04 October 2009

New York Musings

New York Bicycle Infrastructure
Without a doubt there were pleasant surprises awaiting me in New York City. I spent a day riding around the city, trying to see as much as I could on my limited schedule.

It was a pleasure cycling around the city. I felt safe the entire time and, compared to other cities I've cycled in like Moscow, New York is not the hell on earth people try to make it out to be. Then again, I don't ride like a moron, trying to break landspeed records. I just ride like most people do in most cities.

There are pockets of good bicycle planning, like the painted infrastructure pictured above and below, complete with a bike box.
New York Bicycle Infrastructure
Approaching Times Square from the north, down Broadway, there is a fine bike lane/cycle track separated from the traffic, as well as a slice of street painted with funky circles, quite like sections in Copenhagen. Graphic design meets urban landscape:
New York Bicycle Infrastructure
So, the experience in New York was, by and large, positive. There are still various issues that need to be addressed. Of course the bike lanes need to connect and form a larger network which, I assume, they will over time.

One thing that I just don't understand is that there are stretches of bike lane that are not placed along the sidewalk. Parked cars line the sidewalk and the bike lane runs between them and the traffic. So instead of only keeping a sharp eye on opening doors, I had to watch for doors, parked cars pulling out AND the moving traffic.

You'd think that this most basic of Best Practice principles for bicycle infrastructure was the very first thing that would be adhered to. It is clear that in almost all the cities in the world that enjoy high levels of urban cycling and that reap the economic and societal benefits of these levels, the Sidewalk/Bike Lane/Parking/Traffic model is firmly in place.
United States Postal Service
Here's me wondering if the bus lanes of New York should be designated as shared bike lanes on the stretches where separated infrastructure is lacking.
Brooklyn was a treat. I'd heard so much about the borough and while I lament the fact that I didn't get to Williamsburg, riding around Brooklyn was a positive experience.
Brooklyn Bridge Bikes
If I had to commute early enough, riding over the Brooklyn Bridge would be a very aesthetic route. But the tourists are out in force early on on the bridge so it really is a fine traffic calmed stretch during the day. Here's the entrance to the separated path over the bridge.
Brooklyn Bridge
There were a number of bikes crossing the bridge when I went over it. Locals and tourists alike.
Manhattan Bridge Morning 3
Two of the highlights for me were riding across the Manhattan Bridge in the morning light, along a brilliant stretch of bike infrastructure.
Born to Fit
And the transformation of Times Square to a pedestrian friendly urban plaza. Tables and chairs everywhere and people using them, even on a drizzly Sunday night like above. Brilliant stuff.