1. NYC Bike Policy
2. State of NYC Cycling
3. Cyclists & Streets
A Bike and a Prayer
4. Street Design
6. Road Surfaces
9. Bicycles and Transit
10. Reducing Traffic
11. Bicycle Theft
12. On-Street Parking
13. Indoor Parking
On the Job Cycling
14. Bicycle Messengers
Fifth, Park & Madison
15. Freight Cycles
16. Gov't Cycling
Three Who Died
18. Air Pollution
20. Public Education
Immediate Steps to Increase Bicycling in New York City
APPENDIX A. Immediate Steps to Increase Bicycling in New York City
APPENDIX B. Bicycling Levels in New York City
Table 1: Bicycles Account for 8.6% of Midtown Avenue Traffic, 1988-1992
Table 2: Daily Bicycle Trips in New York City
APPENDIX C. Auto-Free NY 4-Year Plan
Table 3: Elements of the Auto-Free NY 4-Year Plan
Immediate Steps to Increase Bicycling in New York City
Following are a comprehensive series of recommendations for increasing bicycling in New York City. The recommendations also appear at the end of each chapter. Here they are broken down by Agencies (with separate subgroups for the various responsible agencies), Public Authority, Legislative and Private Sector.
Thus, for example, the recommendation, Streamline and publish the sidewalk furniture approval process for bike rack installers, appears both under Department of Transportation (in the Agencies section), directly below, and also at the end of Chapter 12: On-Street Parking, also under Department of Transportation, under Agencies.
Recommendations which Administrative Agencies can Implement
Issue Bicycle Policy Statement affirming New York as a pedestrian- and cycling-friendly city. Statement should explain how bicycling benefits New York City and declare cyclists' right to safe streets, bridge access and safeguarded parking. Statement should adopt ambitious goals for bicycling, e.g., a one-third increase by 1995 and a further one-half increase to 2000 (resulting in a combined doubling from today's levels).
Formally reconstitute the NYC Bicycle Advisory Committee under the auspices of the NYC Dept. of Transportation, but with attendance also required by key City personnel (e.g., from NYC Dept. of Environmental Protection's clean air planning group, NYPD Traffic Division, NYC Parks Dept., Dept. of City Planning) and encouraging participation by City Council Transportation Committee Staff and NY State DoT Region 11 Bicycle Coordinator.
Issue executive order requiring all city-run garages to install bicycle racks providing free parking. Publicize existence of these racks.
Issue executive order mandating bicycle access to all City-owned buildings. Where city leases office space, renegotiate leases to achieve bicycle access.
Create bike pools for city workers for appropriate freight hauling and for transportational on-the-job use; employ unclaimed bikes obtained from regular police auctions (after making appropriate repairs).
Institute policy reimbursing city workers for use of private bicycles on city business, at same rates applied to use of private auto.
Establish regular no-driving days (e.g., Wednesdays) on which visible public officials (mayor, commissioners) bike-commute, walk or use transit.
Charge fee for now-free city parking, while adding free bicycle parking.
Eliminate preferred curbside parking areas for private cars used for commuting by city employees.
As an incentive for City commissioners, permit each agency to retain money it saves from eliminating official cars, agency fleets, etc.
Complete negotiations with the New York State Greenway Council concerning the hotel tax mandated by the Hudson Valley Greenway Act, to enable the City to join the other municipalities that are participating in creating a Hudson Valley Greenway system.
MAYOR'S OFFICE, DEPARTMENTS OF TRANSPORTATION AND ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION
Implement public-service campaigns stressing courteous walking, cycling and driving.
In conjunction with Police Department, implement traffic-curbing and motorist-regulating actions, including eliminating/reducing curbside car parking, slowing motor vehicle traffic, and issuing tickets for reckless driving (see Chapter 3).
NYC DEPT. OF TRANSPORTATION
Create a comprehensive (500-mile) on-street bicycle lane network throughout the five boroughs, deploying a phased combination of improving and connecting existing lanes, new lane designs, and traffic calming" and reduction (see detailed 3-phase program spelled out at the end of Chapter 4).
Provide staff and political support for the DoT bicycle coordinator position, including reinstitution of the bicycle safety coordinator position.
Ensure that DoT Bureaus respond to draft NYC DoT Bicycle Policy with detailed plans for bicycle-friendly improvements in construction and maintenance work.
