Mapping ideas for a more bike-friendly Manhattan

As Vice-Chair of the city’s bicycle advisory committee, I have been trying to brainstorm a way to prioritize the city’s bicycling needs from the perspective of a “B biker.”  “A-bikers” are those who will ride anywhere anytime and make up less than 1% of the population.  “C-bikers” are those who will only ride in ideal conditions, and make up most of the population.  “B-bikers” are those who will ride if we build the infrastructure for it and make it easy for them, so they are the bikers we need to help.  If the developments in Copenhagen, Boulder, Portland, and other cutting edge bike-friendly cities are any indication, as much as 25% of our population may be “B-bikers,” ready to commute to work, parks, school, and shopping if we can provide a safe and enjoyable way to do it.

For a B-biker, these are the best roads for getting from A to B in Manhattan:

This map clearly shows some gaps in the current network.  It also shows how far we have come in 20 years since Linear Trail was first constructed.  With the exception of the Wal-Mart area, every shopping area, park, and school is accessible by a B-biker (though some routes are currently too long and out of the way). With just a few more connectors, Manhattan could be 100% bike-able by any B-biker.

Here is a map of routes we need:

Along with new routes, we also need to make sure we have adequate crossings and signage.  In the last map for this post, the red dots represent critical crossings that need improvement or assessment, and the yellow dots indicate places where signs need to be placed to mark safe bike routes that many cyclists might not know about.

In all, there are about 25 projects we need to complete.

(in no particular order)
North Linear Trail
East Kimball Trail
East Allan Rd
McCall-Linear 24 Trail
Hayes Trail
Kimball-24 Crossing
Linear-3rd St Connection
Poliska-18 Trail
Stagg-Target Trail
Miller-18 Crossing
Target-Home Depot Crossing
Warner Park Trail
Linear-Anneberg Amherst Trail
West Anderson Trail
Miller-Anneberg Trail/Bridge
Linear-Anneberg Trail w Bridge
West Claflin South Path
West Anderson South Path
Bluemont-Manhattan Intersection
Lee Elementary Crossing
Amherst-113 Crossing
Signs for Existing Network

Some of these routes are more needed than others.  I am currently working on a formula to prioritize these projects.

Though the list seems long, as I look at it I feel optimistic.  If we can get a few of these connections made and make it known to others that Manhattan has a nice network of paths and roads for B-bikers, we could give a nice boost to our already growing bicycle community.


For those interested in a bit more detail, the maps above are simplified versions of the following (which is a simplified version of the Master Map along with some path proposals):

Everything in green or yellow is a safe route and is often traveled by cyclists.  Light blues are safe routes that are frequently used but may not be widely known and need to be marked as official bike routes.  Dotted lines are sidewalks, with orange lines being moderately dangerous and red lines being especially dangerous.  In this case, the orange and red represent routes that are frequently traveled by cyclists, despite the dangers.  These are areas we need to be especially concerned about, as lack of cycling infrastructure is putting people at risk in these areas.

Michael Wesch

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

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2 Responses

  1. Jason Maseberg-Tomlinson says:

    I appreciate looking at this from a community standpoint versus current riders. I think that there are many people in communities and “islands” around town who are riders waiting to happen. I have been picturing this map as it might look ten years ago and what might appear in the future. It is a powerful statement: our community values commercial growth and has less money allocated to safe riding.

  2. mwesch says:

    I definitely agree, especially since I was one of those “riders waiting to happen.” For some reason I had never realized until 2 years ago that Linear Trail is like a secret little bicycle highway with exit ramps to major destinations (movies, Target, Westside, bowling, Zoo (via Poliska), City Park (via Manhattan), and downtown (via 5th)). Once I discovered that I was hooked. I started riding everywhere, soaking in the beauty around me as I cruised along Linear Trail. If more people could discover this, and if we can build more connectivity like Linear, we would have a richer, more connected community.

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