Bike Lane Sightlines
One of the common complaints coming from critics of the PPW bike lane is that it is hard for pedestrians to see around parked cars before they cross to the sidewalk. Streetsblog has a great picture of the view from First Street showing just how clear it is, but I shot these two videos on a trip up to the park on Saturday to show how clear the sightlines are as you look both ways.
Here’s Carrol Street, about two blocks from Grand Army Plaza.
The view is very clear in both directions, mainly due to the width of the buffer between the parked cars and the bike lane. (This is the buffer that may be narrowed in order to smooth the flow of traffic off of Grand Army Plaza and onto PPW.)
As you can also see, car drivers aren’t having too much of a problem speeding down the street now that there are two lanes instead of three. And before someone comments that the bike lane isn’t necessary because no one is riding in it, all I can say is that the bike traffic came in waves, much like the car traffic did.
Here’s another crossing, further south on PPW. (Sorry, but I forgot which crossing this is. Help a guy out in the comments if you can.)
The buffer is narrower here, but the views are still quite lengthy.
I’m not a tall guy, about 5’8″, and I shot these videos by holding a Flip camera at chin level. So even someone shorter than me wouldn’t have much of a problem seeing up and down the bike lane for some distance.
Despite this, I do not want to minimize that some people may feel unsafe crossing the bike lane. I can’t argue with anyone’s perception. But what I can say is that such fears could be solved by removing one or two spots near crossings so that tall SUVs or vans can’t limit views. Raised cement pedestrian refuges will help, as they’ll prevent cars from parking in current flat, tan pedestrian areas. I also think the mounted “Look Both Ways Before Crossing” signs could be lowered so that they’re at the eye level of the average person. I can’t wait to see these kinds of tweaks this spring.