Eyes on the Street: Guerrilla Bike Lane Separation on Bergen Street

Streetsblog reader and former Manhattan Community Board 2 standout Ian Dutton has hit upon a low-cost way to keep the Bergen Street bike lane clear of NYPD squad cars. The short piece of Bergen between Sixth Avenue and Flatbush is routinely blocked by the 78th Precinct’s vehicles, so Ian took advantage of some idle Con-Ed construction posts (they had been left by the curb during some utility work) to clearly mark off the bike lane. The markers went down on Monday and they kept the squad cars out at least until Wednesday evening. Today Ian reports that Con-Ed is using the cones to direct traffic away from a cut in the street, and the separation is gone — for now.

Ian bravely decided to claim responsibility for this act of guerrilla bikeway design. It’s a good thing we’re not in Indiana, where livable streets vigilantes have to operate in the shadows.

  • Anonymous

    I’m amazed that this worked, considering the parking behavior I’ve seen in the NYPD!

  • great job Ian!
    Though I understand there may be legality issues and certainly liability issues should someone get hurt, but overall I think this kind of simple solution is often a perfect first step. it;s not necessarily elegant, but it costs practically no money at all and can provide tangible evidence to new behaviors when future traffic calming is implemented. I appreciate DOT taking time for much more involved and detailed designs as well as them eventually building out those ideas more fully with capital project. But in the interim I often think these “guerrilla” actions that could test street improvements even before a bucket of paint needs to be brought out for temporary surface treatments.  

  • It’s a shame that people have to resort to actions like this in an attempt to get the police to adhere to the laws that they exist to enforce.

  • Ian, can you put some poles on the sidewalk to prevent the 78th from parking there, too?

  • Bluewonderpowermilk96

    If the feds had tow trucks to tow cop cars doing these infractions, I bet you this wouldn’t be as problematic as it has gotten to become. Besides would’ve been easier just for the cop car to park in the safety strip it parked next to? O.o

  • Jgreenspon

    I noticed the bollards this week, and thought “what a great idea!”  It was a pleasure to be able to ride in the bike lane for a change.  Sorry not to see them there this morning.

  • SGreenberg

    Maybe it’s time to start a Kickstarter campaign to fund a guerrilla bike lane protection program.  Let’s buy some orange posts, and we can all put them up where they’re needed most.

  • Hilda

    I never knew there was a bike lane there! I always thought there was just a gap between 6th and Flatbush…

  • Ben Kintisch

    I also enjoyed using the lane unblocked by cones, and I said to myself, “Wow, there’s no cop car blocking my way!” Well, New York’s Finest, you better go and park in our way again.

  • DOT refuses to restripe in our area, and I bought a gallon of striping paint.  I’m screwing up the courage to go at it.

    It is depressing that the DOT has gone backwards with regard to street striping. The borough commissioner told me with a straight face she didn’t see a problem with not striping stop points and crosswalks in residential areas.

  • Andrew

    Who wants to join me on a mission to install guerrilla bollards along the curb for a three-block radius around every police station in the city?

  • Joe R.

    @Andrew_J_C:disqus Count me in. There’s something about the police parking on sidewalks which strikes a raw nerve in me.

  • J

    @2555783a6f62598b6aadd2d882a4830f:disqus I’m with you. I walked into the precinct near my house and asked how I could file a complaint. The officer on duty said to me, completely seriously, “those are our sidewalks. If you have a problem with it, write a letter to the mayor.” Troubling. 

  • Anonymous

    My man, Ian Dutton!
    We alL have to follow his example as the DOT is clearly pursuing quantity in the bike lanes installations.

  • Anonymous

    Joe R: Be sure to Cc the Precinct Commander and the Police Commissioner as well.

  • Other Michael from Park Slope says:”A police spokesman said officers park in reserved spaces on Sixth Avenue side of the precinct and that cops only park in the bike lane when there’s no other option.”There is always another option. It is called FINDING A SPOT.


  • Guest

    @ringrunner:disqus  – that’s right.  The police cannot just break laws that expressly prohibit them from disregarding traffic laws just because it’s somehow inconvenient for them.

    There’s a lot of things inconvenient about my job, but I sure don’t tell the people who pay me that I’m just going to do what I want (and put their lives at risk in the process!).

    Even at that… they could just park in the painted area.  Cars may have to slow down just a little to get through, but it wouldn’t pose a threat of serious bodily injury to anybody.

    Apparently the NYPD has become a pathetic bunch of lying lawbreakers who just do what they want.  And, according to the news this morning, doing what they want now includes raping at gunpoint!

    How do we not have independent oversight?!!  Time to bring in the Feds already!!!

  • Anonymous

    I biked past this the other day and almost fainted. I thought there’s no way the city was that clever and thoughtful. Sadly I was right.

    I was standing at that light one day waiting for a green when a guy made a left from Flatbush and drove 30 mph THE WRONG WAY in the bike lane. If I hadn’t had had one foot on the curb I wouldn’t have been able to throw my bike and myself out of the way. Cops did nothing.

  • Why not stop, get off the bike and walk it on the sidewalk? Some bikers are biggest a-holes out there get all road ragey because they can’t fathom stopping for a second and being safe about the situation and walking where they cannot travel through be it double parked cars or cars just trying to get through traffic. Bikes can stop on a dime and cars can’t! That’s why bikers end up dead. This is just Darwinism in action. 

  • Bikes can stop on a dime?  Really

  • Joe R.

    @facebook-1081625450:disqus Bikes don’t stop on a dime in my universe unless they’re traveling at walking pace (3 to 5 mph). Even then they really don’t but they can usually stop in a few feet. At normal bike speeds stopping takes much longer. On a good day I can haul my bike down from 25 mph to 0 in maybe 35 or 40 feet by modulating the front brake (rear brake is useless for quick stops) right to the point where the rear wheel is slightly off the ground during the entire stop. This is about as fast as it’s physically possible to stop a bike. Add in my reaction time and you’re probably closer to 45 feet from the time my eyes see something until I actually cease forward motion. 99% of cyclists lack the skills to stop this quickly. The only saving grace is most inexperienced cyclists ride much slower, so their stopping distances from 12 mph might be comparable to mine from 25 mph. Still, that’s two car lengths. Exactly what size dime are you thinking of here? Perhaps a dime which mile tall giants use?

  • Emily

    Ah yes, silly inexperienced cyclists going so slowly that they have time to react to cars and pedestrians acting unpredictably! Good thing that never happens in NYC. When are they going to learn that bike commuting is one big race and that their mandhood is defined by how fast they can ride and how long they can balance on their pedals at the red lights they choose to stop at?


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