Stringer Calls for NYPD, TLC to Protect the Integrity of Bike Lanes

Photo: Ben Fried

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, with Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh on the right, at today's presser. Photo: Ben Fried

With the new protected bike lane on Second Avenue as a backdrop earlier today, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer called for a stepped-up campaign to keep bike lanes clear of obstructions and show New Yorkers how to use their re-designed streets the right way. While many Manhattan streets have been re-engineered for improved safety, he said, enforcement and education aren’t keeping up.

Stringer staffers measured bike lane violations at 11 locations during the morning and evening rush between October 5 and October 7. Motorists blocking bike lanes, wrong-way cycling, and pedestrians wandering into the lane were the most widespread types of misuse. Out of 275 motor vehicles blocking bike lanes, 35 were part of the city’s fleet. Of those, 19 were cops.

On average, observers found that protected lanes were twice as likely to be clear of cars or trucks as painted lanes. But I think most people would agree that driving in a protected lane is at least twice as egregious. Among the blockages Stringer’s staff witnessed: police cars “in apparent non-emergency situations cutting through protected bike lanes to circumvent traffic stopped by a red light.”

The Borough President is recommending that NYPD crack down on bike lane-blocking motorists. He suggests putting traffic enforcement agents on bikes to patrol lanes and issue summonses to both motorists and cyclists. He also wants to see the TLC launch an awareness campaign to cut down on dooring. Stringer said he sent the report to NYPD and the TLC and hasn’t heard back from the agencies yet.

You can see the tally of bike lane violations and Stringer’s full set of recommendations in his report [PDF].

It’s going to be interesting to see how the press picks up this story. We’ve seen an awful lot of sensationalized coverage of the new bike lanes lately. Stringer’s report endorses the infrastructure — it’s mainly concerned with behavior and enforcement. Here’s how it’s being reported in the Daily News, NY1, the Observer, Transportation Nation, Gothamist, and — really, really terribly — on CBS2.