Adriano Espaillat Attacks Dyckman Bikeway From the Driver’s Seat of His Car

A textbook case of pure, unadulterated windshield bias.

Adriano Espaillat shows how people on bikes are ruining Dyckman Street — by not even getting out of his car to investigate.
Adriano Espaillat shows how people on bikes are ruining Dyckman Street — by not even getting out of his car to investigate.

When Upper Manhattan congressional rep Adriano Espaillat isn’t challenging the Trump administration on immigration and other matters of national significance, he’s … fixated on making it more dangerous to walk and bike on Dyckman Street in Inwood.

On Saturday, Espaillat fired off a tweet scapegoating Dyckman’s parking-protected bike lanes for “clogging a critical economic artery of our community [and] making it difficult for emergency response vehicles to maneuver through the area.”

In a textbook case of pure, unadulterated windshield bias, Espaillat gathered his evidence against the bike lane while seated behind the wheel of his SUV, and rested his argument on photographs of another SUV parked illegally.

Two of Espaillat’s pics show the same SUV parked perpendicular to the curb across the bike lane, as the driver presumably moves inventory into or out of a 99-cent store. It’s unclear what point Espaillat thinks he was proving, other than (a) curbside parking spots on Dyckman, currently metered at $1 an hour, are priced too cheaply to encourage turnover; and (b) illegally parked motorists are still endangering people on Dyckman with no repercussions from the 34th Precinct.

The third photo shows an ambulance occupying the curb lane by a gravel-and-epoxy crosswalk extension at Dyckman and Post Avenue. That Espaillat and other motorists were actually the impediment was apparently lost on the congressman, though many of the 100+ replies to his tweet pointed it out.

Espaillat and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer have been making specious arguments against the new design of Dyckman since February, when they first called on DOT to erase the bikeway and new pedestrian safety measures, which at that point were just a few weeks old.

Espaillat and Brewer have presented no proof that Dyckman’s current design has had a negative effect on emergency response times or commerce. In lieu of empirical evidence, this time Espaillat posted photos taken from inside the car he was driving.

The same type of curb dysfunction was easy to document before the bike lane came along. Here’s Dyckman in the pre-bike lane days:

Photo: NYC DOT

The Dyckman redesign has provided safer walking and biking conditions in a neighborhood where about 70 percent of households don’t own cars. While the bike lanes and pedestrian islands haven’t been in place long enough to collect meaningful crash data, the old design was a known hazard, with more than 300 traffic injuries on Dyckman in the nine years preceding the redesign.

If Espaillat was serious about making the best use of curb space, he would ask DOT to add loading zones and raise meter rates when demand for parking on Dyckman is heaviest. Ripping out the bikeway won’t solve Dyckman parking dysfunction, but it would get people injured and killed.

  • Jesse

    All I can see is an illegally parked SUV and an ambulance with a clear path in front of it because a good portion of the street has been reclaimed from cars. Am I missing something or is he just really terrible at making his point?

  • redbike

    parking spots on Dyckman, currently metered at $1 an hour, are priced too cheaply to encourage turnover

    Cost per hour has nothing to do with encouraging turnover. Enforce the one-hour limit. Park / pay / shop / leave.

  • AMH

    You’re not missing anything. He has no point.

  • JarekFA

    This one is definitely going in the bike lash hall of fame, right next to Dorothy Rabinowitz’s Citibikes are going to begrime our fair city. Just the perfect mix of windshield perspective and manifestly bad public policy.

    An SUV, perpendicular parking! to get to the dollar store! Literally taken while driving. Oh wow, look, an ambulance. Just a word salad of idiocy. Man — what an awful politician. He should be leading the call for bike lanes to provide his constituents mobility options and protect them from this traffic sewer. Just the epitome of, “you’re not stuck in traffic — You are Traffic!”.

  • They’re always terrible at making their point. No different than when the NBBLers said that the PPW bike lane slowed ambulances… by showing an ambulance using the bike lane to speed past car traffic.

    Not a single thing has changed in years and years of this garbage, which should be a sign to the city to just ignore these guys.

  • J

    Enforcement works best when enforcement is rarely needed. The signals and incentives should lead to the overwhelming majority of people following the rules, and so when people break the rules they look out of place and are few in number, making them easy to identify and penalize to correct bad behavior.

    In this case, cheap parking leads to too many cars occupying the curb space at any given time, despite the 1 hour rule. Because of this, if you drive there and there’s no where to park, you simply double park, as there’s no legal alternative. With enough people doing this, it becomes “normal” accepted behavior, which is very hard to enforce. You’d need a lot of police issuing heavy handed fines to correct this, and this will piss off a lot more people than if you slowly raise the meter price.

  • J

    Let’s not forget that Gale Brewer is essentially making this exact same argument.

  • redbike

    This is anecdotal, but if you (or notionally, a random journalist) were to hang out on Dyckman or any similar street — commercial storefronts with parking — you’d observe a significant number of parked cars are driven by the store owners and their employees, not customers.

    Higher hourly rates won’t encourage turnover.

    The complaint — from merchants and some electeds — is there’s insufficient parking for customers. Who’s occupying the available parking?

  • So laughable. He’s being rightly torn apart on Twitter. Hey dude, you’re in DC now. Stay out of Inwood politics. And stop driving. You’re part of the problem.

  • qrt145

    Raise the hourly rate enough and I’m sure many of the people who park all day long will stop doing so, thus increasing turnover.

  • Guest

    The meters only have any effect if there is enforcement.

  • iSkyscraper

    From a Patch article at the time of the CB12 meeting:

    “One has to wonder who DOT had in mind with this project,” Laurie Tobias-Cohen a community liaison for Espaillat said Tuesday night. “The Dominican community that makes its home east of Broadway is not actually a cycling community.”

    Angel Vasquez, the chief of staff for State Senator Marisol Alcantara, also said “The Upper Manhattan community is one that takes the subway, rides the buses and uses their cars. Quite frankly we do not bicycle.”

    Your divide-and-conquer elected representatives, folks. Insane.

  • DoctorMemory

    And to be clear, this is somewhere between a deliberate lie and an orphan defense:

    – any assertions that Domincans en bloc don’t cycle can be trivially disproven by walking into Tread Bikes on Dyckman or actually using the west side greenway on any weekend. Come the fuck on.

    – but it’s absolutely true that fewer people of any background bike east of broadway because east of b’way cycling is INSANELY DANGEROUS, precisely because of the sorts of behavior that Rep Espaillat documented in his little drive-by photoshoot.

    Me, a dumb person: the lack of safe infrastructure for pedestrians, bicyclists and bus riders east of broadway is emblematic of the structural racism of NYC’s planning process.


  • JarekFA
  • AMH

    If you haven’t already, please write to him and explain exactly this!