Bikes Belong to Help Six Cities Build Protected Bikeways

Six cities will adopt innovate street designs for safer cycling over the next two years as part of a new program from Bikes Belong.

The Green Lane Project will provide financial and technical assistance for cities to develop physically protected cycling infrastructure. The six to-be-determined cities will then serve as models for other American cities looking to incorporate street designs that make cycling appealing to residents of all ages.

A few major cities including New York and Washington DC have implemented protected bike lanes, but the designs are still “When a city is out on the front like this and they have a problem, it’s not always clear where they go. We’re trying to help those cities figure it out,” said Green Lane Project Director Martha Roskowski. “So they don’t have to go to Copenhagen to see how these things work.”

Bikes Belong is looking for cities that have political support for creating world-class bike infrastructure, as well as a plan in place. The organization also wants to include three “emerging cities” outside the superstars like New York and Portland, Roskowski said.

“We’re looking for six cities where they have elected officials that are on board with this,” said said. “They’ve gone through some type of a planning process. They get it. They want to do these things.”

Bike Belong sent out invitations to 33 cities that have fairly developed cycling transportation programs. Those include Houston, Memphis, Los Angeles and Columbus, Ohio, as well as San Francisco, according to Roskowski. But any city can apply, whether it was invited or not.

One city that has already been chosen is Chicago. The city’s DOT chief, Gabe Klein, is serving as an adviser on the project, as is New York City Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. Roskowski said Bikes Belong has not determined what New York City’s role in the program will be, whether strictly as an adviser or as a participant.

The Green Lane Project will build on the work done by the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) to create a design guide for a new generation of cycling infrastructure. The Bikes Belong Foundation will be focusing most of its resources on the six chosen cities over the next two years, Roskowski said. They hope the results will be instructive to cities everywhere.

“We’re focusing on putting resources into six cities,” said Roskowski, “the other half is trying to capture what’s happening and share it with all the other cities.”

Applications for the program are due by March 9.

  • Guest

    Does NYC really count as a rock star city? Sure we have a few double-parking… er… bike lanes, and we saw a 2 billion percent increase in bike commuting over the last decade (which brings it to around 0.6% of total commutes now).  But we also have BS like the Central Park bike crackdown (now Prospect Park too!) and Iris Whines-all and this charmer you hear EVERY time you mention to someone that you rode to work: “I’m all for bike rights but if they want more lanes they need to follow the rules.”  

    We’re seeing progress in New York but it’s so fragile and there’s such a huge gap between where New York is in cycling infrastructure and what it could be that it seems unfair to write the city off (which, admittedly the article says hasn’t happened just yet).  Because New York is uniquely dense and transit-friendly (car-averse?) for a North American city, bike infrastructure planning can really go a long way here.  I think much longer than it can in, say, Houston.  And then New York can stand as a model for other cities. 

    On the other hand it could just further emphasize the differences between New York and other cities and just deepen the political divide over bike issues. 

  • J

    This could truly be transformative. Protected bike lanes provide comfortable connections on streets where all other types of facilities simply fail. Amsterdam and Copenhagen have known this for years. Other European cities are learning this. It’s great that US cities are finally jumping on board as well. Very exciting! 

  • Anonymous

    Yay.  A facility that I’ll be forced by law to use, that puts me right under the wheels of turning commercial trucks.

  • Anonymous

    This is wonderful!  Wish they could do more than 6.  

  • Anonymous

    I am seriously hoping that they are taking a serious look at Seattle. We have an ever increasing infrastructure network (hello multiple buffered lanes, many many miles of bike lanes, hundreds of miles of sharrows, one critical true cycle track coming online within the next year – with a few others hot on it’s heels, and many miles of greenways planned for the next few years). I feel like we could at least be considered “emerging,” if not “rockstar.” We do have the third highest bicycle ridership in the country after all. Suburbanites lament our mayor for pushing cycling infrastructure and biking to work himself. We have two city council members that regularly bike to work. The head of our DOT is huge on bikes and transit. Please please please consider us!

  • Joe R.

    @14a8960ffa19c6b0ffff4264aba1f641:disqus NYC more than any other city could lead the way if only it would get its head out of its behind. Our unique problems could work for us. For example, NYC has less room at street level to convert to bike lanes, and has a ridiculous number of traffic lights and stop signs compared to any other major city. These two facts basically mean anything built at street level for bicycles will be too small, and will also offer very poor travel times (and/or encourage cyclists to run lights to make better time, giving ammunition to the “law-and-order” crowd). The obvious answer is to do for bicycles what we already do at much greater cost for automobiles-go above grade. Now cyclists have a clear run to get to their destinations faster than anybody else, without slowing or stopping. And motorists/pedestrians can’t complain that precious street space was taken from them.

