps, it's naive, but I like to think that these small acts of civility are taking place all over NYC, and will help us move from the juvenile cycle culture and aggressive car culture we have now into something where people respect each other.

Come back anytime. And, by the way, I very much enjoyed your lecture at City Bakery. Thank you.

didrik said...

You can even see your "Copenhagen left turn" a.k.a. "box turn". I'm even starting to use those more in the states.

Anonymous said...

"You'd think that this most basic of Best Practice principles for bicycle infrastructure was the very first thing that would be adhered to."

Aw, bless! Welcome to the rest of the world. ;)

NY looks great. You can see that they know what Best Practice principles ARE; that's a giant step ahead of just about anywhere in the UK.

Mike said...

This almost hurts to watch -- you picked such a terrible route for the large majority of this. 7th Ave is not suitable for bicycles, especially in midtown. There are protected lanes on Broadway and 9th Ave you could have taken for most of this trip.

LGV said...

very nice and very nice soundtrack, thanks for the visit

Andy B from Jersey said...


What's your feeling about the lanes being on the left side of the oneway streets. I see you would shift back to the right when the lane disappeared. Seems confusing to have to do that to me.

I know they put the lanes on the left to avoid conflicts with buses but I'm still convinced that it is not the best solution for bicyclists.

Andy B from Jersey said...


At 2:45 (near Madison Square Park) you had a hard time finding the bike lane on the left side of the street! Was that not counter-intuitive?!?!

Mikael said...

i realise that it wasn't the best route but i blame the strange infrastructure and signage. :-)
i wanted broadway but got teased over onto 7th.

and andy, you're right, when i finally turned back onto broadway, it WAS counter-intuitive that the bike lane was on the left. I rode for a block or so before noticing it over there.

with the many long one way stretches in the city, it's tricky to know what would work best. sitting on the left side on a bike lane isn't much use when you have to turn right. and vice versa.

i picked up a great deal of goodwill stopping at red lights. motorists stared at me. not least because i was on a Bullitt cargo bike, but because i was stopped.

A middle-aged Hispanic lady in an SUV gave me a nod that seemed to say "respect!". :-) i'd rather integrate with my fellow citizens than alienate myself from them, but that's just me.

Andy B from Jersey said...


Thank you for confirming one of the reasons why I'm uneasy about the bike lanes being on the left. I'm often ostracized by the NYC bicycle advocacy community by my inability to come to terms with this practice.

I love almost everything else NYCDoT has done to make New York a safer place to ride except for putting the lanes on the left as a matter of course.

My best,


Mike said...

Andy B, "ostracized" seems like an overly harsh term. "disagreed with"?

Left-side lanes on one-way streets are safer for several reasons:

(a) avoid conflicts with buses crossing over and bus stops (where would bus stops even go if there were a right-side protected lane?)

(b) closer to drivers of moving vehicles so they can better judge how close they are

(c) lower risk of dooring: passenger-side doors open much less often than driver-side doors.

Generally the only time DOT puts a one-way bike lane on the right is when it becomes a two-way street, e.g. Grand St.

townmouse said...

It's a good point, actually, that there's no point building nice bike lanes if you don't signpost them so people know that they're there (without having lived in the city half their lives).

One piece of (surprise!) really good infrastructure round me is just a small blue sign pointing the cyclist onto some quiet residential streets that lead into the town centre via a bike/pedestrian bridge instead of down the dual carriageway. Cheap and effective.

BG said...

Boy, Mikael, if I didn't know better, I'd think you were riding like part of the traffic with the other vehicles, obeying traffic signals, taking the lane...nah, you'd never do that...too much like "vehicular cycling" for a proud Copenhagener like you...

Mikael said...

lol. where the safe, separated bicycle infrastructure was in place, I used it. and stopped at red lights regardless of where I was, because that's what you do.

where there was a lack of dedicated infrastructure I had to 'go primative' and cycle accordingly.