New New York City Bike Lanes

New York to Set Up Vision Zero Initiative

The de Blasio administration and the New York city’s Department of Transportation are making strides in their “Vision Zero” initiative, an action plan intended to help put an end to traffic deaths and injuries, but there is still a long way to go. In 2016, the New York DOT expanded the number of protected bike lanes by an unprecedented amount in any previous year, adding roughly 75 miles to the network, however, critics say that it’s not enough.

Bike Lane Built for Two, 2008. © Kyle Gradinger/ BCGP
Bike Lane Built for Two, 2008. © Kyle Gradinger/ BCGP

If you think conditions for cyclists are bad now, this resurfaced video from 2002 might help to put how far the city has come into perspective. The grainy public access footage from the now inoperative bikeTV shows documentarian Clarence Eckerson as he makes a voyage from his home in Carroll Gardens to Herald Square, and let’s just say it wasn’t an easy task (h/t CityLab).

In Eckerson’s video, bike lanes in New York’s Brooklyn go completely ignored as civilian and even official city vehicles utilize them as parking spaces, rendering the lanes useless to cyclists. When the lanes weren’t filled with cars, they were often in disrepair or covered in trash. In Manhattan, the lanes were slightly better but still a far cry from ideal.

Some lanes were given added protection by way of a buffer between them and car lanes, however, double parked vehicles often defeated the purpose and forced cyclists back into the thick of car traffic. The best conditions were lanes that were painted in bright colors and lined with plastic bollards, making it more difficult for drivers and cyclists to come into contact with each other.

New York City and State are also working hard to give cyclists more space, and their own personal space, to encourage cycling throughtout the city and reduce carbon emmisions. Alongside additional Bike lanes, there are also plans to add biking-hiking trails to the city, and much more.

“I give my overall experience, as an experienced cyclist, a C, but if I were a beginning cyclist or thinking these lanes would motivate anyone to do anything, it’s about an F, and that’s pretty sad,” Eckerson stated in the video.


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