Bikes Are Traffic, Too


Anyone else seen these signs around town?

Cyclists heading up the Clinton Street bike lane in Brooklyn Heights are getting a nod from the construction crew whose elevator is jutting into their right-of-way. The big orange markers, labeled "Department of Transportation," start a full block ahead of the obstruction at the corner of Montague Street.

No word from DOT as to whether the city is now requiring contractors to post an alert when they block a lane.

Taken in May, the picture below shows a much more disruptive project on the Sixth Avenue bike route, in Manhattan. That monster squatted the lane with no warning at all. (See "Bike Lanes are for Bikes — Right?")


Filed by Laura Conaway. Photos by Laura Conaway.

  • mike

    The 6th Ave project has had this sign since probably June. There’s also one on East 10th and 3rd Ave.

  • gecko

    Not sure if there’s a sign but a large dumpster in the bike lane on Fourth Avenue between 12th and 13th streets.

  • Steve

    When the City closed the 63rd Street ramp of the East Side greenway last winter, they failed to notify bicyclists at the prior exit (72nd St.) that they had to exit or carry their bike up the stairs at 63rd. I thought that was pretty shabby treatment and posted some photos:

    The city reopened the 63rd Street ramp and then closed it again a few months later. During the second closure, they posted signs at 72nd street warning wheelchair users that 72nd provided the southermost ramp access to the grid.

    Now the permanent ramp is in at 63rd, so the problem is solved, but a similar issue of not treating closures affecting bicycle traffic like those affecting motor vehicle traffic.

  • mike

    Not only is there one at East 10th and 3rd Ave, but cabbies will honk at you if you take the “regular” lane. This happened to me just today. I explained to him that the bike lane was closed, and he was dismissive, and told me to shut up.

    TLC, are you reading this? Your drivers are completely ignorant of the traffic laws.

  • Liam

    there actually is a sign for the sixth avenue construction. Its about a block and a half before it. Which is probably standard for notifying cars but seems far for bikes.

  • Your headline, Bikes Are Traffic Too, sums up something I’ve felt for a long time — that using the word traffic to refer exclusively to cars unnecessarily concedes a vital point to the car-mongers. Bikes are traffic too — and so are pedestrians!

  • Dave

    This is only vaguely on topic but after almost getting killed by a large SUV today on Fifth Avenue in Brooklyn, I’m curious:

    When making a left turn on a road with a Class II bike lane, do you have the right to occupy the road and make cars behind you wait? I pulled out the bike lane today to try and do this and had some space between a SUV a bit behind me, certainly enough for him to stop or slow down and go around me. Instead, he (speeding at around 40mph, probably) held down his horn and, as a spectator even said, seemed to speed up and almost run me over. I jumped out of the way off my bike and was a little shook up. He continued to hold down the horn until he was well past me (music playing loud, by the way).

    Obviously, he wasn’t supposed to speed nor accelerate as he approached me (if he indeed did this), but did I have the right to occupy the lane in order to make a left turn? To be honest, I’m still a bit shook up by the whole thing.

  • Steve

    Dave, I think the bike route on 5th Ave in Brooklyn is considered a Class III rather than a Class II route (no painted lane within which cars are not allowed), but either way, you are allowed to make a left turn on any street just as a vehicle would unless there is signage to the contrary. It says so in the NYC cycling map (see “Safety Tips,” turning “As A Vehicle”):

  • mike

    Again this morning I got honked and yelled at for taking the lane when the bike lane on 6th Ave was closed. Drivers: I know the road far better than you do.

  • Peter

    Dave, you’re right – the Class III bike lane on 5th ave is dicey at best. I’ll bet you were heading north and making the left onto Bergen – I’ve nearly been hit there as well.

    A lot of drivers in that area don’t respect the rules of the road, and will accelerate rather than brake almost every time. Heck, they don’t respect pedestrians either – I’ve nearly been run over on foot several times by drivers accelerating through left turns w/o looking.

  • paola

    These signs are USELESS. How many kazillion signs are on the street?! And how many drivers pay attention to any of them that don’t result in a huge ticket?

    Bloomberg needs to grow a set and tell NYPD to go out and ticket cars for failure to exercise due care, speeding or what ever other offense they’re committing when they willfully intimidate (nevermind maim or kill) cyclists.

  • rick

    On Clinton Street in Brooklyn, the sign itself is a road hazard for cyclists; see how it sticks out. Plus, Cars and Trucks park in the bike lane there all the time, just look ahead in the picture. Traffic enforcement would help. I’ve seen vespas, motorcycles, and even small cars ride in the bike lane on Clinton St; especially when it is alternate side parking day.

  • Spud Spudly

    Yes, bikes are traffic too. Which means that just like any other traffic they have to deal with misplaced street signs, unannounced lane closures, road raging dummies and assorted other hazards and headaches.

    Not that they don’t have the right to complain about it…

  • Steve

    #13, its not just a case of bicyclists complaining like everyone else because they think their transportation instrastructure/experience should be ideal and it isn’t. The difference is that motorists and pedestrians get their own space that generally is respected by others, while bicyclsits don’t. As I pointed out in #3 above, DoT thinks nothing of closing a major artery for bicyclists without any notice, but will give notice to pedestrians and motorists. The point of the post is to present one of the rare cases where a bicyclists’ right-of-way is acknowledged. Here’s another example–albeit from the private sector–a “bicyclists’ tow-away zone”:

  • Gwin

    Mike: you should’ve noted his medallian number and reported him to the TLC. That’s what I always do when taxis threaten/harass me when I’m on my bike.

  • mike

    I know. In the heat of the moment, I forgot to do so.

  • Emily Litella

    Its very easy to hold taxi drivers to account. Simply report the infraction to TLC and a hearing will be held. Be prepared to show up at 40 Rector St about three weeks later to state your case. Simple as that. Save it for the real mean pricks though. A lot of these drivers are agressive because its just the way they operate, according to local custom (right or wrong).


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