Complete Streets: It’s About More Than Bike Lanes

Over the last four years, New York City has seen a transportation renaissance on its streets, striking a better balance by providing more space for walking, biking, and transit.

As with any departure from the status quo, it can take a while for everyone to grow accustomed to the changes. So Streetfilms decided to look at three of NYC’s most recent re-designs — Columbus Avenue, First and Second Avenues, and Prospect Park West — and show how pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers benefit from safer, calmer streets. We talked to transportation engineers with decades of experience, elected leaders, community board members, people on the street, and business owners to get their take on the new configurations.

The truth is, no matter how hard some media outlets try to spin it otherwise, these new street safety projects have broad community support. And while the story of these changes often gets simplified in the press, the fact is that the benefits of the redesigns go far beyond cycling. A street with a protected bike lane also has less speeding, shorter pedestrian crossings, less lane-shifting and more predictable movements for drivers, and the opportunity to add more trees and plantings. Injuries to pedestrians, cyclists, drivers, and car passengers drop wherever the new designs go in. And on the East Side, these improvements have been paired with dedicated bus-only lanes with camera enforcement, making service more convenient and attractive for thousands of bus riders.

At 11 minutes, this is one of our longest Streetfilms. We cover a lot of ground here, and we hope it’s illuminating no matter what side of the issue you fall on.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Combating the Myth That Complete Streets Are Too Expensive

|
Live in a town where bicyclists and pedestrians are personas non grata and buses get stuck in automobile congestion? Do you put on your walking boots only to find that your city’s street design conveys the message, “These roads were made for driving?” It’s time for a complete streets upgrade, then – but often, when […]

What Happens When You Divert Bikeways From Commercial Streets?

|
Some of the streets around Indianapolis’s widely lauded Cultural Trail are seeing a development boom, while others are not. Kevin Kastner at UrbanIndy has a theory about why Virginia Avenue seems to be reaping huge benefits since the debut of the walking and biking trail, but no such change has come to Massachusetts Avenue: Virginia Avenue […]

Livable Streets Are Good for Health in the Heartland, Too

|
The roadscape in Nebraska, built for one thing only. Photo by jWiltshire via Flickr. The health benefits of livable streets don’t always get enough attention. Today on the Streetsblog Network, we’ve got a story from Missouri Bicycle News about a new study from the St. Louis University School of Public Health documenting how the health […]

Designing City Streets to Suit 47 MPH Drivers Is a Recipe for Failure

|
Gravois Avenue is an important commercial street in St. Louis that also happens to be designated a state highway. It’s currently slated for a redesign, providing a huge opportunity to make the street work better for walking and biking. But unfortunately the highway-like mentality of state transportation planners persists. Alex Ihnen at NextSTL reports that Missouri DOT is using highway design […]

How to Write a Complete Streets Policy

|
Step one: Do it like Indianapolis. Of the 130 complete streets policies passed in 2012, the one passed by Indianapolis gets the highest score in a new ranking by Smart Growth America and its National Complete Streets Coalition. “The Complete Streets movement fundamentally redefines what a street is intended to do, what goals a transportation […]