Eyes on the Street: Working Out the Kinks in the Columbus Ave Bike Lane

Quality Florist blocks the Columbus Avenue bike lane between 81st and 82nd on __. Other photos show it's hardly an isolated phenomenon.

The Quality Florist van blocks the Columbus Avenue bike lane between 81st and 82nd last Thursday morning.

Upper West Side residents can ride with a new sense of safety and comfort on the recently installed Columbus Avenue protected bike lane, but between 81st and 82nd Streets, the bike lane has been consistently blocked by a minivan owned by Quality Florist, a local business located on that block.

A tipster sent us pictures of the van blocking the lane three different times in the past week: last Sunday afternoon, last Thursday morning, and this morning. Each time, the driver has come to a stop right under a bright red “No Stopping Anytime” sign. The van can park there because the line of parking that protects the bike lane ends before that point in the block to make room for a left-turn lane.

I spoke with the manager of Quality Florist today and he didn’t try to deny it. “Now that they put the thing down, that’s where we do our deliveries,” he said. “Going down Columbus on the left-hand side, on this particular block, there’s no parking spaces at all.” The manager repeatedly asked what he was supposed to do, given that there wasn’t any parking on the block.

Quality Florist’s bike lane blockers seem immune to enforcement efforts. The manager said the store has received between 10 and 15 tickets for parking in the bike lane already but he sees that as an indignity, not an incentive to unload on a side street. “How fair is it for someone who’s been running a store here for 41 years to be ticketed left and right?” he asked. Perhaps a delivery zone a few feet away on 81st might be in order.