Eyes on the Street: More Room to Walk Near Penn Station

Temporary sidewalk extensions are in on 32nd Street near Penn Station.

As Streetsblog reported in June, this is one element of a larger effort, spearheaded by Vornado Realty Trust in partnership with the city, to make more room for people walking in the area. The three-month pilot project also includes a pedestrian plaza on 33rd Street between Seventh Avenue and the Madison Square Garden loading docks.

If they prove popular, Vornado, which owns a lot of properties nearby, may look to make the changes permanent.

  • ganghiscon

    As opposed to the colorful sidewalk extension on 8th Ave, which sometimes has bikes in it.

  • c2check

    Oh, this one will probably be taken up by illegally NYPD cars and idling Übermobiles soon enough 😉

  • HamTech87

    You’re right about 8th Avenue, as here are two pics from 8th Avenue on July 7. 2015 around 6:30pm. There is so little room on the sidewalks, so pedestrians just naturally go to the next safest area — the protected bike lanes.

    Much as I feel sorry for the cyclists trying to navigate these crowds (see 2nd pic), I don’t want to see the NYPD ticketing pedestrians walking in the bike lane — just as I don’t want them ticketing a cyclist who hops on a sidewalk for a moment for safety reasons.

    The only real solution is to get more space from the cars, either from the parking lane or the car lane.

  • red_greenlight1

    No the NYPD should absolutely ticket them! They are not only endangering themselves but cyclists as well. If you’re not on a bicycle you don’t belong in a bike lane! It’s as simple as that.

  • red_greenlight1

    I love the idea. But did they have to use that shade of green? Pedestrians don’t need any more training to walk in the bike lanes which are painted very nearly if not exactly that shade of green.

  • What, you expect them to teleport? There’s just not enough space on the sidewalk. Meanwhile, the vast space in the middle of the street is going almost entirely to waste.

    This is entirely the city’s fault for failing to provide adequate infrastructure, of course. Every p.m. rush, on 8th Ave from about 34th to 50th, the sidewalk is just too narrow to accommodate the volume of pedestrian traffic. That’s why people are in the bike lane; it’s why I have to cycle in the roadway. It’s DOT to blame, not people.

  • Kevin Love

    I absolutely agree. Take a look at what happens when the infrastructure allocates adequate space to both cyclists and pedestrians. Guess what? Everyone respects each others space and everyone can get along. For an example, see the video at:


  • Maggie

    This looks awesome!! Thank you Vornado.

  • red_greenlight1

    I expect them, like I expect all road users, to follow the rules set in place for their own safety. Walking in the bike lane is dangerous and illegal. I’ve grown accustomed to walking in crowds without going into the street as have others. If you’re too lazy to walk in crowds you’re in the wrong freaking city. I blame the dot too but I see people walk in bike lanes all the time so it’s not strictly speaking the DOT’s fault. Instead it’s 100% the jaywalkers fault.

  • red_greenlight1

    Unfortunately, we live in America which has routinely failed to invest in our transportation infrastructure. Until proper investment is made we owe to ourselves and each other to respect the space set aside for each group. I stay off the sidewalk and you stay out of the bike lane. This is extremely fair., logical, just and above all else safe.

  • You make excellent points.

    I have just come back from three days of riding in Philadelphia. I got great weather, with temperatures around 95 each day. It was wonderful — bike lanes in every corner of the city, which contrasts sharply with New York. And you know what you don’t see down there? You don’t see pedestrians walking in bike lanes, even in the crowded Center City area.

    I noticed something else that I had first seen in my one day in Philadelphia last year: the drivers are polite. They stop at stop signs (unlike in New York), and they come to a full, prolonged stop before making a right on red (unlike in Nassau County). Furthermore, they readily yield to a bicyclist’s hand signals, such as my raised-palm “stop”, which I give to opposite-direction drivers who look like they are turning left across my path, and my extended-arm left signal, which allows me to change lanes. This latter signal was effective even at a complex merging, such as that of Spring Garden Ave. and Ben Franklin Pkwy. going west.

    There were only a handful of instances of cars parked in or standing in a bike lane. I see more of this in a half hour in New York than I saw in three days in Philly.