Reduce speed limits on avenues and streets to reflect normal congested conditions. Re-time traffic lights accordingly.
Inaugurate phased pedestrian-cyclist traffic lights to give non-motorized travelers a safe head start before motorists, as in European cities.
Plan to discourage, not accommodate, motor traffic. Phase-in neighborhood traffic calming projects.
Streamline and publish the sidewalk furniture approval process for bike rack installers.
Stop issuing summonses and/or reduce fines for violating regulations governing installation of bike racks.
Finance and manage large-scale installation of bike racks, especially in the Manhattan Central Business District (below 60th Street), downtown Brooklyn, and busy borough retail areas such as Flushing and Fordham Road. Racks should include Bike Parking decals to exploit their positive symbolism.
Co-ordinate bike parking with traffic-calming measures; for example, install permanent bike parking sites at neckdowns (extensions of sidewalk into what is normally street space).
(Note: Some of the following bridge recommendations also apply to the Port Authority and Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority.)
Replace unrealistic Bicyclists Dismount signs at bridge entry-ways and exits with Go Slow signs.
Establish an explicit, written city-wide policy recognizing the importance of guaranteed, safe, continuous, convenient bicyclist and pedestrian access to all bridges, and including the following:
Install signs within a 5-block radius of entrances to bridges directing cyclist and pedestrian traffic to the bridge path.
Maintain existing emergency telephones on bridges and begin a program to install solar-powered phones on bridge paths that now lack phones.
Assign inspectors on bicycles to conduct regular inspections of all bridge bike-pedestrian paths for structural integrity, physical safety, signage, sweeping, etc.
To reduce the hazard from expansion joints that run parallel to the cyclist's direction, install beveled steel plates or permanent rubber coverings over the joints.
Closely monitor and enforce the directives for utility company street cuts listed below, under Private Sector recommendations.
Employ non-skid surface on all traffic-lane lines.
Install wide concrete borders around bus lanes to prevent pavement-migration due to buses' heavy axle-loads.
Create permit system allowing freight-carrying cycles of specified sizes to park temporarily on sidewalks while making deliveries.
Expand DoT street-cut inspector bicycle program.
Implement new inspector-on-bike programs for parking ticketing, vehicle-idling enforcement and other applicable uses.
Regularly (at least semi-annually) and promptly disseminate statistics to dispel impression that cyclists cause large numbers of accidents (see Chapter 17: Accidents).
Regularly disseminate statistics establishing the magnitude of pedestrian deaths caused by or involving motor vehicles.
Publish and disseminate annual report on bicycling fatalities and serious injuries, including detailed analysis of proximate cause.
Do not sever or destroy whether temporarily or permanently any existing bicycle path or walkway as part of any highway rehabilitation-modernization or expansion project.
Establish a bicycling public awareness campaign, with subway and bus shelter posters and radio and TV public service announcements.
Create bike streets along the lines of play streets near schools.
Implement the Transportation Alternatives / Auto Free NY 4-Year Plan (see Appendix C).
Prohibit cabs from cruising and idling in congested areas, e.g., Manhattan CBD.
(Also see recommendations concerning street space, vehicle use, and vehicle operation under Chapter 3: Cyclists and City Streets; Chapter 4: Street Design; Chapter 15: Freight Cycles; Chapter 16, Governmental Cycling; and Chapter 18: Air Pollution.)
NYC DEPARTMENTS OF TRANSPORTATION AND POLICE
Enforce the integrity of bike lanes with ticketing and towing patrols.
NYC DEPARTMENTS OF TRANSPORTATION AND ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION
Enforce the New York City idling law as widely as possible, using foot or cycling officers.
NYC DEPARTMENTS OF TRANSPORTATION AND CONSUMER AFFAIRS
Create a joint initiative through the garage licensing process to offer incentives to the private parking industry to provide space for bicycles.
NYC DEPARTMENTS OF TRANSPORTATION AND PARKS
Replace the Central Park bicycle speed limit with the set of measures shown in Chapter 8.
Ban automobiles from all other city parks, including, but not limited to, Prospect and Forest Parks.
Elevate priority for maintaining and improving bicycle paths, e.g., Shore Parkway bike path.
Create a new cycling loop in Flushing Meadow Park around the two lakes and the perimeter of the main part of the park.
