New York City Shows Us How It's Done


Too many leaves fall in the streets. It's just not safe.
Seattle is the biggest NIMBY communty I've lived in. When the right wants to do something, the left comes out and protests, and when the left wants to do something, the right and the far left comes out and protest. THIS CITY HATES CHANGE. It seems everything here requires a thousand public meetings, a thousand city council votes, a thousand king county votes, and then three or four public referendums.
The EaRthQuaKes would make it impossible Dan!
We get too much snow.
You know, Copenhagen has done this for awhile now...other cities around the world are doing transit-development so much better than anyone in the U.S.

We need to step up our game..
actually, I just saw this exact thing in Seattle yesterday. Don't recall what street I was on, but it was around Battery/6th area.
Not all of NYC is like that.

Everywhere I went in Queens was unfriendly to bikes.
Fuck, Bainbridge Island does it better than seattle. And that's in Kitsap County! KITSAP COUNTY!
We get to little snow to make this worth it!
The bike lanes as proposed would only serve the billionaires of Mercer Island or whatever.
Bike lanes are a metaphor for the way a city works out its competing internal conflicts. The difference is New York has social, racial, and economic diversity. Everyone in Seattle is a middle-class white lesbian.
It'll never work here, our asses are too chapped to sit on a bicycle seat.
I feel properly chastised and will support but this - but how do I turn left on a two way street when I'm segregated in this bike lane?
It's only been sunny for two months.
We can't do this because skinny jeans.
Hahahaha, @10 FTW!
All of that green and white paint is probably too toxic for our salmon.
This looks great mid-block, but what are the intersections like? What is preventing those trucks from making a left turn right into that cyclist, who is less-visible behind that line of cars? I'd just take a lane. And run the lights.
Another classic case of Dan's bullying. Poor Slog silence...
Nothing that has ever worked anywhere else can ever work here, not bike lanes, not a real mass transit system (monorail now gawddammit!), and certainly not urban density projects. Our pwecious fishing village is soooooo spayshul that it must always remain the same, forever and ever lost in the mist, like Brigadoon.
Because it takes jobs away from the port and will turn traffic into gridlock. And we can't afford it.
Yes, everyone in Seattle hates change. That's why is it a completely different city then it was 20 years ago.
"This will displace poor families in the Cascade Neighborhood." - John Fox
They have this in SF's Golden Gate park now. As a driver, can't say I like it at this point. Not used to having to look behind me to the right to make a turn. Maybe I'll get used to it . . .
@22, Seattle started the lightrail in 1996 and finaly got it in 2009...Taking 13 years to get one lightrail line isn't hating change?
If only a multi-millionaire who had childhood dreams of decent bike lanes in Seattle could convince the taxpayers to fund his dream, you guys would have them within a couple years.
Why do some cyclists insist in riding in a narrow street holding up traffic from getting around when there's a perfectly good sidewalk available - in the case where there are virtually no pedestrians on the sidewalk?

It's so dangerous and unnerving as I try to get around them with cars also coming the other way.
But where would we put the streetcars and light rails?
The best bike lanes I've ever seen are in parts of Europe. They follow the same "sidewalk-bike lane-parking-car lane" pattern, but the bike lanes are integrated with (while still separated from) the sidewalk, so they're raised off the street but don't result in the elimination of a driving lane. They also have their own traffic lights.
@29, using the sidewalk is dangerous not only to pedestrians, but to cyclists. Sidewalks contain debris and obstacles, they're rarely very flat if they've had any weathering at all, and they provide no sightlines for cars entering and leaving from parking lots, driveways, and alleys.

Sometimes they're the only option, because of poorly designed streets, but in 99% of situations the roads are safer.
@27: We don't have the luxury of the Chicago and East Coast mob mentality to ram projects through, but I guess that has also changed, with the NBA stadium and all. Without the Seattle Process (r) you would have a multi-lane highway along the eastern foot of Capitol Hill.

