Eyes on the Street: You Don’t Belong in the Bike Lane, Sir

truck_lane.jpg

A reader sends this photo of a huge rig using Kent Avenue’s new protected bike path as its own, highly illegal shortcut. Our tipster says the trucker was bearing down on him at a rapid clip for several blocks before slowing down enough to hear an inquiry through the window: "What do you think you’re doing?" The driver’s response was unenlightening and filled with obscenities, we’re told. This shot was taken after the confrontation.

The last time we checked in on the Kent Avenue project, which converted the street to one-way flow, truck traffic was the burning issue. The 90th and 94th precincts are supposed to keep trucks off streets where they don’t belong. From the looks of it, police need to send a stronger message.

See the head-on view of the rig after the jump.

kent_truck_2.jpg

  • Holy Moly!

    That’s an advertisement for a bollard if I ever saw one!
    Make it removable for maintenance and you’re in business!

  • Emily Litella

    No fear of the cops, that is what most of these violations are a product of. I know this from first hand experience I’m not proud to say.

  • A single bollard probably wouldn’t stand a chance.

  • Grinner

    So, driving the wrong way on a one-way. In a bike lane (the bike lane looks gorgeous, BTW). I’d have lobbed obscenities out of my cab, too:

    – my $%^$%%&*^&&*@#$#^ bottle’s empty!
    – %^*&()#$@%^ GPS said to take a #$@%^^&*(@#$ right on Kent!
    – #$%@##@! Can’t you see i’m texting my dispatcher for directions?

  • J

    Agreed. DOT seems to be getting lax about installing the plastic bollards on the protected lanes. Bollards, even the cheap plastic kind, seem to send a stronger message to drivers to stay out, even though they could easily be knocked over. They haven’t been installed on the 8th ave lane yet, and they aren’t on much of Broadway or Kent either. Cars often just find the turning bay and park there. Any decent bike lane is going to need either enforcement or bollards. With little support from NYPD, it looks like bollards are the best bet.

    It also might be useful to make sure that all maps are updated. Did the photographer find out where this guy was going, so the company can be contacted? Many (not all) are quite responsive, as they have images to maintain.

  • Clarence Eckerson Jr.

    That is a scary site.

  • Eric

    Just how flagrant does a violation have to be before the police do something? I can only hope someone is able to find out which company owns this truck, I’m sure they would love the publicity.

  • Please update with any information on the company that owns the truck.

  • Big Tony

    I own the truck. I told the driver not to use those bike lanes. He thought it was a delivery lane. I also told him not to curse at people. He promised me he’d be a good boy!

  • That is something to fear on a “safe” bike lane.

    It’s probably worth getting the lane designers and the police together to discuss this, because the lane people will be fairly unhappy about their work being wasted, and they can put more pressure on the police to act. But you do need to act. The only bike infrastructure that exists is that which is defended. Aggressively.

  • Ian Turner
  • No bollards in bike lane!!

    It may stop motor vehicle traffic (probably not in NYC) but it is more likely that a bicyclist will crash into it first. Even a crashing into a plastic bollard on your bike would be enough to really ruin your day, week or even life.

    Enforcement is the key but somehow the largest police force in the US (larger than the next 3 PD’s combined) doesn’t seem to have enough resources to properly enforce traffic rules.

  • ian,

    Maybe three heavy duty steel bollards but certainly not those lightweight plastic ones they’re constantly replacing on the West Side Greenway.

    Several weeks ago I was riding through Pelham Bay Park, on my way back from City Island, where someone had placed a couple of large boulders in the bike lane. That’s one way to keep trucks out but it can be really dangerous for cyclists at night. Between my 5 LED blinkie and my new brake pads I was barely able to stop in time.

  • Ian,
    I loved that video! Something so incongruous about the smooth jazz-meets-middle eastern music and the slow motion shots of the truck imploding! I might have to put that in the “unintentionally hilarious product demo video file along with the saw stopper!

    Since it’s a two way bike lane (which is why it’s wide enough to drive a truck down) I’m not sure why the bollards are such a problem for bikers. A couple of stripes of reflective tape or some glass bead paint, and it should be much more visible than a boulder (and effective, I would think)
    I don’t know the plastic bollards, I was just thinking the steel pipe type with a “cotterpin” and a padlock.