    On top of that, the majority of bicyclists stop at red lights. This surely is due partly to the fact that red-light periods are very short. But, taken together with the previous two observations, I gained new insight into why so many people consider New Yorkers to be rude assholes.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    sidewalks on every avenue below 60th need about 6′ extra width.

    hmm a 12′ motor lane divided by 2 just equals 6′ for sidewalk…

  • Joanne Adler Sinovoi

    good idea- that block can be pretty congested during rush hour

  • joe shabadoo

    this has been needed for at least 10-15 years!

  • Albert

    As annoying as it is for cyclists to have to avoid what you call “jaywalkers” in the bike lane — until adequate room is made for pedestrians on sidewalks, nothing’s going to change, no matter how often we might try to discourage their presence by “demanding ‘our’ ‘exclusive’ space” (by, say, passing a bit too close “to teach them a lesson” — the same deangerous behavior drivers often exhibit toward cyclists, by the way).

    Let’s focus on the real source of the problem. Demonizing sidewalk-avoiding pedestrians just following human nature is analogous to ticketing commercial vehicles for being *forced* to double-park to do their tax-contributing business because all the available fee-free curb space is taken up by long-term *non*-commercial squatters.

    I don’t think most traffic “laws” actually *are* “sensible,” nor were they “put in place for *our* safety.” They were put in place as yet more accommodation to motor vehicles — to get peds (and cyclists) out of the way. The laws should be changed to accomodate people who aren’t in cars. The bad guy here isn’t even motor vehicles per se — it’s how we’ve transformed, for the worse, our cities (and more) to accommodate motor vehicles.


  • c2check

    In a lot of places, it seems, the avenues could function fine with 2-3 general traffic lanes instead of 4-5. On 5th and 6th around 42nd St for example, I often see practically a whole block, sometimes two full blocks, without any cars, even at rush hour. And the Avenues’ wide paths are very prone to getting gridlocked by 42nd St traffic anyway.

    They could easily trim the Aves to 2 general traffic thru-lanes with delivery/taxi pickup areas. I think this would ease traffic since the road would be made more simple and drivers wouldn’t be doing all the crazy lane changes all the time that they do now (I would bet these maneuvers are a real contributor to dangerous and congested streets). And we could free up some room for protected bus and bike lanes 😉

    I’m pretty confused about why they seemingly haven’t yet seriously looked at reclaiming any lanes for bikes, peds, or buses, especially since this far uptown it just seems they’re feeding cars into a sort of bottleneck by the time you get to 34th as tons of drivers are trying to get to the tunnel.

  • KeNYC2030

    I used to work down there and the street was a pedestrian’s nightmare during rush hours. More sidewalk space has long been needed, but this block really should be primarily a ped-only street with a bike lane and a single lane for buses and local deliveries.

  • qrt145

    I don’t fault people for walking on the 8th Avenue bike lane, because the sidewalks clearly don’t have enough capacity at peak hours. However, I do fault people who walk on it without even trying to be aware of their surroundings. If you are walking on a bike lane, at least watch for bikes and try to get out of the way if possible!

  • qrt145

    Oh, but the avenues already only have 2-3 general traffic lanes, once you subtract the double-parking lanes and the queue-to-turn lane! 🙂

  • red_greenlight1

    So in other words pedestrians are special a,d should be allowed to do as the please? Maybe in the world that exists in the heads of some streetblog commentators but in the real world.

    Pedestrians are the most vulnerable road users and as a result were given the sidewalk for their safety. To refuse to see this is insanity.

  • Simon Phearson

    The “new insight” being, I surmise, that good infrastructure inspires good behavior, while bad infrastructure inspires bad behavior?

  • red_greenlight1

    I do they can cross to the less crowded side of the street or go on 9th. Plus the sidewalk is never so crowded that it’s unwalkable.

  • red_greenlight1

    We know good infastucture is a start but enforcment is necessary too.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    6′ Bikes lanes have capacity of some 1,000 people per hour.

    12′ motor lanes start gridlock around 600 per hour

    Even with the pathetic CBD bike network, some 10-20% of road traffic is bikes.

  • As I mentioned above, the short (very short, by New York standards) period of red lights almost certainly has contributed to the lack of rampant red-light-running by cyclists. So that would presumably qualify as good infrastructure inspiring good cyclist behaviour.

