Tillary Street: Bike Lane or Parking Space?

Guess what Transportation Alternatives’ Brooke DuBose and Streetfilms’ Clarence Eckerson found in Downtown Brooklyn’s physically-separated bike lane on Tillary Street this morning? Cars and trucks, of course. Four of them driving, parking or unloading in the "protected" bike lane in just ten minutes of filming. Streetsbloggers who have been debating bike lane design and enjoying Bollard Porn, will appreciate Clarence’s video:

  • ddartley

    Great vid/post. But none of those retractable bollards, says I. As much as those U.K. drivers deserved the inconvenience they got in the “bollard porn” video, the bollards create too much of a hazard for pedestrians, as the video also demonstrated.

    Drivers will always do stupid stuff like those in the video, so might as well not create a condition where a #%@& driver might get his big car bounced into the air and possibly onto a nearby stroller. Driver’s fault or not, we don’t want crushed strollers. No retractable bollards here, please. There are other ways.

  • There used to be a bollard at the foot of the bridge (Adams/Tillary) but it is gone now. The strange thing as documented by the video is that it seems as if cars decide to only drive on the 2nd block – as if it is a turning lane for cars at the light.

  • I travel this section every day, and can’t say as I see too many cars driving down it. But, it is a pretty common place for cars/trucks/vans to park. Often times it is city employees in “official” looking vehicles. There have been a few occasions where I actually had to get off my bike and pull it up onto the sidewalk to get past parked trucks as they left zero space to pass them.

    For all that though, still nicer than biking on Tillary!

  • Clarence


    Hey just to put this out there: Brooke and I were out there filming for another topic when we just happened to see these vehicles and off the cuff we addressed the truck driving in the separated lane. I left the comments in the short snippet we posted to ground it, but I wouldn’t say the comments are a official recomendation or not for retractables here or other spots – its just one of the many options available in situations here or anywhere in the world.

  • JK

    TA needs to get to the bottom of DOT’s claim that it can’t install bollards at location’s like this because of exposure to personal injury lawsuits. There should be sturdy bollards at any location at which a separated path intersects with a location at which a motorist might turn onto the path.

    More than a few times while riding on the Hudson path, a cab came driving at me and I thought “Someday a cyclist will die here.” But, I was in a hurry and just cursed and moved on. Well, someone will be killed at that location unless a bollard is installed.

  • I don’t see that retractable bollards create an unsafe situation for pedestrians. Their prevalence elsewhere would seem to suggest otherwise. If anything, reckless drivers create unsafe situations for pedestrians.

  • da

    Maybe when bikers find these vehicles in the bike lane, we could sort of blockade them for a while. Box them in and don’t let them leave.

  • Damian

    Needn’t even be solid metal bollards. Given the scarcity of separated bike lanes, it’s likely motorists are just ignorant of what they are. A set of those flexible reflective plastic things (don’t know what they’re called) would send the signal that motor vehicles are forbidden.

    Of course if that doesn’t work, then, yeah, on to car-maiming devices.

  • As in the case of what happened last week on the West Side Greenway. As I understand it the flexible plastic bollards were in place and did nothing to stop a driver from driving a mile on the greenway and killing a cyclist. Time for real solid metal bollards that can stop a car.

    Though I can’t imagine it would make much difference at the Tillary street location as most of the violators are city employees who would likely be able to lower the automated bollards for “official” business.

  • I also use this bike lane every day. And I agree that mostly parked cars/trucks are the problem here…although its not a huge problem. They are also doing a major rennovation on Cadman Plaza (just to the right on the video) so there is a certain amount of large vehicles that are parked there that are part of the conststruction in the park. Last night I photogrpahed two guys in an SUV just having a little chat. They were nice enough, when I pointed out that they were in a bike lanes they started to roll away. The only thing that drives me crazy about this spot is the amount of cops that are there. If there is so much law enforcement present, why isn’t the law being enforced?

  • Steve

    Jason, I suspect a significant reason for the law not being enforced is the “NYC Delivery Solutions/Stipulated Fine Program” run by the NYC Department of Finance. The program is described generally here: (http://www.nyc.gov/html/dof/html/parking/park_commercial_fleet.shtml).

    Under that program, commercial vehicles are permitted to double-park with complete impunity–no matter how many tickets they receive for double parking, they don’t pay a dime, because such violation are classified as “amenable” under the program. (See Testimony of DoF Commissioner Stark http://www.ci.nyc.ny.us/html/dof/html/pdf/05pdf/stark_delivery.pdf).

