New Bleecker Bike Lane Already Blocked by Parked Cars

Streetsblog reader Dave Goldberg sends along a camera phone photo of the freshly striped Bleecker Street bike lane, shot between LaGuardia Place and Mercer Street. Goldberg notes:

I can’t say that the striping was universally respected. You can see from the background of the photo that there’s a car in the lane. Also, between Mercer and Broadway, there were two vehicles double parked in it. I guess we’ll see how well area drivers can adapt.

I guess. Based on the photo, this looks like it could have been a fine spot for a Copenhagen-style physically-protected bike lane. It’s a lot harder to double-park in one of those.

  • John Hunka

    The DOT is pouring money down the drain striping bike lanes. Since the vast majority of drivers treat them as an invitation to double park, DOT should paint the words “PLEASE DOUBLE PARK HERE” in all of the new lanes. Mayor Bloomberg has his heart in the right place encouraging biking, but the bike lane program is a complete fiasco given the lack of enforcement by NYPD. I say its time to abandon the bike lane program completely and move towards a vehicular cycling model that gives cyclists the right to take lanes and be treated as the operators of vehicles.

  • Stacy

    For some reason, I had imagined the bike lane would be on the right – maybe because I always ride on the right when I use Bleecker Street? The idea that bicycles should be on the left, where any right turn requires the cyclist to deliberately cross traffic seems a bit odd, particularly on such a small street.

    And whatever happened to all those parking spaces that were supposed to be lost as a trade-off?

    Up until now I thought the Charlton Street bike lane was the biggest waste of paint and taxpayer dollars but Bleecker Street would seem to run a close second What we need are bike lanes that actually provide safe routes on dangerous streets – like Houston Street – not lines that simply divvy up the few remaining ‘livable’ street left in this city..

  • Danny

    They did take out a lot of parking spaces along Bleecker St – I was along there last night and saw the new lane. Between Abingdon Square and Sixth Ave or maybe all the way to LaGuardia Place!

  • Stacy: One-way streets with bike lanes generally have the bike lanes on the left. Reasons for this: (a) avoids conflicts with buses (may not be relevant on Bleecker); (b) less likely to get doored on right side of parked cars; (c) less likely to be hit by drivers, because drivers sit on the left side of their vehicles.

    If the bike lane were on the right, it would still require crossing traffic to turn left, so I don’t see why it’s relevant that having it on the left requires crossing traffic to turn right.

  • Danny: Parking has always been forbidden on the left side of Bleecker from Abingdon Square (8th Ave) to 6th Ave or so. That’s not new.

  • Gwin

    I recently acquired a stash of those “I parked in a bike lane” stickers (iparkedinabikelane.org). Watch out, all you cars parked in the bike lanes on 2nd Ave. and Allen Street! And if I ever get over to Bleecker, same thing will happen there..

  • Dave G.

    I think that the addition of the bike lane will have a big traffic-calming effect on this stretch of Bleecker Street. Before the bike lane, the car portion of the street was occasionally wide enough for two cars to drive side-by-side. Cars would race each other so they could end up in front when the street narrowed. Now, the bike stripes make it clear that the cars only have one lane.

  • Not a Car Fan

    I would suggest to every Streetsblogger to continue taking photos of these violations and others such as double-parking, parking at a hydrant, etc., printing them out, and sending them to the attention of NYPD Traffic Enforcement (and cc: anyone you’d like, for example, politicians). Perhaps a kind letter to remind them to do their jobs could accompany said letter.

    While I realize this is not a sustainable practice, the mountains of paperwork would surely get their attention. I commend Paul Steely-White for taking that picture of the NASCAR vehicle who clearly does not know how to parallel park.

    However, putting it on Streetsblog is like preaching to the choir, to which I say “Amen!” But for some serious change to occur, the folks in charge of enforcement need to see their underlings aren’t enforcing the rules as they should.

    I keep my camera handy at all times.

  • @alex

    Lower chance of dooring in left-side bike lanes is probably the best reason to do it that way (contention with buses is less of an issue in most cases).

    I’m curious, though, if there are *any* right-side bike lanes in Manhattan? Are there any right-side bike lanes on one-way streets anywhere in NYC?

    I was trying to think of one, and couldn’t. The only right-side bike lanes I’ve ridden on are in Brooklyn and Staten Island, all of them on 2-way streets.

  • Slopion

    “The DOT is pouring money down the drain striping bike lanes….”

    I gotta agree AND disagree with Hunka. Yes, some drivers blatantly ignore the lanes and double park with impunity. Yes, a white line is not a force field. Lanes with physical barriers are far better, we need more of those, etc., etc.

