Cops, Cabs and Trucks Ignore 34th Street SBS Lane

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DOT plans to use cameras to keep cabs and government vehicles out of the 34th Street lanes.

Last Monday the city launched phase one of its second Select Bus Service route, on 34th Street in Manhattan. From what we could tell on Friday, so far some new signage and fresh terracotta paint are about all that distinguish the new lanes from that of a conventional line.

In contrast to the Bx12 Fordham Road route, which debuted in June, there are no pre-paid boarding stations or spiffy aqua blue buses. And in advance of planned camera enforcement and other "soft" deterrents, there is no shortage of vehicles using the lanes for parking during the 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. bus-only window.

Streetsblog has a call in to DOT for more info on when additional SBS features will be coming to 34th Street. Plans call for the corridor to eventually become the city’s first "Transitway," with protected bus lanes and a car-free plaza between 5th and 6th Avenues.

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The driver of this truck was nowhere to be seen for 15-20 minutes.

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Well, it is a bus lane.

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Which should I block: the bus lane or the sidewalk?

Photos: Brad Aaron

  • Marty Barfowitz

    The NYPD might want to consider re-deploying those officers who are busy harassing bike commuters on the Queensborough Bridge over to 34th Street.

    Mayor Bloomberg, aren’t you supposed to be a 21st century business management guru type? How about applying some of those skills to managing your city’s streets? Is this really such rocket science, keeping a bus lane clear?

    Pathetic.

  • t

    One officer spending one hour in midtown ticketing trucks that block the SBS lane could make more money than one cop spending one week at the bottom of the Brooklyn Bridge. Raise the fine, increase the enforcement, and you’ll have paid for the entire SBS in a matter of months.

  • While I yield to no one in my loathing of vehicles that hog bus/bike/ped space, the 7 AM to 7 PM rule is probably going to prove confusing. What we really need are simple rules that apply 24/7, physically separate lanes to ensure safety and fairness for all road users, and of course, vigorous enforcement. Let a thousand bollards bloom.

  • Max Rockatansky

    Physically separated lanes are the only solution. Asking nicely won’t work.

  • l

    The question is, what can we do to help improve enforcement of the new bus lane?

    Forward pictures to the DOT?

  • Narwal

    The truck with the AWOL driver blocking the bus lane looks like it belongs to the MTA.

  • Matt

    @Mark. I’m not sure how you could really enforce a 24×7 rule. For instance, how are businesses to take deliveries or move-ins/outs if the lane is permanently out of bounds?

    The signage is pretty clear on 34th Street now. However, the no honking signage is also clear. As is the no left turn on park signage. As is the box junction signage.

    In countries or cities where people have a realistic fear of being ticketed, then behavior is very different. New Yorkers generally don’t fear any consequence to their actions. Not that they’re bad people. Rules which aren’t enforced are quickly ignored. Why should people follow a rule when everyone else ignores the rule without consequence? Enforcement is the only answer and shouldn’t be sporadic. Enforcement needs to be permanent for a period until behaviors are changed.

  • joe bloggs

    ditto Matt on problems with 24/7 rule. New York does not have alleys and with no curbside access, businesses will not survive without some sort of curb space for deliveries. In some cities, bus lane rules are relaxed in off peak periods. For example, deliveries would be encouraged between 9:30 and 3:30, and delivery trucks will not be ticketed as long as they make a delivery and move along. Then, during peak periods, the bus lane would be strictly enforced during peak travel periods.

    New York’s lack of alley’s is actually a major annoyance when you come to think of it. It also means that you have to put your garbage on the curb, which smells, which stains the sidewalk which in turn looks ugly, which makes walking around the city unpleasant, etc…

  • Mike Harrington

    This is simply another reason to build light rail, which can be designed to keep motor vehicles from driving on the right of way.

  • zach

    How about in the same giant lettering that it says “bus only” also “fine $300 7am – 7pm” or whatever it is. The fine is not some theoretical thing, but an actual amount, and the time should appear concrete. Then when they get ticketed, parkers aren’t surprised, they don’t fight back, it’s easier for the cops to ticket, and they’ll do it more. Better signage isn’t as good as bollards, but it’s something. If not giant street lettering, at least big clear signs on posts

    People now read “bus only” as “bus only pretty please, unless you have something genuinely important to park for” rather than “bus only or get a fat ticket, no kidding.”

  • In London they have cameras on the buses so that anyone blocking a bus lane will receive a fine.

  • joe bloggs

    zach – i think it’s a hard but simple truth: 7AM – 7PM ban on the curb (except for buses) will lead businesses to revolt. There are no alleys in New York and therefore, access to the curb is utterly important on a day-to-day basis.

    If you want to keep buses, the most realistic option is to find some sort of peaceful coexistence, as in relaxing enforcement during non-peak periods. It only makes sense to share the lane when it is not heavily used.

    Let’s face it, NYC is a perfect storm for curbside conflict: you have chronic traffic congestion during most of the waking day, and there is no other way for businesses to access the street except the curb.

  • Argosy

    I live on E 34th street. When I moved in, these were not bus lanes, but lanes allowed commerical metered parking during the day. So UPS, FedEx, FreshDirect, my furniture delivery, etc could actually legally park and drop off my stuff. What exactly are they supposed to do now? Double park? Wouldn’t that be worse?

  • zach

    What we really need are entrances from the 33rd or 35th street blocks that cross through to the buildings that face 34th st. That way 33rd and 35th can be our virtual alleys. They certainly feel that way already.

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