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lunedì 18 novembre 2019

New York City to 'break car culture' and build more than 250 new bike lanes

New York is set to build more than 250 new bike lanes and add 1m sq ft (92,903 sq meters) of pedestrian space in a landmark move designed to “break the car culture” of the city.
The city council passed legislation this week that will see $1.7bn invested in road infrastructure over 10 years in a move that it is hoped will transform city streets and dramatically improve safety for cyclists and pedestrians.
The New York city council speaker, Corey Johnson, who introduced the “streets master plan” bill and is anticipated to run for mayor in 2021, said after the vote: “The way we plan our streets now makes no sense and New Yorkers pay the price every day, stuck on slow buses or risking their own safety cycling without protected bike lanes … I want to completely revolutionise how we share our street space, and that’s what this bill does.
“This is a roadmap to breaking the car culture in a thoughtful, comprehensive way, and I am so proud to pass this bill today.”
While cycling is on the rise in New York – the number who ride several times a month grew by 26% between 2012 and 2017, according to the city’s most recent cycling trends report – more cyclists are dying.


So far this year there have been 25 cyclist deaths, the highest number in 20 years, and pedestrian and cyclist fatalities have risen by 24%.
The new law requires the city to release and carry out a “master plan” every five years that prioritises street safety, public transport use, cutting vehicle emissions and access for people with disabilities.
The first plan, due in December 2021, will include 150 miles of bus lanes protected either physically or by camera and 250 miles of protected bike lanes – meaning they are physically separated from traffic – over five years, improved bus stops and passenger information and changes to traffic lights to speed up buses. Within the first two years, the plan pledges to create more than 1m sq ft of pedestrian space.
The second, due in 2026, will commit to a full, connected cycle lane network, protected bus lanes on all viable routes and accessible pedestrian signals at 2,500 intersections in five years.
While New York has some way to go before it can compete with cycle-friendly leaders such as Copenhagen and Amsterdam, the new law marks a significant moment for the city, which has prioritised cars since the 1920s.
Marco te Brömmelstroet, professor in urban mobility futures at the University of Amsterdam and academic director of Urban Cycling Institute, said the change in approach represents a “radical shift in the logic that underlies choices in the design of street infrastructure”.
He added: “Where there is a century-long tradition in the US, and in much of the world that followed examples from the US, that puts the speed and efficient flow of vehicles central, and that made travel times the undisputed central goal of infrastructure planning, this new law seems to make this secondary to choices that put justice central.”
He said New York has the potential to set an “inspiring example” to other US cities if it can show that the law not only functions but also has a positive impact on other aspects of society.
Nearly 800,000 New Yorkers cycle regularly, according to city statistics. It is estimated that more than 490,000 bicycle trips are made every day in the city – three times more than the number made 15 years ago.
As of last year, there were a total of 1,240 miles of bike lanes in the city – 480 of which were protected.
Meanwhile, use of Citi Bike, New York’s on-street cycle hire scheme, is on the rise. Close to 2.5m trips were made in September, with an average of 80,475 a day. In comparison, September 2018 saw nearly 1.9m trips and an average of 62,616 trips a day.
But safety remains an issue for many riders and potential cyclists amid increased congestion on roads – in part because of services such as Uber and Lyft – and a crisis on the subway.
Jon Orcutt, a spokesman for Bike New York, said the new measures, especially protected bike lanes, will save lives and encourage more people to cycle.
“The traffic in the rest of the street is so heavy that if you want to really build cycling into an option for people, other than the small number of courageous souls who are willing to throw elbows with taxis and trucks, you have to give people separation from the vehicles.”
During the evening commute on the Williamsburg stretch of the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway, a popular cycle lane, both cyclists and drivers said they were in favour of more protected cycle lanes.
Alex Price, 24, who works in emergency construction and lives in Brooklyn, said: “It’s always this game of should I get on the pavement or should I stay on the street? It really depends how busy the traffic is, both cars and pedestrians, so yeah, just having a cycle lane makes things easier.”
Grace Dulik, 27, recently started using Citi Bike to and from her home and work at a natural food company in Brooklyn, but is afraid to take routes that do not have cycle lanes. “I have multiple people in my network of friends who have been killed by hit-and-run by drivers, so it definitely seems to be a big issue … it seems like you can do everything right as a biker and still get hit by a car,” she said.
Waiting to collect a passenger nearby, taxi driver Andre Locke, 20, from Queens, said he supports protected cycle lanes. “I say make it so that if someone wants to ride their bike in the street that they stay in the bike lane … If they do that, there’ll be less people getting hit.”

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