    And we can probably safely assume that the short red-light period has an effect on the behaviour of drivers as well — by not imposing on them such a great penalty for missing a red light, there has been created no constant frenzy to beat the light. This could partially explain the generally lower levels of driver aggression that I witnessed.

    Still, infrastructure cannot be the whole story.

    We have very good infrastructure in New York, in some respects surpassing that of Philadelphia. If there are protected lanes somewhere in Philly that are similar to those on Eighth and Ninth Avenues, I didn’t see them; all of the bike lanes that I saw there were just painted lines. Nevertheless, these bike lanes were not violated by parked / standing cars in anywhere near the degree that occurs in New York.

    So, in the case of painted bike lanes, we have a case of infrastructure that could be called “bad” (or at least “less than optimal”) but which has not inspired the bad behaviour on the part of drivers that we as New Yorkers would be inclined to expect.

    Also, there is nothing about infrastructure that could explain the noticeable differences in drivers’ reactions to my hand signals which afforded me greater security in changing lanes and in going through intersections of two-way streets.

    Nor can infrustructure explain the lack of pedestrians walking in the street even in the Center City area, which is packed with locals and tourists.

    And infrastructure certainly cannot explain the lack of wrong-way cyclists in Philadelphia. I saw exactly one in three days, someone riding on the wrong side of a two-way street. There are many one-way streets in Philly; and a bicyclist surely could save time by riding the wrong way rather than going a block over in order to find a street going the other way. Yet they don’t do that. By contrast, in every one of my commutes in the bike lanes on Woodward Ave. (going towards Manhattan) and Onderdonk Ave. (coming back from Manhattan), I see plenty of this, despite the fact that these two streets are adjacent to one another.

    Clearly there is something more fundamental going on here. In this other huge city, only about 100 miles away, the behaviour of drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians is a great deal more civilised than what we are used to here. The simplest answer is that our people just don’t give a shit.

    I love New York. I identify proudly as a New Yorker; I wear the New York City flag on my helmet. But I am willing to consider the idea that we, as a people, have a serious deficit in our culture. Maybe we are rude assholes.

  • Joe R.

    NYC tends to attract larger numbers of hyper competitive people than any other US city. For lack of a better word, a lot of these people tend to be assholes as far as the way they treat their fellow human beings. Just look no further than Wall Street for the amoral attitude which is probably needed for success in business. Philadelphia likely has a smaller number of these people as a percentage of their population. It’s also a physically smaller city. That matters because people can deal with stress and congestion in small doses. NYers generally have very long, stressful commutes. This ultimately puts a lot of them in survival mode where their desire for forward progress trumps the rights, or even the safety, of those around them. If commutes were shorter, even under the same conditions, fewer people would default to using their reptilian brain.

    You observed that red light cycles there are shorter. Are there also a lot fewer traffic signals and stop signs on average streets? That could make a huge difference. It’s why cyclists in places like the Netherlands generally obey traffic signals, and why they don’t in NYC. Stopping once every mile or less generally isn’t a huge burden on a cyclist in terms of either time or extra energy. Stopping every 2 or 3 blocks, as is often the case for a law-abiding cyclist in NYC, is. Traffic controls tend to lose their effect the more they’re used.

    All that said, compared to other places in many ways NYC is the armpit of the US. I say this as someone who lived here my entire life, still loves the city, but also as a realist. This city isn’t for everyone. I a person values good manners, consideration, and getting along then this city really isn’t you. If you thrive on a hyper competitive, semi-lawless environment (and I do) then NYC is great. It all depends upon the individual.

  • Joe R.

    Walking in a bike lane should probably be thought of the same way as cycling on a sidewalk. There are sometimes circumstances where it’s justifiable but a pedestrian in a bike lane must realize this is the domain of bikes, and there it’s incumbent upon them to avoid putting themselves in a position which forces a cyclist to make sudden maneuvers to avoid them. It’s much the same standard a cyclist on a sidewalk should adhere to. If a pedestrian is forced to jump out of the way of a sidewalk cyclist, then the cyclist is in the wrong.

