A More Bikeable City Envisioned

Brian Tang Photo Finish Howard Avenue’s bike lane and the bike route from Westville to downtown. Put in that new 60-space bike parking area at Union Station. Teach kids about safe biking through the schools. Install a covered bike rack on Church Street. Create new bike routes linking downtown to Fair Haven, the Heights, the Annex, and the airport.

Those are among 25 ideas that some of New Haven’s most dedicated cyclists have to make the city bike-friendlier.

Under the umbrella Elm City Cycling, the group formally presented those ideas to the city’s transportation department in the form of a 39-page “2010 Bike Plan.” It released the plan to the public Wednesday.

Read the plan here.

The plan arrives after more than a year of heated debate in town over how to encourage people to travel by bike, but also how cyclists and drivers can share the road without killing each other.

At the top of the list is the proposed new Fair Haven route, which would begin with Orange Street’s bike lane. New lanes, “road markings and signage” would extend the route along Humphrey and Lombard streets to Clinton Avenue’s existing bike lane.

“Fair Haven is the second most populous neighborhood in New Haven ... and lacks a safe bicycle connection to Downtown and its surrounding neighborhoods,” the report noted. 

“We think the Fair Haven route should be the city’s highest priority for the upcoming year,” Thomas Harned, who headed the group of volunteers who put together the plan, stated in a press release. “The city has made progress in 2009 with the installation of over 25 bicycle racks downtown, and we hope that they will build on that progress in 2010.”

City transportation chief Mike Piscitelli agreed with the Fair Haven priority. He said the city will probably concentrate on getting that one done in the coming year.

Piscitelli praised the entire report. “It was very well done. It was reasonable. We think it’s accomplishable,” he said.

His department will “cost out” the proposed new routes, he said. And it will talk with the City Plan Department about the report’s suggestion to “amend the zoning ordinance to require property owners to provide long-term, secure bicycle parking.”

In the meantime, Piscitelli recommended that the bike advocates “walk the plan through” with aldermen to show how it would benefit their neighborhoods.

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posted by: Lance on January 28, 2010  8:56am

Established bike lanes are a great idea so the   cyclists can commute from Fair Haven to downtown.  This way some of the locals can lie in waiting for   vegetarian liberal cyclists to ride by on their 1500 dollar bicycles like bears waiting for salmon.

posted by: Joe Rodriguez on January 28, 2010  9:53am

I for one support the concept and look forward to working with Elm City Cycling in hopes of implementing some of their ideas, such as the fair haven route.

Good work.

Joe Rodriguez
Alderman, Ward 15
(Fair Haven)

posted by: JP on January 28, 2010  10:19am

Sounds Great, but orange street is a 1 way 1 lane tiny road once you get to Elm. Wouldent it be better to loose the center strip on state and put in a lane just for bikes?

posted by: juli on January 28, 2010  10:31am

you’re right, lance! i should just buy an Escalade and hide from the world instead.

posted by: Steve Ross, Human on January 28, 2010  10:34am

Lance,

You are a skilled self-parodist.

posted by: anthony on January 28, 2010  10:40am

These sound like great ideas and an amazing start. Keep up the good work ECC!

~anthony

posted by: BikeNewHaven on January 28, 2010  11:10am

Lance,

Nice metaphor. But how will these so-called “bears” be able to tell which “salmon” are liberal vegetarians? I’m worried they might accidentally attack nice conservative, meat-eating gentlemen like you and me.


Anyway, nice work Tom Harned, et al. This looks like a great plan. And I like the priorities: connecting the less accessible parts of the city (i.e. Fair Haven, the Hill/City Point) to downtown. This is great news!

posted by: M on January 28, 2010  12:17pm

I have a question about dedicated bike lanes.  Someone once brought up a question about why East Rock riders couldn’t ride down Orange in the bike lanes instead of on narrow Whitney where they take up an entire lane. The replies from cyclists basically said that they didn’t want to get slammed by parked car doors opening.  The general theme of replies was that the bike lanes were more dangerous for this reason than cycling on Whitney, where cars should just share the road.  So what is the point of the dedicated bike lanes again?

posted by: DingDong on January 28, 2010  12:53pm

M,

I think that’s a good question.  I think the idea is that the Orange Street bike lane is too narrow (because Orange Street itself may be too narrow for two-way bike lanes and parked cars on both sides).  There are professional standard widths for bike lanes (which the Orange St one does not meet), and I don’t think anyone has a problem with bike lanes on wider streets or streets without parking on both sides.

posted by: Hooman on January 28, 2010  12:56pm

Great idea.  Also should raise money for a fund for injuries caused by bike riders risk-taking enough to ride around with the traffic.  As we used to say in my country, nutz! 

