Ydanis Rodriguez Caves to Bike Haters on Dyckman Street

But Dyckman doesn't have a bike lane problem, it has a parking management problem.

Bowing to pressure from business people and Congressman Adriano Espaillat, Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez wants DOT to redo protected bike lanes on Dyckman Street, weeks after they were installed. Photo: Brad Aaron
Bowing to pressure from business people and Congressman Adriano Espaillat, Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez wants DOT to redo protected bike lanes on Dyckman Street, weeks after they were installed. Photo: Brad Aaron

Count City Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez among electeds pressuring DOT to undo progress and revisit the new protected bike lanes on Dyckman Street.

The Dyckman Street bikeway, which runs from Broadway to 10th Avenue, was nine years in the making. It involved countless public meetings. But soon after DOT installed the lanes in December, business owners along the commercial strip began complaining.

As we reported last week, Congressman Adriano Espaillat and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer have responded by calling on DOT to rip out the bike lanes. Under pressure to join them, Rodriguez — Inwood’s council rep and chair of the transportation committee — tweeted yesterday that he now wants a two-way bikeway on Dyckman’s north side to replace parking-protected lanes on both sides of the street.

A two-way protected bike lane on the north side of Dyckman isn’t a good substitute for the current design. Intersections are more frequent on the north side of the street, and there would be too many conflicts between people using the bikeway and drivers turning across it.

Nor would shifting the bikeway solve the problems on Dyckman, which don’t stem from the bike lane, but from poor curb management and parking policy.

Traffic crashes on Dyckman caused more than 300 injuries between 2009 and 2017. By separating people on bikes from motor vehicles and shortening pedestrian crossing distances, the new design is safer.

Under the old design, motorists were free to illegally double park on Dyckman, gumming up the street and putting people at risk. Merchants are unhappy now because it’s harder for drivers to double-park.

As you can see in this video, the curb is saturated with vehicles and motorists feel no compunction about parking in the bike lane:

Parking on Dyckman was just as dysfunctional before the redesign, but now there’s a bike lane to blame for it. The solution is to raise parking meter rates during peak hours so turnover increases, legal spaces open up more frequently, and double-parking declines. Right now it’s just $1 an hour to park on Dyckman. Unless DOT steps up to manage the curb, illegal parking will remain a problem regardless of the bike lane configuration.

It’s not at all uncommon for a new street design to anger local merchants at first, and Dyckman is hardly the first commercial street in Manhattan where a new bike lane gets blamed for long-standing parking problems. Brewer was the council member on the Upper West Side when very similar complaints surfaced after the installation of the Columbus Avenue bike lane. Eventually, the neighborhood acclimated to the new design and the uproar subsided.

On Dyckman, it’s unclear what happens next, but Rodriguez and Brewer should know better. If they won’t give the redesign a chance to succeed, it’s up to DOT to be the bulwark against the reactionary opposition to this long-anticipated street safety project.

We’ve asked DOT what the agency plans to do and will update this post if we get answers. In the meantime, Rodriguez says his position is open to discussion. To speak up for the Dyckman Street bikeway, you can reach him on Twitter and at 212-788-7053.

  • Reader

    Nine years of advocacy to get this in and Ydanis Rodriguez wants to circumvent that and cave to complainers. Come on.

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    A 2-way lane like Rodriguez suggests would be wider and probably more comfortable to use in some ways, but if it’s not phase-separated the turning conflicts in the counterflow direction would probably be totally unsafe with the level of traffic on Dyckman Street. Even on W 158th it’s pretty borderline.

    I doubt it would be phase separated because additional signals are expensive and because it would require removing double-parking (and possibly legal parking) for turn lanes.

  • AnoNYC

    This is crazy but what else is new.

    Raise the meters and create more loading zones to reduce double parking.

    Dyckman was a mess before these lanes were installed. It will still be a mess if the lanes are moved.

    What NYC really needs though is more automated traffic enforcement, mounted overhead and on city vehicles to fine drivers.

    And it blows my mind how many people own cars in the Heights/Inwood. Most buildings do not have off street parking and there are definitely more cars than on street parking spaces available. That said, the vast majority of people do not have a car and suffer the ill effects of excess usage.

  • Andrew

    Most buildings do not have off street parking and there are definitely more cars than on street parking spaces available.

    This is what happens when car ownership is perceived as aspirational in a largely poor neighborhood: people buy cars not because cars make sense for them but simply to show off that they can afford them. (And that includes more than a few who can’t actually afford them, but they want to show off anyway.)

    Then they fight tooth and nail against improvements to infrastructure for non-motorists, more because those improvements get in the way of their superiority complex than because they make it harder to drive.

    Obviously I’m generalizing here, but this same pattern is evident across the city.

  • AnoNYC

    Agreed.

    There’s a lot of travel between Inwood/Washington Heights and the Bronx, but due to the all the traffic the trips over the University Heights Bridge can take an eternity.

    With the coming rezoning I think it’s time to seriously consider replacing the bridge with a wider span that enables bus only lanes 24/7. W 207th St needs much higher meters too and Fordham Rd should be buses only between Sedgewick Ave and Webster Ave.

    Because we give so much preference to driving, trips across the river via bus take much longer than they should. So people drive if they can afford it (or try to).

    But besides traffic, parking in Inwood is a nightmare.

  • Jeff Blum

    New as I am I this list, I kind of doubt that referring to people who argue for a different position as ‘bike haters’ genius is win opponents over.

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    The sad thing is I watch that Youtube video and go “this is what we’re fighting for?”

    If there isn’t a focus on improving the quality of the existing network in the coming years, ideally including some upgrades to permanent materials, this probably won’t be the last bike lane we’ll be hearing calls to tear out.

  • AMH

    Yup, conspicuous consumption.

  • Anon resident

    Rodriquez has no mind of his own. Bought and sold to you by REBNY. Transportation Alternatives should be denouncing this council member for having zero vision.

  • iSkyscraper

    Rodriguez shows his stripes, just like all of the others funded by donations from the livery companies and business owners. Residents don’t even count.

  • Brad Aaron

    Thank you for your concern.

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