Tonight: See the Blueprint for a New Upper West Side

uwsbp2.jpg

Streets designed for safe, accessible, and equitable use. That is the vision of the "Blueprint for the Upper West Side: A Roadmap for Truly Livable Streets," to be unveiled tonight by the Upper West Side Streets Renaissance Campaign. The product of one year of community-driven planning, in consultation with urbanist legends Jan Gehl and Donald Shoup, the 51-page Blueprint [PDF] is an expansive neighborhood-wide plan that would employ many livable streets concepts already in use by NYC DOT. 

Proposals include:

  • Separated bike lanes and bike boxes on Broadway, Amsterdam and Columbus
  • Bollard-protected pedestrian bulb-outs
  • Leading Pedestrian Intervals
  • Curb extensions to slow auto traffic and allow for garbage pick-up
  • Bus bulbs with bike parking 
  • Chicanes with reverse-angle parking on cross streets

The Blueprint was composed from input gathered via neighborhood surveys and citizen workshops in a community where drivers account for 10 percent of commutes but absorb 228 times more street space per capita, and where over 5,000 pedestrians and cyclists were injured or killed between 1995 and 2005.

Gehl will be on hand for tonight’s reveal, as he was at the project’s inception last November. The event is free and open to the public.

Where: P.S. 87, 160 W. 78th St. between Amsterdam and Columbus

When: 6:30 p.m.

RSVP here

  • Okay, so why not a Paris-style wide bus/bike/taxi lane? I’m tired of getting stuck in traffic on the M104.

  • Left Turn

    So Gehl is not worried about left turning vehicles mowing down unaware cyclists as they pass into the intersection or cars and trucks waiting in the intersection to turn and blocking the bike lane? The plan must also ban private cars from parking on Broadway or else the double parked trucks would block the buses. Speaking of buses, most wheeled travel on Broadway is by bus. It would be bus riders, not private motorists most effected by taking street space for bikes.

  • A great design. I like how the car owners are co-opted with the promise of more parking (or at least the same amount of curbside parking) through the angle approach.

    Of course where we really need a bike path like this is on Park Ave. where there is a greater need due to the absence of north-south bike paths, lanes or relatively calmed bike routes such as CPW, WEA or the CP Loop on the West Side. But Park is too “iconic” so it’ll never happen.

  • J

    Left Turn,

    Cars blocking and turning into the bike lane is a constant problem no matter how the lane is designed. Either a signal has to exclusively give bicycles the right of way (see Ninth Ave btw 31st & 14th and Broadway btw 42nd & 35) or bicycles and vehicles must negotiate the turning conflict (see every other bike lane in the city). This idea protects bikes while riding, while still making them visible to cars. The green striping across intersections should alert vehicles that they are crossing the path of bikes. Yes, some cars will stop in the bike path anyway. Yes, their may be occasional collisions. However, that should not stop this effort which is a vast improvement over the current situation, which gives no space for bicycles and has all sorts of conflicts between buses, taxis, cars, and trucks. The key question is whether you’d let your child ride a bike there. I have to say that I would absolutely not let my child bike on Broadway as it currently exists, but I’d be much more open to the idea with the proposed improvement.

  • J

    Also, the plan shows Amsterdam as the model for a typical one-way avenue. The design, therefor has a protected bike lane on Columbus Avenue as well.

  • JK

    This is an interesting proposal. I do ride with my kids (11,8,6) on the UPWS section of Broadway on weekend mornings and early afternoon when deliveries and traffic are light. Even with a physically separated lane I would not let them ride alone. The turning movement problem is too great. Are there examples of median separated bike lanes on a two/three lane arterial that someone can point to? Seems like Broadway blocks are too short (less than 90 yards between intersections) to fully take advantage of this design. Somewhere like Houston with much longer sections of unbroken median makes more sense. As long as we are talking blue-sky UPW, I’d like to see a two-way protected bike lane on the West side of Riverside Drive adjacent to the park. That would have very few turning conflicts and would only entail removing 500 or so curbside parking spots.

  • “Bollard-protected pedestrian bulb-outs” — yes, please!

    “Leading Pedestrian Intervals” — I’ll have some of those too! Starting at 96th!

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! Exclamation point!

  • Max Rockatansky
  • Max Rockatansky

    Sorry – I think my long link ^ broke the page.

  • JK

    Also, if you like this plan, live on the UPWS and care about your neighborhood and livable streets, please, please join Community Board 7. If you need convincing, just look at what the good folks at Manhattan Community Board 2 (Lower West Side), have achieved. More than anything this plan needs support from people on the community board. (CB 7 is from 60th to 110th Park to River.)For info on how to do that see
    http://www.livablestreets.com/projects/uws/blog/

  • Thanks for the link, Max.

    “The driver went into a panic,” she recalls. “Everybody was blowing horns. He couldn’t figure out which way to turn.”

    WTF? Bad cabbie! No tip for you!