    I actually find myself sometimes walking in the protected bike lanes in Manhattan. However, as a cyclist myself I keep a good sense of situational awareness so I can get out of the way of any approaching cyclists as soon as I see them (usually when they’re a block or two away). Sadly, most of the other people walking in bike lanes don’t.

  • Simon Phearson

    I fundamentally disagree. Calling New Yorkers “assholes” doesn’t explain anything. It just waves away a phenomenon you can’t think of a better explanation for.

    It is methodologically prudent to resist moralistic explanations for persistent, recurring patterns of crowd behavior. Those kinds of explanations are just explanatorily implausible. I realize this is difficult. For whatever reason, Americans find these kinds of explanations highly plausible – that’s why wage and food support gets caught up in discussions about pulling oneself up by one’s own bootstraps and anecdotes about junk food habits; that’s why abstinence-only education is a thing despite its positive correlation with teen pregnancy; that’s why so many people oppose tolling the East River bridges and think that “more enforcement” will solve most of our traffic ills, etc. But it is an intellectually lazy habit we adopt because it provides us an heuristic for reaching conclusions about subjects where it is difficult to develop and maintain a technical expertise competent in those subjects. It also (conveniently) gives us the opportunity to be proud of our own, pro-social, non-asshole behavior, which is repugnantly vain.

    I say that realizing that NYC has a proud tradition of public assholery. But our asshole-conventions are really just norms we develop in order to live a city as dense, populous, and complex as NYC. Most everything we do can be traced in some fashion back to the conditions in which we live. It might not all go back to “infrastructure,” as such, but it might also come back to zoning, block design, local economies, sheer masses of people, and so on.

    For instance, most of the salmoning cyclists I see are delivery cyclists. Our density makes delivery-on-demand a sustainable occupation, while at the same time making it possible to deliver by bike. Delivery people are highly incentivized to deliver quickly, so they salmon whenever it helps them get to where they’re going, even minutes faster. Indeed, they might have taken to bikes partly because bikes make it easier for them to salmon (and to park at their locations).

    I couldn’t guess why the salmoners you see are going against the flow of traffic (and, since you encounter them while they’re salmoning, I’m certain you don’t have any idea either), but it could be as easy to explain as noting that one-way streets aren’t designed for cycling traffic in the first place. They are put in place to regulate car traffic, typically while preserving on-street parking, and they are typically observed by drivers because they are less onerous for drivers. It’s as hard to explain, really, as pedestrians on the bike-only side of the Williamsburg Bridge. Are they all “assholes,” in your view? Or are they avoiding an unpleasant three-block detour?

    You wouldn’t split the two directions of bike traffic along a greenway to separate sides of a city block, would you? No, you wouldn’t – an adequately wide, bidirectional bike lane just doesn’t require that kind of routing. No one-way bike lane in this city makes any more sense than a one-way sidewalk. The only reason we have them is to preserve space for car traffic.

    I recently had my own out-of-town cycling experience, in a small city with very little bike infrastructure and a lot of car-oriented streets. I saw a ton of sidewalk cycling. That’s not illegal there, but it’s still puzzling given the state of most sidewalks (narrow, up by the street, uneven with frequent driveways, covered in gravel), and it’s not particularly “nice” to pedestrians, when they do show up. But it’s perfectly easy to explain when you look at where they’re sidewalk-cycling – along flat arterial roads that have been designed to accommodate 35 mph (or faster) car traffic. Meanwhile, I found that car drivers gave me plenty of space and respected my hand signals. Was that because they were “polite?” Or was it because all of the traffic lanes were super-wide and the roads were over-designed for the traffic using them, so they had plenty of room to move over?

    Humans are humans. They respond in predictable ways to the conditions in which they’re placed. It’s perfectly possible that New Yorkers have adopted “asshole” habits in order to get by here, but what’s “fundamental” here isn’t some otherwise inexplicable cultural difference, but rather a whole nest of public policies that puts us in each others’ armpits.

  • SSkate

    I’ve wondered what this was since I first saw last weekend that they had painted the greens stripes but not yet the blue.

    I’ve skated this block of 32nd a lot this past year when skating down Seventh and then needing to get back east over to Broadway, and have noticed that I am far from the only person doing so. This seems to be an important cross-street for buses and taxis. I’ve wondered if this is because of the work on the Times Square ped plazas.