The fund could also pay for tickets when they ride on the sidewalk (when traffic is bad, they always go onto the sidewalk).

posted by: Jay on January 28, 2010  2:10pm

Gee another story about bikes in New Haven from the Independent, how trite.  Does the editor own a bike shop or something?

posted by: Dan on January 28, 2010  9:14pm

Bicycle riding in NH has become increasingly dangerous. Motorists speed. Period. The two spots I dread are the Trumbull and Orange intersection. crossing the Connector at College. Trying to get to Howard Avenue is dangerously daunting when coming from the Green area. I tried going by the RR Station and was almost hit; I tried the Chapel approach riding to Columbus and that is no piece of cake’ I tried the College Street approach and discovered that trying to Frontage Road is not for the weak-hearted. I see many cyclists around the Yale Med School around this area, but I am not sure the present road set up allows for an improvements for cyclists. Building highways (including the Connector) through the center of New Haven was one of the most brainless plans ever imposed on this city. I don’t think the bike lanes are the solution. The only thing to do is reduce auto traffic in the city and set up “calming” devices, e.g., round abouts that force speeders to cool it.

posted by: streever on January 28, 2010  10:45pm

Jay:
No, he does not.

posted by: Jo Kremer on January 29, 2010  12:51am

“..discovered that trying to[cross] Frontage Road is not for the weak-hearted.” So true!

Thank you Tom Harned and the Bike Plan Subcommittee for analyzing and brainstorming and devoting your time to present a coherent and comprehensive report, with suggestions, to the City of New Haven. As more bicyclists take to the road, our town will be greener. When our streets are safe for children, pedestrians, and riders, even drivers will benefit. And maybe even try riding a bike!

People * please share the road,
jo

posted by: Walt on January 29, 2010  9:20am

Jay

Not quite says Streever,  but Melinda,  who often reports here on the bikists wishes is on the Board of Directors of Elm City Cyclists,  and at least another half-dozen frequent posters here are also Directors of the group,  so, as you suspect,  there is heavy influence to make bike riding seem more important than   the rest of us might consider it.

Most of them seem   reasonable in support of bikists’  obeying rules but some are some asinine folks who blame everything,  including Streever’s misfortune,  on car drivers.

Unfortunately most bikists whom I see seem to believe they are supreme,  weaving thru traffic,ignoring stop signs and lights,  making illegal turns etc.,,  probably not members of Elm City Cycling I guess.

Both drivers and cyclists need more training and safe driving instruction IMHO

posted by: William Kurtz on January 29, 2010  10:32am

It shouldn’t be surprising that the Independent reports heavily on cycling and means of transportation other than personal motor vehicles; cars, trucks, and SUVs are well-covered in other media outlets’ ‘automotive sections.’

Melinda Tuhus has disclosed her connection to ECC and cycling activism several times.  I don’t think contributors to the comments section have any special obligation to disclose their other roles, but they’re certainly not a secret, and for the record, the complete list of ECC directors can be found here:

http://www.elmcitycycling.org/about/

Correlation also doesn’t equal causation.  Are you sure there’s “heavy influence” on the Independet’s editorial decisions?  Or do we read these stories and respond to them because they concern something we’re interested in? 

I completely agree that safety and courteous behavior on the streets are the responsibility of all users, regardless of how they move themselves about.

posted by: BikeNewHaven on January 29, 2010  11:11am

Walt (aka Alphonse Credenza),

This is called “Independent” Media for a reason. They report stories that the community actually cares about. They don’t get money from car dealerships to run their ads, so there’s no incentive for them to endorse a cancerous lifestyle such as driving. In fact, given that many of NHI’s big sponsors are from sectors like Healthcare and Education it’s no wonder they would promote such a healthy and intelligent lifestyle choice!

Also, I think there’s a big difference between being a bicycle advocate who happens to be a reporter and a shill. Maybe a disclosure of association at the top of Melinda’s stories might be necessary?

P.S. I’m not a member of ECC, but the members that I do know are nearly religious about following traffic laws.

posted by: Alphonse Credenza on January 29, 2010  12:24pm

BikeNewHaven

It is a distinct pleasure to be remembered so fondly after many months of absence—where, I shall not tell.  Walt is not Alphonse Credenza.  I am.  Who else but Alphonse would know he’s been away?

