Posts Tagged ‘New York City’

Sidewalks, bicycles, and… unicycles

Friday, April 15th, 2011

The Colbert Report has clever coverage of the unicycle issue in New York City (below).

Here in Michigan, state law allows bicyclists to ride on the sidewalk though we don’t recommend it for most cyclists, most of the time.

However, Michigan law also allows cities to prohibit them if they chose to. This has led to a lack of consistency. For example, it’s legal to ride on most Detroit sidewalks but not on any Royal Oak sidewalks.

Sometimes cities prohibit bicyclists only on sidewalks within their central business district or other specific areas.  As seen in the photo, the city of Detroit has this “Cycling” prohibition on Auditorium Drive’s sidewalk, but only for those heading uphill towards Jefferson. We did not see a similar sign for those cycling down the not-so-steep grade (and towards the fire hydrant located in the middle of the sidewalk.)

Also, the city of Detroit bans bicycles (and unicycles!) from Hart Plaza:

Sec. 40-4-7. – Wheeled vehicles prohibited.

No wheelbarrow, handcart, automobile, motorcycle, bicycle, motordriven cycle, go-cart, unicycle, moped, solex cycle or other wheeled vehicles are permitted in Hart Plaza except as approved by the civic center department or recreation department for a scheduled event. This section shall not apply to a handicapped person in a wheelchair nor to emergency or service vehicles.

Yes! Even solex cycles are banned!

Prohibitions must be posted

Michigan state law does require communities to post signs indicating any bans on sidewalk riding. Without the signs, the law is not enforceable.

So what about unicycles in Michigan? Like most other states, they are not considered bicycles under state law. (Note that some cities have their own definitions of bicycle.)

257.4 “Bicycle” defined.“Bicycle” means a device propelled by human power upon which a person may ride, having either 2 or 3 wheels in a tandem or tricycle arrangement, all of which are over 14 inches in diameter.

So it’s a gray area for unicycles with the exception of Hart Plaza. If you are the “Enemy from within”, use your best judgement.

Moving Beyond the Automobile: Biking

Sunday, February 27th, 2011

StreetFilms has posted another really interesting video (below) showing improved bicycling infrastructure in cities like Portland, New York, and San Francisco. These cities have made huge investments in bike lanes, and now physically separated bike lanes. The result has been a large increase in choosing to bike for transportation.

One great quote from Congressman Earl Blumenauer.

It’s important that people have choices. They shouldn’t have to burn a gallon of gas to get a gallon of milk. Half of the trips that are taken everyday in America are within 20 minutes on a bike. A quarter of them are a 20 minute walk.

Dequindre Cut gets FHWA award

Friday, January 7th, 2011

In November, the Federal Highway Administration announced the 2010 Transportation Planning Excellence Awards. These awards are given to recognize “outstanding initiatives across the country to develop, plan, and implement innovative transportation planning practices. ”

The Dequindre Cut and MDOT received an honorable mention in the Livability/Sustainability category.

The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) transformed the Dequindre Cut, a formerly overgrown abandoned railroad corridor, into a 1.35-mile recreational trail for walking and bicycle use. Serving over 100,000 residents, the Dequindre Cut provides a safe and vital non-motorized connection from popular destinations in downtown Detroit to the beautiful Detroit Riverfront and Harbor.

Transformation of the Dequindre Cut involved extensive community input, and involved a number of private and not-for-profit entities. The Downtown Detroit Partnership led a public involvement, visioning, and planning process to gather input from nearby neighborhoods on how the “Cut” could be transformed and opened to the public. Residents toured the site, discussed options, and provided feedback on conceptual designs, including the popular decision to preserve existing graffiti art along the bridge abutments.

Through the efforts of the public, nonprofit, and private partners, this project transformed a forgotten, unused corridor into a natural greenway for public use, promoting physical activity, and offering residents and visitors a unique experience within the urban framework of Detroit.

That’s great, but we wish it not be labeled a recreational trail? That label might lead one to believe it’s just about recreation, which certainly isn’t the case. Generally speaking, trails that are loops within parks are recreational trails.

One of the award winners was New York City’s commitment to build 200 miles of bike lanes.

In June 2009, the New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) fulfilled its commitment by building 204.8 lane-miles of bicycle facilities in all five boroughs, doubling the number of on-street bicycle facilities and bringing the total mileage of bicycle facilities to over 600 lane-miles.

The 200 lane-mile project is an unprecedented expansion of the city’s bicycle infrastructure that radically improves the quality of the streets of the Nation’s most densely populated city. The 200 lane-miles included the execution of 88 separate projects on scores of unique street segments. To accommodate the vastly different street conditions, NYCDOT’s planning and design staff utilized innovative designs, such as protected bicycle paths, which position cyclists between the curb and the parking lane, the first of their kind in the United States.

Before-and-after data from the protected paths proves their safety benefits: up to 56 percent reductions in all injuries along the project corridors, up to 29 percent reductions in pedestrian accidents, and up to 57 percent reductions in cyclist accidents. Data from the 9th Avenue and Grand Street protected paths shows an 84 percent reduction in illegal sidewalk riding.

That’s so impressive given the value of road real estate in NYC.

While the city of Detroit has a commitment to build 400 miles of bike lanes, there is no time commitment.

PlanNYC: Some inspiration from New York City

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

We typically shy away from posts not directly related to Detroit, but this one is too good to pass by.

It’s a video about the non-motorized work being done in New York City being led by Mayor Bloomberg. They have aggressively moved forward with their greening efforts through increased public space, greenways, bike lanes (over 200 miles in 3 years!), and more. One  significant comment was when the Mayor mentioned New Yorkers have increased their life expectancy by reducing crash rates. With Detroit having the second highest rate of pedestrian fatalities among U.S. cities (Atlanta is #1), our efforts could provide that same benefit here.

Link:  PlanNYC

Cycling for Cities: A Detroit Perspective

Monday, December 28th, 2009

Earlier this month, the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) started a new Cities for Cycling project with a kick off event in Washington DC, which we were able to attend.

But first, what is NACTO? While the more popular American Association of State and Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO) is for states, NACTO is the equivalent for large U.S. cities. NACTO has 14 member cities, including Detroit.

Their mission is to “encourage the exchange of transportation ideas, insights, and practices among large central cities while fostering a cooperative approach to key national transportation issues.”

The Cities for Cycling project mission is to “catalog, promote and implement the world’s best bicycle transportation practices in American municipalities.”

Bicycling is good for cities. Providing safe, comfortable, convenient bicycling facilities is a cost-effective way for American municipalities to improve mobility, livability and public health while reducing traffic congestion and CO2 emissions.

Cities for Cycling focuses on implementing world-class bicycle transportation systems through design innovation and the sharing of best practices. American municipalities are increasingly pioneering new designs and adapting international best practices to local conditions. To assist this local-level leadership, the Cities for Cycling project works to share and promote state-of-the-art practices that ensure safe traffic conditions for all modes of travel.

Why Cities for Cycling?

New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner and NACTO president Janette Sadik-Khan also gave another reason for this project. (more…)