Cyclists To City: Connect The Bike Lanes

Melissa Bailey PhotoCyclists converged on a downtown plaza to announce a new vision for New Haven, including connecting bike lanes across the center city and converting one-way streets to two directions of travel.

Elm City Cycling (ECC), a bicycling advocacy group, unveiled the vision at Friday’s monthly Bike to Work Day in Pitkin Plaza on Orange Street. The event drew some 140 two-wheeled commuters to the plaza for muffins, hard-boiled eggs, fresh coffee and conversation about how to make the city friendly to all cyclists, “from 8 to 80” years old.

Liam Brennan (pictured), a federal prosecutor, Westville resident and member of the Elm City Cycling board, detailed the group’s top two priorities: connecting bike-friendly routes across town and slowing down traffic.

In a recent survey, less than half of respondents said they feel safe biking through town, Brennan reported. He said one of his colleagues, a fellow prosecutor who is “not afraid to look in the face of violent criminals,” confessed to him she is “afraid she would die” in traffic on a bicycle.

Brennan said the bike lanes commuters use in outer parts of town all disappear in the center city. There is no bike-friendly connection from East to West or North to South, he noted. He called on the city to fix the “gaps” in the bike-friendly infrastructure (depicted on this bike map).

Brennan called for more “buffered” bike lanes, where cyclists are separated from the road cars drive on; and more regular bike lanes, which are painted next to car lanes without physical separation. The former reduce bike accidents by 80 percent; the latter by 50 percent, he said.

He also called on the city to slow down the streets by lowering speed limits, enforcing current speed limits, narrowing lanes, planting trees, and converting one-way streets into two directions of travel.

Brennan led the way down Orange Street to show an example of the kind of change ECC would like to see.

On the block between MLK Boulevard and George Street, the city converted Church Street into a two-way road. That’s a good move in general, Brennan argued: The conversion gives cyclists a more direct route; it slows traffic by narrowing lanes; and it gives businesses added visibility, boosting the local economy.

The one-to-two-lane conversion is cheap, Brennan noted: “It just takes a lot of paint.”

City transportation chief Jim Travers (pictured) agreed that two-way streets lead to “more vibrant street life.” He said the city just concluded a traffic count at over 50 intersections and is conducting a study on possible conversions from one-way to two-way streets.

The city plans to install “bike boxes” at nine intersections around Gateway Community College this summer, Travers said. A bike box gives cyclists their own area in which to wait at red lights, in front of car traffic, so they are the first in line to make a turn or go straight.

Travers also touted plans for a new “cycle track” heading over the Tomlinson Bridge. He said the city is taking into consideration ECC’s recommendation to connect more bike lanes through the center city: “We’re working on it.” That may be done through “sharrows,” symbols painted on the street to indicate to drivers to share the road with bikes.

Travers was one of a bevy of city officials who showed up to support cycling.

Mayor John DeStefano (pictured with former aldermanic President Carl Goldfield) biked downtown from Westville for the event. He praised ECC for promoting bike-friendly routes around town. Proximity to work, and having a safe way to get there, is key to the “vibrancy” of the city, he said.

Police Chief Dean Esserman walked over to Pitkin Plaza from police headquarters for the event. He got a cup of Ethiopian Sidamo coffee from Ryan Taylor, who plans to open a café called the Coffee Pedaler across from Chestnut Fine Foods on Upper State Street.

Esserman said the police department just bought 20 bicycles; in June, rookie cops who recently hit the streets on walking beats will start patrolling by bicycle one day per week, he said.

Bike commuters showed up with a variety of child-toting equipment. David Backeberg, who works in IT at Yale, carried his young ones, Vera and Laura, behind him.

Melinda Tuhus PhotoA large contingent of families from Cold Spring School, an independent day school in Fair Haven, hit the plaza before pedaling off to school.

