Manhattan Connectivity

You can get almost anywhere on a bike in Manhattan, but we still have some connectivity issues, as seen in the following map:

Of course, a seasoned and confident cyclist will just jump the gaps here by racing across Seth Childs, speeding down Anderson, or cutting across Fort Riley Boulevard.  But most people just leave the bikes at home when they need to cross one of these gaps, and since most trips involve the possibility of encountering one of these gaps, most people leave their bikes behind when going about their daily activities.

I created 2 maps to suggest solutions to this problem.  The first is an update of the Official Manhattan Cycling Map.  I have added some neighborhood trails and a few of the more important bike-friendly roads to give a complete picture of the current bicycle network:

To this, I have added some suggested improvements to complete the network and bridge the gaps illustrated above:

As you can see, these improvements would fill the gaps in the original map, and complete the Manhattan Bicycle Network:

One last map shows how these suggestions compare with the most recent bicycle master plan:

As you can see, the current masterplan under-utilizes existing neighborhood connections and bike-friendly side-streets.  By ignoring these connections and their possibilities it goes on to propose infrastructure improvements on major streets rather than seeking more creative “back-roads” solutions that would allow bikers to avoid the major streets altogether.  The approach of the current plan is useful for fast and confident adult cyclists, but will not work for the more relaxed riders and children.

There are some holes in our network where using major streets will be unavoidable (parts of Anderson and Claflin, for example).  But we probably do not need to overhaul every major street as the current master plan suggests.  Since these overhauls take up most of the Priority 1 and 2 projects, this could move the Priority 3 projects up, which is key, since these Priority 3 projects are the ones that connect the major gaps of our network.  We can solve most of the interior network problems with some good signage and maps.  Our Bike Manhattan Master Map is a good place to start, but we also need signage and maps around town showing people how comprehensive our network already is, especially when the neighborhood trails and bike-friendly roads are included.

Michael Wesch

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

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