Whenever possible, establish bicycle access to nature preserves such as the Jamaica Wildlife Refuge and the Audubon Buffer/Bay Project.
Work together to target street renovation projects with tree-planting programs along mapped greenway corridors.
NYC DEPARTMENTS OF TRANSPORTATION, PARKS AND CITY PLANNING
Produce a New York City bicyclist map, showing greenways, bicycle paths and routes, low-traffic streets, and points of interest, to be sold at cost through normal City tourist and publications offices and via the private sector.
To ensure maximum construction and maintenance of greenway routes, at minimum cost, incorporate the greenway and bicycle route recommendations mapped out by the Metropolitan Greenway Committee, Public Space for Public Life, and the Bicycle Advisory Committee (BAC) into the city's capital project process. Describe route parameters and flag them on the NYC OMB CAPIS computer system.
In conjunction with NY State agencies, secure federal funds available for greenways that are part of highway or mass transit projects or are fundable under the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) of 1991.
Adopt as formal policy the Manhattan Borough President's 1992 Comprehensive Manhattan Waterfront Plan.
NYC PARKS DEPARTMENT
Set up jitney bus service in Central and Prospect Parks to make them accessible to those who can't easily walk or ride.
NYC DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS
Prepare and distribute multilingual manual on safe operation of restaurant / food delivery bicycles.
NYC AND NYS DEPARTMENTS OF TRANSPORTATION
Construct the 1-mile elevated path over the Interboro Parkway to complete the Brooklyn-Queens Greenway.
NYC DOT, NYS DOT, APPLICABLE COUNTY/MUNICIPAL DEPARTMENTS OF PUBLIC WORKS
Monitor and oversee public authority implementation of policies itemized below, particularly those concerning bicycle parking at stations.
Create bicycle-access routes bike paths or bicycle-friendly roads to suburban train stations and major outer-borough subway stations. Implementation to include signage, roadway design, and maintenance (e.g., bicycle-safe sewer grates, repairs and street surfaces).
Install front-mounted bicycle racks on buses, where bus routes include tunnels or bridges without bicycle paths, such as the Verrazano-Narrows, Whitestone and Throgs Neck Bridges. To minimize inconvenience to other passengers, bicycles shall be carried only between the first stops on either side of the tunnel or bridge.
Direct providers of any new ferry service to accommodate bicycles.
NYC POLICE DEPARTMENT
Enforce motor vehicle and traffic laws governing:
Commissioner should issue directive to precinct commanders raising priority of reducing bicycle theft and improving recovery rates; precincts to be rated on percentage of recovery to theft, with safeguards to ensure that cyclists aren't discouraged from reporting theft.
Actively combat bicycle theft; target known stolen bike resale spots, e.g., East Village.
Publicize the Police Department's bicycle registration program and expand hours when cyclists can enroll at station house. Allow bicycle stores to provide this service. Place an official, durable police sticker on each registered bike.
Enforce parking, double-parking, sidewalk-blocking, idling and other regulations against delivery truck operators, particularly fleets (e.g., UPS, Federal Express). (This will improve competitiveness of bicycle delivery services, which take up considerably less space.)
Expand NYPD's uniformed police-on-bikes program.
NYC FIRE DEPARTMENT
Maintain existing emergency telephones on bridges; install phones on bridge paths that lack phones.
NYC DEPARTMENT OF SANITATION
Deploy human-powered cargo cycles in the expanding curbside recycling program.
NYC DEPT. OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION
Replace parallel bar sewer grates with bike-safe grates on all streets undergoing reconstruction.
NYC DEPT. OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AND NYS DEPT. OF ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION
Make vehicle emissions inspection and maintenance programs more stringent.
Broaden emphasis of State Air Quality Implementation Plan from primarily tailpipe emissions to reducing auto use.
NYC OFFICE OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
Provide economic incentives to encourage pedicab businesses as non-polluting, job-intensive, amenity-creating sector.
NYC BOROUGH PRESIDENTS
Establish advisory committees modelled after Bronx Borough President's greenway advisory group to assist in greenway exploration, route development and design, and to recommend effective use of discretionary funds to match federal grants.
NYC BOARD OF EDUCATION
Enforce 1973 amendment to Education Law specifying children's entitlement to bicycle education in the schools.
Adopt a curriculum for elementary school bicycle education, emphasizing the environmental and social advantages of cycling over driving. Even for students who do not learn to ride, include basic education in bicycling issues, including hand signals and watching out for cyclists.
