BAC Presentation: Master Planning

On Wednesday I presented a proposal to update the 1998 Master Plan by turning our attention to “B-bikers” or as the Portland Department of Transportation calls them, the “interested but concerned” group of potential cyclists who make up over half of the population and over 85% of potential riders. This group needs to be “comfortable” while riding, not just safe, so the bike lanes on high-speed, high-traffic arterials proposed in the current master plan will not work for them. We need low-speed, low-traffic alternatives. Fortunately, Manhattan has plenty of streets like this. By transforming these key streets into Bicycle Boulevards we can take a strong step toward creating an unbroken “green grid” for bicycles and pedestrians.

The full presentation is below and available for download:

I also presented a formula for prioritizing projects, building largely from the model used by Austin, Texas. The formula is as follows:

  • # of key destinations served by the route
  • x # of people served by route
  • x level of improvement of route
  • x 1,000s of feet saved over alternative routes
  • + the “network score” which =
  • 100s of people brought into network
  • + centrality of improvement (5-(miles to center x 2))
  • + 1,000s of ft added to network
  • All of this divided by total cost = Impact per dollar

As noted in my earlier post, the results strongly favor Bicycle Boulevards:

We are still tweaking the formula, so feel free to download the spreadsheet, tweak the formula as you wish, and comment below.

The response from the Bicycle Advisory Board was enthusiastic, and there seems to be significant momentum toward adopting something similar to this formula and to move forward with the creation of Bicycle Boulevards.

Additional Resources:

Bicycle Boulevard Planning Guide from IBPI

Studies by Jennifer Dill, Portland State University, on the impact of different bicycle infrastructure strategies

Must-watch Videos about Bicycle Boulevards from StreetFilms

“Four Types of Cyclists” Portland DOT

“Toward a New Master Plan” (earlier post with additional information)

Prioritization Formula Spreadsheet

Full Presentation

More posts about City Planning on

Michael Wesch

Chair of the City of Manhattan Bicycle Advisory Committee, avid bicycle commuter, and a cultural anthropologist.

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