Change comes at a cost. Not all change is good. Not all people worship at the altar of "never question change". Yet, Seattle has transformed more in the past 20 years than most cities that have less "process". That simple fact doesn't fit into the neat little New Urbanist Narrative, but it is true none the less.
@33 Seattle's mostly changed because a huge amount of tech money came into the area, driving the change. When you look at most public projects in Seattle they're met by huge opposition by at least one or more groups. We have a mayor who was pro bike and yet couldn't get anything done bike wise. Compare that to Vancouver which is building more and more seperated bike lanes all the time, and they're not met with huge public opposition. It seems in Seattle everyone needs to get a say before anything gets done, and the referendum system just makes it worse. Look at the stupid tunnel, so much time/money was spent stopping it and all it did was delay the project. Heck look at Portland, they have a great light rail system. The Seattle process is a joke that makes 'activist' feel like they're doing something while all it does is slow down public projects.
@32: So just slow down then.
@29 In an ideal world bicyclists, like slow-moving vehicles, should yield to faster traffic. This is one thing that is not understood in the Pacific Northwest: that traffic impedance increases the probability of collisions. That's a no-brainer.

However, bikes should not ride on sidewalks for the exact reasons mentioned by @32.
For those claiming that bikes are dangerous on sidewalks, how do you account for the fact that bicyclists nearly always ride on the sidewalks in Japan? Event discounting the many streets that are narrow enough that there is no separate sidewalk, there are far more people riding bikes on the average street in Japan than in Seattle, and yet I've never once in Japan seen a collision between a bike and a pedestrian, and riders seem perfectly able to slow down and check for oncoming traffic before crossing side-streets and driveways.
@35, why should bikes speed up or get out of the way for cars, but slow down or get out of the way for pedestrians? That only makes sense if you consider cars the default, and want to punish cyclists for their very existence.

At least 36 suggests a consistent rule, although they have it backwards. In areas with mixed traffic, faster traffic should always yield to slower traffic. Bikes should slow down to stay away from pedestrians, and pass carefully, and otherwise use the road. Cars should slow down for bicycles, except when it is safe for them to pass. That also happens to be the law.

We can avoid some conflicts by having separated facilities where they make sense, such as limited-access highways outside cities, or bicycle tracks on major roads and streets. But some areas are going to be mixed, and in that case, slow wins over fast. It's important to provide some way for people to get between areas, but not at the expense of providing a way for people to be in and enjoy any particular locale.
If we spend money on bike lanes how are we going the 7 other stadiums we will need for teams we don't even have yet?
I'm with DOUG on this. These are great in theory but there are some new problems when you implement them. I would be a paranoid wreck at every intersection - I would end up out in the travel lane, where I can see things and have space to react. Another issue is that people use these bike lanes for all sorts of things that are not riding a bike: unloading trucks, walking, standing, parking, or whatever.

However, if the City of Seattle wants to build some, I am 100% in support, since I'm to some annoying idealist who thinks we should do nothing until we can do the perfect thing.
A lot of New York's bicycling improvements (and upcoming bike share program) are recent and are thanks to force of will of the city's billionaire mayor. This is exactly the kind of system that (many) Seattleites (seem to) despise.

I can't say that I had high hopes for McGinn, but am surprised the the bicycling mayoral candidate hasn't really even tried to do anything low-cost and clever on this issue.
@11 The reverse side of the coin is that New York has far greater economic disparity, and a smaller middle-class, than Seattle. Do you want some people to be poorer than others? And Seattle's proportion of non-Latin whites is almost the same as the national average, so a complaint about Seattle's proportion of non-Latin whites pretty much entails a complaint about the U.S. average.
There is no single way to deal with bikes as traffic. Sometimes, because of the local circumstances or the kind of people using a particular street, separated paths are the way to go (as in regional bike trails like Burke-Gilman, or urban bike tracks like the one going in on Broadway). Sometimes, carefully riding on the sidewalk in the way to go (Japan, apparently, but nowhere in Seattle). Sometimes a bike taking the lane as part of normal traffic is the way to go (anywhere separated infrastructure is lacking). Sometimes you want a free-for-all where bikes, cars, and pedestrians use all parts of the street (Seattle example: Pike Place). Real cities will support a mix of options for different areas and different people. And residents of real cities will complain, because people everywhere are whiners, but they'll tolerate it, because that's what happens in cities.