There are more anti-radical bikists than you think.  Save the bikists—from themselves!

posted by: DingDong on January 29, 2010  1:11pm

Nothing worse than media occasionally writing generally positive articles on the activities of a disperse group of ordinary citizens who volunteer their time to try to improve the safety and livability!  I better go back to reading the Wall Street Journal.

posted by: Walt on January 29, 2010  1:14pm

Never said there was anything   wrong with the bikists posting their thoughts or accused Melinda of being a   shill or implied that the Independent erred by running the items.

You folks are too touchy.

Just pointing out that as Jay guessed,  bike stories are frequent here because many of those who post,  and one who reports,  are heavily involved with biking and therefor there are more bike stories here than   in most places.

Nothing claimed to be wrong with it.

Thus a guy like Kurtz can
protest   my pointing   out influence by organized bikists,  and not mention that he himself   is Treasurer of the group in question.

Again, nothing wrong with it but just a fact related to Jay’s question.

As to Elm City Cyclists,  memory says my comments have been mostly,  if not fully,  complimentary .

I do not drive in the Downtown or Yalie sections of New Haven often,  and maybe bikists there   behave better than those on my usual routes.  Hope so.

As to the reference to Credenza, I can’t remember what his posts have said , so do not know whether to be complimented or insulted,  but he is not me (I to the English majors).

posted by: Brian on January 29, 2010  2:18pm

This is great.

Obviously, as you can see in some of the comments here, some drivers just don’t think that roads should be open to anything other than cars. They don’t realize that when someone opens their door, or “taps” a bike with their car, it’s a potentially deadly moment.

This video always creeps me out. Imagine what that monster is like when she’s trying to cut off someone on a bike!

posted by: BikeNewHaven on January 29, 2010  3:20pm

Wait… So, Alphonse Credenza has been lurking the NHI’s comment section for months just waiting for someone to remember him??

How sentimental! We miss you too, buddy.

posted by: anon on January 29, 2010  3:27pm

I agree with Dan. The city will not be very bikeable until safety and comfort is dramatically improved and Dan’s suggestions are the only proven way to do that.

However, this is a good start. With the miles of marked routes to West Haven, Westville and Fair Haven, New Haven will be doing more for biking than any any other city in Connecticut, and it will reap the economic rewards of doing so.  I know a number of folks in New Haven who have saved thousands of dollars by switching from car owners to getting around by bike, and they plow that money directly into local purchases.

posted by: Alphonse Credenza on January 29, 2010  3:45pm

Walt:

“I am not he.” 

You don’t have to hide it.  I read between your lines.  You remember every word I wrote.  I’m too flattered for words!

Welcome back, Alphonse, to Thunderdome!

posted by: Walt on January 29, 2010  4:54pm

Brian (Tang, another Bikist Board member?)

Just viewed the video you cited.

Far out! 

Really odd that more bikists seemed to object to my thoughts than   to the woman on the video with her obnoxious comments.

Such   is life for me and I guess   Alphonse too..

posted by: streever on January 29, 2010  5:37pm

Walt: True about Melinda’s connection, and why she no longer writes bike stories! But Paul himself does not own a bike shop. I took Jay’s comment as sincere, which may have been incorrect, but that’s how I interpreted it.

posted by: Walt on January 29, 2010  7:06pm

Streever

Good point.

I took Jay’s question as you did, and your answer was correct.  but I believe the   added facts were pertinent.

Don’t think Melinda’s recusal was needed,  but maybe is a good idea.  Wondered a bit why Paul was the reporter on this one,

posted by: verify-v1 on January 29, 2010  11:49pm

The ECC is unfortunately the only wing of bicycle advocacy in town.  In a better world (town, city) these advocates would be dismissed as the reactionaries they are.  Bicycles in other places are sometimes free of the sort of cop-cooperation popular with New Haven Stalinists.

posted by: Tanner on January 30, 2010  10:51am

Lot of good comments though some not very PC. When I travel by bike for exercise not to commute, I try to avoid heavy traffic. Trying to narrow traffic lanes will not work. Bike lanes are find but like The Car should take precaution when a Truck is nearby, the Motorcyclist shall be weary of both the Truck and the Car and the Pedestrian should be wary of all three. An Orange line is not going to shield a cyclist from a turning car who’s driver did not see the bike. Unless NH bans on street parking and builds more parking lots (would people use them if they are charged?) what would the traffic patterns on Chapel, Grand and State Street look like?

posted by: Brian on January 30, 2010  12:09pm

Walt-

I’m not the Brian you say. Just another Brian who commutes by bike to Union Station - very cautiously. I’ve had more close calls due to drivers who are doing a bunch of other things than driving, and some who are just aggressive when they see someone riding. I’ve been yelled at for being a hippie, for riding in the street, for stopping at red lights, for stopping at intersections, for riding in the day, for riding at night, etc. And not that it matters - but I hardly look like a hippie when I’m working with short hair and a suit & tie every day.

