Stephen Pinkus is a project manager with DOT's Bicycle Program
May is Bike Month in New York City -- a month when the weather warms up and more cyclists return to the streets. Many of them are enjoying newly painted high-visibility and protected bike lanes, compliments of the city Department of Transportation (DOT), and marking the month with special group rides and related events.
Stephen Pinkus is a project manager with DOT’s Bicycle Program, and has been part of the agency’s efforts to make biking safer and more accessible for New Yorkers in all five boroughs. An avid cyclist and regular bicycle commuter, Mr. Pinkus was previously a transportation planner with a private consulting firm, where his projects included helping to plan and improve bicycle and pedestrian circulation around the U.S. Capitol Complex in Washington, D.C.
New York’s bike ridership has grown steadily over the past several years under the leadership of DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, who has worked to complete the city’s 1,800-mile Bicycle Master Plan -- a key component of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s PlaNYC transportation initiatives. The plan promotes cycling safety and education, and helps reduce traffic congestion and pollution.
We asked Mr. Pinkus three questions about the bike program’s progress to improve the cycling network in Lower Manhattan and across the city, and what bike riders can look forward to in the coming years.
What work remains for the completion of the bikeway through the Battery, which will link the West Side bikeway to the East River Esplanade?
Mr. Pinkus: The bicycle path -- called the Battery Garden Bikeway -- connecting the East River Esplanade/bikeway to the Hudson River Park Esplanade/bikeway through Battery Park City should be open to the public by 2012. The Battery Conservancy is in the final stages of designing the path, along with the city Department of Parks and Recreation, and hopes to begin construction later this year. The bikeway will run into the northern edge of Battery Park following the perimeter of State Street and Battery Place. The first section, through Peter Minuit Plaza by the Staten Island Ferry Terminal, should open this fall.
What are some of the DOT’s bicycle-planning initiatives on the horizon?
DOT recently concluded its unprecedented three-year plan to expand New York City’s on-street bicycle network by 200 miles, nearly doubling the citywide on-street bike network while reshaping the city’s streets to make them safer for everyone who uses them. The same period also saw unprecedented expansion and innovation of the overall network, including the installation of 4.9 miles of bicycle paths physically separated from car traffic lanes. We will continue to install 50 lane miles annually, incorporating new designs as feasible, until the network proposed in the Bicycle Master Plan is completed in 2030.
We are currently working to expand our physically protected bicycle path network throughout Manhattan, where high traffic volumes on the north-south Avenues make for hazardous cycling conditions. Construction of protected bicycle paths along most of First and Second Avenues on Manhattan’s East Side will begin later this spring and should be complete by the fall. These routes will be connected to Lower Manhattan via the recently installed protected bicycle path on Allen and Pike Streets and the East River Bikeway, which is also being upgraded.
Right across the East River, we also just launched the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway Initiative—a planned 14-mile bicycle and pedestrian path stretching from Sunset Park to Greenpoint and connecting many existing parks and public open spaces along the Brooklyn waterfront. The project seeks to enhance waterfront access, improve pedestrian and bicycle safety, and increase recreational opportunities in these areas, many of which are along underused and difficult-to-access corridors.
Also, the 2010 New York City Cycling Map is now available here or by visiting your local bike shop, library, or school. Or New Yorkers can call 311 (outside New York City, call 212-NEW-YORK) and DOT will mail you one, free! The 2010 map features over 30 new miles of bike routes and includes safety tips, helmet fitting advice as well as rules to live by on New York City streets.
Finally, in response to the ever-growing number of cyclists and to promote cycling as a healthy, environmentally sustainable form of transportation, the DOT in coordination with our street furniture vendor, Cemusa, is installing bicycle parking structures around the city. Nineteen have been installed to date out of a total of 36 Each shelter contains stainless-steel bike racks for eight bikes. The design closely resembles the city’s award-winning bus shelters, using the same high-quality materials. The ad panels are used to display the annual NYC Cycling Map and the “Look” Public Service Campaign or other bicycle promotional materials. These structures do more than just provide parking -- they send a message that the City encourages cycling.
How is the new Bikes in Buildings program coming along since the Bicycle Access to Office Buildings Law passed in December 2009?
The Bicycle Access to Office Buildings Law aims to increase bicycle commuting by providing cyclists with the opportunity to securely park their bicycles in or close to their workplaces. The Law went into effect on December 11, 2009. The law only applies to commercial office buildings with at least one freight elevator, not residential buildings. We believe it is helping encourage bike commuters by giving them better, more secure parking options for their full workdays, and expect to see bike ridership grow as more building owners participate.