Monday, May 05, 2008

New York: Combat in the bike lane

Image of bike lane in New York City, crowded by vans and buses
From the New York Times, 05.04.08:

Bike Lanes, Intended for Safety, Become Traffic Battlegrounds
On streets clogged by pollution-emitting cars, buses and trucks, New York City’s quest to establish reasonably safe cycling paths by adding to its roughly 300 miles of bicycle lanes has been welcomed by cyclists. But the lanes are often battlegrounds between cyclists and drivers who seem undeterred by the clearly demarcated paths.

Although city regulations forbid cars from blocking bike lanes--a violation that carries a $115 fine--those rules are routinely ignored by drivers who use the lanes as parking spots, loading zones and places to pick up passengers. Such maneuvers have enraged cyclists who say they are unlawful, rude and dangerous.

Some bicyclists have resorted to inventive means to discourage the incursions...At a bike lane on Hudson Street near Christopher Street, one rider placed a cardboard stencil on the pavement, and others covered it with white spray paint. When they lifted the stencil an image of an automobile bisected by a diagonal line was left behind.

“I want to remind drivers that it is not all right to be in bike lanes,” said Barbara Ross, 44, a human resources manager, who lives on the Lower East Side and has been a volunteer for Times Up!, an environmental group that promotes nonpolluting transportation. “A lot of drivers don’t think twice about parking in a bike lane because no one tells them not to.”

While painting messages on public streets is illegal, Ms. Ross and her companions said that they meant their markings as a service. Most bike lanes in New York are separated from cars only by stripes of white paint, they said, and additional reminders are likely to help cyclists and, maybe, yield more respect from drivers. (Read more.)
Comprehensive article from New York, where the city is experimenting with painted buffers, green paint, stencils, and separators in an attempt to keep motorists out of bike lanes. The city plans to continue creating an additional 200 miles of bike lanes to its existing network, and the struggle for space looks likely to intensify.

Especially with selfish and inconsiderate motorists, like the driver in a Land Cruiser SUV parked in a bike lane, who told the New York Times that she rarely paid attention to bike lanes. “I have other things on my mind,” she said. “This is the city. Bike lanes belong in parks.”

Image: New York Times/Robert Stolarik.
Visit:NYC Officials Talk Up Bike Month, Streetsblog
Visit: New York bicycle commuters face uphill climb, Los Angeles Times
Visit: New York Times: Portland acts to protect cyclists, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: More bicyclists in New York City, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Why I Ride: Bicycling in New York, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site
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7 comments:

monkeycat said...

Great article. I deal with selfish motorists every day I ride into work in New York City. They park in the bike lanes, swerve into the bike lanes to make turns or pick up passengers. It's really frustrating! Almost as bad are the people running in the bikes lanes, walking their dogs in the bike lanes, pushing their laundry carts in the bike lanes... The problem here is not visibility, it's enforcement. People and motorists encroach on the bike lanes, creating a very dangerous situation for bikers, because they know that no one will challenge them. Have you ever seen anyone getting a ticket for encroaching on a bike lane?

John H. said...

At least you have marked bike lanes!
In Richmond, VA, there are only a few, and they seem to be convenient right-hand turn lanes for cars and delivery parking. Richmond is not really that big, but we have a lot of student cyclists at VCU and now more people riding for recreation and commuting(me). Maybe if every rider in NY took license plate numbers and called 911 every time, someone might notice more. Police use call logs from 911 calls, even if no one responded, to establish patterns. Good luck!!

John H.

Anonymous said...

Bike lanes do belong in parks...and in streets, along highways and byways too. In St Louis, the bike path behind the Art Museum in Forest Park is being used to park cars on weekends. Police officers are too busy riding horses and enjoying the spring weather to ticket the vehicles.
Jack

speeddemon0117 said...

You forget to mention the people walking along who are too busy looking at their feet or using their cell phones to pay attention to where they are going. It is these idiots that make using the bike paths where I live much more dangerous, not to mention the drivers who pull out of their driveways without watching where they are going.

Blog of a discontented conforming non-conformist

Anonymous said...

My motto -- don't get mad at a driver for doing anything I have ever done in a car (like double park), and don't get mad at a pedestrian for anything I have ever done while walking (like jaywalk or step off the curb while waiting for the light).

I just work around both, and don't let either bother me, while riding a bike.

Also, while moving at the speed of a pedestrian, I feel free to do what I do as a pedestrian, other than ride on the sidewalk. If I come to a red light and no one is going, I "stroll" across.

Fritz said...

“This is the city. Large sport utility trucks belong on the ranch.”

george said...

your motto has a flaw because if a biker does not perform the same actions while walking or driving, then he excepts others to do so. it shouldn't be about courtesy. its about obeying a designated space, and then respect to others. your passive motto leaves room for error, and allows bikers to get injured or worse.