Any biker pedaling through the streets of New York has found the city’s bike lanes are routinely invaded by cars, trucks, and taxi cabs – an annoying and even dangerous obstruction, a new study finds.
During a 10-minute span of time, a cyclist traveling in a bike lane will encounter a vehicle within five or six blocks more than 60-percent of the time, said sociology Professor Peter Tuckel and Urban Planning Professor William Milczarski, who led the Hunter College study.
The most frequent bike lane offenders are regular passenger cars, followed by small trucks and then taxis, the study found.
“The intended purpose of these bike lanes is to provide a safe and secure passageway for cyclists free from the encroachments of cars and trucks, Professor Tuckel said. “Cyclists view these obstructed bike lanes as not only representing an infringement on their territory, but also posing a serious safety hazard,” he said.
In many cases, when a cyclist finds their route blocked, they are forced to either swerve into traffic or dismount.
Most the obstructions are short lived – a car passing another by veering into the bike lane or a taxi stopped to pick up a passenger. Ninety percent of the time, these obstructions are short – 10 minutes or less, the study said.
The observations were conducted on 492 randomly selected street blocks with Class II bike lanes – or lanes delineated by painted stripes down a city street.
Professor Tuckel said possible solutions could include stricter enforcement of existing laws protecting cyclists – including “ticketing or even towing.”
Another solution put forward by cyclist advocates is a ban on taxi cruising and a greater number of protected bike lanes.
“Gathering information about which type of vehicles are most likely to park in bike lanes, at what times these offenses occur most often, and where these offenses take place can guide city officials in planning the placement of additional bike lanes or modifying the existing ones,” said Professor Milczarski.