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Dear Streetsbloggers: How Do You Handle Alt-Side Parkers in the Bike Lane?

Christine Bush, editor of the neighborhood blog South Slope News, writes in with this question about when painted bike lanes and alternate side parking collide:

We just had our snazzy new bike lanes pop up on 14th and 15th Streets in South Park Slope last weekend, but when I left to take my son to school this morning, I discovered most of the lane blocked by double-parked cars.

Is this an issue on other bike lane streets?

Other residential streets with un-protected bike lanes do have this problem on alt-side parking days. The problem has been overcome, sort of, on at least one of these streets.

On Maple Street in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, the alt-side double parkers stay out of the bike lane. Neighborhood blog Hawthorne Street attributed this behavior to some effective enforcement by the 71st Precinct in 2007.

While it's great to enforce the integrity of bike lanes, it might just be better to ride next to the empty curb instead of going in the narrow space between two rows of parked cars, where you'd have to look out for getting doored. Then again, if you ride by the curb, you'd have to maneuver around any stray alt-side violators.

Ideally, the ritual of double-parking when streets are getting cleaned wouldn't be sanctioned by police, regardless of whether the bike lane is blocked or not. In a world where residential street space isn't given away for free, you could set a price on curbside parking that would open up enough spots for car owners to vacate the street sweeping side of the street while still finding a legal place to park.

Or -- and I don't know if this has been implemented anywhere else -- on a street that's too narrow for a protected bike lane plus two parking lanes, you could get rid of one parking lane and put the remaining one in the middle of the roadbed. Motor traffic would travel on one side and bike traffic on the other. Street sweepers would be able to reach both curbs without anyone having to move their parked cars.

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