Bottom line: the city can do some minor things that would dramatically improve the safety of people who ride, but it has to decide whether that’s a priority or not. In other cities, it’s an economic boon that they brag about. In New Haven, you find people debating whether cyclists should be - in effect - killed or seriously hurt - for daring riding at all.

In my experience, the most angry motorists don’t care whether I follow the rules or not because they’re not even aware of what those rules are. They just don’t want to share the road, plain and simple.

posted by: dana b on January 30, 2010  1:51pm

Whatever that frustrated driver yelled at the bicyclist—it did not warrant his creating a greater confrontation by filming her.  If you are a bicyclist (as I am, everyday), avoid conflicts and explain the law calmly when you can.  Filming like this just creates more road rage, more drivers who don’t know better, and worse, drivers who don’t care.

And did anyone else notice the class difference between rider and driver?  It’s precisely that smug, upper middle class, know-it-all attitude among some bicyclists that enrages drivers.

Yes, drivers need to get used to us bicyclists taking our rightful place on the road, but this kind of telecast spat does nothing to advance that.

posted by: Brian V on January 30, 2010  11:24pm

OK I will try not getting censored here, it does relate to the article.
I have a question.
Will these new bike lanes help prevent cyclists, who have been drinking and are engaging in road rage and cross a yellow line, from crashing into on-coming traffic?
If so I am all for them!

posted by: Ray Willis on January 31, 2010  4:59am

Dana B,
I completely disagree. I’m going to buy a cheap helmet cam and film EVERY aggro-jerk who yells at me. Last summer when I was hit head on (and the liberal Jew-run media covered my story in true cyclist-nazi fashion) the woman who hit me driving on the wrong side of the road showed up to court lying about where the accident took place, the conditions of the road, the time of day, and a number of other pertinent facts. I wish I was as saavy as the totally mysterious we-don’t-know-who-he-could-possibly-be camera man slash news baron bike shop owner and had a camera on me while riding in this death trap berg. We all should! Here’s the link to the Tony Hawk Action Sport helmet cam on amazon, all for the low price of $36; http://www.amazon.com/Digital-Blue-Tony-Hawk-Helmetcam/dp/B000AYAJ34/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1264928300&sr=8-1
We can start a site posting all the videos of ... drivers, maybe they’ll stop being ...if we show the world what ... they are! Streever, see if http://WWW.CRITICALMASSHOLES.COM is available.

posted by: Greg on February 1, 2010  1:27pm

Brian V, I’m pretty sure that the point is to make everyone safer on the road; drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians alike.

There’s no need to bring up what we can all agree was a bad situation.  The cyclist you didn’t name has certainly paid a high price for that night, and continues to do so.  (Full disclosure: I’m a friend of his)

posted by: Patrick on February 2, 2010  10:24am

Greg,
I am in agreement with Brian V.  Sarcastic as it may have been, I think Brian along with the rest of us tax paying citizens want the roads to be safer for everyone. This includes the law abiding citizen driving her car downtown when suddenly an intoxicated cyclist crossed the double yellow line and put himself and this woman in harm’s way.  I certainly do not think people would be rallying around this young gentleman if he were driving a car under the influence. I sincerely hope he recovers physically and financially, but remember this probably could have been prevented if alcohol were not a factor.  I am not a friend of his as you stated and intentionally did not attend his fundraiser, but I am a concerned citizen who has lived (and biked) on Orange St. for nearly 40 years.

posted by: Greg on February 2, 2010  5:49pm

Patrick, I wasn’t trying to debate Brian V., but simply point out that his question isn’t really related to this article, even though he claims it is.

I mean, it’s no more related than any other bicycle accident, event, etc.  It seemed as if his comment was simply him being snarky and not adding anything to the conversation here.

For the record, I haven’t met anyone who advocates driving under the influence.  Alcohol wasn’t the only factor.  Remember, that accident probably could’ve been prevented had a car behind Streever been a bit nicer.