250 Miles Of Protected Bike Lanes, At Long Last

Today, good news from New York City resulting from some extended bad news. Instead of putting the headline and the photo from the news story (tragedy), we have placed the video above to digest before reading the news below:

Riding a bicycle in New York City is often a harrowing journey across a patchwork of bike lanes that leave cyclists vulnerable to cars. The dangers came into focus this year after 25 cyclists were killed on city streets — the highest toll in two decades.

Now Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City Council have agreed on a $1.7 billion plan that would sharply expand the number of protected bike lanes as part of a sweeping effort to transform the city’s streetscape and make it less perilous for bikers.

Its chief proponent, Corey Johnson, the City Council speaker, calls it nothing less than an effort to “break the car culture.’’

Such ambitions show how far New York has come since around 2007 when the city, under Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, started aggressively taking away space for cars by rolling out bike lanes and pedestrian plazas.

Under pressure from the City Council, the city would be required to build 250 miles of protected bike lanes in the coming years, along with a dizzying list of other street upgrades that safety advocates have long called for. The city now has about 1,250 miles of bike lanes, including 126 miles on city streets that are protected, meaning that a barrier separates the lanes from vehicles.

“New Yorkers know that the way we get around our city right now makes no sense,” said Mr. Johnson, who is expected to run for mayor in 2021. “Our streets have been really poorly planned in a piecemeal fashion.”

The cyclist deaths have prompted an outpouring of sadness and outrage. The victims have included a 10-year-old boy killed by an unlicensed driver steps from his home and a 52-year-old man who was hit out of nowhere by a careening car that was captured in a horrifying video.

Cities like Los Angeles and Washington are expanding their bike networks, but New York’s plans are far more expansive. San Diego plans to build 70 miles of new bike lanes, while Cambridge, Mass., set rules this year to add protected lanes on all rebuilt roads. Copenhagen is the international model for bike infrastructure, with about 250 miles of protected bike lanes.

The bike lanes proposed in New York are a key part of Mr. Johnson’s so-called Streets Master Plan, a bill that is expected to be approved by the City Council on Wednesday. Mr. de Blasio’s administration had expressed concerns about the bill, but the mayor is now on board and says he will sign it…

Read the whole story here.

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