Parked Cars as a Buffer for Cyclists

bike lane New York City Markings, street signs and other traffic devices have been set up along Ninth Avenue as part of a new bike lane experiment. (Photo: New York City Department of Transportation)

What’s that? Parked cars in the middle of Ninth Avenue?

Seven blocks of Ninth Avenue in Chelsea have been transformed over the past few weeks. A dedicated 10-foot-wide bicycle lane has been created on the east side of the street, from 23rd to 16th Streets, separated from the vehicles by an eight-foot-wide buffer zone and then a lane of parked cars. The effect is to create a sanctuary of sorts for cyclists, who often complain that trucks, cabs and passenger vehicles intrude on bicycle lanes with impunity.

As William Neuman explained in an article last month, the idea of using parked cars to separate bicyclists from motorists has been tried in cities in Europe but never in New York City.

The new bicycle-lane design was announced in September. Workers began at 23rd Street and progressed southward. The work is mostly completed, said Ted Timbers, a spokesman for the Transportation Department, including markings and signs. About 20 single-car parking spaces were eliminated as part of the redesign; Muni-Meters, which control multiple spaces, were installed in their place.

Also being tested on the seven-block stretch of Ninth Avenue in Chelsea is a raised traffic island at each intersection, extending into the avenue. Called a ‘’pedestrian refuge,’’ the island the effect of shortening the distance traveled to cross the street to 45 feet, from 70 feet. Those traffic islands are still being installed, and an official ceremony to mark the completion of the redesign will be held once that work is finished, Mr. Timbers said.

A 21-page slide presentation that the Transportation Department presented on Sept. 19 to Community Board 4 in Manhattan illustrates the changes and their impact on pedestrians, cyclists and motorists.

The city’s traffic planners believe the redesign provides more “green space” (well, at least more open space — whether it’s “green” is debatable) for pedestrians and a safer experience for cyclists, while having minimal effect on motor vehicles and parked cars. Mr. Timbers said the department would be “closely watching” traffic, pedestrian and cycling patterns along the seven-block stretch over the next several months. If the redesign is found to be effective, he said, it could be used on other avenues in the city, but probably not on the avenues with the heaviest traffic.

(Source : The New York Times)


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