Special Report: Cycling

Let's Go New York With Parking-Protected Bike Lanes

Parking-protected bike lanes are a third-class compromise compared to best design practices, but they are a vast improvement over the dangerous door-zone bike lanes the City plans for Herkimer and Charlton.

By Kevin Love
Published April 24, 2015

It all started when City of Hamilton staff proposed dangerous-by-design Door Zone Bike Lanes (DZBL) for Herkimer and Charlton streets.

Bike lane installation notice on Herkimer in October 2014 (Image Credit: Kyle Slote)
Bike lane installation notice on Herkimer in October 2014 (Image Credit: Kyle Slote)

As we see with the current Dundurn Street DZBL, this is a failed infrastructure design that results in the bike lane being the most dangerous place on the road to ride a bicycle.

After the City released their dangerous bike lane designs for Herkimer and Charlton, Durand Neighbourhoood Association (DNA) sprang into action and formed a Cycling Committee to work for a better design of transportation infrastructure.

As an aside, I would strongly encourage any resident of Durand to join the DNA. The Association does great work in advocating for a better neighbourhood for all its people.

I have previously written about our first meeting, and about how Durand has great potential that is not being realized. The purpose of this article is to explain the infrastructure design that the DNA Cycling Committee recommended.

Parking-protected Cycle Lanes

The infrastructure design that was selected was New York-style car parking-protected cycle lanes. By Dutch standards, this is third class obsolete infrastructure that is being phased out. But by Hamilton standards, this is a huge step forward from our current state of nothing in Durand.

Here is a video explaining how these protected cycle lanes work and showing several examples. Take particular note of the buffer space in the door zone of the parked cars. This is a very important safety feature.

On March 9, 2015, the DNA and Ward 2 Councillor Jason Farr held a Town Hall meeting in the Council chambers at City Hall. The protected cycle lanes were presented, as well as the two-way reversion of Bold and Duke streets.

Although moving Bold and Duke back to two-way met some knee-jerk fear of change, the protected cycle lanes were well received. There were two concerns that we have taken efforts to address.

How Safe are Parking-Protected Bike Lanes?

The first concern was to question the safety benefits of protected cycle lanes. New York City compiled an official report that analyzed the safety benefits of car parking protected cycle lanes.

Based upon before-and-after comparisons with at least three years of data after the lanes were installed:

Here is an in-depth look at one particular car parking protected cycle lane on Prospect Park West in New York.

The City of New York conducted a before-and-after safety study that concluded:

Just for fun... Here is a New York video of the "Family Bike Ride" event with parents and children using this protected lane. 

Rest assured, before the lane was installed, the amount of children riding there was about the same as the number of children using Herkimer and Charlton today:  Almost zero. 

But We Have Driveways

The second concern raised was about safety at driveways. This safety is easily ensured by following proper bicycle traffic design engineering standards.

Here is a video showing the three safety principles to ensure a safe design of car parking protected cycle lanes.

This is, of course, nothing new. Here is a photograph of a car parking protected cycle lane in the city of Davis, California in 1967. Note the driveway after the fourth car.

Parking-protected bike lane in Davis, California, 1967 (Image Credit: City of Davis)
Parking-protected bike lane in Davis, California, 1967 (Image Credit: City of Davis)

Third-Class Compromise

Although it is an enormous improvement over the current nothing, let us not forget that parking-protected cycle lanes are really a third-class compromise.

For streets in a residential neighbourhood such as Durand, the best first class infrastructure treatment is to eliminate cut-through car driving entirely.

The second-class treatment is a conventional cycle track, such as in this photograph from the city of s'-Hertogenbosch. Note the driveways!

Cycle track in s'Hertogenbosch (Image Credit: Bicycle Dutch)
Cycle track in s'Hertogenbosch (Image Credit: Bicycle Dutch)

Although third-class, parking-protected cycle lanes are a huge step up from nothing and have delivered significant safety benefits. So let's go New York!

Kevin is a professional accountant and a retired infantry officer with the Canadian Forces. Kevin keeps encountering people who were students of his father, Dr. Robert Love, who was a professor at MacMaster University from 1977-2008. He lives near Durand Park in Hamilton and is currently Vice-Chair of the Hamilton Cycling Committee.


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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted April 24, 2015 at 08:30:06


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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted April 24, 2015 at 09:27:41 in reply to Comment 111053

That is not a car parking protected bike line. That's a "protected by nothing" bike lane. As we have seen on Hunter Street and many other places in Hamilton, those will be abused by scofflaw car drivers.

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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted April 24, 2015 at 12:13:27 in reply to Comment 111054

That's the Kent Avenue lane featured in the StreetFilms vid.

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By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted April 24, 2015 at 16:52:54 in reply to Comment 111062

Maybe in the sense that both pictures are of lanes on roads called 'Kent Avenue', but the part of Kent avenue shown in the video clearly has parking that protects the lane.

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By Rimshot (anonymous) | Posted April 24, 2015 at 17:17:05 in reply to Comment 111064

Randomly protected bike lanes, then?

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By kevinlove (registered) | Posted April 24, 2015 at 13:06:23 in reply to Comment 111062

One of the virtues of a car parking protected cycle lane is that there is an automatic deterrent to an illegal car driver parking in it for fear of some other car driver blocking him in. As we see in the videos of New York, where double parking is practically a sport amongst car drivers, they have amazing discipline in respecting the cycle lane.

Rest assured that this is not due to any actual respect for the law or their fellow human beings, but to fear of being blocked in by some other car driver.

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By Bob50 (anonymous) | Posted April 25, 2015 at 14:39:46

Great article Kevin. There are so many good ideas that are simple and affordable that the city could impiment. It's a shame they don't have the will to something this sensible to make Hamilton a bikeable friendly city

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted April 27, 2015 at 02:04:53 in reply to Comment 111076

Thank you for your kind comment. Yes, this costs nothing more than paint.

Not just low-hanging fruit, but fruit rotting on the ground.

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By Haveacow (registered) | Posted April 26, 2015 at 11:03:44

We just finished a bout 3km of Cycle Track Bike Lanes in west Ottawa on both sides of Churchill Ave.

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By HurryUp (anonymous) | Posted April 27, 2015 at 11:13:43

So when can we expect to see lanes down on charlton?

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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted April 28, 2015 at 09:26:04

Elsewhere in Gotham:

"The proposal does not remove any car lanes, but instead narrows them on the avenues. Currently, lanes on Fourth Avenue feature a 14-foot-wide travel lane and a 21-foot-wide shared parking and moving lane. Under the plan, car lanes would be narrowed to 11 feet, with the right-hand lane on Lafayette slimming down to 10 feet."


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