Buffered bike lanes for New York

Bicycle riders and drivers are grudging partners on Manhattan's congested streets, dodging and sometimes cursing each other as they share the road, but that could all change soon.

Published September 24, 2007 by Motoring.co.za 

Manhattan, New York – Bicycle riders and drivers are grudging partners on Manhattan's congested streets, dodging and sometimes cursing each other as they share the road, but that could all change soon.

City Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan said the city planned to experiment with a heavily buffered bicycle lane in part of Manhattan's Chelsea neighbourhood, where bicycles would be separated from other traffic by a strip of pavement and a lane of parked cars.

Sadik-Khan said the design, tried in European cities but not in New York, would be installed in October 2007 on Ninth Avenue between West 16th and West 23rd streets.

She added: "I think it's a peek at the future streets of New York. It represents the innovative ideas we can explore to make the streets more livable."

The project will compress cars from four lanes to three but Sadik-Khan said traffic in the area was light enough that the change would not be a problem.

The city also announced a $1-million (about R7-million) bicycle safety ad campaign intended to encourage drivers and cyclists to look out for each other.

Sadik-Khan said 300 cyclists were seriously injured in 2006, almost all of them after failing to follow traffic signs.

The city also is promoting bicycle riding through helmet giveaways and other means; one cycling advocate said the protected bike lane would prove a powerful incentive.

Transportation Alternatives deputy director Noah Budnick said many would-be city cyclists "say the traffic is too scary".

"If protected space is provided to ride bicycles New Yorkers are going to use it in droves," he said. – Sapa-AP