The Right Way to Double Park a Delivery Truck

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This handy illustration, courtesy of DOT via "Gridlock" Sam Schwartz, should be in the training curriculum for every delivery driver who does business in New York. Streetfilms’ Clarence Eckerson, who came across this graphic last week, says his appeals to delivery drivers stationed in bike lanes are often met by the excuse that it is not illegal to double park. When a vehicle blocks a bike lane, the law says otherwise:

No vehicle is allowed to block a bicycle lane at any time. If there is no curbside spaces on either side of the street within 100 feet of a delivery/pickup location, commercial vehicles may stand, “double parked,” next to a bicycle lane. If there is no active loading or unloading taking place standing a vehicle in such a manner can result in a violation. Please note also that this does not apply to midtown Manhattan.

  • d

    More important than giving this to truck drivers would be giving this to police officers.

  • Larry Littlefield

    As I rode up Tillary toward the Brooklyn Bridge this morning, I came upon a truck and a para-transit vehicle parked in the barrier-protected double bike lane.

    Since it was a double bike lane, the driver of the para-transit vehicle was forced to leave the driver’s side door open in order to completely obstruct bicycles, forcing them to ride the wrong way down the street along its entire length.

    I can only assume the oaratransit driver was seeking to ensure a supply of future customers.

    I knocked the door closed as I went by. The driver of neither vehicle was in sight. And what were they delivering to in that location at that time of the morning anyway?

  • I am so confused. Why does NYC not have loading zones considering the amount of truck traffic we have for deliveries.

  • Ian Turner

    Shishi, that would remove parking spaces allocated to the placard elite.

  • You can’t win either way. They either block the bike lane or create a dangerous corridor of parked cars. Personally, I take the motor vehicle lane in either one of those situations as I’d rather maintain my visibility than risk getting doored or hitting the delivery guy.

  • I agree with Michael @ #5, I’d rather have the truck in the bike lane and go around it than have it next to the bike lane ready to door me as I go past and creating bad tunnel vision.

  • I tried explaining this to cops for over a year before giving up.

    THERE’S MORE to the “wrong” and “right” of these two pictures than just blocking bike lanes or not!!!!

    Look at the “wrong way” picture. Notice that the truck is not only blocking the bike lane, HE’S ALSO BLOCKING THE CAR LANE, EVEN THOUGH HE’S PULLED WAY OVER LIKE A GOOD BOY. A car travelling in that lane would still have to move over, no two ways about it!

    In the “right way” picture, of course the truck is blocking the car lane, BUT NO MORE EFFECTIVELY THAN IN THE “WRONG WAY” picture.

    So, end result: “wrong way,” obstructs bikes AND cars. “Right way,” ONLY obstructs cars, and not even any more than in the “wrong way!”

    Also, the “right way” does not force cyclists to weave dangerously into and out of visibility, or deal with TWO dooring zones instead of one.

    However, sadly, THE ONLY WAY the message of this illustration will reach ANY motorists is if THE BIKE LANE CONTAINS A TEXT MESSAGE,

    “Double park THERE –>”

    (arrow pointing out of bike lane, to car lane)

    The thing is, motorists pull over into the bike lane because *they think they’re doing the right thing by pulling all the way over.* They know they’re not supposed to double park, but they think that the farther over they pull, the more they minimize the offense. Folks, they don’t see the bike lane as any different from the car lane. They’re just trying, the wrong way, to keep out of the way. They’re not evil anti-bike monsters. Narrow class 2 lanes are.

    The picture is pretty much the same one I presented in a letter to the Midtown North Precinct after the City put in the unbuffered bike class 2 bike lane on 8th Ave. in Manhattan, and Midtown North cops began parking directly in it.
    (e.g., http://www.flickr.com/photos/10798592@N08/2073246818/)

    I explained it to them, very carefully. I did not just say “hey don’t park in the bike lane.” I said that I understand that they, and delivery trucks often HAVE TO double park. And I explained that I was offering them a better way to double park.

    ALL THEY HEARD, no matter how clear I tried to be, was just some bike jerk saying “don’t park in the bike lane.” Which was not what I was saying. So again,

    THE ONLY WAY the message of this illustration will reach ANY motorists is if the bike lane itself CONTAINS THE TEXT,

    “Double park THERE –>”

    Until that happens, cyclists are just going to keep pointlessly complaining about class 2 lanes, which are, in my oft-expressed opinion, fatally flawed by design.

