I have been on an extended hiatus. The reason is simple. Last August I lost my GoPro camera floating in some white water on a canoeing trip in Vermont. So I have been unable to record my rides, and the weather reduced how much I rode anyway.
Now with the nice weather I have been commuting to Manhattan for the last few weeks. What I have seen in the bike lane has terrified me back awake. Bike lanes aren’t safe in NYC. Just check out this cnn report that was buried at 2:30 on a Friday. The NYPD doesn’t care if vehicles break bike lane law. Neither does the public. They block the bike lane every single day I ride.
Public enemy number one for cyclists in NYC has to be NYPD. Not only do they fail to investigate deadly cycle crashes, they cause many. How you ask? They park in bike lanes with impunity. NY state law allows the police to park in the bike lane on official business. But this cop in the picture was parked directly in front of a Chase bank. Just a week before a cop cut me off in the exact same location to park in the bike lane. I stopped my bike to see what the officer did. While her partner was sleeping in the passenger seat, the officer walked into the Chase (to do her banking). Also last week I saw eight cop cars parked in the bike lane on Vernon Ave in Queens. 20 or so cops stood around on the side walk while forcing cyclists to ride in industrial trucking traffic. I yelled “Good job blocking the bike lane guys. Good job. You’re blocking the whole thing.” They yelled back “you’re welcome. Doing our job” or something to that effect.
I don’t know if any of these cops was on official business, so maybe they weren’t technically breaking the rules. But I do know they were demonstrating to every driver that passed a complete lack of regard for lives of cyclists. For all the countless cars I have seen parked in bike lanes, I have only seen one get a warning and one get a ticket. I cannot count the number of cops I have seen parked in a bike lane. The result is that any driver can safely assume they won’t face consequences for endangering people riding in bike lanes.
It is time the NYPD started leading by example. If the broken window policy reduced crime across the board, wouldn’t a no cops parking in the bike lanes policy reduce the number of bike lane infractions by all drivers. If the NYPD continues to demonstrate a complete disregard for the safety of cyclists, how can we ever expect the population at large to regard the sanctity of our lives. Cyclists need the NYPD to step up and start protecting bike lanes instead of parking in them.
Citation: Standing in bike lane
Time: 6:38 PM