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Park or Ride

June 20, 2012

Via Streetsblog:

At last night’s meeting, DOT explained that Lafayette Avenue handles 769 cars per hour during the evening rush. Removing a general travel lane for a bike lane, the agency said, would affect traffic flow too much for it to consider the option.

If Lafayette is so vital a corridor that “removing a general travel lane for a bike lane” would adversely affect traffic flow, then perhaps the city should sacrifice a parking lane and let the cyclists have it instead.  Surely the movement of thousands of people traveling home from work or school by car or by bike over the course of an evening rush is more important than the long-term storage of dozens of private cars on each block. Remove a lane of parking, install a raised curbside lane, and let the motorists continue to have their travel lanes as before.

While retiming the lights to 20 mph is a step in the right direction, I don’t have high hopes that “signage informing motorists that passing cyclists within the lane is prohibited” will enlighten drivers all that much about a cyclist’s right to full use of the lane.  Are we to expect that the the 39% of them who currently ignore the posted speed limit will suddenly read a sign and lay off the horn as they wait behind an uphill-climbing cyclist?

One day we’re going to have to pull these band-aids off a lot faster and build our way to better streets, not just slap down some paint and hope for the best.  Until the safe passage of cyclists trumps the free storage of automobiles we will never solve New York City’s “travel lane” problem.

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2 Comments
  1. Ben Kintisch permalink
    June 21, 2012 8:12 am

    I generally agree with Doug. It’s kind of lame of DOT, with over 1600 community signatures in support of a full bike lane, to go with the sharrows “pretend bike lane.” Their justification was that during peak hours (meaning at most two hours out of every 24) there is too much car traffic. So that means that the safety of cyclists on this already heavily-traveled bike route will be compromised in order to avoid inconveniencing those drivers.
    I tend to think that some bike infrastructure is better than nothing, but, to quote another person quoting Dennis Leary, “This is the absolute least they could do.”

  2. June 21, 2012 10:42 am

    Well, I wouldn’t blame DOT. They’re working within the confines of the larger political culture and can only go so far as the local community boards will allow. Only until we change that culture will we get our priorities in order.

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