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Transit advocates will produce ‘master plan’ for NYC’s bike lanes

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Policy experts aim to develop “the central spine” of the city’s bike network

A young boy riders a bike in a green, parking-protected bike lane. Max Touhey

As the city suffers from a continued spike in cyclist fatalities this year, the Regional Plan Association (RPA) announced Monday that it has assembled a committee to develop a comprehensive vision for the city’s network of protected bike lanes.

This advisory committee, made up of transportation and policy experts, will produce a master plan for a five-borough, protected bike lane network. In doing so, the panel will study Mayor Bill de Blasio’s “Green Wave” cycling plan, which calls on the city to spent $58.4 million over the next five years to rollout 30 miles of protected bike lanes, redesign 50 intersections, and adjust traffic signals to promote a smoother flow of vehicles.

“The City’s Green Wave plan is a promising first step in the creation of a protected bike lane network,” says Paul Gertner of Harbor Ring Committee Chair. “What we hope to envision is the central spine of that network, connecting all five boroughs with high quality physically separated bike lanes.”

Recommendations on where best to place protected bike lanes in the city’s network of paths will be detailed in a report on their findings and suggestions. The RPA expects to release that report—and host a public town hall on the effort—early next year.

Bike New York’s Jon Orcutt, who was the director of policy at the city’s Department of Transportation from 2007 to 2014, will helm the committee along with Marco Conner, the co-deputy director of Transportation Alternatives.

“Our intention is to ensure that the City becomes a global leader in safe cycling, looking to best practices from other cities across the world and putting our own New York City spin on them,” says Orcutt.

This year has been particularly gory for bike riders with 19 cyclist fatalities so far this year compared to ten in all of last year. After months of pressure from transportation advocates, Mayor Bill de Blasio caved and declared a Vision Zero state of emergency back in May.

In response, the de Blasio administration unveiled its $58.4 million bike safety plan, and while a good first step, advocates are torn on whether the initiative will make a meaningful difference to the tens of thousands of New Yorkers biking across the city every day.

”It’s time to take an honest look at what policies will need to be changed in order to truly make our streets safe for cycling,” says Conner.