What shouldn't happen in cities is that we cater to one particular way of doing things. Right now, we cater to people who drive cars at the expense of everyone else, and we have too few options for cycling in the city without being part of traffic. So we need more of what's shown in Dan's photo. That doesn't mean that every street should look like that. Just enough so that people on bikes can choose that option to get around if they want.
meanwhile, sharrows work fine, as does a swift SLAP to the car window if you're being passed too closely. too bad most slog readers don't actually ride enough to verify this.

nothing to see here.
17 wins.
@38 It's a good point that I neglected to make that I'm talking about main thoroughfares that shouldn't be considered "mixed traffic." I guess many city streets would qualify as "mixed traffic" but my thing about traffic collisions was for relatively higher speeds. And I've observed many bicyclists not obeying the law by not keeping to the right or riding double-file so that can talk to somebody [!]. So, I think there's an argument to be made that somebody should not be riding in the middle lane downtown along 4th and 5th streets if there's not proper signing/traffic control to that effect.
So do you want well-allocated space, or the endless "open space" you Seattle knee-jerked about over the weekend?

Which is it, Dan?
@41: Have you ridden on Dexter or Nickerson lately? McGinn is the road diet mayor, which is a low-cost way to implement safer streets.

The South Ship Canal Trail (Phase II) is also awesome. And while sharrows aren't perfect, they are cheap and provably effective.

McGinn's doing a fine job of creating and expanding bicycling infrastructure.
I live in NY, and I can tell you that's a rarity. There are only bike lanes in certain parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn. For every bike lane they add they typically remove or otherwise ruin another. There's also very little enforcement of our traffic laws for bikes, and its nearly as bad with the cars. Which leads to a regular problem with cyclists running down pedestrians on side walks, and cabs running into cyclists in the streets. In most of the city the whole cycling thing is deeply terrifying, whether your on a bike, in a car, or just walking. I'd point to consistency as the problem. Where there are bike lanes AND traffic laws are enforced everything is fine. Otherwise its a complete mess.
@ 27, building light rail from scratch takes time. Denver approved light rail in 1979, and it wasn't until 1994 that the first line was open. So... maybe not the best example to prove your point.
29 is a parody account and may be safely ignored.

These are called 'cycletracks' or separated bikeways. Here's a Transportation Research Board digest:
And ps, their big benefit is a reduction in accidents where cyclists get clobbered by car doors. Cant believe no-one has mentioned that yet.
@ 37, I would say there are significant differences between Japanese and American culture. If you know of an American city where that's happening, you might be onto something.
@37 @53 Matt may be on to something about politeness, but this English language article clearly intimates there's more to the story than your particular anecdotes.…

And Japan seems to be high in the rankings at this site at least, which I guess I'd expect from the relative density.…
@ 46. If you are going to quote the law in your argument, I reccomend having the law on your side. The law (RCW 46.61.770) specifically states that riding two abreast is legal. You don't have to like it, but you can't pretend that single file is the law. You also don't get to decide what streets are considered mixed traffic and what streets are not. Once again, that is a legal matter. There are places where it is not legal for cyclists to ride (and those are posted) and I agree that cyclists should not ride there. These spaces are almost exclusively interstates within major city limits. Almost all other streets are mixed use.

In you are wondering why this is a sensitive issue for me it's because I make a daily commute on what some consider a road that cyclists shouldn't ride on (Aurora between Seattle and Everett). Legally I am permitted to, and I do so in a safe manner that does not impede traffic except for in a very few very short locations where there is no alternative. Once every couple of months a motorist decides bikes don't belong on the roads (despite multiple signs along my route expressly permitting it) and deliberately physically threatens me with their vehicle. No matter how annoying another person is (car, cyclist, pedestrian) it is never appropriate to threaten their safety with your vehicle.
@51: I'm not, however there's no baseline for determining anyone's authenticity on Slog -- hence such an accusation is rather pointless I must say.

