Slow Going for New Bus Lanes

bus_squeeze.jpgThe Village Voice took a trip down lower Broadway earlier this week to see how smoothly the new bus lanes were flowing. The answer? Despite reports of stepped-up enforcement, change is not coming quickly to the traffic culture of Lower Manhattan — as you can see from the picture at right, which shows a bus trying to lay claim to a spot in the "buses-only" lane.

Photo: Laura Conaway for the Village Voice 

  • Clarence

    Strange their multiple mentions about bicycles. In some other cities I have been to bikes are allowed to ride in bus-only lanes.

  • ddartley

    Retractable bollards that descend on signal from bus/emergency vehicle. Design them so that if there’s a system failure, they fall, rather than stay up.

    If they normally stay in “up” position by default, and are not in a tiny driveway (like in the famous youtube (et al.) video), such bollards would NOT pose the safety hazard I warned against in the discussion that followed that video.

  • Sarah Goodyear

    Clarence,
    This is a case where you run into the issues with bicycles being classified as vehicles…no other “vehicles” are allowed to use the bus lanes, so technically bicyclists risk tickets if they ride there.

    ddartley,
    I saw many creative uses of retractable bollards when I was in Spain. They seemed to work well for multiple uses there.

  • fred

    Broadway @ Houston; my observations:

    4 lanes
    – 2 for (illegal) parking on both sides
    —————————————-
    = 2 lanes
    – 1 double parking
    —————————————-
    = 1 lane

  • ddartley

    Fred-

    and STILL no room for pedestrians!

  • Steve

    I have a different understanding of bicycles as “vehicles,” though I may be wrong. As far as I can tell, under New York State and City law, bicycles are not “vehicles”:

    New York Vehicle and Traffic Law § 159:

    “Vehicle

    Every device in, upon, or by which any person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a highway, except devices moved by human power or used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks.”

    34 Rules of the City of New York 34 RCNY 4-01(b):

    “Vehicle. A “vehicle” shall mean every device in, upon, or by which any person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a highway, except devices moved by human power or used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks.”

    The rule restricting traffic in bus lanes (34 RCNY 4-12(m)) refers only to “a vehicle other than a bus”:

    “When signs are erected giving notice of bus lane restrictions, no person shall drive a vehicle other than a bus within a designated bus lane during the hours specified, except that a person may use such bus lane in order to make the first available right hand turn where permitted into a street, private road, private drive, or an entrance to private property in a safe manner or when necessary to avoid conflict with other traffic or at the direction of a law enforcement officer.”

    There is also the general rule that the bicyclists generally have the same obligations as vehicles, so it might be said that bicyclists must keep out of the bus lane *AS IF* they were vehicles. However, there is an exception to that general rule in cases where there is a contrary, specific provision made for bicycles. Since bicyclists are supposed to ride “as close as practicable” to the left or right hand curb on one-way roadways at least 40′ wide (34 RCNY 4-12(p)(3))–and most or all of the bus lanes I am aware of are on such roadways–shouldn’t that specific provision control, allowing bicyclists to travel in the bus lane?

  • erik

    Re: Bus lanes

    Perhaps they would work a little better if the sign was actually located ABOVE the lane itself. Instead, the sign is located over the curb lane and the arrow points diagonally downward to the bus lane. It’s completely unclear which lane is the bus lane.

    It also doesn’t help _at all_ that the pavement lane markings on Bway are confusing. The bus lane is marked “Bus Only” and the other, remaining lane is marked “Fire Lane”. Now if I were driving down Bway and had to pick a lane to occupy, I’d do “bus” over “fire”.

  • Clarence

    I just came back from Broadway and got a few minutes of footage to hopefully show some before and afters once drivers get used to it.

    I did get a police officer pulling over people and pointing up to a sign. And at least this is getting to be word of mouth to some degree: I heard two drivers at a light screaming about the tickets (one had just gotten one.)

    It looked like bike riders were having no problem at the points that officers were writing tickets. But don’t trust that as an endorsement that you wont get one.

  • Clarence

    erik

    From what I saw the large street signage does hang right above the bus lanes pointing directly downward on the lane. The signs you are referring to are the supplemental ones near the lights with arrows pointing diagonally like you said. In either event I believe there is plenty of signage and stencils to indicate they are BUS ONLY lanes and where they are.

    However, I only saw two signs with the $250 fine indicated. I’d LOVE to see more of those all over the city. That could be the biggest deterrent of them all.

  • erik

    Clarence –

    I’ve only been looking downtown, City Hall-area. All of the bus lane signs down here point diagonally.

    I think this is going to be a huge uphill battle… I’ve been watching the operation of the lanes over the past few days and it definitely seems to be taxis that lane jump, which usually prompts other cars to follow.

  • Clayton

    The irony is that the cab photographed by the Village Voice that is tied to this entry is a picture of an undercover cop car posed as a cab. “2Wxx” or “6Yxx”=cop cab

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