Eyes on the Street: First DOT Makes Your Sign Official, Then Adds Bollards?

In December the guerrilla street designers at the Department of Transformation installed DIY signage and put down some cones to try to keep drivers out of the First Avenue bike lane under the Queensboro Bridge. However, DOT soon removed the signs and abdicated responsibility for motorists blocking the lane, terming it an “enforcement issue.”

Then, last week, the Transformation Department tweeted a pic of new DOT signage, which looks remarkably similar to the home brew version.

It’s good to see DOT responding to public demand for safer streets in this way. Who knows, maybe we’ll soon see physical barriers to keep the lane clear.

  • r

    Nice work. Can DOT follow DOTr’s lead and fix Chrystie Street next?

  • Bluewndrpwrmlk96

    I think NYCDOT signs come with serial numbers they agency uses for tracking purposes. But a jersey barrier wouldn’t hurt either.

  • J

    Ah DOT, ever willing to blame someone else for its own laziness:

    Parking in bike path? Poor enforcement (not a failure to properly protect the space)
    Double parking? Poor enforcement (not a failure to properly regulate curb space)
    Sharrows? Not enough space (not a lack of will to remove parking or travel lanes)

  • Brian Howald

    After seeing the headline, I was psyched to hear that bollards had been surreptitiously installed at 59th and 1st. You totally got me, there.

  • BBnet3000

    Spectacular adhesion of the green paint and bike stencils too. I’ve never seen a city with bike infrastructure that disappears so fast.

    Do you think these folks have that problem?


  • Joe R.

    NYC doesn’t bother to clean the streets throughly (i.e. with muriatic acid and then a thorough rinse with water) before applying the paint. They paint right over dirt. It’s no surprise it disappears so fast.

    The best solution is to make the bike lanes out of colored concrete. Since the color is mixed in, it will never disappear. As a bonus, concrete is far less prone to potholes. Bike tires also roll a bit easier over concrete.

  • Kevin Love

    The CROW engineering design manual for bicycle traffic stipulates asphalt as the best surface. Concrete has to have expansion cracks built in or else it will crack all on its own. Asphalt is smooth.

  • Joe R.

    That’s all good and well if you live in a place where they actually bother to maintain roads. NYC doesn’t. I’ll take expansion joints over the ruts, ridges, potholes, etc. I see just about everywhere.

  • BBnet3000

    I had a chance to walk pretty far down the west side of 1st Ave today in the late afternoon. The “mixing zones” as designed in New York are such an ambigious space that like all ambiguous spaces in the urban fabric, people just park there. At least during the time I was there it was more of a problem than any turning conflict or blockage that I’ve seen using the lane before.

    Enforcement isn’t coming. We need better design, but that’s not coming either, in fact design only seems to be trending worse.

  • And ridiculously expensive, I would guess. I think there is room for an engineered surface of some kind that can house utilities and serve as a sidewalk. Doesn’t need to be strong enough for cars, and the cost savings of not constantly repaving could offset the increased cost. And as a bonus, make it not strong enough to hold a car, and next some some asshole parks on the sidewalk, he’ll fall through and that can be a nice strong incentive to ticket them.

  • While a sign is nice, I doubt it will do anything. No driver is stupid enough to not realize that the green painted area is a bike lane. Drivers in that lane are choosing to be there, because they prioritize their time over the safety, comfort convenience, did I mention safety, of others. Only a physical barrier (preferably one that cars are unable to surmount) will protect it. IMO.

  • reasonableexplanation

    Even textured metal is surprisingly slippery when wet. Pavement of either type is better. The paint thing is moot-ish though: this is how a bike lane on a city street should look:
    No green paint needed: just a curb (or even plastic bollards) to separate it from the travel lanes.

  • ganghiscon

    Most of the drivers I’ve seen here are NYPD, anyway.

  • Wilfried84

    I have not had good experience with concrete. 1st Ave. before they repaved in asphalt was cracked, and not very pleasant. There’s a short stretch of Seaman in Inwood on a steep downhill that’s concrete. It’s cracked and fissured and patched with lumpy asphalt, and as bad a moonscape as you’ll find anywhere. They didn’t repave this portion when they repaved the rest of the street (I presume because repairing the concrete would take a lot more work, which I think was also an issue on 1st Ave.). The rhythmic thunk, thunk, thunk on the Manhattan bridge is not the worst thing, but not altogether pleasant either. I’d rather ride on the asphalt on the Williamsburg or Queensborough. There aren’t any potholes on the bridges. I presume the asphalt in bike lanes would last longer if cars didn’t drive on them (or they didn’t dig trenches right along them, as they so often do)?

  • Joe R.

    The condition of 1st Avenue is more a unique NYC problem than a fault with concrete roads. Con Ed repeatedly breaks up streets for utility work. Why I don’t know. Other places manage to do it right the first time, the street gets rebuilt afterwards, and nobody has to touch it for the next 30 or 40 years. Maybe we need to put utilities in NYC in concrete trenches covered by metal plates to end this nonsense. Or perhaps we should require Con Ed to rebuild the entire street after it does utility work, not put in half-assed patchwork instead. I never heard of any other place where they patch concrete with asphalt. Done right, concrete roads stay smooth for half a century or more. Of course, that means you can’t have Con Ed breaking them up every year or two for utility work.

    When did they put down asphalt on the Queensboro? Wasn’t it that metal grating? In any case, if they paved over the metal grating, of course it won’t get potholes, and it’ll stay smooth. The metal grating acts as a great reinforcing mesh.

  • Joe R.

    I’ve suggested the idea of putting utilites in trenches covered by metal plates. Or perhaps even plastic if only people or bikes will use them. As I mentioned above, utility work is one major cause of the horrid condition most NYC streets are in.

  • Joe R.

    I don’t really care about what color a bike lane is. My reasons for suggesting concrete was because it holds a smooth surface longer. The fact it can be colored is a bonus. I care more about a smooth road than having it green or red or whatever color is currently in fashion.

  • Yes, you did mention it, I was merely suggesting that constructing an entire road out of metal would be expensive (not to mention slippery), but a sidewalk or bike lane out of an engineer surface is much more feasible. There was a design out of copenhagen to do exactly this I believe.


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