Some mornings riding uptown on Sixth Avenue feels like threading a needle. I’m pedaling inside the bike lane, then I’m swerving out into the traffic because a car (see idling taxi above) or truck is obstructing my path. It happens over and over, and it’s both frustrating and potentially hazardous.
Blocking of bike lanes, which is illegal and may be subject to a $115 ticket, is a problem experienced citywide as the tally of bike lane miles continues to grow. More than 55,000 tickets were issued in fiscal year 2014, and that number rose to about 77,000 in the most recent year, as reported by WNYC.
New Project Crowd-Sources Photos
But is that enough? WNYC has launched a special project to plot the types, times and locations of obstructions and barriers in bike lanes, and they are asking New York City cyclists to snap photos for a crowd-sourced map. While individual examples are sometimes posted to the #bikenyc stream of twitter and other social media platforms, this new effort seeks to uncover broader trends to better understand the dynamics of the problem.
“We’re not trying to shame individual bad actors, we’re trying to track trends,” WNYC transportation reporter Kate Hinds said on The Brian Lehrer show. “So we’re going to do this over the course of a couple of weeks with the map.”
Report a Blocked Bike Lane:
If you encounter a blocked bike lane, here’s how to share the information with WNYC:
- Snap a photo of the bike lane blocker
- Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Turn on the location feature on your phone, but also include the information in your email
The map, embedded below, is becoming populated with bright yellow “pins,” each documenting an obstruction. (Bronx and Queens cyclists, get in on this!) Clicking on individual pins reveals photos of livery vehicles, delivery trucks and various physical objects, such as errant concrete traffic barriers. Also included are photos of heedless pedestrians blocking bike lanes, another source of frustration among cyclists.
The Blocked NYC Bike Lane Video that Went Viral
It’s not the first time this problem has become the focus of attention. The filmmaker Casey Neistat famously and humorously channeled his own outrage at receiving a ticket for not riding in the bike lanes (which is not illegal) into a video viewed almost 15 million times. A Tumblr called Cops in Bike Lanes is dedicated to revealing law enforcement’s contributions to the problem. An additional crowd-sourced map that documents cars in bike lanes is at carsinbikelanes.nyc.
Crowd-sourcing data from the growing numbers of people who use bicycles for daily transportation is an increasingly useful tool to identify trends and recurring “hot spots” in an effort to improve safety and street design for all users. So next time a delivery truck blocks your way, whip out your smartphone.
Hinds says findings will be reported some time in October.