Now there’s an official channel, beyond fuming, fulminating or photo shaming, to report a blocked NYC bike lane. All you have to do is log onto the City’s 311 website or app to submit a report.
Previous complaints of blocked bike lanes to 311, the City’s centralized source of government information and help with non-emergency services, funneled in the general category of “illegal parking.” But the new option enables user-generated, location-based reports to be collected in their own data stream. One hope is that this new feature will enable the City to better target problem areas for enforcement. Some patterns are already emerging among the 249 complaints of illegal parking in bike lanes recorded (at the time of this post) on a new data map compiled by the City.
Follow these steps to report a blocked NYC bike lane to 311:
- In the left column, click “Make a Complaint”
- Select Vehicles & Parking from the Get Help With dropdown menu, and then, from the Specifically dropdown, choose Illegal Parking.
- As seen in the dialogue box to the right of the screen shot above, blocked bike lanes are mentioned among illegal parking complaints you can report. Scroll down and click on the blue link that reads Report a non-emergency parking condition. My wish list: Make that link a button rather than a text line, so that it’s more immediately visible to users.
- After a non-emergency disclaimer screen, you will arrive at the screen above. Under Details, choose Blocked Bike Lanes, and record the details as prompted, prior to submitting your complaint. Note that you can report repeated problems in the Other Dates/Times Observed field of the above screen.
- The NYC 311 app offers a more streamlined, and to my mind, more intuitive user interface. Go to the complaint screen (left), click on Illegal Parking under the Vehicles & Parking category. Select Blocking Bike Lane from the drop down menu and continue your report by following the prompts.
Of course, collecting data is one thing; police enforcement will be the key to reducing bike lane blocking. But future progress begins with building a record, so download the app and know that next time you encounter a vehicle illegally blocking the bike lane, you’ve got the power to make a difference.
Note that, although 311 does not include the option to share a photo of the infraction, the unofficial carsinbikelanes.nyc website allows users to post geotagged snaps along with offenders’ license plate numbers. Many people also post bike lane squatting photos to the #bikenyc hashtag on twitter.