    Parking (and I believe also, driving) in a bike lane is classified as a “partially amenable” violation. That means that an enrollee in the Stipulated Fine Program pays only 25% of the standard fine when they are ticketed in a bike lane. This is what I was told yesterday by Marilyn Miller, administrator of the program for the DoF, who can be reached at (212) 487-2485. The standard fine is $115, so commercial enrollees in the program pay under $29.00 for parking the bike lane.

    Because most police officers know about the stipulated fine program, they tend not to ticket commercial vehicles no matter where they are double parked, expecting that no fine will be imposed and no revenue will result. While some officers may be aware that double-parking in a bike lane is only “partially amenable,” and therefore a basis for a $29 fine, I would imagine that many of them ignore bike-lane double parking in pursuit of more fruitful targets for their law enforcement efforts (admittedly a rational response), or don’t give a damn about bicyclists and actually give affirmative permission to commercial parkers to park in bike lanes (see: http://nyc.mybikelane.com/post/index/140).

    So, as far as I can tell, the city’s DoF is selling permits to park (or drive?) in the bike lane for about $29 each. This is what DoF Commissioner calls a “win-win” solution to the problem of double parking. It is no wonder that, as Bruce Schaller reports, “Delivery-company owners and managers were highly aware of the city’s commercial parking program, and they thought that it worked well.” The program may not be working so well, however, for the city’s bicyclists and bicycling advocates, who have fought hard and won a significant commitment from the city to expand the network of bike lanes only to find that they are being treated de facto by the police force and commercial parkers as designated parking lanes for commercial vehicles. There has got to be accountability from DoF and NYPD on this issue to ensure that parking and driving in bicycle lanes, *especially* Class 1 bicycle lanes, is treated as a “non-amenable offense” for which commercial violators are required to pay the full fine.

  • So, as far as I can tell, the city’s DoF is selling permits to park (or drive?) in the bike lane for about $29 each.

    That’s if everyone gets ticketed. It seems more like the city has reduced the maximum fine “if caught” to $29.00 for frequent violators of bike lanes. Let’s say you are only caught once in ten violations. The cost per violation is now $2.90. That’s similar to a meter.

    Hence all the UPS and Fedex trucks in the bike lane…

  • This issue becomes even more ugly given the city’s recent “charge” for biker safety by creating an additional 200 miles of bike lanes. Seems this is in reality, all they have done is create 200 more miles of free parking. Talk about a win-win situation.

  • I was in Washington yesterday and the Capitol area is a fortress bristling with a great many permanent steel and many retractable bollards – clearly no liability concerns there. Maybe the feds just have better lawyers?

  • ddartley

    Still working hard on my design for a bike lane that’s on the street but nowhere near parked cars.

    Got it, Clarence. And Adam–watch that “bollard porn” video again. Watch how the SUV almost bounces right onto a stroller, as others have pointed out. Yes, driver’s fault, but irrelevant. Mechanical arms, not mechanical bollards, are just one of a million safer alternatives.

  • JK

    I disagree with the assertion that cops do not ticket commercial vehicles. This is not consistent with the huge numbers of tickets commercial vehicles are given, which is the reason for the DoF commercial vehicle program in the first place. Cops and traffic agents are expected to produce summonses and there is no review of whether the vehicle summonsed is commercial or private.

  • steve

    JK, I’m interested in anything more you can tell us about this program. If you’ve looked at the testimony by Commissioner Stark linked above, you see it states that double parking is essentislly legal, and without a fine, for commercial vehicles. Are you saying that isn’t taken into account by those who write the tickets for double-parking?

  • tps12

    Wow, Steve, whenever I’ve seen those delivery trucks rolling around with windshields full of parking tickets, I always assumed the companies just paid the tickets as part of the cost of doing business in NYC. Had no idea they weren’t even paid…why do traffic cops even write the tickets in the first place?

  • Clarence

    I had a friend who was an accountant at a music group about 8 years ago. She said what most companies do that get “tickets in bulk” is rather than appeal them one at a time, save them up and then cut a deal with the city to pay – she said – 30 or 35% of them instead of not appealing each ticket.

    She moved, I don’t know her any longer, but would love to find out if that was true.

  • steve

    Clarence, check out MyBikeLane.com to see the effects of this proram on one of the first bike lanes to be installed (W. 77th-W.78) since the fanfare over the city’s commitment to build another 200 miles of bike lanes. Every day, vehicles with thousands in tickets park in bike lanes with the acquiesence and even invitation of the cops. I like bike lanes and am grateful for the city’s commitment, but what the city giveth with one agency (DOT) it taketh away with others (DoF and NYPD).


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