SURVEY: BIKE LANES BLOCKED
by dan rivoli
borough president scott stringer released a survey confirming what many new york city bicyclists already know: bicycle lanes are routinely misused and cluttered with cars.
stringer's office staked out 11 bicycle lanes in manhattan, including the columbus avenue bike lane at west 94th street, over a three-day period during morning and evening rush hours.
the survey, called "respect the lane, clear the path," observed 156 infractions at the upper west side bike lane. the infractions ranged from bicyclists riding on sidewalks, against the flow of traffic and through red lights, to automobiles and pedestrians blocking and using the bicycle-only lanes. "dooring"-when bicyclists hit a car door that suddenly opens from a parking lane-is also a major complaint among riders.
"it reflects a lot of what we know: painted lanes are widely disregarded by motorists in this city," said tila duhaime of the upper west side street renaissance campaign. "[protected bicycle lanes] are much better at self-enforcing. it's more obvious to everyone that a car in the lane is doing something wrong."
out of all the borough's surveyed spots, the upper west side bicycle lane was tied with lower manhattan for the most bicyclists on sidewalks with 11 infractions.
pedestrians, however, account for the most frequent misuse of bicycle lanes in manhattan, according to the survey. there were 741 observed infractions of pedestrians wading into bicycle lanes.
of the 353 instances of blocked bike lanes, three-quarters were instances of automobiles using these lanes. yellow taxis and livery cabs made up 18 percent of those automobiles, while 13 percent were city-owned.
stringer is a supporter of bicycle lanes, but lamented the abuse that puts other cyclists at risk.
"unfortunately, chaos reigns in bike lanes across the city, making them an unpredictable and unprotected method of transportation," stringer said in a statement. "new yorkers who rely on bike lanes need to know that fellow riders, motorists and pedestrians will join them in honoring the rules of the road."
the problem, the report suggests, is poor enforcement of road rules. stringer is calling for a pilot program to add a bicycling traffic enforcement agent on lanes to catch scofflaws. other recommendations include more protected bicycle lanes that separate bikes from traffic, a public awareness campaign to combat "dooring," better street signage and reserved parking spots for deliveries on commercial streets.
"when cop cars, taxi cabs and delivery trucks double-park in bike lanes, it compromises the good they can do," said paul steely white, executive director of transportation alternatives. "we encourage cyclists to ride the right way and always yield to pedestrians."
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