    But going to a vehicular cycling model would de facto mean ceding cycling in New York to hardcore bikers. That would be horrible. Painted lanes at least send the visual signal that bikers have a place in the city. Even if, morally and legally, that place is *everywhere*, practically the lanes bring in recreational and less hardcore cyclists who–whether you think they’re right or wrong–are not going to duke it out with giant hunks of metal in the middle of the street.

    We need more people biking in NYC, not fewer–not just because it’s better for the city and for them, but because politically cycling advocacy is stronger the more casual cyclists are invested in them.

  • Jonathan

    @alex: the lane along Henry St in downtown Brooklyn runs along the right side of the street. Here is a view of it.

    Slopion, I couldn’t have said it better myself! Thank you for making such a forceful distinction between the moral/legal aspects and the practical aspect of bike lanes.

  • ddartley

    At long last, I’ve made SOME peace with this kind of bike lane, but almost exclusively because of the hope that maybe, maybe, increasing their numbers will increase the number of people trying cycling, and staying cycling.

    But even if that happens, my acceptance NOW of this lane is contingent on that population growth making the following difference in the future: as the the population of cyclists increases, the advocacy movement will grow, and THEN the city’s culture will finally be ready for REAL bike infrastructure.

    Presently, the only good thing I’m really convinced that this type of lane reliably does is calm traffic a little. That is, no doubt, a very good thing, but not enough, and cyclists and DOT should have much bolder long-term goals than just more of these lanes.

    I will contradict myself on this subject in two (2) weeks.

  • anon

    John Hunka: Vehicular bicycling does not work. Look at the places in the world where bicycling has the highest mode share: cities that have invested in infrastructure, enforcement and education that provides calmed streets and separated facilities for bicyclists. Meanwhile, advocates for vehicular bicycling in the United States have failed to significantly increase bicycling’s mode share in the US or increase its ranks beyond the relatively young, healthy, male and white.

  • Steve

    I’m with Mike and Dave G. on the benfits of left-hand lanes and painted lanes in general. Like other on-street lane detractors, John Hunka needs to adress the issues of (1) do these lanes prevent or discourage vehuicular cycling (the answer, in my view, is no) and (2) is it realistic to have kids, seniors and beginners traveling at 5-10 MPH taking the lane?

  • NotAnIPhoneOwnerEither

    “I’m with Mike and Dave G. on the benfits of left-hand lanes and painted lanes in general. Like other on-street lane detractors, John Hunka needs to adress the issues of (1) do these lanes prevent or discourage vehuicular cycling (the answer, in my view, is no) and ”

    First of all, yes striped lanes do in fact discourage or prevent “vehicular” cycling. The law is that if there is a striped lane on a street, cyclists have to use it. Second, I just don’t buy this bit about bike lanes somehow sending a message that bike lanes belong on the streets. It sure doesn’t send that message to drivers, double parkers, delivery guys, cops, buses … Who exactly is receiving this message? If you build it, they will come? Yeah right. If you build it, they will stick a UPS truck in the middle of it.

    “(2) is it realistic to have kids, seniors and beginners traveling at 5-10 MPH taking the lane?”

    Is it anymore realistic to mandate that they ride in the door zone?

    As someone with roughly 35 years experience cycling streets in NYC (and quite a few other places) who has seen every variant on bike lanes you can imagine, I say striped lanes (as usually implemented in NYC) don’t do much good here, and sometimes they do harm. At one point, I thought they were a good thing, but the more I’ve tried to use them, the more frustrating and pointless I’ve found them to be. Physically separated, or outside the door zone + buffered from traffic + with enforcement against encroachers, sure, but that’s not the way they stripes ’em in these parts.

  • Stacy

    I just took my first ride down the new Bleecker Street Bike Lane from Carmine to Thompson and I’m still not impressed. One particularly large truck came disturbingly close as we made the slight turn across Sixth Avenue near Little Red and then crossed over into the bike lane to pass a truck that was unloading – maybe that’s why the right side always seemed a bit safer. It’s probably harder to diddle around and jump the Sixth Avenue light, on the left, than when than it was when riding on the right, alongside Downing Street Park

    The logos aren’t painted yet but the lane seemed to be ignored by cyclists and motorists alike. There were a couple of tractor trailer delivery trucks blocking the lane, and several cyclists riding on the right side of the street. I guess I’m not the only one with this preference.

    Bike lanes on the left may be more common but there are some, like Van Dam Street and Pike Slip, in Manhattan, or Henry Street, in Brooklyn Heights, which are on the right.

  • glennQ

    Is this a surprise to any of us?
    Maybe some signs (like the “Don’t Block The Box” variety) and a hefty fine (maybe points too)?
    I’m sure if the city looked at enforcing the bike lanes as a source of revenue, we would get some help from the boys in blue (or brown).

  • ddartley

    Never forget that these lanes cause people to weave in and out of traffic, and in and out of visibility. (Because there is ALWAYS someone parking in them at least every two blocks. Always, always, always.)