  • ahwr

    Should cyclists be held to the same standard, and never bike the wrong way down an empty street because a car might turn onto it? Or leave a bike lane to enter a traffic lane not because the bike lane is unsafe, but because they would have to slow down if they stayed in it because a slower cyclist is ahead of them? What if you have a shared path with designated bike and pedestrian spaces. Should a cyclist never be allowed to leave the bike space and enter the pedestrian space (assuming it’s empty) to pass a slower cyclist or some other obstruction in the bike space?

    You’ve mentioned pedestrian safety in this a couple times. How much of your gripe is an actual safety concern and how much of it is just an inconvenience for cyclists, only rising to a safety concern when they don’t slow down? Is there an epidemic of pedestrians darting off the sidewalk and into a bike lane lawfully occupied by a cyclist leaving that cyclist no time to slow or swerve? Or is there an epidemic of cyclists in underused bike lanes approaching crowds that have spilled off the sidewalk and into the bikelane forcing them to slow down with no actual safety concern if they do so?

  • red_greenlight1

    Cycling on the wrong side of the street is inherently, dangerous and illegal. So yes they should be. That is a false red herring argument. Leaving the bike lane is safe and legal if done properly. Yes, the cyclist should stay in his assigned space at all times.

    My concern as stated is about safety. Please read my statements again and work on your reading comprehension. Pedestrians jaywalk into the bike lane without looking all the time resulting numerous near misses and yes a few collisions . Again you know nothing about which you talk. There are no underused bike lanes. Do you even cycle in NYC? Do you even live here? It is illegal, immoral and dangerous for pedestrians to enter the bike lane. I’m sorry you’re unable to see that. It is not we must stop its to continue at our pace we are forced into oncoming and faster moving traffic because people are to freaking stupid and lazy to stay on the sidewalk.

  • red_greenlight1

    Unfortunately, most pedestrians who enter the bike lane fail to realize this. Other than construction rerouting pedestrians into the bike lane I have yet to see a situation where it is safe or justifiable to enter a bike lane. If a cyclist must get out the road he or she must walk their bike for everyone’s safety.

    You are legally obligated to stay out of the bike lanes for your own safety. Please do so AT ALL TIMES. If you really were a cyclist you would understand how dangerous jaywalkers in the bike lane really are and how dangerous sidewalk cycling really is.

  • Seth Rosenblum

    I biked down 33rd street today to see the temporary pedestrian plaza they were supposed to have installed. It wasn’t there though, did it get nixed?

    It’ll be great if this sidewalk extension continues to move east. The sidewalk in front of the subway entrance at Greeley square, and the main block of K-town are packed until long after rush-hour. The only problem for K-town is that it’s all trucks loading & un-loading, comparatively few private vehicles.

  • ahwr


    Are there bikes on this block? I don’t see any. The lane is often empty. Of course it won’t look that way when you’re riding on it though. Not necessarily the best vantage point from which to judge the lane’s utilization. Same thing with motorists. They always see other motorists around them, never realize how empty the lane is when they aren’t around. If someone is walking in the lane they don’t force you into oncoming faster moving traffic anymore than a blocked general traffic lane forces cars to pass that jam by going into the bike lane.

    Leaving the bike lane when the bike lane is safe to use is common. But a lot of cyclists don’t want to have to slow down so they leave the bike lane to pass slower cyclists. Is there a provision in the law that permits that? How is that different from walking in an empty bike lane or street to avoid a crowded slower sidewalk, and then returning to the sidewalk when a vehicle approaches? If this was a general traffic lane motorists would have an obligation to exercise due care and avoid a collision. Cyclists have the same obligation. But you don’t like the idea of having to slow down. That’s a safety issue, not someone walking in an empty bike lane.

  • ahwr

    If you thrive on a hyper competitive, semi-lawless environment (and I do) then NYC is great.

    Do you still like that environment when other people have a leg up? Say when they are in a car? Or is it only good when you’re on a bike around slower cyclists and pedestrians and are the top dog so to speak? What if there are mopeds or some of the bikes have electric assists and you can’t keep up? Time for laws to bring them down to your level then?

