Great Moments In Urban Planning, Volume I

July 17, 2008 by
Filed under: Greenpoint Magic 

Yesterday my buddy Kevin over at Forgotten New York emailed me a question. It was regarding a post on Streetsblog and read as follows:

Is Manhattan Ave the right place for a bike lane, as busy as it is?

And here is my answer: second only to perhaps McGuinness Boulevard or the BQE, Manhattan Avenue is one of the worst places imaginable to have a bike lane. Here is why.

This is the intersection of Green Street and Manhattan Avenue. Green Street is a popular thoroughfare for motorists (many of whom are cabbies) to turn around and head back to the Pulaski Bridge. While annoying, the added traffic is not the problem. Rather, it is the general reluctance on the part of motorists to obey the law. As a result I have seen many an accident come to pass here. If it has legs or wheels you can rest assured it has been thoroughly pulverized by some miscreant-on-wheels running this stop sign. Follows are a few that things that have been hit at this intersection by negligent motorists:

  1. One subcompact car
  2. One tractor trailer hauling construction materials
  3. A dog
  4. A bicyclist
  5. A child

Of incidental interest, here are a few things I have seen transpire where this bike lane will be installed.

  1. One crazy-ass dude being tazered repeatedly by the police.
  2. Some drunk guy passed out in the street. The locals, being acclimatized to this sort of thing, placed a street cone in front of this chap and called 311.

And now we are to have a bike lane here? Why doesn’t the city charge a bounty on bicyclists or host some Death Race 2000-esque type of event at this intersection instead? The end result will pretty much be the same.

I know what some of you are thinking: Why not call 311 and complain about people blowing through this intersection? I HAVE. After almost being hit myself. Once I even went to the trouble of complaining to a meter maid present writing a ticket. In both cases absolutely nothing was done. Until our city decides to enforce the rules of the road (for motorists and bicyclists) I see no viable reason why a bike lane should be installed on Manhattan Avenue. Franklin Street (which already has a bicycle lane)* is a much safer alternative.

What’s more, putting a bicycle lane in the path of a bus route strikes me as being downright idiotic. B43 bus service is bad enough as is, why make it worse?

Miss Heather

*See comments


3 Comments on Great Moments In Urban Planning, Volume I

  1. Mark India on Thu, 17th Jul 2008 11:22 am
  2. Mrs. Heather:

    Not to be too nitpickey, but this post has a few of easily-made mistakes:

    First off, Franklin Ave DOES NOT have a bike lane. It is a designated bike route with painted markers/arrows indicating so. These arrows help cyclists know how far away they need to be from a parked car to be outside the “door-zone”. Bike lanes (like what they are putting on Manhattan), by contrast, are a separate lane. Cyclists are required to ride in them and motorists can be ticketed for parking/using them.

    Secondly, a bike lane that passes by a bus route will never delay the bus by more a few moments. Considering that bus stop bays are about 50 ft long, even a cyclist traveling at 5 mph will be out of the way in less than 2 seconds. A passing cyclist is just that, passing, and doesn’t pose an obstacle to the free movement of the bus like a double-parked car would. Also, trust me when I say that the B61 and B43 bus drivers have no problem whizzing by and cutting off cyclists when making stops.

    Thirdly, other blogs have also made the point that Manhattan b/w Nassau and Greenpoint is already a total mess, and doesn’t need a bike lane thrown in there. I would tend to agree. However, Manhattan north of Greenpoint widens significantly, allowing more than enough space for a bike lane. This is the only lane that DOT has put in and has not made plans to put in lanes south of Greenpoint ave.

    Sorry for making this post so long, but I’ve seen a lot of passions inflamed and misinformation spouted in the blogsphere about these new bike lanes. One would think that community blogs sympathetic to quality of life issues would be more supportive of a non-polluting, zero-noise-generating form of non-congestive transportation.

  3. missheather on Thu, 17th Jul 2008 11:35 am
  4. Be nit-picky, Mark India! My big concern —the one which overrides everything else— is the intersection of Green and & Manhattan Avenue. Unless they put in a four way stop here (which they once had) I am very, very fearful someone is going to get run over. And being able to walk or operate a bicycle safely across a busy street is— in and of itself— a BIG quality of life issue.

    I’m all for bike lanes. I just have some serious issues with this one— from a public safety, NOT A ANTI-bicycle, viewpoint.

  5. missheather on Thu, 17th Jul 2008 11:36 am

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