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NYC Bike Lane - 8th vs. West Side MUP

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NYC Bike Lane - 8th vs. West Side MUP

Old 03-26-16, 10:11 AM
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Essex
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NYC Bike Lane - 8th vs. West Side MUP

Just for fun and to avoid runners, dog walkers and other cyclists on the West Side MUP I tried the 8th avenue dedicated bike lane this morning.

https://www.streetsblog.org/wp-conten...ne-cops-1.jpeg

Overall impression: a new rider who needs to get somewhere in a timely manner - better to use the Westside MUP. Less dangerous. If you are a skilled rider on a faster bike it's better to take the lane as traffic doesn't go all that fast above 14th st. vs. using the dedicated bike lane. I was able to move (in spurts) at 20 -25 mph until you come to a stop light. On a interesting note - there are a lot of sights to take in.

Condition of bike path: lots of ruts, often occupied by delivery trucks, police or taxis. Lots of debris, broken glass and repairs which necessitate going into the 4 lane, highly trafficked 8th avenue roadway. At some points the bike lane is barricaded, or just seems to end. This occurred near the bus station depot.

Interestingly enough - didn't see a whole lot of riders using this dedicated bike lane. In a span of 3 miles I saw maybe two riders. A father and son riding in the West Village. This section of the 8th ave dedicated bike lane is quite enjoyable.

Last edited by Essex; 03-26-16 at 10:18 AM.
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Old 03-26-16, 12:52 PM
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I'ts been many years since, but I used to ride all over NYC, long before there were any bike lanes. Then starting around the 90's (?) every few years a bike lane project would get started and then dismantled after it proved disastrous. Why are they still doing this? As you say, a skilled cyclist is probably better off not using the separated bike lane and... ... an unskilled (fearful) cyclist is probably better off using the MUP... or... ... <gasp> getting the skills to ride with traffic, or not cycling in Mid-Town NYC traffic at all? 6th ave. was my preferred method of going Uptown in NYC, but I've used 8th quite a bit, and in all the time I was doing so I never had the feeling that a bike lane would be an improvement. In fact, I've always felt that the Westside Greenway was so far out of it that I never used it at all. Ever. It simply isn't practical IMO to ride miles out of ones way in order to be able to do so in the absence of motor traffic. Either learn to deal with traffic or take the train, or walk. These bike lane projects always get dismantled after a couple of years, and if they didn't cost millions of dollars to build that would be fine, but they are incredibly expensive because of all the corruption that pervades the East Coast in general and NYC/NJ in particular.
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Old 03-26-16, 02:01 PM
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OP was riding on the weekend. If you ride on a weekday you may see much more people riding, esp. delivery folks. The road condition and the air are both very poor with a lot of exhausts from the vehicles, very unpleasant to ride on. Maybe Easter weekend was an exception... IMO the Westside Greenway is safest, but yes, too far out.

The 6th avenue is very hectic with cars passing by very close, if not invading the bike lane.
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Old 03-26-16, 03:38 PM
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The air wasn't too bad today until I got near 14th - 57th st. It would be interesting to test the NYC bike paths on the weekdays - but I take the subway to some of my far-flung projects so I don't get to test too often. The level of construction, crud, cars cutting in, police and delivery parked in the path made it a inconvenience vs. convenience. The people walking, or cutting through the path makes 10-12 mph (or less) a safe speed.

What's good about the MUP is that most folks who frequent the area seem to know to look out for oncoming traffic.
I will say that riding in Greenwich Village, or Soho is not too bad in the morning especially if you have a bike that can handle older, cobblestones roads.

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Old 03-26-16, 08:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Leisesturm View Post
I'ts been many years since, but I used to ride all over NYC, long before there were any bike lanes. Then starting around the 90's (?) every few years a bike lane project would get started and then dismantled after it proved disastrous. Why are they still doing this? As you say, a skilled cyclist is probably better off not using the separated bike lane and... ... an unskilled (fearful) cyclist is probably better off using the MUP... or... ... <gasp> getting the skills to ride with traffic, or not cycling in Mid-Town NYC traffic at all? 6th ave. was my preferred method of going Uptown in NYC, but I've used 8th quite a bit, and in all the time I was doing so I never had the feeling that a bike lane would be an improvement. In fact, I've always felt that the Westside Greenway was so far out of it that I never used it at all. Ever. It simply isn't practical IMO to ride miles out of ones way in order to be able to do so in the absence of motor traffic. Either learn to deal with traffic or take the train, or walk. These bike lane projects always get dismantled after a couple of years, and if they didn't cost millions of dollars to build that would be fine, but they are incredibly expensive because of all the corruption that pervades the East Coast in general and NYC/NJ in particular.