  • red_greenlight1

    Actually I see one. And as you point out its not the best vantage point. A block is a block. I’m just opposed to double parked cars in the bike lane. But interestingly enough I don’t see people acting like idiots here to defend double parked cars. You refuse to see my point it’s not that I don’t like slowing down. In fact It’s that I AM FORCED TO GO INTO ONCOMING TRAFFIC TO GET AROUND THE FREAKING IDIOT WALKING IN THE FREAKING BIKE LANE WHICH IS A LANE FOR BIKES AND NOT JAYWALKERS. Is that clear enough for you to get your head around? Or do we have to keep going in circles here?

  • red_greenlight1

    Oh I also see a fairly empty side walk that people are walking it except for a bunch of lazy ass jaywalkers.

  • ahwr

    Going around someone is only dangerous if you don’t slow down and look first.

    Where’s the bike?

  • red_greenlight1

    No you have to count on traffic to A. See you B. Not speed up to prevent you from merging and C. the idiot to not dart in front of you. It’s an unnecessary and risky maneuver to accommodate some dumbass in the bike lane.

    The bike was actually on the next block.

  • ahwr

    The guy standing with a bike up the block in the ped refuge? I don’t see how he’s hurt by the people walking in the bike lane. Slow down and wait for a safe time to merge if you have to. Your comment about safety is way overblown. I see a lot of people walking in the bike lane on that block. None of them are creating a dangerous situation. They’re just slowing down cyclists that might show up. People walking in the bike lane is a nuisance. Nothing more. NYPD enforces that kind of stuff all the time though.

  • red_greenlight1

    NO IT’S A MOTHER FREAKING DANGER! You through, your stupidity, laziness, callousness to force cyclists to merge unexpectedly with cars that might not care about their safety. Are you not smart enough to grasp this? I have no more time to waste on people who don’t understand basic concepts.

  • red_greenlight1

    § 102-a. Bicycle lane. A portion of the roadway which has been designated by striping, signing and pavement markings for the preferential or exclusive use of bicycles.

    The law which you insist on breaking.

  • Joe R.

    I’m talking in general terms, not necessarily about what happens on the streets. The bottom line here is the type of people NYC attracts will be the type who ignore laws if it’s to their benefit, so laws in general aren’t the answer. In general that’s what smart, ambitious headstrong people do. The answer is to create a built environment where people can do their own thing with less chance of harming others. Or perhaps to build an environment which prevents them from doing things which harm others. We don’t need to micromanage every decision people make with laws and traffic controls.

    I don’t believe in laws bringing people down a notch, or put in layman’s terms dumbing them down. The US, NYC in particular, are competitive environments. We have to realize that people who work hard also play hard, then plan accordingly. If you try to make everyone equal you end up with a society like in the movie Harrison Bergeron.

    If a person likes perfect order and laws to keep everyone in line, there are places they can go, like North Korea. Perhaps that’s more your taste since you’re ready to regulate behavior which is not even statistically dangerous (i.e. our discussion on sidewalk cycling earlier this week) for reasons I can’t even fathom. If/when a free society starts making things illegal, they damned well better be highly, statistically dangerous. Also, the quality of the population to a large extent affects what is and isn’t dangerous. That’s one reason I want tighter driver licensing standards. If we have higher standards for driving, then even if we don’t change our laws or our streets we’ll have less carnage. However, higher licensing requirements are an example of the law bringing people up a level rather than down. That’s how it should be.

  • Joe R.

    Great post. I tend to think when you put large numbers of people together, particularly people who tend to be smarter and more ambitious than average, as is the case in NYC, you end up with all sorts of coping mechanisms and behavior to make things more efficient. In most places it might be considered rude to push people but on the subways we do it all the time to board or leave crowded trains. Few people get offended by it because they realize it’s just an unfortunate necessity.

    I’ve lived here all my life. Frankly when I go to so-called more polite places the people don’t seem real to me. I guess NYC standards of behavior are my norms. I come off as brusque, even rude, nearly anywhere else. That’s particularly true about language. It’s a NYC thing to use profanities quite a bit (my 76 year mom uses language sometimes which would make a prostitute blush). I do it myself. I notice though when I’m dealing with people not from New York in short order they find this incredibly offensive. I try to watch my language but also explain to them it’s just the way I’m used to talking.

