Is DOT Ready to Address Dyckman Street’s Parking Management Problem?

It should go without saying that smarter parking meter rates can reduce traffic dysfunction on Dyckman. Instead, DOT might narrow the street's new bike lanes to carve out more space for people to park illegally.

DOT might trim Dyckman Street’s narrow bike lanes to make room for drivers to double-park. Seriously. Photo: Brad Aaron
DOT might trim Dyckman Street’s narrow bike lanes to make room for drivers to double-park. Seriously. Photo: Brad Aaron

At a hearing convened by Manhattan Community Board 12 last night, DOT staff said they are considering a range of options in response to electeds’ attack on the new Dyckman Street bike lanes.

There are some good ideas on the table, and some terrible ones too. The nut is whether DOT will address the street’s curb management problem or water down new traffic-calming improvements to accommodate illegal parking.

In December DOT installed parking-protected bike lanes on Dyckman, plus sidewalk extensions to shorten crosswalks and slow turning drivers. Before then, Dyckman was a chaotic and dangerous mess. Though it’s a major commercial corridor in a neighborhood where about three-fourths of households don’t own cars, there was no designated space for biking on the street. Motorists were given carte blanche to double-park. More than 300 people were injured in crashes on Dyckman between 2009 and 2017.

The redesign was implemented after nine years of advocacy work by local residents and countless public meetings. But shortly after the safety measures went in, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Congressman Adriano Espaillat pressured DOT to tear them out. Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, who represents the area, has since proposed replacing the existing bike lanes with a two-way bikeway on Dyckman’s north side, which would create more conflicts between bikes and motor vehicles than the current design.

Business owners are upset because drivers can’t double-park on Dyckman like they used to. Rather than pushing for higher meter rates when demand for parking is heaviest, which reduces double-parking and motor vehicle congestion, politicians have chosen to scapegoat the bike lanes.

Yesterday’s hearing featured Brewer, Rodriguez, and Espaillat, along with reps from DOT, NYPD, and FDNY, according to a source who attended.

Going full bikelash, Brewer and Espaillat blamed bike lanes for everything from impeding commerce to slowing FDNY response times, our source said, consistent with their prior statements.

Meanwhile, NYPD said the 34th Precinct issued just 71 summonses for illegal parking through April of this year, due to a shortage of paper tickets.

So the problem on Dyckman today is what it’s always been: too many motorists taking up too much space — for free or close to free — and no consequences for drivers who clog up the street by parking illegally.

DOT seemed to at least acknowledge that the agency has the capability to reduce double-parking. Answering a question from the public, DOT reps said they are “actively looking” at adjusting meter rates — currently $1 an hour — to increase turnover and reduce cruising and double-parking, according to our source. DOT staff said the agency may add or adjust hours for loading zones, and suggested tweaking signals to speed up traffic.

But DOT reps also said they might trim the width of the bike lanes, which are already narrower than optimal, to make more room for people to illegally double-park. A CB 12 member suggested narrowing sidewalks for the same purpose. Rodriguez’s proposed bi-directional bikeway is also still in play.

DOT is expected to come back to CB 12 next week. We should know then whether the city intends to finally tackle Dyckman’s chronic parking management problem.

DOT has declined to respond to multiple Streetsblog queries concerning its plans for Dyckman Street.

  • Joe R.

    The picture accompanying the article perfectly illustrates how bike lanes are mostly an afterthought in NYC. A design which places a sewer grate square in the middle of a bike lane would be laughed at in places like the Netherlands. When I see stuff like that, I can’t help but think this is what advocates have been fighting for? The fact the city might occasionally be willing to include a bike lane when a street is redesigned is meaningless if that bike lane is so substandard as to be virtually useless. In the above case, I’d rather take the traffic lane so as to avoid sewer grates, leaves, pedestrians straying from the sidewalk, etc. This kind of a bike lane seems to serve only one purpose, namely to get bikes out of the way of cars.

