Whoa: NYPD Ticketing Bus Lane Violators

Streetsblog tipster Colin Poellot sent in this photo and reports that the NYPD was cracking down on cars in the new Broadway bus lane south of Houston Street on Monday. Poellot says there were three to five officers waving over and ticketing drivers over the course of several hours.

He did not see any bicyclists ticketed. Does the NYPD or DOT care if cyclists use the bus lane?

  • Re bicyclists in the bus lane: question is whether bicyclists follow the conflicting directives that (1) they “may” ride at the right curb of a => 30′ roadway or (2) “buses only” in right-hand curbside bus lane. It is pretty sressful to ride next to the bus lane; here’s an example:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/bicyclesonly/2117408124/

  • Clarence

    Yesterday there seemed to be some pretty aggressive ticketing and towing going on at Centre Street. I was gonna take some photos but I was in a hurry to get somewhere.

  • Gerg

    Uhm, everywhere else in the world bicycles are allowed in bus lanes. Are you sure they aren’t here?

  • Jonathan

    This seems like an appropriate place to mention this: every workday afternoon around 5:15, as I head uptown on St. Nicholas Ave, a TEA agent sets out on the same route to ticket double parkers and bus-stop parkers. It gives me immense satisfaction to ask the always friendly agents not to forget to write a second ticket for blocking the bike lane.

    All you Harlem motorists who are lurking on Streetsblog: you’ve been warned!

  • Dave

    Does anyone else think that the bus bulbs on lower Broadway are butt-ugly? They don’t tie into the existing sidewalk and take up a lot of street space.
    Between the bus lane and double-parking it’s really tough going through this area.
    Lower Broadway gets my vote for the first area to permanently eliminate curbside parking (on the non bulb-bus side of the street). Leave it for 15-minute deliveries and cab pick-ups.
    Sure the suburbanites won’t be able to park there on the weekends but it’s crowded enough already isn’t it?

  • Here in DC, the few bus lanes are marked as bikes/bus lanes, not that they actually seem to enforce it. We like to ride in the complete middle of the wide lanes to have a little citizen enforcement, though I’d be likely to get run over in rush hour. I’ve never seen a cop enforcing the one in Chinatown on 7th Street.

  • common sense

    are you driving a bus? if not, get out of the bus lane. I think we can all fit in the bike lane…

  • tps12

    I feel like I often end up in the bus lane when I’m on that part of Broadway, but I’ve never been sure of the legality or safety of it.

  • BicyclesOnly,

    Cool picture. That’s me in your Flickr photo!

    I regularly ride down Fifth Ave, and prefer to ride on the right side of the road with the buses vs. riding on the left side with crazy cabs & stopped cars. I am faster than the buses, and I find that most bus drivers look out for cyclists and create a buffer from the other traffic.

  • I should add: I start riding Fifth from 120th St, where there is no bus lane. The bus lane starts around the Met Museum, at which point a cyclist has to decide whether to move to the left or stay on the right. I’m not sure which is the better legal option.

  • Clarence Eckerson

    Not sure but I think in Philadelphia there are places where there are combo bus and bike lanes.

    But don’t quote me on that. 🙂

  • Konrad, pleased to meetcha!

    I prefer the right hand side of 5th as well, since it reduces turning conflicts with motorists to one intersection every 6-8 blocks, instead of every other block on the left hand side (not to mention the cab-loving population along 5th Ave.). However I do feel guilty in the bus lane on those occasions when due to a hill or the lightness of traffic I am going slower than the bus behind me. On those occasions I will merge one lane to the left. It’s dangerous, but it seems selfish for one person to hold up a busload of people.

    As for the legalities, I think I looked into this once and found that the “bus only” restriction applies only to vehicles. Bicycles are not classed as “vehicles,” but have the same obligations as motor vehicles except to the extent laws specifically governing bicyclists (or the “nature” of bicycles as conveyances) provide differently. So we are back to the same issue: does the rule indicating that bicyclists are supposed to keep to the curb trump the rule about buses only in the bus lane?

    Clarence, you seem to have a “hot line” to the DoT. Can you pick up that red phone and see what they think of bicyclists traveling in a “bus only” lane over at DoT?

  • Not a Car Fan

    It’s perfectly fine to ride in the bus lanes. Just don’t take the lane if you are moving slow.

    Holding up a busload of people….not kosher.

  • moocow

    I saw those cops stopping cars driving in the Soho Bus lane yesterday, and I rode in the lane as well. I think bicyclists are pretty far below most cop radar. I feel cyclists should do what is safest for the cyclist. The Bus Lane was clear but for the cars being ticketed. I am going to ride there, and ROLL through reds because that is safer than duking it out with TLC/Access-A-Ride/Cabbie ingrates. I usually ride on the left of any street as I have found almost no Right hook (In this case Left Hook) incidences. This is legal on streets wider than 40 feet, but I have never had a problem and will only ride on that side.

  • Hypo

    In response to poster named “common sense,”
    There actually is no bike lane on lower Broadway, south of Union Square, though it is shown as being designated to receive one on the 2007 Cycling map.
    Call me crazy, but I would love to see the left-hand parking lane removed in favor of a cycle track! One can dream, right?

  • Andy B from Jersey

    Clarence is correct!