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posted by: TheMadcap on May 17, 2013  12:32pm

I have a simple and realistic plan. City last month announced new lanes on upper State st as well as along Water st from Olive(so almost to State) down into East Shore, as well as a lane on Elm st. Well, if you fill in as much as State St as you can to just past the Union station so its close to the lanes on Howard, and fill in the missing gap on Dixwell down to Elm, that alone would make for some decent connections. The lane on Prospect could also be easily extended up to Sachem. Elm St could take a lane pretty easily where it could connect with the ones on Sherman

posted by: anonymous on May 17, 2013  12:47pm

Good work.  We need to hurry up and provide better transportation alternatives for the half of New Haven (though, probably 0% of our Aldermen, planners, and Mayoral candidates) who have limited access to a car, particularly since incomes are declining.

posted by: Dwightstreeter on May 17, 2013  1:57pm

As a cyclist, I’m disappointed that the City chose an unsafe route on Olive St. to Water St. to link bike paths. Chris Ozyck pointed out a much safer route along the rail tracks on State Street. What a waste of taxpayer money to choose the worst route simply to use funds before they expire.

Let’s hope Mr. Travers will achieve something we can actually support and that will prevent the loss of a life.

Cycling is a great de-stresser, as well as a low cost way to get around. It’s also a cure for obesity.

Hey, doesn’t everyone want to qualify for spandex?

posted by: TheMadcap on May 17, 2013  2:16pm

I fail to see how the tracks along State St do anything to connect downtown to East Shore park, which is the entire point of the lanes over Water St and the Tomlinson Bridge. That and that entire area has been getting complaints for years from cyclists, now they’re doing something, something for almost entirely free thanks to state funds, and someone finds a reason to complain. You’re complaining about the wrong thing, this isn’t the extension of the Farmington Canal trail

posted by: Dwightstreeter on May 17, 2013  2:34pm

MadCap:
  Is there a rule against expanding the conversation. Lighten up!

posted by: TheMadcap on May 17, 2013  3:49pm

What, I’m pointing out you apparently mixed up or combined the new path to East Shore, and the rejected alternate proposal of the Farmington Canal trail and became mad at the East Shore/Water St project which is entirely separate, and a pretty good thing on its own. You should be happy for the Water St paths. I don’t like that the Canal Trail is going down Olive St either, but since it is, at least will it now link directly into the new bike lane that begins at the corner of Olive and Water

posted by: HhE on May 17, 2013  4:03pm

I prefer to wear tweed when I ride, but yes, I wish I could get away with spandex. 

I am hoping to get a Thurn triple so my guys and I can really ride together. 

I hope streever is up for some dangerous Thai food and snobby beer before he heads back down South.

posted by: P Christopher Ozyck on May 17, 2013  7:02pm

Mad cap - the route I propose links with the water street cycle track and is full multi-user trail with far fewer user conflicts.  It also connects closer to the two train stations and the long wharf section of town. 

All there is a public hearing with the aldermen next Thursday at 6:00.  This a good opportunity to educate the BOA on pedestrian and biking opportunities.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on May 17, 2013  9:49pm

posted by: Dwightstreeter on May 17, 2013 2:57pm

Cycling is a great de-stresser, as well as a low cost way to get around. It’s also a cure for obesity.

And it can also cause this.

Serious Riders, Your Bicycle Seat May Affect Your Love Life

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/04/health/nutrition/04bike.html?pagewanted=all


Preliminary study suggests frequent cycling could affect male fertility.

http://phys.org/news/2010-12-preliminary-frequent-affect-male-fertility.html

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on May 18, 2013  9:05am

Becareful what you ask for.Look what happen in New York.

Bike Sharing? Sure. The Racks? No Way.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/15/nyregion/complaints-rise-as-bike-share-program-nears.html?smid=fb-share&_r=0

posted by: TheMadcap on May 18, 2013  9:38am

You know what affects fertility even more severely? Obesity? You know what’s a good way to not be overweight? Not sitting in a car on every trip you take.

posted by: HhE on May 18, 2013  9:54am

Know what will really kill your love life?  Obesity.

Now I know where the other 2/5ths went:  they were consumed by the hate for bikes.

posted by: Fairhavener on May 18, 2013  10:09pm

Three fifths: thank you! FOR POINTING OUT some of the lesser recognized benefits of cycling—it could also help counteract ills such as rampant population growth elsewhere in the world!

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on May 19, 2013  7:38am

posted by: TheMadcap on May 18, 2013 10:38am
You know what affects fertility even more severely? Obesity? You know what’s a good way to not be overweight? Not sitting in a car on every trip you take.

We are not talking about Obesity.We are Talikng about how cycling could affect male fertility.Sitting in a car does not affect male fertility.Police officers sit in cars,Taxi drivers sit in cars.