  • This is why we need handle bar mounted grenade launchers. But seriously, as appalled as I am at the sight of a truck in a bike lane, I can’t help but wonder whether the design of the bike lane encourages this sort of behavior. The bike lane would function just fine if it were narrower or if there were a curb between the bike lane and the row of parked cars, and it would be safer if it were physically impossible for cars or trucks to squeeze through. One of the great advantages of the laws of physics is that we don’t need to rely on NYPD to enforce them.

    I know that the width of street cleaning vehicles currently imposes a minimum width of bike lanes, but that seems to be an argument for a different approach to cleaning, not a reason for building bike lanes that are wide enough to accommodate a truck. Besides, even though I’d love to see protected bike lanes everywhere, I believe in the basic ethical principle of not taking more than you need, and an extravagantly dimensioned bike lane seems to violate that.

  • Bob

    Do we have a license plate number or operator name for this truck? I’d say the first step in all of this should be to call the cops, especially if you have photos.

  • Camera enforced bike lanes. It could pay for itself with all the fines and tickets it’ll rack up.

  • Cycler,

    So your casually riding down this lane on your bike in broad daylight. As you approach the bollard you notice that an oncoming cyclist will pass the bollard at the same moment you will. Just before you reach the bollard a wayward pedestrian, garbage can, dog, tumbleweed, etc, (pick one) wanders into your path. You try to avoid this person/thing but you end up plowing into the bollard instead since you have no other “out”.

    This is just one scenario in which a totally alert cyclist, in optimal conditions can crash into a bollard. Most bicycle and pedestrian planners now frown upon their use to keep motor vehicle out a controlled space since they usually pose a greater crashing hazard for cyclists and other path/trail users then they actually end up helping. Not to mention all the maintenance that goes along with having to replace broken ones and the hassle to move them to get authorized equipment into the protected space.

  • Fendergal

    I see semi trucks driving the wrong way down the one-way street my office sits on, Richardson Street, in Brooklyn. In broad daylight. Almost every single day. Where are the cops? Clearly, truck drivers feel as if the rules do not apply to them.

  • > truck drivers feel as if the rules do not apply to them

    They don’t. Reposting

    http://www.nyc.gov/html/dof/html/parking/park_commercial_fleet.shtml

  • To put it simply:

    There is one law for us, the lay citizenry; there is another law for the privileged factions, who’ve bought government; and there’s no law at all for the regime itself.

    They’re not exempt from bullets, which is – unfortunately – where I am increasingly convinced this will wind up.

  • Bollards are trouble, though you get used to them and they do keep cars and vans out.

    What could work is a low barrier above the path, something that does damage to any can trying to get through. The hard part here is choosing the right height; a tall adult is higher than most automobiles, so you can only put up a block that keeps trucks and vans out. But that’s a start

  • Catherine

    Apropos of trucks in wide bike lanes, in the West Village, a woman was crushed by a Parks Department truck in the bike lane. http://www.downtownexpress.com/de_342/womancrushed.html
    I enjoyed the bollard video thanks. I like bollards best for sidewalks, myself.

  • Kaja

    Months back, at the outset of the Manhattan Bridge bike approach reconstruction, I saw ‘bollard (+)’ chalkmarks, and I wonder what became of them.

    They were about two inches in diameter and there were three of them: one to protect a cyclist’s northbound right turn up Chrystie; at the bottom of the steep hill at the foot of bridge towards Forsyth; and on the Brooklyn side where the path opens onto Sands St under the east edge of the bridge, about centered in the bike waiting area, also I guess to slow folks down.

    I should’ve shot pictures. It’s interesting that two of the three seemed placed to deter rude biking. And that northbound right onto Chrystie gets my hackles way up, it still feels easy to get squashed by a van coming off the bridge who feels like it’s his road. The first in-street bollard in NYC should totally go there.

  • kent ave cyclist

    i live right where this happened. kent and south 9th. this happens all day every day. i’d bet i could count a couple dozen people incorrectly turning on the bike path (going the wrong way) from broadway. and not to mention the drivers, like this one, that knowingly use the bike path like their own highway. and the minivans that continually park on the bike lanes all around williamsburg. . .

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