DOT Won’t Take This Simple Step to Keep Police Cars Out of the Union Square Bike Lane

Plastic posts were supposed to prevent NYPD officers from parking in the bike lane the east side of Union Square.

Cyclists want more protected bike lanes — and it's not protected if someone can park on it. Photo: Paco Abraham
Cyclists want more protected bike lanes — and it's not protected if someone can park on it. Photo: Paco Abraham

Ever since DOT added a two-way protected bike lane around the northern and eastern edges of Union Square last year, the project has been marred by NYPD parking near the intersection with 15th Street. Plastic posts were supposed to keep cars out where police park, but it looks like DOT has jettisoned that idea and has no plans to revive it.

Police typically park on a section of the bike lane on the east side of Union Square where there are no plastic posts. Their vehicles block the bike lane at a critical location where southbound cyclists approach the hairy crossing at 14th Street and northbound cyclists face oncoming car traffic as they try to access the two-way bikeway.

DOT’s plan called for posts all the way through the intersection with 15th Street [PDF], but the line of posts stops short and creates an opening that police continue to exploit.

Image: NYC DOT/Paco Abraham
A DOT slide annotated by Paco Abraham

Dave “Paco” Abraham says plastic posts would go a long way to solving the problem.

“DOT does its best when it has self-enforcing lanes,” he said. “But when it allows the entrance/exits to protected lanes to so easily get clogged, it’s a recipe for useless infrastructure.”

When Abraham contacted DOT about installing the posts, Manhattan Borough Commissioner Luis Sanchez told him they cannot be installed because DSNY trucks “require curb access to collect garbage from Union Square Park.”

Something’s off with that explanation, since, as Abraham noted on Twitter, the Parks Department puts its trash out where there are posts:

union_square_park_trash

Sanitation workers can still load this trash, which suggests the posts are not the barrier to curb access that DOT suggests. How much trouble would it really cause to add a few more posts and cover the whole length of the bikeway?

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