Expand Safety City program to include one in each borough.
TAXI & LIMOUSINE COMMISSION, MTA, NYC DOT
Jointly produce a bicycle education curriculum and manual for all vehicle operators (taxicab drivers, MTA and private bus operators). Con-sider requiring licensed operators to undergo an hour of bicycling in the central business district for sensitivity training.
TAXI & LIMOUSINE COMMISSION
Require cab interiors to have stickers reminding customers to look before opening their doors.
Create appropriate regulatory structure, including competitive tariff, for pedicabs.
NY STATE DEPT. OF TRANSPORTATION
Write and adopt a statewide bicycle-pedestrian master plan (as required by the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991, ISTEA), emphasizing urban transportational bicycling.
Position the newly hired bicycle program manager at a high enough level to command responsibility to ensure implementation of bicycle capital programs in all 11 State DoT regions.
Cease plans to widen highways, and transfer funds to transit and infrastructure for nonmotorized transit.
Establish statewide public/private task-force modeled on NYC Metro greenways group to oversee distribution of ISTEA enhancement funds. Counties should be represented on the basis of population.
Remove offices from the East River bicycle-pedestrian path at 91st Street (and thereby cure the violation of Section 4(f) of the (U.S.) Dept. of Transportation Act of 1966, (49U.S.C. 1653), that DoT committed by taking parklands where there was a feasible and prudent alternative).
NY STATE DEPT. OF MOTOR VEHICLES
Amend driver's education syllabus to teach new drivers how and why to be alert to bicycles.
NATIONAL PARK SERVICE
Upgrade bicycle facilities in Gateway National Park by creating a circumferential cycling path in Jamaica Bay, a velodrome (bicycle racing track) and BMX course in Floyd Bennett Field, and installing secure bicycle parking facilities near the beach in Fort Tilden.
Recommendations which Public Authorities Can Implement
METROPOLITAN TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY (INCLUDING OPERATING AGENCIES NEW YORK CITY TRANSIT AUTHORITY, METRO-NORTH COMMUTER RAILROAD, LONG ISLAND RAIL ROAD), NJ TRANSIT, AMTRAK, ETC.
In conjunction with NYMTC (New York Metropolitan Transportation Council), conduct a region-wide study of the environmental and transportation benefits of implementing an aggressive bike-and-ride program.
Establish policy permitting bicycles on all off-peak commuter rail and subway trains, except where operator demonstrates that bicycles constitute a hazard or may otherwise interfere with safe and effective operation.
Permit bicycles on peak trains in non-peak direction, with the proviso that cyclists not board or alight at Grand Central Terminal or Penn Station in Manhattan and Newark. (This would allow intra-suburban bicycle commuting to scattered office parks, and also provide access to 125th St. in Harlem.)
Make bicycle permits available for purchase at major stations, including the LIRR's Penn Station ticket facilities.
Establish policy permitting folding bicycles on all trains at all times.
(Subways only): Permit cyclists to enter the subway via clerk-activated security gate
(after depositing token) rather than lifting bicycle over turnstile.
Ensure that station development programs make provisions for safe bicycle entry, exit and parking.
Provide bicycle parking at all stations, designed with awareness of theft problem (i.e., racks must be sturdy, provide shelter, and permit bicycle frame to be secured at more than one point; where possible, place racks in view of station personnel).
Install bicycle lockers which commuters and other regular users can lease on annual, quarterly or monthly basis. Create guarded bicycle check rooms and bicycle parking garages at appropriate stations where substantial demand exists for bike-and-ride.
Alter appropriations policies restricting allocation of parking funds to automobiles.
Publicize bicycle parking facilities as part of a campaign to encourage bicycle commutation to stations.
Conduct surveys to gauge interest in commuter biking to train stations.
Publish requests for proposals for pilot bike rental programs and guarded bicycle parking garages at busy NYC and suburban stations, to be operated by bicycle stores or other businesses.
METROPOLITAN TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY
Install bicycle lockers and/or racks at subway and commuter rail stations and ferry terminals.
TRIBOROUGH BRIDGE AND TUNNEL AUTHORITY
See specific recommendations for bridge access in Chapter 5: Bridges.
PORT AUTHORITY OF NY/NJ
See specific recommendations for bridge access in Chapter 5: Bridges.