How about Cycling Knee Problems.

http://www.kneeclinic.info/knee_sports_injuries_cycling.php

posted by: downtown dweller on May 19, 2013  12:26pm

What on earth is it that 3/5 has against bicycles?  He doesn’t seem to have figured out that the more bikes that there are on the streets, the fewer cars there are in his way, and the more quickly he can drive wherever he wants to go.

I read something in one comment about how one cyclist had caused $10,000 damage to his wing by crashing into his car, which sounded more than a little far-fetched.

At 3/5 directly: I haven’t clicked on your link, as I never do, but if you are concerned about people’s knees, it happens that the extra strain that obesity puts on them is far more damaging than impact-free, low pressure cycling.

posted by: anonymous on May 19, 2013  12:29pm

3/5 according to the U.S. government, obesity can knock between 13 and 20 years off a man’s life.

posted by: TheMadcap on May 19, 2013  1:48pm

3/5th main point of contention always seems to be the fact cars have to pay for parking. That, and bicycles actually exist and he has to share the road with them, and on top of it all, the city is very bike friendly. It’s the ultimate offense since it puts him on the losing side.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on May 19, 2013  7:05pm

posted by: downtown dweller on May 19, 2013 1:26pm
What on earth is it that 3/5 has against bicycles?  He doesn’t seem to have figured out that the more bikes that there are on the streets, the fewer cars there are in his way, and the more quickly he can drive wherever he wants to go.

Show me were I said I have something against bicycles? Read the statements from other on this post.They seem to have a problem with cars.

I read something in one comment about how one cyclist had caused $10,000 damage to his wing by crashing into his car, which sounded more than a little far-fetched.

Show me were I said this.I said a cyclist hit my car and damage it.She had no money to pay for it.

My promble with cyclist is when it comes to the law of the roads they are give a pass.How many cyclist run lights and ride on the side walk.

posted by: Curious on May 20, 2013  10:00am

3/5ths, every time, and I mean EVERY time that there is an article about how drivers do not follow the law, you chime in and say the cops should be arresting cyclists for breaking the law, and pedestrians too.  It’s tired. 

At least this article is actually about cycling.

If the cops aren’t going to arrest people illegally driving two-ton piles of steel at 30 miles per hour, they’re not going to bother with people on bikes or nothing at all.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on May 20, 2013  2:20pm

posted by: Curious on May 20, 2013 11:00am
3/5ths, every time, and I mean EVERY time that there is an article about how drivers do not follow the law, you chime in and say the cops should be arresting cyclists for breaking the law, and pedestrians too.  It’s tired.

And IT’s tired of the cyclists who run the red lights on their street while mine is green.IT’s tired when cyclists ride on the sidewalk and when there is a group of cyclists they take up the whole road and don’t care about others.Cars can’t drive on the sidewalk or in bike lanes.


If the cops aren’t going to arrest people illegally driving two-ton piles of steel at 30 miles per hour, they’re not going to bother with people on bikes or nothing at all.

Not true.Go to traffic court and count how many cyclists are there for Traffic Violations. I have seen cyclists run red lights in front of the police and nothing happens.How many cyclists ride on darkened roads in the wee hours with no lights, minimal reflectors, and dress so darkly you’d think they are ninjas.Give me a break.If I have to follow the laws of the roads,So should a cyclist.

posted by: TheMadcap on May 20, 2013  2:57pm

It’s absurd to even suggest cyclists should follow every rule of the road when one, motorists can’t even do it when interacting with other cars, let alone cyclists and pedestrians, two, the roads are overwhelmingly designed to accommodate cars, and three, trying to equate a bicycle to a car is inane. I’m much more aware of my surroundings, moving much slower, and can stop much quicker(as in the course of basically 5ft) on a bike than I am in the car.

Most of the “Bikes and cars should should both always follow the same exact laws” seems to come from people who either exclusively bike, or exclusively use a car. You’d have even more angst if cyclists followed the same exact rules motorists did. I mean, you come to a red light on a narrow road. The cyclists can either see its clear and do a rolling stop through it, or they can stop right in front of you at the light, wait till it turns green, and begin building momentum again from a full stop. Meanwhile instead of just going, you have to wait for the bicycle to not only start but get far enough ahead that you can start going and get around it.