All Ages and Abilities Bicycle Infrastructure Toolkit
Making the Case for Bicycle Facilities
Parks & Trails New York (PTNY), with financial support from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the New York State Governor's Traffic Safety Committee, created a bicycle infrastructure toolkit consisting of case studies, a traffic calming guide, and a bicycle decision matrix. In addition to these materials, PTNY partnered with the City of Poughkeepsie to implement a temporary bike lane to evaluate the feeling of comfort and safety for cyclists sharing the road with motorists. Combined, this information can help municipalities understand and evaluate bicycle infrastructure and maximize safety along their roadways.
New York State is in an enviable position, with the completion of the Empire State Trail set for 2020. The route will run along, or pass through, 27 counties. However, additional work is needed to ensure that the longest-in-the-nation state trail is safely connected to neighboring communities. The development of enhanced bicycle facilities is needed to ensure that trail users can connect with the amenities, attractions, and history of the communities across the state.
There are numerous bicycle facilities that can improve user safety and comfort, but the three facilities that this guide will focus on would complement existing efforts in New York State to enhance connectivity and improve accessibility.
Facility design for bicyclists has evolved significantly over the last decade. The introduction of new infrastructure creates opportunities for safer and more accessible cycling for riders of all ages and abilities. Despite these improvements, many communities are unfamiliar with new innovations in bicycle infrastructure, and cannot easily identify which designs could work in their communities.
By providing communities with tools to understand and evaluate on-street bicycle infrastructure, we can reduce the number of bicyclists injured in crashes in New York State, increase the number of cyclists on the road, and promote safe, reliable active transportation alternatives.
Parks & Trails New York developed this guide to help communities learn more about new bicycle infrastructure and determine which facility can suit their unique needs. The guide consists of the following:
- A description of three bicycle facilities and a corresponding case study.
- A traffic calming guide that distills best practices to help advocates and municipal leaders understand how roadway designs can help reduce vehicle speeds and improve safe conditions.
- A decision matrix intended to help communities identify which bicycle infrastructure treatment is appropriate for a roadway based on its use, traffic volume, posted speed limit, and routing restrictions.
Bicycle facilities are on- and off-road infrastructure designed to provide cyclists with a safe, comfortable place to travel for commuting or recreational purposes. These designs can lead to higher bicycling rates and reduced congestion, lower speeds, safer intersections, and enhance connectivity.
With mounting concerns about the impact single-occupant motor vehicles have on public health, safety and on the environment, public policy makers are promoting bicycling as a mode of transportation for commuters and general travel purposes. Re-thinking roadway designs and identifying appropriate bicycle infrastructure will be dependent on existing roadway characteristics. Bicycle facilities, such as buffered bike lanes, can provide physical separation from motor vehicles and are recommended on high-speed, high-volume arterials with large vehicles such as trucks and buses; facilities can also be designed to re-route cars while maintaining direct routing for cyclists, discouraging through traffic from using neighborhood streets. The design, function, and objective should be carefully considered prior to implementation to ensure that the appropriate facility is selected and any reconfiguration of the roadway optimizes safety and accessibility.
Selecting an appropriate bicycle facility should be an informed, strategic decision that considers roadway characteristics and functionality. Guidelines to help make these decisions are provided by the Federal Highway Administration (FHA), the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), and the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE).
Bicycle Facility Design
The following designs can help transform roadways into well-connected, safe, and comfortable bicycle networks that meet the needs of people of all ages and abilities. By meeting the needs of a variety of users, these facilities can encourage more people to choose to bike and thus reduce traffic congestion and improve our health and wellness.
