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Love in the Bike Lane: NYC Cyclists Stand Their Ground

by Kate Trainor on May 7, 2008

NYCCyclistsStand Love in the Bike Lane: NYC Cyclists Stand Their GroundUrban cyclists do battle in city bike lanes: they dodge illegally parked cars, open doors, makeshift loading zones, or drivers that use the bike lane as a freeway. In New York City, blocking a bike lane can earn you a $115 fine, but the regulation is seldom enforced.

Cyclists in New York are standing their ground with creative tactics. To preserve their safety, they’re resorting to peaceful, renegade protests of the many obstacles that prevent optimal use of bike lanes (a highly controversial subject, as we’ve noted here in previous posts).

It’s arguable as to whether ill-maintained bike lanes actually make cyclists safer, but New Yorkers have taken matters into their own hands—with cans of spray paint and stencils.

From the NYT

At a bike lane on Hudson Street near Christopher Street, one rider placed a cardboard stencil on the pavement, and others covered it with white spray paint. When they lifted the stencil an image of an automobile bisected by a diagonal line was left behind. 

“I want to remind drivers that it is not all right to be in bike lanes,” said Barbara Ross, 44, a human resources manager, who lives on the Lower East Side and has been a volunteer for Times Up!, http://times-up.org/ an environmental group that promotes nonpolluting transportation. “A lot of drivers don’t think twice about parking in a bike lane because no one tells them not to.” 

Over the next two hours, the bicyclists roamed north, creating a variety of painted images including ones in the shape of a bicycle with a heart and the words “love lane.” 

While painting messages on public streets is illegal, Ms. Ross and her companions said that they meant their markings as a service. Most bike lanes in New York are separated from cars only by stripes of white paint, they said, and additional reminders are likely to help cyclists and, maybe, yield more respect from drivers.

Other cyclists have organized mass rides to raise awareness for cyclists and their presence on the streets. 

Next month, the city plans to complete a 2006 project that added 200 bike lanes throughout the five boroughs. NYC has also made an effort to make bike lanes more visible and safe by creating buffer zones between car lanes, and by painting some lanes (in Brooklyn and Queens) with a green stripe. 

Despite the city’s efforts, however, a safe, peaceful coexistence of cars and cyclists doesn’t look promising. For those who forego cars, it will be a long road.

Video at NYT. 

See also: Austin Okays Parking in Bike Lane 

Photos via flickr by ianqui and Canadian Veggie.


Related posts:

  1. Where the Bike Lane Ends: Cyclists Shafted by “Stupid” Planning
  2. Austin Okays Parking in Bike Lane
  3. Tips for Motorists, from Cyclists
  4. Cyclists Suffer Parking Crunch, Shunned By Commercial Buildings
  5. Taking Bike Love Too Far?
  6. Recent Posts

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 anonymous December 19, 2007 at 6:37 pm

i got arrested during critical mass once and the crime i was charged with was “congregating in or around a public way (road) such as to halt the flow of vehicular or pedestrian traffic.” Of course, I was biking (and hencing moving), but arrested and charged nonetheless. It seems like standing in the middle of the street is an even better way to get arrested. Not saying I don’t support it, just saying to check with the local laws and be careful! saying you were arrested during an environmental protest doesn’t buy you a lot of street cred in jail.


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