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 […]

Rethinking Soho

|
A Porsche, an ambulette, Paul Steely White, Bruce Schaller and a vendor compete for street space in Soho Crowded shoppers and residents want more sidewalk space in Soho and they would be happy to give up some of the area’s parking space to get it, according to a study released today by Transportation Alternatives (Download […]

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 […]