    Oh, and Steve Cuozzo is clearly an asshole who has no interest in civil discourse. In other words, a typical Post columnist.

  • Overall, very impressive. I hope it comes to pass.

    I’m particularly happy to see the use of angle parking alternating mid-block so as to function as a traffic calming chicane (see p.32). Despite the fact that this arrangement can be parking-neutral (no loss of spaces), it’s interaction with street cleaning will raise vociferous opposition from motorists who are accustomed to double-park their vehicles during alternate side parking: this won’t be possible with angle parking. The report does not give any indication of what might be done to make this arrangement more palatable on that front, such as reducing the frequency of street cleaning perhaps.

  • Broadway on the Upper West Side has always been one of the grand boulevards with mini parks with benches. Adding dedicated bike lanes should enhance this pedestrian space. What concerns me is that cars often see the left, non-bus lane, as the fast lane. I hope there’ll be a generous buffer with bollards to separate the two.

    Cap’n Transit’s suggestion of a Paris-style wide bus/bike/taxi lane would certainly be a more efficient use of space on this heavily used throughfare and could significantly increase transit options. Just imagine busses as a viable alternative to the long overcrowded #1 train.

  • I like the idea. I live on Long Island, but I like to bring my bike into Manhattan on the LIRR.

    I ride where I can, but the Bike Lanes and Bikeways need to be interconnected. Last time I was in Manhattan, I had people asking if I was a Cop, because my bike has so many lights, it looks like a Police Bike. I can put lights on and stop traffic, but the average bicycle rider doesn’t have this many lights.
    http://i134.photobucket.com/albums/q119/hotbike/photo_0023-1.jpg

    I like the way the Bus Lane on 34th street is painted red. I guess it is some kind of epoxy? The green bike lanes will use the same kind of material, I assume?

  • Andy B from Jersey

    I like many aspects of this plan and greatly appreciate the boldness of NYCDoT’s designs, however I have major reservations about the Broadway Blvd median bikes lanes.

    I know the reasoning behind why the Broadway Blvd was design with the lanes along the median (eliminates dooring, right hook hazards, etc) but I feel this design way too beyond the norm of what and where a bicycle lane is expected to be. I personally know of no other place in the world that has built such a design.

    First off, cyclists have no dedicated access to the shops and residences along Broadway with this configuration. The lane is protected with bollards (which are possibly connected by chains). Cyclists would have to cross the two lanes of Broadway to get to the curb. Doable for most and maybe not a real hazard except for the real potential of riding into a bollard (it happens in Paris all the time where they love using bollards).

    Also, I ask if the bollards actually provide any real protection to cyclists from speeding cars. I don’t think so. And while the left side (median in this case) bike lanes do eliminate conflicts with buses, some dooring issues and right hooks (not left hooks in many places), placement of the lane on the left does leave cyclists exposed to faster moving cars. I think this is a major hazard not ever talked about on this blog.

    While riding up 8th Ave the other week I noticed that the faster traffic was in the left lane directly next to the bike lane. This is common motoring practice with slower traffic on the right. I know I’m stating the obvious but the cars in the right were often moving at a crawl while the cars in the left just several feet from my right shoulder were aggressively moving their way through traffic well above the posted limit.

    Speed doesn’t kill. It’s the difference in speed that kills. I’d rather ride my bike on the right side of the road with the cars going around my 10 to 15 mph then be only a few feet away from cars going 35 to 50.

    Also this is the third, maybe forth different bike lane placement I’ve seen NYCDoT do. I’ve got around 60,000 miles of riding experience which was done mostly in Jersey but some in 8 countries on two continents and in at least 7 other states and I’m always confused as to where I should be on the road when I ride in NYC. This is what goes through my mind as I ride in NYC:

    There’s no bike lane on this one way street. Should I stay to the right? Oh wait there’s a bike lane on the left! Oh its gone. Should I them merge back over to the right? Oh the street goes from one way to two! Damn! I’m on the left! I got to get over right. Hey now there is a lane on the right side of the road (since its a two way).

    I’m sorry, you New Yorker’s can defend this left side bike lane all you want but I still think it’s just too damned confusing and its got some real safety issues since it exposes riders to faster moving traffic.

  • gecko

    Cycle tracks down the center of streets could really be a big improvement. Besides the great reduction in conflicts with both cars and pedestrians it really seems difficult for cars to park in them even if there weren’t bollards.

    Should not be a big deal for a cyclist to cross at the corner.

    It also makes a statement about the importance of cycling.

  • gecko

    What’s also nice is that the medians start to be more accessible to people and be the “soft” green places that greatly improve public space.

  • Shemp

    A lot of the comments here seem to think this is the city’s plan, but it’s basically a T.A. proposal.

    The NY Post obscured the difference in its article earlier this week and the intro above on this page isn’t really crystal clear either.

    I also doubt Gehl had specific design input here, as some comments also imply.