  • Phil

    Trucks never seem to be part of the equation when officials talk about traffic congestion. As an inveterate walker, bike rider and a car driver I find that it’s usually the trucks that are the biggest problems. I would never say that we should stop truck traffic or that we don’t need trucks to supply our needs and so on. But there must be a plan that works toward equalizing the system in some way. As for emergency services, police vehicles and the such that requires especially from those in charge a way to insure that all people are accommodated. If there is an emergency where workers have to leave the vehicle in such a hurry that they leave doors open and block bike lanes and parked vehicles, well that happens. But education goes a long way and it wouldn’t hurt for the city to start an educational campaign for its workers who drive vehicles.

    One thing that can be done for trucks is to set up special day hours for trucks only on commercial streets so that they aren’t double parking everywhere. I won’t go into details since they’re beyond my expertise.

  • I’m not sure which way I prefer as a cyclist. I’d be worried about a double threat of dooring if a “threaded the needle” of a car double-parked as the diagram shows as being the “right” way. I tend to go way around a double-parked car now because I have no idea which doors will open and when.

  • correction to my last paragraph: cyclists are going to comlain about ABUSES of class 2 lanes, which, in their fatally-flawed design, invite the abuse.

  • Matt H

    On reflection I think this diagram has things backwards, though obviously I’m not crazy about either scenario. Riding between a stopped truck and the curb puts me in a place where obstacles will often suddenly appear in my path without any avenue of escape. (a hand-truck crossing my path of motion? Truck-cab door opening into my path, particularly if, as illustrated, the driver’s side door opens into the bike lane? Pedestrian jaywalking or stepping out in front of the truck to hail a cab? All are possible). Also, this puts me in a position where I can’t see other traffic for a good 5-10 seconds, nor can they see me. That’s all I need, to get creamed by a motorist making a turn into a side-street or a driveway just past the truck. If I ever have to pass any traffic this way, I do so only extremely slowly and cautiously.

    If an unloading truck has its wheels in the bike lane, contrariwise, there’s now a bike-lane-width strip of pavement in the main roadway that I can use as a through lane which cars cannot, even allowing space for the door zone. I can merge into the auto lane when I see the obstruction looming ahead, but am not obliged to do a partial merge into the next lane over to actually get around, giving me greater freedom to proceed than the motorists behind me have. There are dangers this way, to be sure, and some need to slow down to do this safely, but nothing so extreme or that’s likely to catch me by surprise.

    Friends of mine take the John Forrester-esque position on bike lanes, that they just confuse things. I don’t go quite so far, but the viewpoint does have some good points to make.

  • Just reduce the bloody speed of cars and there won’t appear to be some need to separate bike from cars at all.

    If a city simply MUST have a bike lane on a one-way avenue, I propose, as always, this: http://www.flickr.com/photos/10798592@N08/1414440531/

  • Larry Littlefield

    “As an inveterate walker, bike rider and a car driver I find that it’s usually the trucks that are the biggest problems. I would never say that we should stop truck traffic or that we don’t need trucks to supply our needs and so on.”

    Much of NYC was built without off-street loading docks. Unfortunately, even in post-1961 buildings with loading docks, the docks are often obstructed by the parked car of some insider, while trucks load and unload from the street.

  • Matt, Michael, and Josh, in my view the painted lanes are not safe at speeds exceeding 10 MPH or so. If I am traveling faster than than 10 MPH I don’t think I’d be able to avoid the ubiquitous dooring hazard present in on street lanes. That doesn’t mean the on-street lanes are usless or oppressive to bicyclists; it means they are for bicyclists traveling at slower speeds. Bicyclists traveling at faster speeds should simply take the traffic lane as NYC allows them to do (even when a bike lane is present) when it is not “reasonably safe” to ride in the bicycle lane given their speed, road conditions, obstacles int he bicycle lane, etc.

  • Max Rockatansky

    Being a fairly “relaxed” cyclist myself I agree with BicyclesOnly, bike lanes work pretty well at slower speeds.

  • I’m sure some of you have seen the bike stops which hand out stickers that look like traffic violations to shove on the window / wind shield of a car when they park in a bike lane. I think what streetblog et. al. need to do is create a nice PDF so we can print out our own pages of a proper guide to double parking to put under the wipers of violating trucks. Because, it is legal when not in a bike land and the best way to do this would be without confrontation but saying “hey, it’s okay to double park and you won’t get a ticket as long as you aren’t in our bike lanes”. I think this is something drivers will understand… maybe… hopefully… as for completely illegal double parkers they might not want to be even farther in the street.

