Cool New York City transportation stuff I’d love to see in Chicago


One-way protected bike lane leading downtown to pedestrianized Times Square. While NYC has some terrific bicycle facilities, it also has its fair share of bike salmon and bike ninjas.

View more photos from John’s Manhattan bike ride here.

Last week I wrote, “[Chicago is] now the national leader in providing enhanced on-street bikeways.” It’s probably true that we have the highest total number of miles of protected and buffered bike lanes, 12.5 and 14.5 miles, respectively, for a total of 27 miles. (The Chicago Department of Transportation recently started counting both types as “protected,” but I’m sticking with the standard definition of protected lanes as ones with a physical barrier, such as parked cars, between cyclists and motorized traffic.)

But on a visit to New York City a few days later, I found out we still haven’t beat the Big Apple in terms of physically separated protected lanes; there are currently about twenty miles of them in the five boros, according to Streetsblog editor-in-chief Ben Fried. (I’m still trying to track down the number of buffered lane miles.) New York has been building protected lanes since 2007 but Chicago, which only started last year, is currently installing the lanes at a much faster rate, so it’s very possible we’ll overtake them in the near future.

Continue reading Cool New York City transportation stuff I’d love to see in Chicago

Move It! A Guide to Getting Around Big Cities by Bike


Biking in downtown Denver.

[This article was commissioned by SRAM Corporation, a bike components manufacture headquartered in Chicago, for their Urban Products catalogue.]

This is an amazing time to be an urban bicycle commuter in the United States. According to the American Community Survey, over the last decade the percentage of citizens who frequently pedal to work rose 63% in the 70 largest cities. Sure, even U.S. cycling Meccas like Portland, Oregon, only have a fraction of the mode share of Northern European towns like Amsterdam and Copenhagen. But stateside cycling is definitely on a roll, and we seem to be approaching critical mass.

There are lots of reasons for this bike boom. In gridlocked cities, bicycling is often the fastest, most efficient way to get around. It’s a great way to add physical activity to your routine without having to spend extra time and money at a gym. In a sluggish economy with rising gas prices, not having to spend cash at the pump or on parking is definitely a plus. Cycling instead of driving is an easy way to help out the environment. And, last but not least, navigating a metropolis by bike can be incredibly fun.

But not everybody feels comfortable cycling in a big city. That’s why towns from cost to coast are investing in new infrastructure to make riding safer, more convenient and more enjoyable, from off-street paths and on-street bike lanes, to parking racks and commuter stations that provide secure places to stash your ride at the end of the trip.

Continue reading Move It! A Guide to Getting Around Big Cities by Bike

Doorings in Chicago and NYC are still a sorry state but one of them is doing something about it


The decal on a taxi window says “LOOK! For Cyclists”.

I don’t report on doorings as often as I report on non-dooring crashes* but I should as it’s something we can affect with road design, a common theme of my writings. There isn’t much to say about dooring at the moment, but an article published on Wednesday about a new campaign in New York City to reduce dooring incidents between taxi passengers and cyclists caught my attention. Then two other things caught my attention.

New York City awareness campaign

Transportation Nation reported on a new video advertisement and decal being shown in all 13,000 New York City taxicabs in an effort to reduce dooring crashes. All yellow cabs in the city have a small TV for passengers; they’ll soon show a short clip about looking for cyclists before opening the door. A window sticker will say the same thing.

The message not to fling cab doors open without first checking for bicyclists will be hammered home in a video message that will play on all 13,000 Taxi TVs (assuming passengers don’t turn them off first). “Take out a friend,” reads the message on the video. “Take out a date. But don’t take out a cyclist.”

Continue reading Doorings in Chicago and NYC are still a sorry state but one of them is doing something about it

Chicago announces bike sharing vendor (updated)


Cycling on a Capital BikeShare in  Washington, D.C. Photo by Michael Jantzen. 

Updated 11:18: The press release is now online. I’ve been trying to pay attention to the City Council live video feed and transcript, but I’m not sure if they’ve discussed the proposed ordinance yet.

Alta Bicycle Share and Public Bike System Co. were just announced on the Chicago Tribune’s website as the Chicago bike sharing operator and equipment vendor, respectively. From John Hilkevitch:

City Hall estimates the total capital and start-up costs at $21 million, adding that $18 million will be covered by federal funding aimed at improving air quality and easing traffic congestion [CMAQ] and the remaining $3 million will be provided by the city.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is set to introduce an ordinance at Wednesday’s City Council meeting seeking aldermanic approval to enter into an agreement with Alta Bicycle Share, officials said.

The losing entries were offered by Bike Chicago [also known as Bike and Roll] and its equipment provider, B-Cycle; and I-GO and its equipment providers, Tracetel and Schwinn, officials said.

Continue reading Chicago announces bike sharing vendor (updated)

Making cities safer for cyclists and pedestrians: Today’s NYT’s “Room for Debate”


Photo shows Kinzie Street less than two months after opening a protected bike lane here. This represented a new design direction for Chicago’s streets. I explored this direction more in my article for Architect’s Newspaper

“It Starts With Better Design”. I agree.

I said this in Safer roadway designs: How Danes make right turns and When you build for youngest, you build for everyone. Today’s “Room for Debate” on the New York Times website features four experts talking about how to make cities safer for cyclists and pedestrians. Each of the four have a different response to the introduction’s strategy for reducing fatalities, which is that New York City should take a “broken windows” theory approach to cracking down on traffic violations. Much credit is given to this theory and the police’s approach to petty crimes in the 1980s and 1990s in reducing crime overall, citywide (read more about this). Continue reading Making cities safer for cyclists and pedestrians: Today’s NYT’s “Room for Debate”

Weekend open thread: What videos did you watch this week?


NYC Ave. by Shawn Brown

Last weekend’s open thread asked you to post a link to an article you read. This weekend I want you to post a link to a video about some kind of sustainable transportation that you watched. I’ll go first. Here’s a vigorous and dramatic view of New York City streets, traffic, and buildings, from a very low-to-the-ground point of view, shot all from cameras mounted on bicycles. I really like the first minute, where the camera is (in what seems like slow  motion, but isn’t) wrapping around objects and people.