Protected bike lanes create a division between motor vehicles and bicycles, ensuring safety for users by limiting the potential for conflict between users of different modes. Protected bike lanes also help tie together trail networks in instances where a separate right-of-way is not available. Protected bike lanes provide buffers along these higher-stress areas, establishing greater cohesion along the route. Having access to facilities that can enable riders to perform quick and easy repairs is also important. Incorporating bicycle fix-it stations along a route can reduce the need to carry additional tools and provide riders with a sense of security and predictability during journeys of any distance. Helping users identify priority routes by establishing bicycle boulevards can be useful for riders seeking out local destinations or navigating through neighborhoods. Establishing a balanced, multimodal transportation system requires a combination of enhanced facilities and features.
What is a Bicycle Facility and How Can They Improve Safety?
Bicycle boulevards (also called Neighborhood Bikeways or Neighborhood Greenways) are low-speed, low-traffic streets that aredesigned to prioritize bicycle safety by limiting motor vehicle through trips while incorporating intersection crossing reatments, signage, pavement markings and various traffic calming features. Ellen Fletcher, a concerned mother, advocate for clean, sustainable transportation, and a Palo Alto City Councilwoman was dedicated to creating safer streets for all roadway users. In the 1960s Fletcher was instrumental in the bicycle movement that paved the way for bicycle improvements and active transportation alternatives in California.
In 1973 Ellen Fletcher joined Palo Alto's fledgling "Citizen's Technical Advisory Committee" who focused their initial efforts on a relatively new concept, the bicycle boulevard. After a six-month trial period, the Bryant Street "bike boulevard" was officially opened in 1982, making it the first bicycle boulevard in the nation. In 2002, the council named the Bryant street bike boulevard the “Ellen Fletcher Bicycle Boulevard.”
Case Study: Rochester, NY
In 2015, the City of Rochester established the first of many planned bike boulevards at Monroe Avenue and Canterbury Road; largely selected because of its connection to the Town of Brighton’s bike boulevard plans, this project was part of a larger effort. The City hired Alta Planning to identify streets that would benefit from enhanced facilities, resulting in a draft plan for bicycle boulevards across Rochester. This concept was embraced during public meetings, and lead to the creation of temporary boulevards along Frost, Rugby, and Woodbine Streets on the west side; the other, along Averill Ave, Pearl and Meigs Streets on the east side.
The city has continued to make improvements to make roadways more bike friendly. Bike infrastructure, including some trail work and connections that will be part of Roc the Riverway, have been prioritized, along with inclusion of bike lanes and cycle tracks into road resurfacing and reconstruction projects whenever possibles.
Source: Rochester Bicycle Boulevard Master Plan
Bicycle Fix-it Station
Equipped with a bicycle mount and tools, bicycle fix it stations serve as a one stop shop for basic bike repairs and maintenance. Depending on the model, a standard fix-it station will provide a mount for the bicycle, an air pump and tools (Philips and flat head screwdrivers, Allen wrenches, a headset wrench, a pedal wrench, box wrenches and tire levers) secured by stainless steel cables. Strategically positioned along bicycle routes and multi-use paths, fix-it stations allow riders to fix flat tires or adjust their brakes without needing a bicycle repair shop, or carrying heavy tools.
As early as the 1970s, the desire to create an innovative design that provided cyclists with a convenient means to mount and repair a bicycle was underway. In 1979 a patent was granted to Edward Maeder in Wisconsin to develop a bicycle service station that could hold a bicycle upright and encase a set of tools required to fix a bicycle. Previous versions of the service station lacked the tool enclosure component, but were considering new ways to position the bicycle and make it more accessible for service. Over the next three decades, more sustainable, durable models were created, and have started to crop up at college campuses, along trail corridors, and within downtown areas. Dero, a major manufacturer of bike repair stations, developed an interactive mapping tool that allows users to locate Dero fix-it stations throughout the country.
The Empire State Trail is expected to see 8.6 million visitors annually. Strategically situated bicycle fix-it stations will create cyle friendly communities and ensure that users are comfortable traveling longer distances. A bike fix-it station can be found on the Putnam Trailway in Putnam County, and across from Mullen Park in Fort Edward. Similar fix-it stations will be installed in Saratoga and Washington counties, and in numerous other places across the state.