  • AndyP

    I’m liking the fact that bike lanes are near the median, less likely to be used by pedestrians/joggers/vendors.

  • Andy B from Jersey

    Woops! Shemp you are exactly right.

    I rushed through the document last night however my comments still stand about this proposal and the bike lane engineering DoT has already installed.

  • Re: “Paris-style wide bus/bike/taxi lane”

    Does anyone have a photo or diagram of how these work? I’m blanking. But I think they must have a lane for the bicycle to be passed (that is opposite the side the bus stops on) or they would be no better than a regular traffic lane. If it does have a lane, I guess they can at least save space by skipping the buffer. But in this city taxis would clog the lane for busses because they are so cheap and plentiful compared to western european cities. We would have to raise taxi fares and reduce placards (and use the money to replace the fleet with nicer, smaller, fuel efficient cars!) for it to work. Which would be a good thing to do to reduce emissions, but only as part of a trade for congestion pricing on private cars of course.

  • gecko

    You have to marvel that the first impressions are dreamlike of the improvements, street designing for people on a scale that will make a difference with blessings to TA and DoT for the hard work and vision but, actually they could go further; where taken to the logical extreme would be extensive same-level pedestrian pathing including intersections where slightly lower cycle tracks would gently rise up as well as cars traveling at the lowest level on routes not so straight to temper speeds along with mid-block pedestrian neck-downs to crossways for “safer jaywalking” etc.; all the really good stuff that these pros know so well; ultimately requiring only modest expenditures considering the benefits especially when done city-wide on the way to an urban Eden.

  • This plan is surprisinlgy limited and I agree with those who have noted that it basically ignores transit riders and gives over space to bicylists. Aside from the dangers others with putting a bike lane adjacent to the passing lane and crossing both turning vehicles and major pedestrian crosswalks, why doesn’t this plan make Broadway a major transit street? It should have a restricted bus lane with electric, low floor fancy buses and custom bus shelters with all the bells and whistles the city and MTA can provide. Or how about streetcars! A lot more people would use transit than ride bikes.

    As I see it, the UWS resident survey showed dedicated bus lanes almost as high a priority as bike lanes. The plan also proposes that Amsterdam Avenue be a “transit corridor” but when you look at the plan for Amsterdam, what do you see?….bike lanes!

  • gecko

    #23 tompkins, Don’t knock bikes! Most likely the industrial revolution in China would have been impossible without its 600 million cyclists.

    Buses don’t come close especially, when people get used to much better ways to travel.

  • #24 I don’t knock bikes, but I think this whole plan is bike-biased instead of being a really balanced plan.

  • gecko

    #25 tompkins, Buses go for about one-half million dollars plus driver salary and expensive infrastructure, maintenance, make lots of noise; they clog streets, etc. And, you have to get to them, wait for them to pick you up, wait for them to take you on the way to where you are going, and figure out how to finally get to where you are going after they drop you off.

    How many bikes can be bought for one-half million bucks?

  • UESider

    Hey, this looks great. Any protected bike lane is great. When will the UES get some bike lanes that work? How about a protected lane from uptown to down and reverse on both Second and Third Avenues? That would be amazing.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Streetfilms: A New Vision for the Upper West Side

|
Residents of all ages, electeds and planner-about-town Jan Gehl gathered at PS 87 last Thursday to mark the launch of "Blueprint for the Upper West Side: A Roadmap for Truly Livable Streets." A year-long community-based project of the Upper West Side Streets Renaissance campaign, the Blueprint [PDF], as its name implies, offers a detailed vision […]

Is This a Downtown Street or a Surface Highway?

|
Indianapolis recently decided to convert two downtown streets — West New York and West Michigan — from one-way speedways to calmer, two-way streets. The changes should help make the city’s downtown campus area more walkable, but now it looks like the city is compensating for those traffic changes by turning another street — West Street — into even […]

Envisioning an Upper West Side Streets Renaissance

|
If you’re thinking about coming to tonight’s Upper West Side workshop with Jan Gehl but you are having trouble picturing what a "Streets Renaissance" might look like, the video above was made for you. It consists of a series of photo simulations produced by New York City Streets Renaissance Creative Director Carly Clark. Whipped into […]

A New Blueprint for Streets That Put Transit Front and Center

|
The National Association of City Transportation Officials has released a new design guide to help cities prioritize transit on their streets. How can cities integrate bus rapid transit with protected bike lanes? How can bus stops be improved and the boarding process sped up? How should traffic signals be optimized to prioritize buses? The Transit Street Design Guide goes into greater […]

A Livable Streets Renaissance in Savannah?

|
The last time we checked in with the folks down at Sustainable Savannah, it was to get an update on the jaywalking ticket blitz that the city was conducting — not exactly evidence of a progressive attitude toward traffic safety. Today, we’ve got better news. Biking in Savannah: the future is looking brighter. Photo by […]