Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Dedicated Lane

With Manhattan's long and wide one-way avenues, why do we still have such congestion? The question should really be, who is actually worthy of being relieved of such congestion, and how can we alleviate just them. Let's face it, certain user of the road should be protected over others. Here are the main avenue user categories in my perspective (in no order):

Cabs (and other T&LC vehicles)
Personal Cars, Trucks & Motos
Delivery & Service Vehicles (public & private)
Emergency Vehicles
Commuter & Delivery Bicycles
Parking (and double parking!)
Construction & Maintenance Operations

How would you order them in terms of priority?

I have expressed my concerns over the lack of prioritization in the past. The following is an excerpt from a journal entry for a planning class at Pratt back in June, 2009:

"Let me elaborate on the dedicated lane, because this addresses what I believe to be the biggest problem due to congestion, and that is emergency vehicle efficiency. About two or three times a week, as I am biking to or from work right through standstill traffic (the greatest benefit for cyclists), I pass an emergency vehicle, sirens on, that cannot move because traffic is stopped and cars can’t physically pull out of the way. The effect congestion has on individual commuters, taxi cabs, busses, etc is IRRELEVANT when compared to the effect it has on emergency vehicle efficiency. If somebody has 30 minutes to get to a business meeting in Midtown West from the Upper East Side and they choose to take a cab, they will obviously be late, and that is their problem, not the public’s. They could be on time if they took the subway. Now if somebody is having a heart attack or an apartment building is on fire and the medics or firefighters cannot respond quickly, people might die. It is for this reason and this reason alone, that there should be a dedicated lane on EVERY AVENUE for emergency vehicles that can also be used for non motor vehicles (cyclists, roller bladders, skateboarders, etc) that can easily move out of the way. The lane should be between the sidewalk and the parking lane as to not causes problems when cars are trying to park. This solves the biggest problem due to congestion, that HAS YET TO BE ADEQUATELY ADDRESSED and also provides much needed resources for non-motor forms of transportation. It may not fix congestion as a whole, but it will fix the most important aspect of congestion."

The dedicated lane capable of handling an emergency vehicle has proved its worth on 9th Ave, and now the east side is embracing this idea. The MTA and DOT are trying to finalize a plan for a 1st and 2nd Ave continuos system (thanks to Caroline Samponaro of TA for passing this along):

Here's the plan

Here is one of the designs for a big portion of the UES (where they AREN'T building a subway simultaneously and for the next 10 years)

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