Case study: Albany, New York
In 2016, the Albany Public Library partnered with the Albany Bicycle Coalition and the Protected Bicycle Lane Coalition to secure a grant from the Capital District Transportation Committee’s Capital Coexist Traffic Safety Ambassador Mini-Grant Program to fund three Dero fix-it stations at the Arbor Hill/West Hill Branch, John J. Bach Branch, and Delaware Branch, with additional funding provided by the Albany Public Library Foundation. The Bicycle Fixit Stations at the Arbor Hill/West Hill, Bach, and Delaware branches are placed outside near existing bicycle racks and are readily accessible to the bicycle-riding public.
Source: Albany Bicycle Coalition
Protected Bike Lanes
Protected bike lanes partition off a segment of the roadway to be used exclusively for people on bicycles. These lanes offer a physical or visual separation between moving motor vehicle traffic and the bike lane.
In 1967, Davis, California, a college town located just over 10 miles from Sacramento, became the first city to construct a bike lane in American history. Just under one mile in length was stripped along 8th street between A Street and Sycamore Lane. By 1972, the City of Davis had installed a contiguous bike lane network that provided the community with an connected system, linking ... The 1970’s witnessed a surge of opposition to separate bicycle facilities. Afraid that mandatory use ordinances would “delegitimize a bicyclists’ right to operate on a street” and that 20th century roadway designs should accommodate motorized vehicular traffic” and the expansion of motor vehicle mobility, efforts to separate bicycles from vehicular traffic were stalled. Research dedicated to bicycle infrastructure was relatively stagnant in the 1980’s, only seeing a resurgence of the topic in the 1990’s with an increase in research dedicated to benefits of protected bike lanes, and their positive impact on safety.
Now, more than 400 miles of protected bike lanes exist in 82 cities across the country. As the Empire State Trail approaches completion, increasing the number and connectivity of protected bike lanes in communities through which the trail passes will help to benefit both local residents seeking to access the trail and distance travelers seeking to safely visit trailside communities. As more than 35% of the trail will be on-road, investing in protected bike lanes along these stretches will help create great levels of comfort and safety for all roadway users.
Case Study: New York, New York
In 2007 at a Park Slope community meeting hundreds of residents turned out to voice concerns over speeding and traffic along Prospect Park West, and inadequate access to Prospect Park. Community Board Six, an advisory board that represents the needs of Manhattan’s East Side, wrote a letter to the Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) requesting a study of a two-way bike path along Prospect Park West. In June 2010, a two-way parking-protected bike path was installed along Prospect Park West. Council Member Brad Lander requested that NYSDOT monitor and evaluate the use of the path and provide data to the community after the project had been in operation for six months.
Comparing data from June 2009 prior to the installation, the NYSDOT released its first round of findings in October 2010, revealing a significant reduction in speeding and sidewalk cycling, and an increase (190%) in overall cycling activities.
- Weekend cycling doubled with weekday cycling nearly tripling.
- Percentage of cyclists riding on the sidewalk fell to 3%* from 46%
- Prior to the installation 3 of every 4 vehicles exceeded the speed limit, after the installation only 1 in 5 vehicles exceed the speed limit.
- After the street reconfiguration Prospect Park West handled 13% & 9% more commuters during the AM & PM rushes, respectively.
What is ‘traffic calming’ and how does it work?
Infrastructure designs that help to manage vehicular traffic, reduce speeds, and limit collisions can be described as ‘traffic calming’ techniques. These techniques can be beneficial, low-cost enhancements to an existing roadway involving physical measures that slow down vehicles through reconfigured corridors and intersections. Traffic calming, as defined by the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE), is a combination of many physical measures that reduce the negative effects of motor vehicle use, alter driver behavior and improve conditions for non-motorized street users. First developed in the United Kingdom in the 1930’s, traffic calming interventions create safer shared roadways for motorists, pedestrians and cyclists. Traffic calming techniques can alter driver behavior, increase motorist awareness of pedestrians and cyclists, and improve a rider’s sense of comfort and safety.
