Video: New York City bike lanes explained

Could other cities learn from the Big Apple?

A new film reveals the thinking that’s gone into the New York cycle lane network

A new video from urban design website Streetfilms reveals some of the thinking that’s gone into New York City’s cycle lanes, and could help transport departments around the world plan their own networks.


The city’s Department of Transportation has installed 200 miles of bike lane in the past three years – during which time there has been a 45 percent increase in commuter cycling – and is on track to meet its goal of 1,800 miles by 2030.

The Big Apple has three classes of bike lane based on road width, traffic volumes, types of vehicle using the street and safety features. Lanes are sometimes put on the left of the road to reduce the likelihood of cyclists being ‘doored’.

Film-maker Elizabeth Press said: “Here in New York City, it feels like every time I get on my bike there is a new bike lane – sometimes on the left, sometimes buffered and sometimes completely separated from automobile traffic.”

New york cycle lanes

A class one bike path is physically separated from other traffic, parking has been pulled away from the kerb and there are concrete islands and plants.

Class two lanes, the most common, are defined by a painted stripe and are normally 5ft wide, sometimes buffered from vehicle traffic by 3ft of painted hatching.

Class three lanes are represented by street signage and symbols on the road (placed well outside the car door zone) and are used on streets not wide enough for the other classes.


There is a link from the Streetfilms website to Ride the City, a journey planning website for New York which gives you the distance between your start and finish points, a time estimate, written route directions and a map showing where you’ll be cycling on bike lanes, bike paths or greenway, and where you’ll be on roads.