    To think they want to make something which is already dangerously substandard narrower is adding insult to injury.

  • Sabina

    I biked the Dyckman bike lanes last week to check them out. Gotta say, it was great. I’d biked on Dyckman before and the whole middle section was horrible. Now it is nice from river to river. As a bonus, there are lots of good fruit & veg stands near the protected bike lane part, so you can stop and get your produce without having to lock up. I hope these lanes don’t get ripped out, they really improve the street.

  • eastphilliamsburg

    The best part of riding uptown is all of the carts and stands. Fruit, empanadas, icees. Perfect quick sugar hit to tackle the ride back from the GW.

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    Doesn’t this ALREADY have a double parking lane for the most part? (as seen here:

    There might be some net parking removal at the corners, etc, but it seems like this is a fear of change/cycling rather than anything to do with a significant change in street parking, such hasn’t happened.

  • We’ve entered a new realm of motorist entitlement where de facto double-parking lanes aren’t enough. This isn’t about the “right” to double-park, it’s about the “right” to drive fast as you pass double-parked cars.

    They want de facto double parking lanes where you can drive past double-parked cars without slowing down to avoid plowing into oncoming traffic blowing past the double-parked cars on the other side of the street. And Gale Brewer is on their side.

  • MatthewEH

    The Coco Helado vendor who comes out to the Riverbank Park entrance at 145th Street & RSD is my hero.

  • Simon Phearson

    Or physical separation, for that matter.

    I was riding up Shore Boulevard’s bikeway the other day and noted, as if by surprise, that the plastic bollards that were once there haven’t been there for… months? It’s really like the DOT isn’t trying any more. Why shouldn’t cyclists be expected to ride contra-flow in a lane protected only by green paint? Looks like Dyckman’s no different. Here’s a lane, kids. Hope you don’t die using it.

  • Two Wheels Good

    The existing bike lane on the southwest side of Dyckman (logically eastward, from Hudson River towards Harlem River) is pretty good, with mostly easy-to-navigate T-intersections.

  • AMH

    People used to triple-park–now they can only double-park, and that’s not good enough.

  • AMH

    I just visited the Netherlands for the first time and was completely blown away. I’ve seen lots of photos and read plenty about their approach to bike infrastructure, but seeing it firsthand is completely different. Our PBLs are a good start but need to be rebuilt with cyclists and pedestrians in mind, including widening sidewalks and extending a raised sidewalk across the side streets.

  • iSkyscraper

    Due to what can only be described as “politics”, the electeds, DOT and NYPD can’t even deal with the monstrous 300-car valet and parking operation at the west end of Dyckman that actually blockades and seizes several blocks of public street parking, no standing zones, sidewalks and parkland despite having no legality whatsoever.

    Where the waterfront bike path also gets taken over for bouncer lines and driving VIPs up to the stage for (illegal) concerts:

    But attack the bike lanes a block to the east that the community actually begged for and uses, sure, sounds great.

  • running_bond

    Does anyone realize just how bonkers this is? Ydanis Rodriguez is jamming through a rezoning that will turn Dyckman into 11 to 16 story buildings and add between 14,000 and 40,000 new residents to Inwood.

    And here is his wasting everyone’s time listening to two-bit merchants who are about to have theirs leases ended, over not enough double parking?

    Leave the bike lanes alone, and go fix the problems with the rezoning that your constituents have been telling you about for two whole years!

  • MO

    The article is incomplete in that it omits the FDNY chief’s statement at the meeting, that units avoid Dyckman Street in getting to calls.

  • 1soReal

    Your observation is just one example where bike lanes/traffic calming can actually be good for business and not the bad thing many contend it is. Walkable streets with lots of foot traffic and bikes are potential customers actually able to stop in and out of store, especially small business. Unless you are a large major retailer, lots of car traffic in a busy urban area isn’t very helpful.
    Most of those small business aren’t the the places you would go out of your way for in a car. They rely on spur of the moment type of customers. Cant really do that from a car.