Traffic calming can be achieved through changes in roadway design. Although roadway changes can make vehicular access more challenging, they are intended to slow traffic and make drivers more aware of their surroundings. These design features encourage more individuals to feel comfortable biking and improve navigation for both non-motorists and motorists. The reallocation of roadway space for other uses leads to a safer environment and encourages less overall use of single-occupant vehicles.
Although traffic calming techniques focus predominantly on physical measures, community engagement and education also plays a role in the planning process. Involving residents in the design process can help with community acceptance, and the eventual success, of any plan. Techniques such as pop-up demonstrations and other pilot projects can help gauge public response to the proposed design, and evaluate the effectiveness of the technique. These temporary, low-cost projects let people work alongside transportation professionals to identify the most appropriate design to achieve their desired outcome.
The United States Department of Transpiration Federal Highway Administration Traffic Calming ePrimer provides a detailed description and review of traffic calming techniques.
Click here to read the complete traffic calming guide.
All Ages and Abilities Bicycle Infrastructure Decision Matrix
Pop-up Bicycle Lane
On August 21, 2020 Parks & Trails New York (PTNY) teamed up with the City of Poughkeepsie and Sam Schwartz Engineering to host a .4-mile temporary two-way bike lane along Market Street and Civic Center Plaza from Church Street to Mansion Street in downtown Poughkeepsie. Temporary materials, including jersey barriers, cones, and spray-chalk were used to create the bike lane, separating riders from traffic on the western side of Market Street and Civic Center Plaza. The project reimagined the roadway by closing one driving lane and a parking lane on Market Street; while maintaining two northbound travel lanes for cars through this corridor, Civic Center Plaza was closed to southbound traffic between Mansion and Mill Streets for the day.
Setting up the two-way bike lane was intended to demonstrate, through temporary installations, how innovative bicycle infrastructure achieves better and safer bicycling for riders of all ages and abilities. Throughout the day, staff evaluated the effectiveness of the temporary installation by measuring roadway speeds to determine if speeds were reduced through the introduction of temporary protected bike lane. Staff evaluated the effectiveness of the temporary installation by measuring roadway speeds to determine if speeds were reduced through the introduction of temporary protected bike lane. With the help of the City of Poughkeepsie, technology to measure roadway speeds was placed along Market Street on the day of the demo and one week following the demo. On the day of the demonstration the average vehicular speed was 21 mph. The following Friday the average went up to 23 mph; therefore, the presence of the demonstration cycle track contributed towards a 8.7% decrease in vehicular speeds.
Staff also surveyed participants to gauge their sense of safety and comfort while using the temporary protected bike lane demonstrations project. By conducting screenline counts, the process of quantifying bicycling and walking on roads and sidewalks, in the morning and evening at two locations along Market Street, PTNY found that the number of cyclists riding along Market Street during the four hour period in the morning and evening during the demonstration was 57% higher than the number of cyclists riding along Market Street prior to the demonstration. When riders were asked how they felt riding on the bike lane, as compared to other roadways, 67% of respondents said they felt more comfortable/safe, and would be more likely than before to travel by bicycle if the bike lane were made permanent.
Temporary bicycle infrastructure installations are a low-cost, innovative way to demonstrate the potential for a safer bikeway network that allows residents to more easily bike to work, school, or wherever they need to go. The project not only for the benefited Poughkeepsie, but can also serve as a model for cities, towns and villages across the state. Tactical urbanism is becoming a popular, low-cost alternative to showcase how to reallocate space to create a safer streetscape for riders and motorists, while enhancing connectivity between points of interest.
As part of furthering the goals of “See! Be Seen!” this project was made possible by funding from the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the New York Energy Research and Development Authority.