Eyes on the Street: NYPD Security Theater Revival in Times Square

Police barricades are back obstructing the Seventh Avenue bike lane in Times Square, which NYPD has made unrideable for most of its existence.

NYPD barricades are back in Times Square's raised bike lane. Photo: Brian Van Nieuwenhoven/Twitter
NYPD barricades are back in Times Square's raised bike lane. Photo: Brian Van Nieuwenhoven/Twitter

The raised bike lane through Times Square was nice while it lasted. Less than two months after NYPD yanked obtrusive barricades from the four-block bike lane segment on Seventh Avenue, police have made it unrideable again.

The raised bike lane on Seventh Avenue between 46th Street and 42nd Street was completed in late 2016, part of the capital construction project for Times Square plazas that took the city several years to build. Just five months later, NYPD closed it off with metal fencing and concrete barriers following a fatal vehicular attack at one of the plazas. The bike lane was rendered obsolete:

Is this really the most sensible solution?

After the West Side Greenway attack last October, NYPD escalated its Midtown security theater. While some fencing in the bike lane disappeared, much of it remained obstructed through the end of 2017.

Then in February, NYPD finally moved its barriers to avoid blocking the bike lane. It was still useless security theater taking up space on the sidewalk, but at least the right of way for bicycling was clear. Police finally cleared the entire stretch, placing new barricade along the sidewalk, out of the way of the bike lane.

NYPD’s brief flirtation with reason was fleeting, apparently. Brian Van Nieuwenhoven shared the top photo on Twitter, showing the barricades back in the bike lane on Saturday. And just like that, with no warning or explanation, police have wiped out a key connection in the city’s bike network.

  • qrt145

    I’m not sure if this is really for “security”, or rather a measure to corral pedestrians in so they won’t jayway. Stupid, either way.

  • Vooch

    We need to help our hero’s in Blue protect us from terroristical car bombs. The Times Square area needs to be completely car free until the GWOT is won. It’s going to be difficult for us, but it’s a sacrifice we NY patriots are willing to make in order to support everything that is decent.

  • JarekFA

    For drivers’ sanity, they should ban all cars from driving through Times Square.

  • crazytrainmatt

    What a mess. After NYPD pulled out, this was generally rideable in the mornings but the afternoons were pretty frustrating. The pedestrians walking in the bike lane generally made a point of staying to the left of the lane, away from traffic. If they suddenly decided to cross your path, you had a good chance of falling under traffic just to your right.

    Unfortunately Broadway is still the only safe bike route downtown close to the east side, in the sense that someone other than a hardened cyclist would do it more than once. Filling the two nasty gaps on 2nd would make it a workable, more convenient route for most trips — it’s a shame DOT shows no signs of budging this year. A two-way protected lane on the east side of York/Sutton from 53rd to 91st could be a very low stress route, with only occasional interactions with FDR-bound traffic and would be a great complement to 2nd on the UES. I guess a center boulevard on Park is probably the best long-term solution but I’m not holding my breath!

  • Barry Grant

    It’s about time that the cyclists of this city organized and took out class action lawsuits against the NYPD, FedEx, UPS, USPS and everyone else who habitually sabotages the bike lanes we rely on to ride safely. These assholes have to be told, via large financial settlements (the only language they understand) that our bike lanes are NOT theirs to do what they want with for their own convenience. It really is “us versus them” in this city. They are assholes.

  • HamTech87

    They could have easily put those on the curb, and actually prevented pedestrians from using it. Or they could have put it in the middle of the lane for motor vehicles. It is just a political FU to people using bicycles.

  • Indeed they are. The Post Office trucks are ruining the new bike lane on Borinquen Place. And UPS trucks are found regularly in the bike lanes on Willoughby, DeKalb, Onderdonk, and Woodward Avenues.

    When you talk to these fools, you find that they think that the fact they are working gives them the right to break the law. If I broke the law in the course of doing my job, I’d be fired — despite my union.

    What’s worse is that the fines that these drivers get for double parking (whether in a bike lane or elsewhere) are far too low. Especially with the private carriers, they look at those tickets as part of the cost of doing business. The fines need to be punitive; and the vehicles should be impounded.

  • Adrian Horczak

    There were no post office trucks on Borinquen Pl today. Is it too good to last?

  • That’s good to read!

    But they were there this morning when I was coming the other way on the on-street bike lane on that street. (So the Postal trucks weren’t blocking me at that moment, even if they were announcing to the world that the bike lane merits no respect.)

  • walks bikes drives

    Checking hanging sentence 2nd to last paragraph.

  • qrt145

    I’m happy to report that the bike lane was clear this morning.

  • MKL

    where I live the NYPD 28th precinct cops park their own cars in the bike lane all the time. Reporting it gets no action, and asking the cops to park elsewhere gets attitude if anything. I wish there was an organization that would have an app that all these violations could be reported and trends tracked so that advocacy groups would have data supporting their positions and complaints (there’s the NYC 311 app but it’s not analyzed for trends and the 28th precinct just closes the reports or denies that there were cars there).