    To me going across the river to NJ is almost like going to another country. That’s how different I think this city is from middle America. I also think NYers probably have a lot in common with anyone else from other similarly large cities. I’ve known people from some large cities in China. Their habits, even before they’ve assimilated into NYC, aren’t much different than native NYers. Putting large masses of people together, no matter their nationality, results in similar behavior.

  • ahwr

    How about double parking in a bike lane? That isn’t dangerous, it just forces cyclists to slow down. Sometimes cyclists don’t slow down and merge safely. That should be legal since it doesn’t by itself cause any danger, right? Should NYPD then block the bike lane and ticket cyclists who don’t go around the obstruction safely, since that sometimes is dangerous?

    What about driving in a bike lane if there aren’t any bikes? Should be permitted since there aren’t any cyclists around to get hurt, right?

    Comfort and convenience count. And not just for people on bikes.

  • Joe R.

    Back in my teens, even late teens, I used to cycle on sidewalks quite a bit for various reasons. It’s not dangerous if you cycle appropriately and have good spatial awareness. I never came close to hitting anyone. Of course, once I started to enjoy riding fast I mostly stayed off sidewalks.

    I totally agree with your gripes about people blindly walking into bike lanes and forcing you to swerve or slow down. A cyclist in a bike lane shouldn’t have to slow down or stop or change directions for pedestrians unless those pedestrians are in a crosswalk with a walk signal. Likewise, a person walking on a sidewalk shouldn’t have to slow down or stop or change directions for someone on a bike. The person on a bike should go around them, slow, or stop as needed so they don’t interfere with people walking. If a cyclist can’t do those things, then they should stay off the sidewalks. If a pedestrian can’t walk in a bike lane without interfering with bikes, then they shouldn’t do so.

    For what it’s worth there are more situations than you think where a person might want to walk in a bike lane. It’s not uncommon in Manhattan to have hordes of people lining up for something, effectively creating a bottleneck in that section of sidewalk. Walking in a bike lane can be a big help in that situation. Just look before entering it, and only stay in it until you pass the bottleneck. People who walk in bike lanes for many blocks have no justification unless they’re passing a long construction zone. If that’s what you often see, then I can understand your anger. I get just as pissed seeing people in my area pushing strollers in the bike lane while they have a nearly empty sidewalk on the side.

  • Joe R.

    I fully support the idea of people occasionally walking in bike lanes if they have a reasonable cause, just as I support cyclists occasionally riding on sidewalks if there is a good reason. However, in both cases it’s incumbent upon the intruder not to interfere with the primary traffic. Just as it’s totally inappropriate for a pedestrian on a sidewalk to have to jump out of the way of a sidewalk cyclist, it’s just as bad for a cyclist in a bike lane to have to slow or stop or swerve around pedestrians. Let’s not have double standards here where pedestrians can interfere with bikes all they want, even in bike lanes, but heaven forbid a cyclist rides on a sidewalk.

  • Joe R.

    Huh? Didn’t I mention something in my post about using infrastructure to encourage, even enforce, safety? I’m a big fan of completely separating modes. The idea here is if you give each type of user infrastructure which meets their needs, they will want to use it, and hence stay out of someone else’s space. Good cycling infrastructure results in few or no sidewalk cyclists, for example. My viaducts would be even better because cars couldn’t physically block a bike lane. However, the answer to the problem of double parking in bike lanes is to bollard them off so cars can’t physically get in them. That’s another part of how you keep different modes separate.

    Moral of the story is good infrastructure results in good behavior and steel/concrete do a better job stopping bad behavior than laws and police.

  • ahwr


    No mention from you there about waiting for evidence that non cyclists would be “highly, statistically dangerous.” You just want them arrested.

    Few want NYPD to only focus on safety issues. Most who claim to are just calling nuisance or quality of life problems safety issues. It’s like drivers who want police to ticket jaywalkers because they often slow drivers down, not because of the very rare cases where a pedestrian (and far less often a driver) is injured or killed as a result.

