The Cult of Cars, Racing and Everything That Moves You.
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New York City Refuses to Stop People from Parking in Bike Lanes

Since 2016, less than two percent of complaints about vehicles parked in the bike lane have resulted in a ticket from the NYPD.

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Cyclist riding e-bike in NYC
Photo: UCG / Contributor (Getty Images)

For some reason, despite New York City’s density, walkability and extensive public transportation system, people still choose to drive cars in the heart of the city. When you take all the traffic into consideration, getting around by car makes even less sense. Apparently, lots of those drivers love to illegally park their vehicles in NYC’s bike lanes — and the city doesn’t seem at all interested in putting a stop to the problem.

Streetsblog reports that since October 2016, NYC’s 311 service has received more than 76,000 reports of vehicles illegally parking in bike lanes. And yet, only 1.9 percent of those complaints resulted in a ticket being written by the NYPD. For comparison, among all other vehicle-related complaints over the same period, 16 percent resulted in tickets. Parking in a bike lane also ranks last for enforcement in the city.


When the police simply decide not to enforce certain laws, that causes people to give up on reporting violations, which makes the problem look less serious to city officials. Adding parking-protected bike lanes or physical barriers to keep vehicles out would certainly be an effective way to stop people from parking in bike lanes. But so would aggressively going after people who block bike lanes, the way the city has decided to go after fare evaders on the subway.

New York police often claim that they didn’t personally see a driver blocking the bike lane, so they can’t enforce the law. And more than 60 percent of the time, officers responding to a bike-lane complaint said they didn’t see anyone breaking the law when they arrived. Which is bound to happen when the average response time is reportedly three hours and 35 minutes.


Since drivers in New York are allowed to basically treat bike lanes as free parking, cyclists are often forced to weave into traffic, which can further slow down drivers. But it also puts cyclists’ lives at risk, as they’re now riding with 5,000-lb automobiles that can easily injure or kill them.

The increased risk to cyclists’ lives isn’t hypothetical, either. For example, Madison Lyden, an Australian tourist, was killed in 2018 while trying to get around an Uber driver who was illegally parked in the bike lane on Central Park West. And yet, the NYPD just doesn’t appear to care.

The good news is, the city council is considering a bill that would allow New York citizens to submit photographic evidence of parking violations. Unfortunately for the people of New York, the latest version of the bill has been significantly watered down and, if passed, would take several years to roll out across the entire city.

Considering how some drivers feel insulted at the thought of having to share the road with cyclists, you’d think there would be more support for keeping bikes in a separate lane, away from vehicle traffic. But apparently, selfishness takes priority over critical thinking. And unless the city can actually start enforcing its bike-lane laws, it looks like drivers will continue to get stuck behind cyclists who are unable to use the bike lane.


There’s also a lot more to this issue, so we highly recommend you head over to Streetsblog to give their full article a read.