NYC 9th Avenue Cycletrack

One of the most high-profile bicycle facilities built in New York City is the 9th Avenue Cycletrack.  This is a European-style on-street segregated bike lane.  Initial construction was in 2007.  Since that time, NYCDOT had extended the project and added other innovative bicycle facilities in Manhattan and the other boroughs.  I got a chance to ride the 9th Ave Cycletrack when I was in New York last week.   

It is really marvel of traffic engineering, light years ahead of simple bike lanes.  I will discuss a few of the features here, but a full review is beyond the scope of a blog post.  If you want more information about the design and traffic considerations, check out NYCDOT’s very nice presentation here.  

Here you can see how NYCDOT transitions the bike lane over to the curb next to a left turn bay for motor vehicles. They use the skip dash lines and double chevrons through the intersections with W 31st St. These alert crossing motorists to watch for bikes and they direct the cyclists.

At first glance, the line of motor vehicles turning left across the bike lanes seems like a really bad idea. But NYCDOT solved this conflict with clear pavement markings and synchronized bicycle signals and left turn arrows for the motor vehicles. In this photograph the bicycles have a red light and the motor vehicles have a green arrow.

In this photo you can see the through movement of the bicycle lane is green at the same time the through lanes for the motor vehicles is green. The left turn lane has a red arrow. This system worked amazingly well. There was great compliance with the turn arrows by the motor vehicles.

Here you can better see the bicycle signal heads and coordinated left turn arrow signal heads.

The result of all this engineering is a complete street that people feel comfortable using. 9th Avenue is no longer only for motor vehicles. The crossings are now narrower and easier for pedestrians to manage, and the bicyclists are separated from the heavy motor vehicle traffic by concrete splitter islands at the intersections and flexible bollards midblock. Once an asphalt barrier to life, 9th Avenue is now a street for people, a vibrant life-filled space

Tomorrow I will take a closer look at the Kent Avenue colored bike lanes in Brooklyn.


About daveschlabowske

Cyclechic advocate from Milwaukee
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3 Responses to NYC 9th Avenue Cycletrack

  1. Russell says:


  2. Tim says:

    Very cool innovations. Seattle doesn’t even have these, or I haven’t seen them. BTW, how does a city decide where to install these? For instance, if Milwaukee opted to try this approach, how would you determine the first place to do this?

    • daveschlabowske says:

      Well, Portland is installing some of these things, but I have to say New York City is making perhaps the most bold positive changes of any city in the country. How do cities pick the locations? Ideally as part of a long range planning process that had all sorts of input from user counts, to crash rates to public input. But sometimes the improvements are tied to other reconstruction projects, so they are easier and less expensive to do. Other times they are political decisions. It may be that an opportunity shows itself, there is know grass roots support and political support and so that is where the first one goes in.

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