@55 I didn't say two abreast was illegal. I said *not* staying to the right is clearly a violation of the same law to which you are referring (1st clause of RCW 46.61.770). Neither did I claim some sort of right of way to run over bicyclists as you imply there. It's about mutual respect, consideration and discretion. I agree motorists are very much aggressive. I know this just from being a pedestrian. But riding two abreast into the *middle* of the lane is neither complying with the spirit nor the letter--and impeding traffic is still illegal, no matter the vehicle.

Furthermore, legality clearly doesn't mean user friendly or sensical. That's also apart of the larger discussion: how to make the most out of what's there. Clearly it can be done better for everybody's sake.
Really, I thought it was literal shit that ruined Paris, you know, their lack of curb-your-dog laws.

I grew up bicycling the greenbelt trails going from Flushing Meadows Park all the way to Floral Park.
Dang, just came back from NYC myself. And yes, noticed these as well. They're not everywhere, of course (not all streets wide enough to accommodate) but I really liked the separation from the main traffic. I was slightly less than enthusiastic about the pedestrian crossing -- the bicyclists still seem intent on not ever stopping and on running people over -- but it was definitely a big improvement.
@56 Really? Huh. As often as you are wrong and/or ignorantly misinformed and willingly blurt out such misinformation onI SLOG I figured you were doing it on purpose for the humor of it.

You are serious? Wow.
@57 we are running the risk of getting pedantic here, and I would like (as much as is possible on a comment thread) to keep it civil. I fundamentally agree with you when you say it's about mutual respect and that the law does not always make the most sense. That said, the law is that you stay as near to the right as is safe. Something that may not be obvious to many motorists is all the way to the right frequently isn't safe. The far right of the road regularly contains debris/potholes that can and will cause flats (unfsafe). This generally isn't visible to motorists and if I am riding in an area where it is unsafe for a motorist to pass I will take the lane to prevent them from attempting to do so in an unsafe manner.

As far as impeding traffic being illegal, that isn't the case. Impede means to delay or prevent. Any vehicle that is in front of you does that. It is not illegal. There is a violation known as impeding traffic that is defined as "not operating a vehicle reasonably so as to block the normal flow of traffic." Riding my bike down the street is not unreasonable.
Seattle will need to have loudspeakers everywhere with a warning that repeats endlessly first in a female voice and then in a male voice, and then in an in between voice that everyone must park ONLY in the area marked with a kind of a square wave line (we'll all know what that means) and that everyone must ride their bikes ONLY in the green area (we'll all know what that means) and that everyone must watch out for the slanting marked area and pretend it is like "hot lava". Then it would work, I'm sure.
I moved to Portland in '88- they had one light rail line from downtown to Gresham. In 24 years, they now have light rail everywhere, and will soon have across the river to Vancouver, WA, and south to Oregon City.
What has Seattle done in the last 24 years? One light rail to the airport......zzzzzzz. Seattle is far richer than Portland ever thought of being. Why Portland isn't the model for the entire US for how to get things done is a mystery to me.
As for bike lanes, I think it's a miracle that Seattle has anything at all for cyclists. My little town here in Bumfuck has more bike lanes per capita than Seattle does.
"Riding my bike down the street is not unreasonable."

Except when it is.

Especially when the bicycle has ingress and egress through the sharrows or a bike lane. Let's not pretend that bicyclists are paragons of following traffic law. Plus a bonus for not having to pay equitable registration and most moving violations, which I'd consider disproportionate representation if you're asking for equal access.

I'm all for dedicated thoroughfare for bike lanes, dedicated bike roads, and improving the regulations AND traffic design to make it safer. But I don't think it's necessarily reasonable to tell me I need to quote the law correctly then start making excuses for bicyclists who ruin their image by blatantly ignoring that law--and, IMO, passing off the lack of consideration they get from motorists to other motorists and pedestrians.
@65 I'm not making excuses, I'm pointing out things some may not have considered. Sometimes I need to take the lane for my safety, it isn't an excuse it is a fact. If that means that a motorist gets delayed for 10 seconds in order to protect my safety that is entirely appropriate. Yes there are douchebag cylists on the road that break the law, and yes there are douchebag motorists that break the law. Try not to be either, but don't make the mistake of equating the two. If some dipshit on a bike is riding 10 mph deliberately blocking traffic just to be a jerk, it is maddening and it is douchey, but what it isn't is a threat to your life. Promoting the attitude that bikes don't belong on roads encourages anger towards cyclists. When motorists act aggressively towards cyclists it is a threat to the cyclist's life. Fact.