    The safest way to ride is in a predictable, steady, straight line.

    Change the law so that cyclists aren’t compellled to stick to the lane, but rather, they’re just for people who feel more comfortable in them.

    I appreciate the point about “kids, seniors and beginners.” Let bike lanes be only for them, and for anyone who doesn’t feel safe taking a lane. But when you do take a lane, mostly the worst they can do is honk, and I’m telling you, they don’t honk any more than when you try to stick to bike lanes.

  • Jonathan

    Stacy, if you feel it’s okay to “jump the Sixth Avenue light,” why shouldn’t the truck drivers feel it’s okay to park in the bike lane?

  • ddartley

    Sorry, not clear. Let the bike lane be there for “kids, seniors and beginners,” but OPTIONAL.

  • Just curious?

    Please go to Curbed.com and read what the average New Yorker thinks of cyclists and bike lanes.

    You blog away here day after day in your little solipsistic world and just don’t get it.

    Read what others think about you, and stop blaming everyone else, smug in your self-righteousness.

  • Chris H

    So Curbed is the representation of the average NYer and Streetsblog is just a bunch of egocentric whiners…? I’ve heard a lot more uninformed whining on Curbed than Streetsblog but maybe that’s just my limited personal experience.

  • Y Bike?

    Promoting biking is good politics and good policy. Survey after survey shows New Yorkers want to bike. They want more greenways, bike lanes and bike parking.

  • Steve

    NotAnIPhoneOwnerEither, you’ve got the law wrong. NYC bicyclists are not required to use bike lanes unless they are available and safe. If you are traveling at 15+ MPH, its not safe to ride in the door zone. Bicyclists get ticketed for riding outside the lane only one Friday a month, in a particular neighborhood. If you disagree let’s hear some empirical or even anecdotal evidence.

    It is completely realistic for those moving at ~5 MPH to ride in a painted lane in the door zone. They can identify and respond to the dooring hazard in time to avoid a serious injury, and they will expereince fewer conflicts with motorists eager to travel faster.

    And dart, I don’ see how the bike lane is relevant to in the “in and out” issue. I rode home tonight up Third Ave. and I was constantly moving in and out around the double-parked cars and cabs picking up and dropping off passengers. If there is even 10% less double-parking on a street with a bike lane than one without (and I think it is significantly better than that), then there is 10% less in-and-out. The only way around the in-and-out problem (aside from physically separated lanes) is to ride up the middle of the road, which is just plain stupid for all but the fastest and most skilled bicyclists to do on a 3-5 lane one-way roadway.

    Glennq is right that enforcement can help, though it is by no means a panacea. The TEA who write the summonses need to be told that they can give a car two violations if it is double-parked in the bike lane, one for double parking and one for blocking the bike lane. I think drivers would get the idea pretty quick and start double parking opposite, rather than in the bike lane.

    Stacy, just because some motorists ignore the painted lanes (in particular, when they are new and not fully installed with decals), that’s no reason to declare the lanes a failure. This is NYC, people ignore rules if they can get away with it. When you’re disembarking from a subway car onto a crowded platform and people trying to enter are preventing you from exiting, what do you do? Stay on the subway and miss your stop because you are afraid to ask them, motion them or even push them aside? Is there a reason to take a fundamentally different approach when someone is crowding your space on the road?

    And Just Curious, Curbed is entertaining and can be a good source of info but 90%+ of the commenters there are just nasty idiots, not “average New Yorkers.” If you think the quality of dialogue on Curbed is superior to what you find here, by all means go and don’t come back.

  • Dane

    Just,

    Is Curbed’s lux condo real estate agent demo representative of the average New Yorker? Is it not little and solipsistic and smug?

    I stopped going to Curbed a while ago because the comments section is almost completely filled with angry, venomous, anonymous ranting. Not just about Streetsbloggish issues — but about everything.

    So, thanks for the suggestion but I think I’m going to pass. There is almost nothing in the Curbed comments section that is worth reading.

  • ddartley

    Steve, if we’re including Avenues in this discussion, I have to say I completely disagree that Class II bike lanes have a bearing on how much people double park. I say they have none.

    Anecdotal, but try part of my evening commute some weekday around 5pm: down Broadway from Columbus Circle to Union Square. Stick to the bike lane (except in Times and Herald Squares, where there’s none) and I PROMISE you that you will not get more than one full block without having to weave into a car lane because of various hazards, mostly double-parkers. I absolutely feel more vulnerable doing that than staying in straight line in a car lane–WHERE I CAN BE SEEN. I don’t feel “plain stupid” staying in a car lane, and I’m NOT the fastest cyclist, on my lumbering mountain bike.

    Of course not all these Avenues host the same behavior, but other anecdotal evidence is my morning commute, up 1st Ave. There’s no bike lane on that stretch, and, well, I don’t see much double parking at all.

