Metro New York
By Amy Zimmer
Nov 2, 2007
MANHATTAN. Cycling advocates were thrilled last month when the new â€œparking protectedâ€ 10-foot wide bike lane â€” stretching from 16th to 23rd streets on Ninth Avenue â€” opened.
Sandwiched between the sidewalk and parked cars, the lane has a buffer of bollards to prevent cars from entering and the Dept. of Transportation plans to add planters to further wall it off. Some vehicles, however, have been spotted in the lane. Just this week, a film posted on Streetsblog showed a cab driving in it and a truck parked there.
Barbara Ross from Times Up!, the group that promotes the monthly Critical Mass ride, is organizing a â€œbike lane liberationâ€ ride Saturday where cyclists dressed as clowns will give out mock tickets for $115, the fine for parking, standing or stopping in a bike lane.
NYPD officials said theyâ€™ve stepped up enforcement. Police issued 28,256 tickets in 2007 so far, up from 13,683 in 2006.
Ross was surprised at these numbers.
â€œEvery day when Iâ€™m biking, I see cabs pulling into the lanes and people open the door on you. People park in them, so you have to go around in traffic,â€ she said. â€œPeople just donâ€™t feel safe riding in these lanes.â€
For the most part, cyclists â€œare going ga-gaâ€ over the Ninth Avenue program thatâ€™s â€œwide enough that you can bike next to someone and chat, which is the way it should be,â€ said Noah Budnick of Transportation Alternatives. â€œItâ€™s so relaxing.â€
As part of Mayor Bloombergâ€™s eco-friendly initiative PlaNYC, the city aims to add 504 miles of physically separated paths and 1,296 miles of painted lanes by 2030. It also plans to add 1,200 on-street racks by 2009. Transportation Alternatives estimates 130,000 people ride bikes every day, up from 87,000 three years ago.
Are cyclists safer?
Protected bike lanes encourage more cyclists to ride. The more cyclists on the street, the safer it is, Budnick said. The number of cyclists here has increased by 30 percent over the last 10 years, while thereâ€™s been a 40 percent decrease in injuries and fatalities, according to the group. The NYPD however, reported 14 cycling deaths in 2006, while this year, to date, there have been 20.