It’s Not the Bike Lane, Stupid: Double-Parking Caused By Poor Curb Policies

This may shock the New York Post, but double-parking is a huge problem on streets with no bike lane. Here’s 9th Street in Park Slope before it got a bike lane. Photo: Aaron Naparstek

Probably the dumbest part of a stupendously dumb Post story about double-parking tickets and the Columbus Avenue bike lane is this:

The controversial bike path from West 110th Street down to West 77th Street claimed a lane of traffic — even though it is parallel to more preferable cycling routes on Riverside Drive or in Central Park.

Trucks are forced to double-park in the middle of the avenue to make deliveries, and the companies are paying the price.

I will narrow my observations to two. First, no traffic lanes were removed to make room for the Columbus Avenue bike lane — the existing lanes were narrowed. Second, even if this project had removed a traffic lane, that wouldn’t affect access to the curb.

Delivery drivers are not double-parking because of the bike lane, or the number of traffic lanes. Narrower lanes may make double-parking more obtrusive than before, but these same truckers would have double-parked on the old Columbus Avenue design, like they do on so many NYC streets with no bike lane, because the curb is not managed to provide open spaces for delivery trucks.

The drivers — or driver, I should say, since the Post only quoted one source for the story — should be complaining to the Post about meter prices that fail to keep curbside space open, or the lack of loading zones. The bike lane isn’t the source of his problem.

And now, more pictures of double-parked trucks on streets with no bike lane…

A Manhattan side street. Photo: Streetsblog
Stillwell Avenue in Morris Park. Photo: Daily News
Bensonhurst. Photo: SeeClickFix
  • SteveVaccaro

    Nice–thanks for correcting the mistake on the supposed lane reduction.

  • Ben_Kintisch

    The real news from the Post would be a story about traffic safety that included facts and/or research.

  • J

    I actually think it’s a serious mistake on the part of DOT to continue to ignore NYC’s massive problem with curb usage and parking. Instead of actually addressing poorly regulated and priced curbside parking and loading zones, DOT is actually accommodating double parking through widened parking lanes. This tells people that double parking is acceptable and that the city has no intention of addressing the problem.

    The city continues to stripe unprotected bike lanes in areas with double parking problems. Unsurprisingly, the new lanes are used for double parking and are rendered useless. I think it’s exceedingly stupid to spend money on bike lanes that don’t actually improve bicycle mobility.

  • Kevin Love

    My employer spent a considerable sum of money on constructing and maintaining a loading dock. This results in approximately zero sympathy for others who are thieves and steal public property for this purpose.

  • dave “paco” abraham

    NYC has a loading zone problem no doubt. But also, some spots quick double parking is technically allowed. Check out code 46. http://www.nyc.gov/html/dof/html/parking/violation_codes.shtml

  • Even if the bike lane is “rarely used” in the midst of a brutal winter that saw much of the lane unplowed, it still serves a traffic calming purpose, shortening crossing distances for pedestrians and slowing turning cars. But the Post shouldn’t let any concern for pedestrians get in the way of their hatred for bikes.

  • sammy davis jr jr

    Curbside parking reform is long overdue.

  • Mark Walker

    What’s puzzling is why a bike lane (filled with moving lightweight objects with lots of space in between them) is deemed a problem for deliverymen carting bulky stuff while a line of parking spaces (filled with huge nonmoving objects with very little space between them) is deemed acceptable. I can understand why delivery drivers would prefer to have loading zones so they can park right up against the curb, but if there’s going to be an obstruction, the porous, easy-to-cross bike lane is the next best thing.

  • MatthewMArnold

    Three reporters, one source, dumber than a bag of hammers. NYP FTW!!!

    This is a serious problem, though. In the East Village, double parked trucks pose a tremendous danger, typically reducing critical stretches of Avenues A and B to one lane right at rush hour (especially at 12th and B, where construction has narrowed the road to begin with, and where school kids and parents must dodge road-ragey motorists trying to navigate the bottleneck. I’m amazed none of those kids has been squashed yet on their way to school).