This is one person's opinion of one bike lane on one particular day. Here's another person's opinion: Lots of the bike lanes are very successful. Some of them are not. The more we have the more successful they seem to be overall. When you were here, things were much more random feeling than they are now. It makes much more sense now to navigate the city in the bike lanes than it used to as there is a lot more continuity and connection between them. Car drivers are also much more used to seeing the lanes, and bikes in general. Overall this is a vastly better city to cycle in than it was in the 90's.
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Old 03-29-16, 08:32 PM
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The question is how you want to die? Run over by an angry taxi on 8th or getting thrown in the river by an angry mob after a clueless jogger runs in front of you. Only one way gets you on the cover of the post. As for me I take "bloody" 8th every morning taking the greenway is just too aggravating.
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Old 03-30-16, 10:25 PM
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Originally Posted by lostarchitect View Post
This is one person's opinion of one bike lane on one particular day. Here's another person's opinion: Lots of the bike lanes are very successful. Some of them are not. The more we have the more successful they seem to be overall. When you were here, things were much more random feeling than they are now. It makes much more sense now to navigate the city in the bike lanes than it used to as there is a lot more continuity and connection between them. Car drivers are also much more used to seeing the lanes, and bikes in general. Overall this is a vastly better city to cycle in than it was in the 90's.
I agree.

I tend to favor the West Side MUP and cut over to it even if it takes me slightly off course- I don't mind the extra distance. It's far more pleasant, more scenic, better air. I ride it at all hours and yes, on a weekend, sunny weather, mid-day- yikes! but it's NYC, you want a country road head for the Adirondacks or the Berkshires.

But I rode NYC in the late 80's thru the 90's right up until the present day and the difference is like night and day. I recall in the 90's wearing a big chain around my waist that was more for protection and to threaten cabs and other vehicles that were constantly in assault mode to any cyclist that dared ride the city. In the 90's when I would show up for a rehearsal or a performance my cast mates would admonish me for having ridden a bike and regale me with tales of dead cyclists. 20 years later I was leaving the Delacorte Theatre in Central Park and was standing around talking to the cast, the crew, visiting friends, the director and I realized we were all standing and holding the handlebars of bicycles and we eventually all rolled off into the warm summer night in all directions.

Big difference- bike lanes and the West Side bike path. I've ridden without them and ridden with them. As for me, I'll take Manhattan WITH bike lanes and I'll happily ride 8th ave or the West Side path but prefer the latter.
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Old 04-01-16, 04:32 AM
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Originally Posted by lostarchitect View Post
This is one person's opinion of one bike lane on one particular day. Here's another person's opinion: Lots of the bike lanes are very successful. Some of them are not. The more we have the more successful they seem to be overall. When you were here, things were much more random feeling than they are now. It makes much more sense now to navigate the city in the bike lanes than it used to as there is a lot more continuity and connection between them. Car drivers are also much more used to seeing the lanes, and bikes in general. Overall this is a vastly better city to cycle in than it was in the 90's.
+1

At night, those bike lanes make all the difference in the world. I got caught at night without a front light but felt safe riding in the bike lane. Unlike the lanes that were built in the 90's, these are not getting removed. It's a different world today and bike lanes are appearing in cities all over.

If you want to travel at 20 mph or faster, ignore the bike lanes and take your chances with the cars, buses, trucks and taxis.
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Old 04-01-16, 10:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve View Post
+1

At night, those bike lanes make all the difference in the world. I got caught at night without a front light but felt safe riding in the bike lane. Unlike the lanes that were built in the 90's, these are not getting removed. It's a different world today and bike lanes are appearing in cities all over.

If you want to travel at 20 mph or faster, ignore the bike lanes and take your chances with the cars, buses, trucks and taxis.
From someone that doesn't live in New York but visits occasionally, is it legal to ignore the bike lanes and ride in the traffic lane, or are they mandatory in any significant way (i.e. bicyclist considered at fault if not in bike lane)?

My experience on weekends and evenings is that the West Side path was much faster than dealing with traffic lights and congested traffic, but the mid town bike lanes weren't particularly useful (blocked by pedestrians, food carts, wrong way bicyclists). Slow traffic accommodated bicyclists in the traffic lanes - Buses and taxis couldn't go 20mph either.

I also have a question about the turning traffic and the protected lanes - few had separate signals for bicyclists and drivers. If bicyclists are kept to the left of left turning traffic, are there any set practical or legal rules on who is supposed to yield and who can go?
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Old 04-02-16, 11:03 PM
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Originally Posted by AngeloDolce View Post
From someone that doesn't live in New York but visits occasionally, is it legal to ignore the bike lanes and ride in the traffic lane, or are they mandatory in any significant way (i.e. bicyclist considered at fault if not in bike lane)?
You're right! Bicyclists must use the bike lane unless it's blocked or face getting tickets. All you have to do is ride on streets that don't have bike lanes.
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Old 04-15-16, 09:04 AM
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I work at 44th and 8th and live way uptown. During the day, 8th ave bike lane is ok, except for the cars turning left through your path every other block. Around evening rush hour, forget it. Packed with people walking from Port Authority up to the mid 50s. If I head north on 8th after work, I just take a lane. I'll take the west side greenway in the mornings, and in the evenings in the winter when it's not too crowded, but I opt for 8th to CPW to Saint Nicks to the east side when the weather is nice.
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Old 04-29-16, 12:59 AM
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I ride up 8th for work at least once or twice a day, and it's not *terrible* once you get used to the fast pace, aside from the construction in front of the James Farley Post Office and the Port Authority cluster****. The bike lane shifts two lanes over at 40th Street without warning arrows, and goes back to being protected after 42nd. The 6th Avenue bike lane, on the other hand, is virtually useless given all the trucks, SUVs and pedestrians blocking it.
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