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Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Rise of The North American Protected Bike Lane | Momentum Mag


One-Way Protected Cycle Track NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide
Courtesy of NACTO
A 3D rendering of a One-Way Protected Cycle Track with planters and parking buffer from the NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide.
There was a time when a narrow stripe of asphalt in Park Slope, Brooklyn, was the most hotly contested ribbon of pavement in the United States. Reams of news coverage were devoted to the battle for this solitary disputed traffic lane: the Prospect Park West bike lane.

Fighting for its removal was a wealthy and influential group of nearby property owners, headed by Iris Weinshall, the wife of US Rep. Chuck Schumer. Meanwhile, on the defense was the full collective strength of America’s largest urban bike advocacy community, headed by Transportation Alternatives, an advocacy group with 100,000 active supporters across the city.
The Prospect Park West bike lane was a small part of about 250 miles (400 kilometers) of bikeways that New York City had added over roughly five years, between 2007 and 2012. But most importantly, this space was part of a special class of premium bike infrastructure: a protected bike lane, separated from car traffic by a row of parked cars. That added protection, coupled with beautiful views of the park, transformed what used to be just another traffic-clogged road into one of the most attractive streets to pedal in the city.
The dispute eventually culminated in a lawsuit for the bike lane’s removal. In the end, however, New York City’s bike community prevailed over the “not-in-my-backyard” crowd. Today, the Prospect Park West bike lane stands as a crown jewel in the growing network of bike infrastructure that has helped establish New York as one of the most bike-friendly cities in the United States.

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