    On a recent Sunday afternoon, I rode out to Flushing. I saw that 34th Ave. had a class II lane, so I took it. Amazingly, there was the same amount of bike lane double-parking as in my evening commute! About every other block! So into and out of the car lane I wove…

    Now, maybe my opinion comes from how the vast majority of my miles are commuting, on big Avenues. Maybe I wouldn’t be so adamant if I rode on local streets more. But for adults on big Avenues in present-day conditions, I’ll continue to recommend riding in the car lane, visibly, as safer.

    Incidentally, here’s a year old picture of how effective bike lanes are at preventing double parking:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/10798592@N08/2073246818/

    Also, Steve, I do agree that “This is NYC, people ignore rules if they can get away with it.”

    And that’s why I still think this would work on one-way avenues:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/10798592@N08/1414440531/
    (check out the larger view to see what the lane markings say)

  • I propose deflating the tires of, or keying the sides of, any car parked in a bike lane. If it’s a cop car, as it often is, it would be nice to just flip the fucking thing over.

  • steve

    Dart, b’way is indeed hellish, perhaps the least respected bike lane in Manhattan. However I am often in the First Ave. bike lane (north of 72nd and often it to be almost as bad. Maybe my faith in bike lanes is colored by my regular use of the UWS and UES crosstown lanes with my kids (which is not to say those lanes are not also abused, see MyBikeLane). We need accurate data. I have a FOIL request into the Dep’t of Finance to get all the bike lane summons data in electronic form, but they are resisting.

  • Jason

    I think its time to have small stickers printed that will be placed on the giant SUV’s. Something simple that gets them thinking. “CO2”

  • Stacy

    Jonathan: My comments about jumping the light was more of an observation. If DOT’s intended to ‘curb’ this kind of behavior then placing the bike lane on the left was an effective choice. Obviously Bleecker Street parking regulations aren’t influenced by the number of cyclists, or pedestrians for that matter, jumping the light at Sixth Avenue.

    Steve: Bleecker Street is wider in some areas and some sections are straighter in some places than others. The bike lane may be more successful in some stretches than others. The turn at Sixth is definitely a trouble spot.

    Originally this as intended as a safer alternative to Houston Street. As a local area resident, I find Houston Street, at least traveling East between Sixth Avenue and LaGuardia Place/ West Broadway, to be a safer route than the current Bleecker Street Bike lane. Maybe this will change with the addition of logos on Bleecker or the return of east bound traffic on Houston..

  • flp

    per stacy: “Originally this as intended as a safer alternative to Houston Street. As a local area resident, I find Houston Street, at least traveling East between Sixth Avenue and LaGuardia Place/ West Broadway, to be a safer route than the current Bleecker Street Bike lane.”

    YES!!! i would, once again, go further by saying that ALL of houston street is a better route! i also want to point out, yes, AGAIN, that the DOT (and a number of individuals and agencies) sold bikers’, pedestrians’ and livable streets advocates’ rights to a SAfE HOUSTON st down the proverbial river. no, i am not giving up on the real problem here – houston sreet.

    hey, while they are at it, why doesn’t the city rename houston st to the “i-love-robert-moses-run-over-the-bikers-and-pedestrians speedway” and place mose’s likeness in each intersection?

  • Jonathan

    Can I leave a positive message here? Last night I biked along nearly the entire Cross-Manhattan [Bike] Expressway, from 23d and 9th all the way down Hudson St, all the way on Bleecker St, and then for good measure I made a left on Lafayette and finally left the bike facility at Astor Place.

    There were only two vehicles blocking the lane the whole way (two miles). It was really pleasant biking. I especially like the bike box on Bleecker and Broadway.

    I’ve been taking that route for years (without turning on Lafayette), and to have the same route now with bike facilities is like an early Christmas present. Thank you, DOT!

  • BicyclesOnly

    I agree with Jonathan. Despite all the bike lane violators, you find less double parking in the bike lane than on streets with no bike lane, and interactions with moving traffic are more pleasant with the lane there. I am a huge supporter of separated bike lanes, we definitely need more of them but painted lanes have their place in the network.

    Bicyclists can do a lot to educate motorists not to park in the bike lane or open doors into them. However folks should bear in mind that it is illegal to leave things under people’s windshields.

  • Josh

    They put a bike box at Bleecker and Broadway? Sweet!

    (Haven’t been there on my bike in a few months.)

  • bicycle lanes are new to the manhattan car culture. it takes time to re-educate drivers and introduce bike culture and “sharing the road.” mayor bloomberg has been amazingly helpful with the greening of nyc. kudos. he has made an official proclamation declaring sept. 20th, 2008 the official “bicycle for a day” day. to learn more:
    http://www.bicycleforaday.org

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