Added Bike Lane Improves Safety, Increased Use, and Sped Up Users

New DOT data shows that the Prospect Park West redesign doesn't only improve safety, it enables more people to use the street to get to work. Image: NYC DOT.

After visiting New York this summer, I have tried to keep my finger on the pulse of what is happening up there. One interesting project to me is the Prospect Park West redesign in Brooklyn, which adds bi-directional, protected bike lanes, narrows the travel lanes, and moves/removes some on street parking. New DOT data shows that the redesign has not only improved safety, it has enabled more people to use the street to get to work. As you can see in the findings above, both bicycle and motor vehicle traffic increased after the addition of the protected bike lane. In the graphic below, the findings are pretty conclusive that the redesign actually sped up trips on that street, as well as on some parallel roads. It is just more ammunition to show that traffic calming and making streets livable for all users, makes streets better for everyone.

Brad Lander’s survey shows that a whopping 78 percent of interested Brooklyn residents want to keep the traffic calming Prospect Park West bike lane, DOT has released still more data [PDF] showing that the new street design keeps New Yorkers safer and helps them get where they’re going. With two more months of data collection since DOT last released its Prospect Park West numbers, the fundamental facts about the redesign remain. As DOT found in October, while three-quarters of cars were measured speeding before the redesign, now only one in six drive over the speed limit. The number of cyclists roughly tripled on weekdays, and doubled on weekends. There are some slight variations in the December numbers — the more recent data show slightly higher speeds in the morning and slower speeds in the evening, for example — but these effects are looking like they’re here to stay.

The December numbers add new evidence that, contrary to opponents’ claims, the narrower Prospect Park West has not caused congestion. Looking at travel times, DOT shows that even though speeding is down, a trip down Prospect Park West actually takes a few seconds under the new design. Travel times are slightly down on Eighth and Sixth Avenues as well, though a bit up on Seventh. Even during rush hour, the effects on vehicle speeds are negligible, with morning peak car trips taking a few seconds longer and evening peak trips taking a few seconds shorter.

Finally, DOT has now released a count of the total number of commuters using Prospect Park West. By turning one vehicular lane into a two-way bike lane, they were able to increase the number of people using the street. The combined count of motor vehicles and bikes increased by 11 percent in the morning and six percent in the afternoon. It’s a perfect illustration of a concept that’s central to PlaNYC:
We’re going to need to prioritize sustainable transportation for one million more New Yorkers to fit on our crowded streets without making traffic even worse.
The Prospect Park West redesign actually sped up trips on the street, as well as on some parallel roads. Image: NYC DOT.