Now @dirac I am not trying to argue that you are in any way threateing me or any other cyclist on the road, and you choosing to interpret my anecdote as an attack on you is odd. I also think it's odd that you shouldn't be expected to quote the law correctly. How should you be expected to quote the law?

Lastly the registration red herring is absurd. First of all the wear and tear caused by bicycles to roads cannot compare with that caused by vehicles. Second, most cyclists also own cars. They pay the same vehicle registration. Third, road maintenance is funded primarily through property taxes. I pay those too.
@65: I don't think cyclists break the law any more or less than drivers. How many cars do you see blow through red lights well after they're red? The norm downtown seems to be 1-2 at every light. So the bad apples argument plays both ways and pretending otherwise makes you look like a silly person.

As for the old canard about "equitable registration," go read some facts before you propagate that nonsense. User fees like registration and gas taxes account for less than 50% of revenue needed for roads in most US states. That means non-drivers are already paying way more than their fair share. Furthermore, bicycles and cars quite obviously don't have equitable impact on roads when it comes to things like traffic management, highway maintenance, and general wear & tear, not to mention millions of dollars for emergency services for the mind-blowing number of car accidents each year (most of which are caused by drunk and reckless drivers). We could switch to your fantasy-world model where roads are 100% funded by user fees. In that model, accounting for all those factors, cyclists might pay a small fee, and you'd have to sell your house to register your car.
@29 - The most dangerous part of riding on the sidewalk is that cars, when leaving a parking lot, rarely stop at the sidewalk; they blow through the sidewalk stop at the curb.

It doesn't help that developers love to line their parking lots with hedges, giving drivers only a narrow view of the sidewalk - too narrow to see a 12mph bike coming. (These surrounding hedges are surprisingly common - you'll notice it everywhere now.)
As a pedestrian, cyclist, and motorist in New York City, I don't understand these comments. Regardless of the mode of travel, in the big, congested city, I'm always at risk of being hit or hitting someone. You take measures to avoid that. Or you join the statistics. Period.

Look where you're going. Know where the traffic is around you, or slow down until you can figure it out. Always assume the other guy is an asshole or simply oblivious. Don't trust streetlights. Plan ahead. Trust your danger instincts. Look for clues as to what will happen next.

Have a drink after you survive the day. Start fresh tomorrow.
@29 because in most places it's illegal for bicyclists to ride on the sidewalk, and as a deaf pedestrian, I kindly thank them for keeping the fuck away from me.

As for the question about how the NYC ones work at intersections, I didn't see any problems. Remember that about 99% of the streets in NYC are one way, and that alone simplifies what's going on at turns (bikes are required to behave as vehicles, so they cna't go wrong way on streets -- not that that seemed to stop some of them but there you go). I really like one way streets as a pedestrian, makes it easier to avoid cars. Also I don't think you can make turns without a signal in NYC -- not like the west coast where a right turn is permitted on a red.
It wasn't so long ago that all NYC had were the abominable Sharrows and was a very mediocre place to ride.

Jeanette Sadik-Khan, the DOT commish who drove a lot of the expansion of NYC bike facilities will be out of a job in approximately 14 months. Although Seattle would be a definitive step down for her, why not crank up the press?
In Copenhagen or Amsterdam or Munster cyclists get their own lane and they get a separate signal light from cars. Bikes get to go first. Of course it helps that in those cities there are 100's to 1,000's of cyclists everyday. It's the way of life for most people in Europe. Unfortunately, this will never work in Seattle, the roads here were built for crazy parents that need to get their kids to school like ten minutes ago so they end up driving 50 in a 25 while talking on the cell phone, putting on make-up and picking goldfish up off the floor.

