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Bike Lane Sightlines

March 14, 2011

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.

  1. March 14, 2011 10:02 am

    I live in North Brooklyn so don’t use this lane much anymore now that I no longer work in Gowanus but I rode over the day after the CB meeting to see how it felt and what the vibe was and it really was just so awesome. The politics around this have made me so insane that I had forgotten just how incredible the improvements are. This is so worth fighting-for. Just the transition back to Grand Army Plaza is jarring after the peace of the lane.

    The juxtaposition between the super-fast moving van in your first video v. the slow, mellow speed of the cyclists in your second is striking.

  2. Jonathan R permalink
    March 14, 2011 12:48 pm

    Notice also the smaller person in the pack of bicyclists in the second video. Could this be one of those children riding with parents who we’ve heard so much about?

  3. March 15, 2011 12:21 am

    Nice! I’ve been waiting for someone to do short videos like this! With the amount of distance between the parked cars and the lane, the “too dangerous to cross” argument really doesn’t hold water.

  4. Chris Mcnally permalink
    March 17, 2011 5:42 pm

    You know I did not realize how far down the lane you can see. wow. what are those people complaining about?

    Maybe if you don’t stop and look you cannot see cyclists coming. Like if you are crossing the car traffic part of PPW, and you are looking left and right early, and you don’t stop at the start of the bike lane then you might not be able to see cyclists coming due to parked cars. I think the raised pedestrian islands will help with this though.


  1. Streetsblog New York City » Video: What It’s Like to Walk Across the Prospect Park West Bike Lane

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