    We already have lots of grade-separated infrastructure for both autos and trains. Hanging bike lanes off these could be done at minimal cost. You would only need to build brand new structures to bridge gaps. Best of all, you only need a sparse grid of bike highways (say one every mile or so) in order to form a really useful network. Such a grid means at most you’ll have to ride 1/2 mile on local streets to get to your final destination. In many cases you’ll be much closer. Add in further enhancements such as roofing to channel prevailing winds into tailwinds (to increase cruising speeds further), and you have a world-class system other cities will be envious to copy.

    Right now, most of our new infrastructure is based on a Copenhagen-like model. The problem with that approach is NYC is much larger than Copenhagen. You need routes where cyclists can travel unimpeded for most of their journey in order to capture the critical segment who currently travel greater than 2 or 3 miles. We could easily make commutes of 10 miles or more practical with the right infrastructure, but not at street level. For a good analogy, would a motorist choose to drive 50 miles on local streets? No, they’ll choose to do as much of the journey on expressways as possible. A cyclist going an equivalent amount (say 10 to 20 miles) should have a similar option.

  • As I understand it, Bikes Belong took a trip to the Netherlands recently. I mention this because again and again (and again) discussions in the U.S. of separated infrastructure do not mention facilities for intersections, in this case the Dutch-state-of-the-art being protected pathways leading to roundabouts or dedicated signals. (In other words, also better than what they have in Denmark).

    The so-called state-of-the-art ideas or examples in the NACTO guide are worse, with e.g. bike and motor vehicle pathways crossing at intersections.

    Physical-separation in the U.S. is a great step forward but its effectiveness in safety is drastically-diminished without proper intersection facilities.

    Google “A View from the Cycle Path”, the great blog about cycling in the Netherlands, and  spend a few hours there, and learn a lot of new things.

  • Tallycyclist

    Joe R.  I like your idea of adding bike infrastructure to the already-built grade separated routes for autos and trains.  This could be a nice way for cyclists commuting longer distances to bypass much of the street traffic.  But this shouldn’t supercede and replace the installation of infrastructure on streets for cyclists.  NYC has a fair number of wide boulevards and streets (thanks to efforts to prioritize car traffic decades ago) where one lane of traffic could be converted to a separated bike path.   It’s great that they are already starting to do this on some busy stretches of roads.  The major roads always have separated infrastructure for cyclists in Copenhagen, and many medium-sized ones do too.  Then, it just depends on traffic volume and speed whether one is put in or not; you certainly don’t need one on every road.  Space is never really an issue, but rather its about prioritizing.  If you look at some of the streets in various cities in Holland, they are incredibly narrow.  Sometimes cars are allowed and other times not.  Nevertheless it’s been made very convenient to bike anywhere.  It would be a huge problem for everyone if most people started driving in those cities.  

  • Bob Bedrossian

    ob Bedrossian Bob Bedrossian • 5 minutes ago

    ?There is no doubt that the Green Lane Project is and has been a guiding light for a better quality of life for thousands of citizens and a path we should all be thankful we are on. We must also design pathways and access to green E-bikes. After visiting Beijing and seeing the impact of e-bikes on that city, it will be a short time before that wave comes here. Below is a blog about e-bikes in NYC and the draconian measures NYS has taken. 20 MPH e-bikes will be a reality here. Plans to incorperate them into our culture is needed. Transportation officials need to plan for 2020 and not for 2012.

    Why punish all or NYS because NYC and the elite bike lobby has a hair up its nose? The green advantage for low income people to have reliable low cost transportation to get to work, school, doctors, etc., should out weigh elite-us Manhattan bike riders who feel that they own all the streets of New York State. Their need to own the bike lanes after leaving their elite-us jobs and bike to their favorite watering hole claiming they are helping society is ridiculous. “Let them eat cake.” Pass laws for Manhattan that make sense and not hold the entire New York State as hostage. By investing in green energy e-bikes we take hundreds of cars off the road and allow handicap people a way of getting around. Cheap local transportation will be helpful to millions of our citizens. Lets move forward with a plan for all citizens in New York State and not the few who can only think of themselves.

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