    If you want infrastructure to encourage or enforce safety then should there be speed bumps on bike paths leading up to unsignalized crosswalks? As an example I have in mind the ones near the Queensboro bridge where cyclists routinely fail to stop for pedestrians. Or if the city ends up with bike paths that go behind transit stops should the city paint pedestrian desire lines as crosswalks and then use speed bumps or chicanes to slow down cyclists leading up to them? Or since bike paths often are next to parked cars leaving poor viewing angles should every intersection that has a marked or unmarked crosswalk come with speed bumps to slow down cyclists so that it’s safer for pedestrians to step forward? Or did you just mean infrastructure that discourages or keeps drivers from interfering with others?

  • Joe R.

    How about infrastructure that just avoids conflicts instead of mixing disparate modes at intersections? If you have lots of cyclists and lots of pedestrians crossing then you have a recipe for disaster regardless of what you do. So my answer is grade separate busy crossings. It pays for itself for everyone in terms of time saved and collisions avoided. It makes walking or cycling more pleasant.

    While we’re discussing this, the steps which should be taken to protect one user if it comes at the expense of another should depend upon the relative numbers. Large numbers of bikes and few pedestrians? Bikes take precedence and should have the right-of-way all the time. Few bikes and lots of pedestrians? Well, then maybe I’ll support rumble strips at unsignalized crossings (no speed bumps because those are dangerous and stupid even for autos, never mind cyclists) and a yield to peds sign (along with some enforcement). Large numbers of bikes and pedestrians? Grade separate the crossing. Doing anything else is stupid.

    No mention from you there about waiting for evidence that non cyclists would be “highly, statistically dangerous.” You just want them arrested.

    Where did I say that? I just feel if someone wants to walk in a bike lane, it’s incumbent upon them to not endanger people on bikes or delay them. I feel the same if someone is cycling on a sidewalk. We don’t need police or laws to micromanage these interactions. If they were common enough, people will sort things out for themselves. The real deterrent to poor behavior here is others, not the police. If someone acts like an ass, mob mentality will see to it they don’t again.

    Or since bike paths often are next to parked cars leaving poor viewing angles should every intersection that has a marked or unmarked crosswalk come with speed bumps to slow down cyclists so that it’s safer for pedestrians to step forward?

    Parked cars don’t belong where they block sight lines at intersections, period. You can’t rationalize trading away safety for car storage. The answer is to remove parked cars, not make things even slower for cyclists than they already are.

    If you want infrastructure to encourage or enforce safety then should there be speed bumps on bike paths leading up to unsignalized crosswalks? As an example I have in mind the ones near the Queensboro bridge where cyclists routinely fail to stop for pedestrians.

    How about just having flyovers to get cyclists who are still carrying momentum from the descent safely past busy crossings? A speed bump on any street is a disaster waiting to happen for a cyclist. One on a descent opens the city to all sorts of liability. Remember the city can and has been sued before for defects in pavement which resulted in injury. Now you’re suggesting intentionally putting in a defect, no less in the worst possible spot you can given the physics of cycling? Any cyclist descending at best will be freewheeling. Some will even be powering down the descent. Nobody will be riding their brakes on the way down because it’s stupid, it wastes time and energy, it results in brake wear, and it’s dangerous because your tires can overheat to the point of blowing out.

    Or did you just mean infrastructure that discourages or keeps drivers from interfering with others?

    We have to remember in a dense urban areas motor vehicles are the least space efficient mode of transport. As such, yes, you should mostly do things to keep motorists from interfering with others. This even makes sense from a physics perspective since they can do the most damage.


Rodriguez Wants DOT to Remedy NYC’s Most Cramped Sidewalks

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Eyes on the Street: 33rd Street Plaza Comes to Life

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Watch New Yorkers Using the 33rd Street Plaza With Streetfilms

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Eyes on the Street: 33rd Street Plaza Gone… Til Next Year?

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33rd Street at Penn Station Will Go Car-Free This Summer

Real estate giant Vornado Realty Trust last night unveiled plans to open up space for people on a couple of busy blocks near Penn Station. The proposed car-free zones include a new pedestrian plaza on 33rd Street west of Seventh Avenue. Phase one will consist of a three-month trial this summer and fall, and the changes could be made permanent […]