  • Matt H

    BicyclesOnly,

    There are bike lanes and there are bike lanes. Anything that’s so narrow that you’ll end up in the door zone should basically be ignored in determining lane positioning. Other bike lanes (say, 8th Avenue between 23rd and 57th, the unbuffered segment) are safely usable at speed. I wouldn’t want to sneak around a truck that’s legally double-parked there, though. Actually, now that it comes up, I would feel safe with this maneuver in a buffered bike lane, like on Hudson/8th below 23rd street.

    Apropos of nothing in particular, I noticed that I do tend to go pretty slow in the 9th Avenue cycletrack. Must be the pedestrians that wander in and the bike salmon. Not strictly a bad thing, though! 🙂

    Matt

  • fdr

    The new Vernon Boulevard bike lane near Costco this morning was loaded with truck after truck after truck, for blocks.

  • Dave

    Don’t blame the trucks…blame the city that doesn’t allow for loading zones to accommodate the trucks that need to service just about every block in the city. Either the city doesn’t want to give up the parking ticket revenue from double-parked trucks, or the city is scared to take away curb spaces (hello permit parking?)

    On another note does anyone else have a problem with FreshDirect that uses the city street as their warehouse to deliver groceries to homes that are usually close to a supermarket? FedEx/UPS trucks are also guilty but they replace a USPS truck. FreshDirect trucks are noisy and replace the delivery man/bike whatever from a local merchant. What gives?

  • Fendergal

    I agree that I’d rather go around a double-parked truck, whether he’s parked in a bike lane or not. I prefer to be visible and in the traffic mix, instead of riding through some narrow tunnel where I’m likely to be doored or to collide with the driver or some other person not expecting me to be there.

  • This is why grade-separated bikeways are so wildly popular wherever you put them. Cars can’t run you over or block the bike lane. The result? 30% mode share biking – headed towards 50%, as in Copenhagen (they started at 2% in the 70’s).

    Why are we afraid to put up barriers to cars? Just put up a curb or jersey barrier and some bollards so the cars have no way of getting in. Problem solved. Maybe you could make it limited access – like the retractable bollards they have at Gov’t sites here in DC, in case there’s some kind of emergency, or someone gets a permit for a moving van. But there’s no reason why a building in the city needs to be accessible by car 24-7; it doesn’t.

    The fact is that there’s no sort of freight that couldn’t be delivered in the city by some sort of electrified urban freight rail. The last mile can almost always be handled by some kind of utility cargo trike, postman’s bike, etc. There are very few situations that cars and trucks are truely necessary.

  • “On another note does anyone else have a problem with FreshDirect…”

    http://www.streetsblog.org/2007/10/02/fresh-direct-responds-to-environmental-critics/
    http://www.streetsblog.org/2006/11/22/fresh-direct-builds-a-grocery-empire-on-free-street-space/

    “FedEx/UPS trucks are also guilty but they replace a USPS truck”

    USPS sometimes uses carts (and bikes ?) but probably not as much as they should.

    I always wonder if some of the anti-FrestDirect attitudes come from people that don’t really cook (in which case, every neighborhood has good enough grocery shopping) and probably have a lot of restaurant food delivered in styrofoam packaging, but it’s fair to say that version 1.0 of FD’s business was built without nearly enough concern for environmental impacts. Their trucks are too big, their drivers are too eager to park in bike lanes, and zero effort is made to consolidate deliveries. Now they are pushing their prepared meals more and more ($$$), so even their slight environmental positive of dealing in mostly basic ingredients is being eroded.

    UPS, FedEx, FreshDirect, all big delivery companies that want to keep the corporate brand clean are going to have to rework their NYC distribution operations to depend less on large trucks constantly circling and stopping, using all parts of the street as a diesel-burning warehouse. Deliveries should be bundled for neighborhoods, so the trucks can find a real loading zone (the city will need to make more those) and deliver by cart from there. As customers, we’re going to have be a little more flexible in delivery times. As concerned citizens, any time a pedestrian or cyclist is hurt or killed in a situation aggravated by a badly parked corporate truck, we must give them hell. A protest boycot stemming from a crash (if given sympathetic news coverage) would make bad driving and parking too expensive of a business practice.

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