In Copenhagen or Amsterdam or Munster cyclists get their own lane and they get a separate signal light from cars. Bikes get to go first. Of course it helps that in those cities there are 100's to 1,000's of cyclists everyday. It's the way of life for most people in Europe. Unfortunately, this will never work in Seattle, the roads here were built for crazy parents that need to get their kids to school like ten minutes ago so they end up driving 50 in a 25 while talking on the cell phone, putting on make-up and picking goldfish up off the floor.

There's no perfect solution but what they've done in lower Manhattan is generally a lot better for bicyclists than it was before, which I think is great. I signed petitions for it and I'm glad it went through.

However... one issue here is that there's always been a culture of jaywalking. Everybody does it all the time and drivers just have to stop and wait - horn-honking tends to just make pedestrians slow down and smirk. Now on a lot of streets, as a pedestrian you're now basically crossing two streets, and bikers here tend to totally lose their shit if they ever have to slow down or, god forbid, stop - even when they don't have the right of way, and they can be really hostile and threatening about it. Crossing the street definitely sucks way more now even if you don't jaywalk, but most cyclists still run red lights with a full sense of entitlement.
If by NYC you mean Manhattan, then yes, their bike lanes are improving. But that doesn't mean the reckless drivers are. Forget about trying to not die in Brooklyn or even, wow! Queens. The shit I've seen drivers pull is mind boggling (drive on a sidewalk for three blocks to pass stopped cars to run a red light). After almost being hit 4 times by people running red lights in a month's span of riding my bike ten minutes to the subway, I've retired my bike from this city. And those potholes! Seattle is a dreamboat for bikes compared to the other boroughs.
who said the bike "lanes" in NYC are working? many of them outside of midtown are just shared lanes with cars, cars and cyclists ignore all traffic laws and nearly hit pedestrians all the time and in general have just made the city streets more congested an more dangerous. Many of these bike lanes and split lanes have been badly thought out and poorly executed. You're just posting a pic of one of the nice ones. lol
I'd much rather ride my motorcycle here than a bicycle, and for the record... I've nearly been hit by many more bicycles than by cars.
@75 Yeah, I can believe Queens is tough. Western Brooklyn, however, is reaching some sort of critical mass of bicycle commuters. In the last 5 years, year-round commuters have at least tripled, according to my wife, who is one of them, and a lot higher percentage are women than used to be. The east-west bicycle lanes are almost always in use now, and the segregated bicycle lanes on the downtown bridges over the East River are well-used, especially in the rush hours.

It's a virtuous cycle. Link enough facilities to make it comfortable for cyclists, and more cyclists show up. The more cyclists using the streets and bridges, the more facilities the City is encouraged to dedicate.

Cycle commuting from Brooklyn to Manhattan takes about the same amount of time door-to-door as using the subway, say about an hour to go 8 or 9 miles. It's a lighter workout than going to the gym, but it's not something you have to think about doing separately, it's built in to your day. And, in many cases, you'll arrive fresher than being packed into a subway car. Oh, and the savings on subway fare can add up. In a way, it's like being paid to exercise, instead of having to pay the gym.
Can we raise a fund to buy one-way tickets to Copenhagen for all the fuckwits who want Seattle to be just like Copenhagen?
#62, if you block my car I will flatten your spandex clad ass right into the pavement.
Lastly the registration red herring is absurd. First of all the wear and tear caused by bicycles to roads cannot compare with that caused by vehicles. Second, most cyclists also own cars. They pay the same vehicle registration. Third, road maintenance is funded primarily through property taxes. I pay those too.

Typical self-entitled bicycle baby.

First off, 99% of the wear and tear to pavement is caused either by the weather or heavy vehicles, i.e., trucks and buses. Cars do no more damage to pavement than bikes, because neither does any damage. Ask any highway engineer.

Second, it doesn't matter if a cyclist also owns a car. A motorist pays separate vehicle taxes on each motor vehicle, including the owner of a Vespa. Bicyclists pay no vehicle tax on their bikes. Third, motorists also pay property taxes. So if paying them confers immunity from vehicle taxes like the bicycle babies claim, then there should be no motor vehicle taxes either.
Here is the typical bicyclist
@56- You might as well be.
@78- I'd love a trip to Copenhagen, and only having to buy the ticket back would make it much more affordable!