POINT OF VIEW

Protected bike lanes increase ridership, ease congestion

Posted

(re: “Residents give Bronx cheer to Broadway traffic plan,” June 1)

The reason to support protected bike lanes on Broadway is to increase cycling by separating cyclists from car traffic in an effort to increase bike riding.

This is vital for people who would normally drive to conduct activities within three to six miles of their home, with the result being easing congestion by removing some cars from the road.

Expecting cyclists to vie with traffic on Broadway won’t deliver the results needed to help boost ridership, which is one of the ways to come closer to meeting carbon emission limits set by institutions and agreements such as the Paris Climate Accord.

Currently, only 1 percent of Americans use bikes to engage in non-recreational activities. If this figure is bumped up just a little bit — to 6 to 10 percent — statistics show that carbon emissions would drop by 11 percent, giving savings to taxpayers in the amount of $24 trillion by 2050. One can see that going bike friendly neighborhood by neighborhood can have a real impact on the way people travel in their day-to-day lives, and reduce our carbon footprint as a country.

There have been studies done on how protected bike lanes have affected other cities — Seattle, Cambridge, St. Louis, Philadelphia, Minneapolis. In these cities, bike lanes have been shown to help smooth out different modes of transportation, and lower carbon footprints.

The plans proposed by the city transportation department cover just a short segment of Broadway, but an important one because of connections to parkways to the north, and transportation hubs to the south, such as at West 242nd Street.

There are businesses on this stretch of Broadway, and schools just west of Broadway, which are an important destination of their own. Improving conditions for bike riders to reach these connections can actually relieve some of the car congestion that some believe will beset the avenue if DOT plans go through.

The resolution of the community board is well done. However, there are some issues that have the potential to increase congestion and put pedestrian safety at risk. Angled parking, for instance, means more cars in a pedestrian-rich area. It means cars backing up to maneuver into slots next to the park — an activity that is very likely to increase congestion.

More traffic lights on their own do not decrease congestion on a wide avenue like Broadway. Either longer crossing times or pedestrian safety islands are needed. An efficiency study must be done to determine which is more suitable to ensure safety without increasing congestion.

The suggestion that there may be more aggressive law enforcement against double parking would be of great benefit. 

It could be coupled with an arrangement made with the park in which all cars and buses coming to the park are directed to the public facility at West 240th Street for drop-offs or parking. In peak season, any spillover can be directed to the Shandler Pavilion, which is now more accessible than ever to playing fields since the ramp at the golf house has now opened.

Admittedly, people would have to plan for a bit more walking to get to their sporting destination in the park. But using the park’s facilities in this way would help keep Broadway free of congestion, allowing those that need it for transportation to use it more fully and safely.

The drop off and pick up process should be more actively regulated by the park, as it is such a popular destination.

We applaud the idea of conducting a study at the Manhattan College Parkway in the West 242nd Street area, with an eye to make it safer for all users.

We also support the proposed bus bulbs for the convenience of bus riders. Even if buses stop to pickup/discharge passengers taking up a travel lane, the stop only lasts 30 seconds or so, the equivalent of how long additional traffic lights would pause traffic, and across all travel lines.

In general, we feel that this DOT plan for Broadway is an opportunity to make changes, with a vision to create a more bike-friendly, sustainable and resilient neighborhood that is in our best interests for the long run.

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