NYC HOUSING AUTHORITY
As appropriate, expand the authority's police-on-bikes program.
Recommendations Requiring City or State Legislation New York City
In consultation with the cycling community, amend the New York City Traffic Rules as follows:
Add the following new sections to Article 5:
Add the following new section to Article 8:
Amend Article 11:
Enact the following measures in a phased approach:
Require messenger companies and all commercial enterprises employing bicycle riders to:
Require that bicycle rental shops in the vicinity of major parks clearly display and distribute park-user guidelines to people renting bicycles and roller-blades.
Convene public hearings to examine the economic and environmental costs and benefits of each form of transportation in New York City transit, bicycling, walking and motoring and develop a City Council agenda for transportation improvements in NYC.
NEW YORK STATE
Increase penalty for bike theft to put it on par with car theft.
Eliminate prosecutors' informal but prevalent rule of two that restricts indictments for motor vehicle accidents to instances in which motorist committed two or more violations.
Abandon efforts to legislate bicycle helmet use in favor of a more holistic approach to bicycle safety that stresses cyclist-motorist education and enforcement and reduced motor vehicle traffic.
Adopt the California standards mandating reductions in motor vehicle pollution emissions on an accelerated schedule (relative to federal standards).
Enact regulation to hold taxicab passengers as well as drivers responsible for bicyclist accidents caused by opening cab doors.
Increase penalties for motor vehicles blocking sidewalks and bicycle lanes.
Recommendations which Private Sector can Implement
DIRECTED TO BUSINESSES IN GENERAL, ESPECIALLY BUSINESS ASSOCIATIONS WHICH CAN ACT AS CATALYSTS
Request building managers, store owners, and other guardians of property to be more understanding of need for commuters, shoppers, etc. to bring bicycles inside premises, where possible, and to permit cyclists to lock up outside buildings and shops (see discussion under Indoor Parking: Chapter 13).
Encourage member businesses to install outdoor bike racks as part of an aggressive public campaign to reduce traffic congestion and air pollution (see Chapter 18: Air Pollution).
Use standardized bicycle symbols directing cyclists to bike-parking sites, to maximize the racks' effectiveness and heighten public awareness.
Trade associations such as BOMA (Building Owners & Managers Association of Greater NY) should take a proactive role to provide and encourage office-building bike access. As a first step, BOMA should create a joint committee with cycle commuters and advocates to exchange information and develop proposals.
Create indoor bicycle parking in office buildings as close to the workplace as possible (much as one would create a coat closet), by installing bicycle storage areas in car garages, basements or other underutilized spaces.
Where elevator access isn't feasible, install indoor racks in or easily accessible to lobbies or other public spaces. Where not possible, install sheltered outdoor racks within view of security guards.
(See discussion in Chapter 18: Air Pollution.)
Emulate commuter programs in Los Angeles and other areas subject to federal requirements to reduce car commuting and air pollution, by:
As part of mandated programs to reduce car commuting, large businesses should institute bicycle training classes for employees, financed in part with federal, state or local funds. As an alternative, businesses may institute voucher system to pay for bike safety or bike repair classes.
Companies employing fleet drivers should develop and apply bicycle-sensitive curriculum to drivers.
Take-out restaurant and food delivery companies should give a course in safety training and traffic law before sending out bicycle deliverers, and also provide helmets, lights and reflectors to improve safety, especially at night.
Food delivery businesses should train and monitor bicycling employees to ride with traffic, avoid sidewalks and generally respect pedestrians' rights.
DIRECTED TO UTILITY COMPANIES WHICH PERFORM STREET CUTS
Bring all street cuts flush to adjacent surface.
Mark all open street cuts with barriers, or cover with two inches of asphalt on top of dirt from the gouge.
Cease use of wheel-swallowing wooden beams parallel to cyclist's direction as a temporary street surface (exempting perpendicularly placed beams).
Use only steel plates with non-skid surface; use only steel plates with beveled edges or built up on all sides with asphalt (which must be replaced and renewed frequently).
Around steam manhole covers, maintain concrete pad of at least a 3-foot radius from the edge of the cover.
Install concrete above submerged steam pipes to prevent humping of street surface (applies to Consolidated Edison Co.).
© 1997-2009 Transportation Alternatives
127 West 26th Street, Suite 1002
New York, NY 10001