  • Ari_FS

    New York STATE law allows a vehicle to be parked in front of a hydrant as long as a licensed driver is in the driver’s seat. However, New York CITY law expressly does not allow that.

    Since many delivery trucks have a driver and a helper, NYC should allow them to use hydrant zones to drop off deliveries.

    It’s a win-win-win:
    – Trucks have more space
    – Traffic is less impacted
    – Emergency response time is IMPROVED due to the city-wide reduction in congestion

  • StepUpAndSaySomething

    Fire hydrants usually don’t have enough room for a truck to pull in and unload through the back. The only way to create more parking space is to get the fee up to market rates. The technology is there to automatically adjust meter rates depending on congestion. It’s common sense that if a ground floor store cost well over $1,000 a square foot, that the meter out front should cost more then out in the outer boroughs.

  • afk

    Then add some room around the hydrant so smaller box trucks can fit in, and as long as someone is in the driver’s seat they should be able to close the truck and pull out pretty quick, even if just to double park up the block – no need to take the time to tie everything down since they aren’t going far, if there’s an emergency (fire, ambulance etc…) It would be a good place for loading zones, they are on every block, minimal impact on curbside parking – which let’s be honest, makes this more politically palatable, might discourage larger trucks from roaming city streets by only accommodating smaller ones, and gives a little more breathing room for emergency vehicles.

  • afk

    On lefferts in Kew Gardens double parked trucks are a big problem. Tried talking to the many traffic cops roaming the area, they said they can’t do anything unless they watch the truck for 30 minutes. Apparently that’s what the city means by quickly making pickups/deliveries.

  • qrt145

    Here’s what the law says:

    “expeditiously making pick-ups, deliveries or service calls” shall mean that any period of inactivity at the pick-up, delivery or service-call location does not exceed 30 minutes. However, such definition shall in no way limit the discretion of the Department of Finance Adjudication Tribunal to determine whether a violation of this paragraph has occurred.

    I’m not sure what to make of the “however” clause.

  • da

    Sadly, the stretch of 9th Street in the top pic has about as many double parkers today, even with the bike lane.

  • J_12

    NYC regulations require 15′ of space on either side of a fire hydrant. A 30′ space is plenty of room for the typical small to medium box truck that makes deliveries in NYC (this includes UPS and Fedex trucks.)

  • J_12

    Double parking vehicles (not just trucks) are endemic throughout daytime hours on just about every commercial street. They create various unsafe conditions for bikers, pedestrians, and other drivers.

    Based on my own observations, streets with metered spots tend to have less of a problem. Even at the rock bottom prices charged by NYC meters, curbside space tends to free up at a rate that accommodates at least some of the vehicles making deliveries or transporting mechanical tradesmen.

    Drivers are clearly very price sensitive when it comes to paying for curbside space. Increasing the meter rates by even a small amount, say $2/hour instead of $1/hour, would very likely create enough curbside space for most deliveries without having to dedicate any space for deliveries only and thereby remove parking spots.

    As a small business owner, I often have to transport various heavy or bulky items by car (passenger vehicles, not commercial.) I wish all the streets around my business were metered, as I would much rather pay a few dollars then have to spend time circling around to look for a legal spot, or park illegally and risk a ticket.

  • Driver

    I don’t think it’s the cost of the meter that results in available spots as much as the time restrictions. I find it much easier to find a spot at a 1 hour meter than a 2 or 4 hour metered spot.

  • J_12

    maybe you’re right, although I think plenty of people just feed the meter

  • Wi Cho

    That defeats the purpose…bike lane=double parking lane.

  • Mark

    That’s not exactly true, see below.
    I was unaware that the rule was different at night, however.

    From: http://www.nyc.gov/html/dof/html/parking/violation_codes.shtml

    Violation Code 40:

    “Stopping, standing or parking closer than 15 feet of a fire hydrant. Between sunrise and sunset, a passenger vehicle may stand alongside a fire hydrant as long as a driver remains behind the wheel and is ready to move the vehicle if required to do so.”

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