Eyes on the Street: Second Ave Protected Bike Lane Fails Again
The orange barrels protecting the bike lane by the Queens Midtown Tunnel are the Rodney Dangerfield of traffic-control devices.
Earlier this week, someone tossed them onto the sidewalk to open up another lane between E. 36th and E. 37th streets for tunnel-bound cars. And they were still sitting there as of Thursday.
That “tunnel funnel” is, in fact, supposed to be a protected bike lane. On March 20, during the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in the Big Apple, Mayor de Blasio announced that Second Avenue from 42nd to 34th streets would get a temporary protected lane, covering the dangerous stretch of street that feeds into the tunnel.
More people — including essential workers — would be bicycling to work and needed a safe space to ride, Hizzoner and others said. And they were right — the new protected bike lane has been welcome and heavily used.
Before the safety improvement, there had only been sharrows on this section of Second Ave. — and riding on the chevrons (if they are even still visible at all on the asphalt) amid aggressive drivers jockeying to speed into the tunnel is no one’s idea of safe.
The temporary protected lane is marked off with large construction-style traffic barrels, not mere dinky pylons or cones. But, even so, the auto-uber-alles commuters have been dissing them — this isn’t the first time someone has booted the barrels onto the sidewalk to create two lanes, instead of one, all the better for cars to pour into the infernal tube. Earlier in the virus crisis, Streetsblog documented the disappearance of the protection on this particular protected bike lane.
Perhaps it was just to be expected, though, as the city reopens and more drivers jam up the city with their gas guzzlers.
Putting the traffic barrels on the sidewalk, though, not only has made this part of Second Avenue dangerous for cyclists once again — it’s now also making it dangerous for pedestrians because now cyclists are riding on the sidewalk to protect themselves.
Lincoln Anderson is editor of the Village Sun.