Photo: James Schwartz/Flickr
New York City is doubling down on its commitment to bikes, with a particular focus on protected lanes. Such lanes are separated from traffic by a barrier, like a median or line of parked cars.
This year, the Department of Transportation (DOT) already has 2.5 miles of protected lanes in-progress, including lanes on Columbus Ave in the 60s, on Pulaski Bridge, and along Bruckner Boulevard between Hunts Point Avenue and Longwood Avenue. Over 15 miles are listed as currently in development, for a grand total of 18 miles by the end of the year.
In 2015, the City added 58 miles of bike lanes, of which 12 miles were protected.
This is a continuation of an ambitious 2009 commitment. At that time, the DOT’s strategic plan sought to double cyclist commuters between 2007 and 2012 — a goal the City reached a year early. The next phase hopes to triple it by 2017.
According to a 2012 DOT study, small businesses near protected bike lanes installed in 2007 saw sales increase more dramatically than the borough-wide average.
But protected bike lanes aren’t cheap. The average is about $600,000 per lane-mile. Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg says that means officials need to be strategic about where they add miles. “Yes, you want to get to miles, but you also want to make sure that those miles are in quality places where you’re making important connections,” she says.
Not everyone is thrilled about the new lanes. Protected lanes means cars can’t double park, something many motorists (like delivery trucks) are accustomed to.
Last year, a WNYC project found that 60 percent of tickets in the last two fiscal years were issued to vehicles with commercial plates, rather than passenger vehicles or taxis. Some say that the deck is becoming stacked against commercial drivers whose tight schedules preclude them from looking for other parking.