    Philly’s got bike/bus lanes on at least Market St and Chestnut St but your likely to get mowed over by cars who are totally clueless about the lane status. I’ve even been honked at by a bus driver even though I was moving at considerable speed right behind a car!

  • anyone know what the police traffic action where north bound Lafayette bike lane evaporates ands and turns into 4th or park south . they are on the east side of that pocket park east of union square. they have all kinds of lights and channel the traffic for one lane , but i cant figure out who they are looking for , they are there pretty frequently

  • Larry Littlefield

    I don’t think bikes should ride in the bus lane, if the bus lane is heavily used. It is less safe.

    It’s hard enough for SUV drivers to see bikes, let alone bus drivers. Anectdotally, it seems like a lot of the bike/motor vehicle accidents that don’t involve drunks or jerks involve buses and trucks, not cars.

  • moocow

    Larry, if you are in the middle of the lane, going faster than a bus, which isn’t hard considering they seem to stop every 2 blocks or so, there is hardly a conflict. I agree with you and what the earlier posters said about the uphill 5th ave section on the park, it is a heavily, higher speed bus lane. I would recommend taking the left side if there is bus traffic. This way the bus and biker are not constantly leap frogging and increasing the chance of “interaction”.

  • 5th Ave. is tough, because you have the problems moocow describes in the right hand lane (compounded by numerous limited and express buses that are not stopping every 2 blocks), but on the left you have the taxis trolling for fares at ~ 15 MPH who will slam on the brakes and pull towards the left curb the minute they see someone emerging from a 5th Ave. lobby (and they are correct that 7 times out of 10 the person is about to hail a cab). Talk about interaction!

    Yet 5th Ave. is the only marked downtown bike route on the East Side other than Second Ave. (rife with heavy truck traffic and speeding, and made worse by the Second Ave. construction work, leads the East side in deaths and serious injuries for bicyclists) and the East Side Greenway (numerous portages down stairs, roadbed cave-ins, and abrupt termination at 63rd St.). When I’m not in a mood to contend, or with kids, I use Park Ave. (despite having constantly to stop at lights).

    My impression is that most bicyclists prefer 5th Ave., for all its problems. But what the East Side really, really needs a good downtown bike route.

  • Larry Littlefield

    (When I’m not in a mood to contend, or with kids, I use Park Ave.)

    My impression is that Park Avenue south of GCT (not sure about the north) is mostly used by local traffic rather than through traffic. If they are going to put cycle tracks on the East Side, that’s where I’d do it, with one in each direction.

    Park would have one moving lane in each direction. The middle lane would be used for drop-offs, pick ups, bus stops, and trucks making deliveries as the right lane is now. Near intersections, there would be two moving lanes and the bike lane, with one used for queueing for turns (the through lane would jog right if the turn was to the left).

    From what I see the impact on motor vehicle traffic would be limited. And you’d attract some bikes to Park, with some motor vehicles displaces elsewhere.

  • Spud Spudly

    I really don’t think this is part of any concerted effort to enforce bus lanes. Broadway just south of Houston is a well-known spot where cops stand in the street pulling people over for everything, from seat belt infractions to running red lights, etc. The bus lane just gives them one more way to meet their quota.

  • Jonathan

    Park Ave is a quick route going downtown from Harlem. If you start at 142d Street & 5th Ave, you can go along the FDR Drive access road until 132d Street, where Park Ave starts in earnest, then fly down the middle, with the railroad viaduct on your left, all the way to 97th Street.

    Having a bike lane in the middle of the street, next to the viaduct north of 97th and next to the median between 97th and 47th, would keep cyclists out of the curbside lanes, where taxis and light delivery trucks stop. At 47th you can dogleg right one block over to Vanderbilt, then on 43rd over to 5th Ave to continue downtown.

  • Jonathan, interesting. But climbing Carnegie Hill from the north is something, eh? And I’ve always been a bit spooked by the possbility of cross traffic zooming through the viaduct tunnels to take this route at full speed. The bike lane you describe, which is a little like the design dartley favors, would solve the problem.

  • Jonathan

    Steve, yes, I forgot to mention the necessity of coming to a full stop before crossing in front of the viaduct tunnels on westbound (odd-numbered) streets. I used to slow down even for green lights on the off chance that someone had run the red light on the other side, too.

  • nona

    About time, I ALWAYS see cars violating the bus lane in the blocks right below Houston street.

    Now, they just need to make street parking illegal on Broadway. That should keep traffic following smoothly.

  • Obviously, the Broadway Bus Lanes are not as good as the Madison Avenue Lanes. Is it just me or does it seem a lot harder to distinguish the bus lane from the regular lane on Broadway? Maybe if they colored the lane, thicken the paint, it might help keep the cars out. Broadway, a possible candidate for the dual bike lanes?

  • Tabatha

    Will someone please tell me how to make a right turn from a street that has a bus lane on the right?

    Do I enter the bus lane to make the right turn or do I try to make the turn from the second lane from the right (avoiding entering the bus lane) and taking the chance of being mowed down by a bus or taxis who are also making a right?

    I just don’t know.

  • MyBrooklyn

    Damn greedy NYC…like MTA does not get enough money that they waste. It just one more way to pocket our money into someone else’s bank account. Damn bastards….and no buses dont move faster…its all BS

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